Barbet News (page 64)

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Barbet Symposium - Châtel-Guyon, France.

An early breakfast.

An early breakfast.

Despite an indecently early start, the small party of barbet Club of G.B. members heading for the Barbet Symposium all managed to meet up and catch the early ferry from Southampton across the Channel to Caen. Having looked carefully at the costs involved and taking into account the long ferry crossing and the fact that the dogs would have to be crated somewhere during the Symposium we had decided to travel without dogs which made the logistics of the trip a whole lot easier.

With the London 2012 Olympics only halfway through, the Greek gods had clearly taken control of the weather and we had a smooth crossing in glorious sunshine. Arriving in France, it was a straightforward drive down to Tours where we planned to break the journey for the night

The following morning, feeling refreshed, it was only a few hours drive further south to our hotel in Riom which was to be our base for the weekend. We had been advised that the French breed club, the "Club du barbet, lagotto et autre chiens d`eau." would be holding the `Test d`Aptitude Naturelle`(eau) with the entrants meeting in Châtel-Guyon. Just as we arrived at the meeting place we saw a convoy of cars leaving, so neatly joined in the convoy hoping that this was for the T.A.N.

Fortunately, the convoy eventually arrived at a lakeside and the sight of some familiar faces and familiar curly coated dogs told us we were in the right place. Despite the limited space at the lakeside, the sociability test and gun-shy test were carried out first, with a dummy launcher used to replicate the gun fire. A simple dummy retrieve from the lake completed the test. It was interesting for Julie and Annette to see the T.A.N. in France and we all felt that the U.K. barbets would have acquitted themselves well had they been there.

Wendy, Julie & Annette(right) chat to French and Dutch barbet owners.

Wendy, Julie & Annette(right) chat
to French and Dutch barbet owners.

We were up early on the Saturday morning, ready for the National d`Elevage which was being held first thing in order for the Symposium to start straight afterwards.

With no dogs to show, it was an opportunity to have a good look at a selection of quality barbets from across Europe and Scandinavia. We were able to check out theories as to who the judges would pick in each class, and for the most part got it right. The judges were very careful in their selection with the great and the good of the S.C.C. watching on. As 10.00am approached it became clear that the Symposium would not be starting on time.

Renate Zuber, a Swiss owner and breeder asked Wendy to handle one of her dogs as she was due to show another of her barbet at the same time. Wendy, not normally the keenest person to enter the show ring recommended either Annette or Julie for the task as both are far more experienced at showing. So it was that Annette provided the only real UK interest of the morning showing `Djili de la Colline des Violettes` in the `Young Female Class` which she won. Renates` earlier comment that Annette could keep Djili if she won her class provided a running joke for the rest of the day as we tried to work out how we would get Djili back to the UK.

Annette with Djili.

Annette with Djili.

With all the judging complete and prizes awarded (Full Results), we had time to sit in the shade for a very quick lunch before heading into hall where the Symposium was to be held.

The panel heading the Symposium on behalf of the Société Centrale Canine (French Kennel Club) was chaired by the President, Mr Christian Eymard Dauphin with Professor Raymond Triquet (Member of the Commission of Zootechnique¹ and Standards), Professor Bernard Denis (Member of the Commission of Zootechnique¹ and Standards), Mr Jean Lassandre (Member of the Commission of Zootechnique¹ and Standards), Dr Pascale Quignon-Cadieu (Institute of Genetics and Development, University of Renne) and Dr Grégoire Leroy (Member of the Scientific Commission of the SCC).

