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A Breed a Week : Basset Hound


From the Complete Dog Book, a publication of the American Kennel Club, copyright 1985

"Originally of French lineage, the Basset has flourished for centuries in Europe, primarily in France and Belgium, where it was used chiefly for the slow trailing of rabbits, hares, deer and any other game that can be trailed on foot or taken to ground.

It is thought that the friars of the French Abbey of St. Hubert were instrumental in selective breeding from various other strains of French hounds to produce a lower set, hence slower moving dog which could be followed on foot. The word "Basset" derived from the French adjective bas means a "low thing" or "a dwarf." Since hunting was a classic sport in medieval France, it is not surprising that many of the thoroughly efficient small hounds found their way into the kennels of the aristocracy, only to be dispersed with the changing life style brought on by the Revolution.

The Basset is a sturdy, accurate trailer; his tongue is loud and distinctive. The shortness of his legs and his tight, close coat make him particularly useful in dense cover. In trailing ability, the accuracy of his nose makes him second only to the Bloodhound. His slow going ways and appealing clownish appearance belie great intelligence.

Gentle in disposition, the Basset is agreeable to hunting in packs as well as singly. Medium as to size, loyal and devoted to his master and family, not requiring extensive coat care or trimming, considered an "easy keeper" - all makes the Basset an ideal family pet and housedog.

In general appearance the Basset Hound is a long low dog, heavier in bone than any other breed. His most distinctive feature is his head, which is long and narrow in proportion to its length. His topskull is well domed with a noticeable occipital protuberance. The skin over the head is loose and falls readily into brow wrinkles when the head is lowered. The muzzle is deep with prominent flews and dewlap. The ears are long and lowset, for when the nose is put to the ground the ears help cup the scent in trailing. The Basset's eyes are dark, soulful and full of expression. The whole of the head and expression should convey dignity and elegance. While its movement is deliberate, it is in no sense clumsy. In temperament it is mild, never sharp or timid. It is capable of great endurance in the field and is extreme in its devotion.