Gentle and non-confrontational, the Basset is instantly recognizable by its big, heavy body, long ears, and short legs. Basset, in fact, comes from the French word bas, which means "low." One thing is for certain, the Basset Hound is an excellent tracker and hunter but also a loyal pet.
The Basset Hound has a heavy, bony structure, making it larger-proportioned than other breeds. The dog’s short legs and long, heavy body help it run smoothly and powerfully, even in places with thick cover. It moves with its nose pointing to the ground. The tight and thick coat, which can be found in variety of colors, protects the dog from brambles during a hunt.
According to experts, the wrinkles and the long ears help the dog in trapping scent, while its muzzle is spacious in order to accomodate its complicated olfactory apparatus -- an apparatus that makes the large and strong Basset Hound stand out among other dogs, even with its short legs.
By nature, the Basset Hound is very friendly with children and other pets, and is also one of the most relaxed and good-natured of the hound breeds. However, this slow-moving dog may become stubborn at times. Kids should not strain the dog’s back, which is prone to problems.
The Basset Hound is fond of trailing and sniffing, baying loudly while on the trail and inspecting things slowly. As it is a good tracker, the hound will continue to follow game, even if it gets lost.
Daily mild exercise, like playing in the garden or walking on a leash, is good enough to satisfy the Basset. The dog’s face, particularly the wrinkles and around the mouth should always be kept clean, while the coat does not require much grooming. This breed has a tendency to drool and it functions best indoors as a house pet.
The Basset Hound, which has an average lifespan of 8 to 12 years, is prone to major health conditions such as Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD), gastric torsion, elbow dysplasia, thrombopathy, entropion, otitis externa, ectropion, glaucoma, von Willebrand's Disease (vWD), and canine hip dysplasia (CHD). Obesity is a common problem in the breed, which can lead to back problems. It may also suffer from patellar luxation. To identify some of these issues, a veterinarian may recommend eye and hip exams on this breed of dog; platelet tests may help confirm vWD.
The Basset Hound was first mentioned in 16th-century text, which spoke of badger hunting. However, people have used short-legged breeds since ancient times. When such dogs were bred successfully to create the Basset Hound is anyone's guess.
The pre-Revolutionary French used short-legged dogs for hunting, but not much was documented about these dogs. After the French Revolution, many common hunters required a dog that could be followed on foot. This dog also had to be strong, heavy-boned, and short-legged, with good scenting ability.
The Basset was a good choice, as the dog moves slowly, thereby allowing the hunter to attack the quarry easily. Although it normally used to hunt rabbits and hares, the Basset could hunt larger mammals as well. Four types of short-legged hound were eventually created, of which the Basset Artesien Normand was closest to the modern day Basset.
The Basset was crossed with Bloodhounds in the late 1800s, in order to increase the dog’s size. The result was then crossed with the Artesien Normand. It was during the same period when the first Bassets were introduced to America and England, leading to the breed’s popularity. In the mid-1900s, the Basset became popular as a pet and also in the fields of entertainment and advertising, for its funny expression.
Because of its gentle, non-confrontational nature, the Basset remains a favorite among dog fanciers, hunters, and families today.