During the 40 years I have been Judges Education Chair for the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen Club of America, the subject that most often confronts me is that of grooming. The controversial subject is a frequent topic of conversation among not only judges but breeders as well. So, let us start with the basics of what the PBGV is and should be.
The Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen is a rustic hound that should have a casual, tousled appearance in the show ring. However, because individual interpretations of rustic, tousled, and casual differ, one person’s perception that a dog is overgroomed is another person’s opinion that a dog is correctly groomed. We all come from different backgrounds and differently groomed breeds. So, these differences of opinion are understandable. But it is important to note that casual and tousled have nothing to do with quantity of hair but with the overall appearance of that coat.
Here are four definitions, all of which describe the correct PBGV appearance created by coat:
- Casual – Occurring by Chance
- Unrefined – Not Arranged
- Tousled – Disarranged, Rumpled, Disheveled
- Natural – A Product of Nature, Not Artificial
The Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen Breed Standard reads, “The most distinguishing characteristics of this bold hunter are; his rough, unrefined, outlines; his proudly carried head displaying definitive long eyebrows, beard and mustache; his strong, tapered tail…”
This statement clearly calls for a casual overall look. Note those two especially important adjectives, rough and unrefined.
Knowing a bit about the PBGV’s ancestry should help conjure up a rustic image of this breed. The PBGV descended from the large Grand Griffon developed during the Middle Ages. Standing at about 26 inches, the Grand Griffon hunted wild boar in the Vendee, an area situated on the West Coast of France; a harsh landscape replete with rock, bramble, thorn, and thicket. In addition to great courage, these hounds required strong limbs and bodies. For protection against those harsh elements, a rough coat and protective furnishings were essential for preventing punctures, cuts, and other injuries while the hounds pursued wild boar.
The PBGV is a rustic hound that should have a casual, tousled appearance in the show ring.
The Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen is a descendant of that rustic boar-hunting Grand Griffon. Although hunting smaller prey, the PBGV worked in the same adverse environment as the Grand Griffon, his ancient cousin, and therefore he also needed a coat that required little maintenance; a coat that would resist matting or entanglement; a coat that could be torn and thinned by harsh terrain without harm to the body beneath.
We all understand that a dog show is not hunting. However, understanding a breed’s history is essential to preserving its heritage. To understand casual, tousled, and rustic is to understand correct PBGV type. Regardless of the manner the handler chooses to achieve this casual appearance, the end result should reflect the PBGV that is tough, rough, and ready—with a coat a bit unkempt; not primped or dandified.
While the Standard generally describes the ideal Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen, it does not give a list of grooming infractions. And while dogs should be clean and hair may be thin to enable the body proportions to be evaluated, in all cases we want to see a natural dog; this means we do not want to see PBGVs with the following infractions:
- A topcoat stripped like a terrier or with blunt scissor marks anywhere.
- Hair clipped to all the same length, or a groomed-in Sporting Dog underline; or trimming around each toe.
- The hair removed from the ends of the ears. The Standard says that hair on the ears is long. Too much hair removed from the top of the head giving it a flat appearance.
- Legs fluffed up or stiff with product.
- Very offensive is the removal of the little fan of hair on top of the muzzle and between the eyes; this fan is protective and a prime breed characteristic.
- Finally, and perhaps most offensive, the eyebrows shortened by cutting straight across forming a visor.
Of course, when judging, you must use your common sense. You are judging the whole, the overall dog and how the parts fit—not merely the grooming and coat treatment. Therefore, one shortcoming or infraction should not ruin the whole dog for you. But ask yourself this question:
“Does the dog appear compact and robust like a tough little hunter, or does he remind you of another breed?”
All grooming infractions should be considered to the extent of their deviation from the ideal. Remember, grooming is not genetic. Structure is.
One last item you may have missed: the words eliminate from competition have been deleted from our Standard, and that emphasis has been placed on the casual disarray of the coat. In addition, the size disqualification has been clarified: DQ dogs under 13 inches at one year of age or older; DQ any dog more than 15 inches at any age.
AKC and PBGVCA Anniversaries
(A version of the information provided below was published in the September 2009 issue of the AKC Gazette.)
Founded in 1984, the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen Club of America held its Inaugural Meeting in Philadelphia at AKC’s Centennial Celebration. As the AKC celebrated its 125th year, PBGVCA celebrated its 25th.
PBGVs, smallest of the four Vendeen hounds, remains the popular hunting breed in France. Mrs. Elizabeth Streeter of Pennsylvania had imported many French PBGVs for developing her “basset” pack in the late ‘70s. Unwittingly, some called them hairy Bassets.
The breed evolved over 400 years to meet the rigors of the Vendee region. In early ‘80s, Danish breeder Per Knudsen popularized the breed all over Europe. Soon after, Nick Frost established PBGVs in England. Pedigrees of American dogs reflect these origins. The PBGVCA’s logo is fashioned after Per’s Raymond le Rebel. It is only in the last 35-40 years that the breed has entered Conformation events.
Interest in the US exploded in 1983 when a PBGV, “Alexander,” won Best in Show at SuperMatch in New Jersey. Charmed and captivated fanciers returned from Crufts with PBGVs, and imported them from France, Holland, and Denmark. We continue to admire him for his rustic appearance and happy demeanor. PBGVs compete in Obedience, Rally, and Field too.
Are you looking for a Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen puppy?
The best way to ensure a long and happy relationship with a purebred dog is to purchase one from a responsible breeder. Not sure where to begin finding a breeder?
Contact the National Parent Club’s Breeder Referral person, which you can find on the AKC Breeder Referral Contacts page.
Want to help rescue and re-home a Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen dog?
Did you know nearly every recognized AKC purebred has a dedicated rescue group? Find your new best friend on the AKC Rescue Network Listing.
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