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A Description and History
A scent hound of great character. ‘A Big Dog in a Small Jacket’ most aptly describes this breed. Although small (height 32-38cm) it is a tough, hardy and very agile hound with a heart of gold. The Fauve possesses a short wiry coat, the colour being a variation of the same theme, from fawn to red wheaten to brick red. This colour easily distinguishes the Basset Fauve from the other French Basset Breeds. Notable features to the head are the slightly aquiline, medium length foreface and ear set on the same level as the eye. The ears have a distinctive turn inwards, reaching the nose when drawn forward and covered by finer shorter hair, darker in colour to the rest of the body. The body is quite stocky with a deep broad chest, ribs rather rounded, and a loin broad and muscular with a topline level. The front legs should be straight, although a slight crook is permitted and the hind quarters are strong as is typical of a working hound. The tail is carried sickle-like, quite thick at the base and tapering to the end. On the move the tail is carried above the topline with regular movements from side to side. The six centimetre height allowance is quite large, so size differences will be seen. But regardless of height, a balanced dog is looked for, and though not written into the standard it is widely considered to be a ratio of 1 (height) to 1.4 (length). The Fauve being the shortest backed of the French Basset breeds. The origin of the Fauve as its title suggests, is the Brittany area of France and there is evidence that Fauves were around in the 16th century though in somewhat larger size. The Basset Fauve derives many of its characteristics from The Grand Fauve de Bretagne (known then as The Fawn Hound of Brittany) they were very large hounds standing between 70 and 74 cm at the shoulder. They were noted for their fire, dash and drive, particularly in the early stages of a hunt. Their fearlessness, their fine nose, their resistance to the cold and wet enabled them to hunt their quarry, usually wild boar, in the thorny thickets of North West France. Sadly, these Grand Fauves now appear to be extinct in France. Their nearest representative is the Griffon Fauve with the same fearless hunting reputation, standing between 48 and 56 cm at the shoulder.  Then comes the Basset Fauve.  How the French achieved the downsizing is somewhat blurred, one theory suggests that it began by the selection of undersized specimens from a full sized litter and by breeding from the smallest over countless generations, but however it was achieved, there can be no doubt that by the late 19th century there were numerous packs made up entirely of Basset Fauves in North West France. It was wrongly thought that by the end of the Second World War numbers had depleted and the Fauve was almost extinct. But, even in a war torn era The French passion for hunting continued. This was confirmed by a leading French Fauve Expert Mme. F Corbeau of the French Club du Fauve de Bretagne. In fact the Basset Fauve had always been very popular with Huntsmen in the North West of France. The breed’s impressive reputation in the hunting field spread and we have discovered that in the 1970’s due to demand, French huntsmen decided to introduce new lines. It is generally thought that the Basset Griffon Vendeen was used to possibly improve hunting ability and the Red Standard Wirehaired Dachshund to retain its colour. There are many suppositions but not many well-proven facts. One factor that does give credence to the input from the Griffon Vendeen, is that in some litters today there is more white on some puppies than is desirable. The French Club du Fauve de Bretagne for both Griffon and Basset Fauve was set up in 1949 and with the dedicated efforts of breeders, Basset Fauves continued to gain popularity in the hunting field and in the show ring, culminating in M. Georget’s Basset Fauve de Bretagne, Mick, being awarded Best in Show at the World Show in Verona in 1980. The number of Fauves registered in France with the French Kennel Club, now exceeds the combined registrations of the Petit and the Grand Griffon Vendeens and is only beaten by Beagles. The Breed In Britain Given the breeds impressive reputation in the hunting field, it was inevitable that, in the days before restrictions of movements of dogs from Europe to this country, some Grand Fauves would have been brought over to strengthen British, and more particularly Welsh hunting packs. There are many reports of this having been done. Mostly in reference to Welsh Foxhound packs and even today one occasionally sees hounds with Fauve characteristics. Even on occasions Otterhounds have been seen with remarkable resemblance to Grand Fauves, especially in regard to coat colour and texture. Sadly there is a distinct lack of reliable documented evidence to support such importations.   The first Basset Fauve to be imported into this country from France in 1982 was Naika Des Vieilles Coombes who was in whelp and bred by the late M. David Sary. This was followed two years later by Hercule Ter Elst from Belgium, bred by M. Raymond Everaert (an important player in bringing the breed to other countries) and Fatima of Pooh Corner from the Netherlands, bred by Olga and Kees Homans. In 1987 another bitch was imported in whelp, Jolie Mogway of Pooh Corner. These four, imported by the late Evan Roberts, established the beginnings of the Fauve breed in this country. Their produce laid the foundations of the breed for many of the breeders of today. The late Graham Telfer with Pam Aldous also played a considerable part in the spread of fame of the Fauve. There are few pedigrees without a ‘Venquest’ affix included. From the 1990’s to the present day, enthusiasts of the breed, with the help of the introduction of ‘Bali Directive’ and now the ‘Pet Passport’ system, have imported many more Fauves, mainly from France and Sweden. This has widened the genepool and enabled the breed to go forward into the 21st century. The Club for the Basset Fauve de Bretagne was formed in 1991 for owners and enthusiasts of the breed. There are currently around a 180 members who receive two ‘Fauve News’ a year with updates on the breed and any contributions from members that they care to provide. There is a club web site to be found at where information is displayed and also a ‘breeders list’ can be accessed. For the past few years the Club has produced its own calendar. The best opportunities for prospective owners to see a number of Fauves in one place, is to visit a Show where classes for Fauves have been scheduled. Crufts is an obvious first choice as it attracts an entry of around fifty Fauves (take care to visit on ‘hound’ day) although there will be some representatives of the breed on ‘Discover Dogs’ each day. The Club Shows also attract a large entry, held in March and October. If any other ‘Club Events’ are planned they are posted on the web site. Other than that Fauves can be seen around the country at most of the Championship Shows as the majority of them provide classes, details of which can be found in the ‘Dog Press’ or at the Kennel Club. The Basset Fauve de Bretagne though still a minority Breed in this country is no longer considered a ‘Rare’ Breed as from 2007 it was granted  ‘Championship Status’ at shows. The Breed has grown in numbers and the gene pool is now of generous size. This allows the prolific winners to become Champions in the breed whereas before they could not, no matter how many times they were declared Best Dog or Best Bitch in Breed. The Basset Fauve de Bretagne is a remarkable hound being by nature friendly and outgoing, an asset to any family, delightful with Children of all ages and tolerant with other dogs and pets. But it must always be remembered that the Fauve is an active scent hound, many possessing an enthusiastic urge to hunt. Prospective owners should always be aware of this and respect it. Compiled and written by Tricia Turton