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Alternative Name

The French Aristocrat

Basic Info

The breed is a short-legged dog of the hound family. They are scent hounds, bred to hunt by scent. Their sense of smell for tracking is second only to that of the Bloodhound. The name Basset derives from the French word "bas" meaning "low". They commonly have large, outward-pointing feet, as seen in this typical specimen from Illinois These dogs are around 33 to 38 cm (13 to 15 inches) in height at the withers. They usually weigh between 20 and 30 kg (45 and 65 lb). They have smooth, short-haired coats. Although any hound color is considered acceptable by breed standards, Bassets are generally tricolor (black, tan, and white), open red and white (red spots on white fur), closed red and white (a solid red color with white feet and tails), and lemon and white. Some Bassets are also classified as grey, or blue, however this color is considered rare and undesirable. They have long, low-set ears and powerful necks, with much loose skin around their heads that forms wrinkles. Their tails are long and tapering and stand upright with a curve. The tail should also be tipped in white. This is so they are easily seen when hunting/tracking through large brush or weeds. The breed is also known for its hanging skin structure, which causes the face to have a permanently sad look; this, for many people, adds to the breed's charm. The dewlap, seen as the loose, elastic skin around the neck and the trailing ears help trap the scent of what they are tracking. They are a large dog on short legs. They were originally bred by the French to have achondroplasia, known as dwarfism. Their short stature can be deceiving: Bassets are surprisingly long and can reach things on table tops that dogs of similar heights cannot.

Health

In comparison to other breeds, the Basset Hounds is an especially healthy breed, but there are some illnesses to which they may fall prey. They are a deep-chested breed, and are therefore prone to bloat. Many bloodlines are genetically prone to glaucoma, luxating patella, and ectropion ("cherry eye"). Young Bassets occasionally develop panosteitis. Older Bassets occasionally develop Von Willebrand disease. Long dogs on short legs can easily develop back pain, especially if excessive weight is already a concern. Hip dysplasia can be a problem in Bassets. Due to the breed's short legs and large mass, Bassets may be susceptible to arthritis as they grow older. Grey Basset Hounds are more likely to be born with medical problems, and it is advisable not to purchase these. Also, the life expectancy for an average Basset usually lies between 8 to 12 years of age, but there are extreme cases where they live beyond 14 years old. Care Bassets tend to shed a lot, but do not require frequent brushing. Like the Bloodhound, they are a "wet mouthed" dog and tend to drool. As Hounds often overeat, feedings should be regulated to prevent weight gain. Long ears are prone to infection if not cleaned regularly. The pronounced haw of the eyes can become dry and irritated. Trailing bellies and massive paws will carry and track dirt to the despair of many owners. Untrimmed toenails can cause damage to floors and furniture, and create posture difficulty leading to back pain.

 

Behavior

The Basset Hound is a very calm and companionable, but they are often very stubborn. They are an especially loyal breed known for their pleasant disposition and emotions that sometimes seem almost human. Around strangers, Bassets are friendly and welcome the opportunity to make new friends. For this reason they are an excellent pet for families with children While Bassets love food and may be less energetic than some breeds, they will exercise regularly if given the chance. Most Bassets enjoy activities that use their natural endurance, like long walks or hikes. They also enjoy tracking games that let them use their powerful nose. Therefore, the stereotype of overweight and lazy Bassets is misleading. Rather, owners who believe their Bassets are supposed to be lazy will likely end up with overweight dogs that get exhausted easily, and owners who keep their Bassets active will likely have trim and happy hounds. Still, Bassets are excellent beggars. Their mournful appearance causes owners to be sympathetic and give them extra food; owners should resist this temptation. Like other hounds, Bassets are often very difficult to obedience train. Many will obey commands when offered a food reward, but will "forget" the training when a reward is not present. Bassets are notoriously difficult to housebreak. Training and housebreaking are not impossible, however, and can be accomplished with consistency and patience on the part of the owner. The breed has a strong hunting instinct and will give chase or follow a scent if given the opportunity. They should be trained in recall; failing that, they should be kept on a leash when out on walks. Bassets might howl or bay rather than bark when they want something or to suggest that they think something is wrong. They also use a low, murmering whine to get attention, which sounds to many owners as though their Bassets are "talking."

Origin

France

History

Basset Hounds are an aristocratic breed of French lineage, a descendant of the St. Hubert's Hound, a dog similar to the present-day Bloodhound. Friars of St. Hubert's Abbey in medieval France desired a shorter-legged dog, capable of following a scent under brush in thick forests, as hunting was a classic sport of the time. Both Bassets and St. Hubert's Hounds were bred to trail, not kill, their game. Bassets were originally used to hunt rabbits and hare. The first application of the word "Basset" to a breed of dog can be traced to an illustrated text on hunting written by Fouilloux in 1585. Early French Bassets closely resembled the Basset Artésien Normand, which is still a breed today though it is not recognized outside of France. Because many short-legged dogs from this time were called basset and record-keeping from this time was sparse, it is difficult to speculate which of these breeds have bloodlines in common with today's Basset Hounds. It is commonly believed that Marquis de Lafayette brought them to the United States as a gift to George Washington. In 1863 Basset Hounds reached international fame at the Paris Dog Show. At that time there were two common Bassets, those with a rough coat (Basset Griffon) and those with smooth (Basset Français). The dogs were further classified by the length of their legs. The two popular Basset breeders at this time were M. Lane and the Count Le Couteulx. In 1866, Lord Galway imported a pair of Le Couteulx Bassets to England, but it was not until 1874 that the Basset was widely introduced there by Sir Everett Millais. The Kennel Club accepted the breed in 1882 and the English Basset Hound Club was formed in 1884. The American Kennel Club first recognized them as a breed in 1885. In 1935, the Basset Hound Club of America was organized in the United States. The current American breed standard was adopted in 1964.