The Symposium was based on questions sent in advance by barbet owners and breeders for the panel to respond to. The speakers comments were backed up with a Powerpoint presentation which was shown on a large screen and the speakers comments were translated simultaneously in to English via headphones provided for those who had requested them.
(*Below is my recollection of what was said, it should not be regarded in any way as a full and comprehensive account . It is hoped a full transcript will be available in the future. J.P.*)

Mme Renée Rault, President of the French breed club opened proceedings by welcoming all the participants and stating that the aim of the Symposium was to give all the countries involved in the breed, a clear direction forward. It was stated that the barbet is defined by its long curly, wooly coat and its love of water, however cold. The fact that the barbet is an ancient French breed was stated and several historical references were quoted. The barbet has played an important part in the development of several of todays breeds such as the Bichon and the Poodle. There followed a look at the breed statistics in France over the past few years, which whilst improving, still leave the barbet in a vulnerable state. Mr Dauphin stated the he would recommend that as many barbet as possible should be Confirmed² irrespective of minor show faults as it was far more important to increase numbers and consequently genetic diversity. `Popular Sire Syndrome` is also to be avoided where possible, although it was acknowledged that setting a finite limit on the number of times a male could be used was not practicable at present.

The next section looked at the breed standard and its development from the first standard in 1894 through to the current F.C.I. standard. It was stated that the standard has developed and been amended over time as is found in many other breeds but that the core qualities of the breed remain unchanged. There was to be no change to the existing standard at this time and that as a French breed, any future changes would have to be made after consultation with the French breed club and the S.C.C. and then passed onto the F.C.I.

It was reiterated that the breed standard represents an `ideal` example of the breed for which breeders should strive for. No individual barbet would ever be held up as the type to strive for.

A lot of questions had been submitted regarding the finer points of angulation, eye colour etc., but these were unanswered, possibly due to the lack of time but also to avoid eliminating certain dogs for relatively minor points of conformation. In regard to the question of whether the barbet should have the morphology of a griffon it was stated that many breeds of the same type share the the same relative morphology.

The point was strongly made, that under no circumstances should the dog have its eyesight impeded or restricted by allowing hair to grow over its eyes.

Down to business

Down to business.

Dr Grégoire Leroy then gave a presentation based on his own research into genetic diversity in rare French breeds and a statistical analysis of a database compiled by Mr Tomasz Targowski and Mme Elaine Fichter. The conclusion was that due to the efforts of breeders, genetic variability was increasing but there was still some way to go. The question was raised as to whether there would be a need for out crossing in the future and if so with which breed? Dr Leroy`s response was that this was not yet neccessary provided breeders continue to carefully consider the coefficient of inbreeding in any planned mating, and avoid `Popular Sire Syndrome`. Should an out-cross become neccessary in the future this should only be done with the full co-operation of, and in consultation with the S.C.C.

Dr Pascale Quignon-Cadieu gave a presentation on the research being carried out into epilepsy in the barbet. She outlined the two types identified and reiterated the need for all those with affected dogs to provide a blood sample to the University of Renne or to Dr Hans Lohi in Helsinki. At present there are too few affected subjects available to enable an accurate genetic test to be developed. Dr Quignon-Cadieu went on to examine the effects of various breeding scenarios so that in the absence of a genetic test, the breed could move forwards. Where overall breed numbers are low, removing all suspected epilepsy carriers from the gene pool would drastically reduce genetic variability and have an adverse effect on the breed. While any combination that has produced epilepsy should not be repeated it was quite possible that by chosing an alternative male an unaffected litter could be produced.

The Symposium was closed by Mme Renée Rault who attempted to answer some of the questions posed by members of the audience which had been left unanswered. Mme Rault thanked all those who attended and expressed her wish that the Symposium would inspire barbet owners and breeders to work together for the future success of the breed and even mentioned the British as an example of the way forward.


With another day of showing scheduled for the Sunday we had to forego that pleasure and take the long drive north to catch the ferry home. While it was a long and somewhat costly trip to make, the three British barbet breeders, Mrs Julie McDougal, Mrs Annette Dinsdale and Mrs Wendy Preston are to be commended for making the effort to attend; their presence at such events adds to the experience and knowledge of the breed within the Barbet Club of Great Britain.





Zootechnique¹ - Science that studies the health of pets, considers how to maintain them and to increase their production and includes the study of races, food, farming methods, artificial insemination, hygiene and applied genetics.

Confirmation² - a specimen of the breed is examined, once over a year old, by a conformation judge and is confirmed as a good example of the breed.


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