Voices of Experience:

Interviews With Some of Our Long-Time Breeders (Part 4)

by Claudia Waller Orlandi, Ph.D.

Following is the last of our series of interviews with 10 of the leading Basset breeders in the country.

Which Basset Hound has had the greatest influence on your breeding program and in what way?

Sandra (Craigwood): “We often think of bitches when we evaluate a breeding program. However, there are 2 males who have done the most for me, both bred by Janet Mohr: CH Windamohr’s Gamble and CH Windamohr’s Prodigal Son. Both gave me wonderful bitches that carried and passed on their great traits. I regret that I never got a son from either of them that was as nice as either of these two sires.”

Penny & Randy (Ambrican) : A/C CH Coran Country Chaz, ROM and A/C CH Charford Gretchen. “Chaz was a hound that did not have, but could throw, that particular ‘class’ and ‘presence’ that a show dog must have to become a top winner. Gretchen passed on great disposition, glorious feet, good length of body and an overall look and quality that we can see 4 generations later. She is the dam of A/C CH Ambrican Lipizzan, ROM.”

Sharon (Castlehill) : “CH Rebelglen’s A Minor Calamity, ROM. She produced CH Castlehill’s Hot Cinders and A/C CH Castlehill’s Top Spot, ROM. Cinders gave us elegance, attitude, topline and pigment. Topper gave us good shoulders, strong rears and beautiful side gait.”

Claudia Lane (Beaujangle/Classic): “CH Blue Billy Bojangles, ROM, our first champion. He was the result of a half-brother/half-sister cross. CH Beaujangle’s Ten, ROM, a half-brother/half-sister breeding on Billy. CH Beaujangle’s J.P. Beaureguarde (a Ten son to a Billy granddaughter). CH Sanlyn’s Classic Jeepster (a half-brother/half-sister cross on Stripe). In his only litter, he sired Harley.”

Joan (Fort Merrill) : “CH Fort Merrill Snowflake was bred twice, once to CH Strathalbyn Lugano and once to CH Ambrican Lipizzan. Her daughters have produced my best Bassets. Also Brooksides I’m A JJ Too, a nice, heavy-boned dog, has been used very successfully with my bloodlines.”

Jinny (Stoneybluff): “Our program started with CH Lyn Mar Acres Michelle and CH Jagersven Monarch and we have never strayed from there. I guess I would say they are the most influential dogs in the program. Aside from these, all of my dogs have contributed something important to our kennel. Some have received Awards of Merit and some fine producing animals have not. Some have received their championships and others have not. It has been my intention to have a well-rounded breeding program and each animal has been used when it fit the need or matched the plan.”

Dawn (Von Skauton) feels somewhat similar regarding singling out dogs that have had an impact. She says: “after over 35 years of breeding, it’s difficult to narrow the choices. Actually every dog in a pedigree had some sort of influence, although the following were exceptional: CH Schnaps Von Skauton for solidity and longevity, CH Heine Von Skauton for elegance and movement and CH Dealo’s Lehi Fyre Dragon for cementing so many of the characteristics we like and adding topline, topline, topline.”

Kitty (Sanchu): “CH Dan D’s Gimli of Sanchu. He was a double Prancer grandson and he passed along not only good rears but also a special sort of balance which is rare.”

Bob (Hiflite): “CH Abbot Run Valley Brassy, one of the premier studs of the day, because whenever we wanted to correct a fault, the dog that we chose always had “Brassy” up close in the pedigree. Later it was CH Hiflite’s Kentucky Wonder, ROM, owned by Sandra Campbell. He clearly influenced many of our Bassets. CH Hiflite Briarcrest Extra Man, ROM, has also had a significant impact on our line, as well as on many others, since he is now the top producing Basset Hound of all time.”

Vicki (Halcyon): “Many dogs have produced various influences, positive and negative, in our kennel. Probably the most positive influence was yielded by our foundation bitch, CH Tess Von Skauton, who free whelped 12 puppies in her first litter and 11 in her second and produced generation after generation of bitches capable of similar invaluable accomplishment.”

As you have evolved as a breeder, (a) In what ways, if any, have you changed, and (b) What would you do differently?

Joan (Fort Merrill): “I now place great emphasis on soundness. When I first began breeding Bassets I was more interested in the ‘icing’ (i.e., red and white color, long ears, a lot of wrinkles, big size) as opposed to worrying about structure.”

Penny & Randy (Ambrican): “We have shifted from the idea of trying to produce a litter of all show hounds towards producing a litter of good solid hounds that themselves could produce that top winner. We have focused more on finding the right combination of hounds, whether they be top winners or not.”

Kitty (Sanchu) : “As we evolved we found we took more chances if we did not get what we wanted in the first generation. In retrospect, we probably let some very good dogs go for one small fault when we should have kept them based on their overall quality. Each had to have that special balance and ease of movement for us. If we could start over, we would find a mentor/breeder. We did not have one and it was slow going. Experience is a very good teacher, possibly the best, but it takes longer without the guidance of a mentor.”

Vicki (Halcyon): “I no longer cry all the way home when we lose as I did when we had our first show dog. In all seriousness, I can’t think of much of anything we’d do differently in the overall picture. We learned valuable information from any mistakes we made. As the old saying goes, experience is the best teacher.”

Jinny (Stoneybluff): “I can honestly say that for the 35 years of breeding Basset Hounds, my approach has not changed. And if I had it to do over again I would do it exactly the same way. I’m pleased with the results of the program I began many years ago.”

Sandra (Craigwood): “The longer I breed Basset Hounds, the more I realize there is no right or wrong way. What works for a while eventually stops working and you must take another approach. You must keep an open mind and not become kennel blind. Breeding continues to be a learning process and that is what makes it so challenging. As far as what I would do differently, I feel the mistakes which have been made in the past pertaining to certain breedings have served as helpful tools when planning a future breeding.”

Bob (Hiflite) : “I hope I have become more tolerant of the efforts of others in this endeavor, and even more critical of my own. Obviously, I’ve gotten a little older, a little fatter and hopefully, a little mellower! Frankly, I don’t think that there’s much I would change since we’ve been reasonably successful within the breed.”

Sharon (Castlehill) : “As Jim and I have ‘evolved’ over the years, I feel the most significant change has been our ability to forgive. Some of this came about when we started judging, because judging is all about forgiveness! In the beginning, we thought most Bassets were ‘great.’ We didn’t have a clue about what parts enabled them to function or move properly. We certainly learned from our mistakes but also had the spirit to move on and keep learning. I’m not sure what we would do differently if we were to start over – hindsight is always 20/20!”

Dawn (Von Skauton) : “Today we are probably less forgiving of a faulty topline. Otherwise we have always tried to breed for the basics of longevity, health, temperament and soundness combined with an eye for what makes a Basset a Basset. If we could turn back the clock, we wouldn’t stumble around as much hoping to produce good pups from less than good dogs.”

Claudia (Beaujangle/Classic) : “I would hope to be a little smarter. I’m happy to say that my dogs have improved and gotten better. I believe that is the goal. I do feel I’ve become more critical of my own dogs and at the same time more accepting of others. Breeding dogs takes a lot of energy, time and commitment and it seems I have less of that. But every few years or so, it is nice to look down at the latest batch of hopefuls in the whelping box and wonder what’s in store for me.