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Welcome to the Basset Hound dog microsite. This page contains detailed information on the breed. From this point you can use the above tabs to navigate to the other Basset Hound pages.

- Kitt Killion

Basset Hound Breed Information

Country of origin - France

Classification and breed standards

FCI:|Group 6 Section 1 #163|Stds
ANKC:|Group 4 (Hounds)|Stds
CKC:|Group 2 - Hounds|Stds
KC (UK):|Hound|Stds

The Basset Hound is a short-legged breed of 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;" "basset" (-et attenuating suffix) meaning, literally, "rather low."

1. Appearance

These dogs are around 33 to 38 cm (13 to 15 inches) in height at the withers. They usually weigh between 50-70lbs. They have smooth, short-haired coats but a rough haired hound is possible. 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 gray or blue; however, this color is considered rare and undesirable.

They have long, downward 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.

The Basset Hound is 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.

2. Temperament

The Basset Hound is often considered a friendly breed. Bassets are friendly and welcome the opportunity to make new friends. For this reason they are an excellent pet for families with children and other pets. In fact, it is recommended that since Bassets are "pack" animals, if the Basset must be left alone on a daily basis during the daytime while the family is away, a second pet in the family will keep a Basset out of "trouble". Bassets hate to be alone. Like Beagles, Bassets can be excitable and may be when meeting someone new, especially other dogs.

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. Listening is another skill they have due to their large ears increasing their hearing range.

Like other hounds, Basset Hounds are often difficult to train. Many Basset Hounds 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. Though basset hounds may be rather difficult to train, they are good problem solvers. Some can find ways to get into living room that are not humanly posible, and they are also famous for thinking ahead and stealing food.

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 bark when they want something or to suggest that they think something is wrong. They also use a low, murmuring whine to get attention, which sounds to many owners as though their Bassets are "talking." This whine is also used by the hound to beg (for food or treats) and varies in volume depending on the nature of the individual hound and length of time it has been begging.

3. History

Basset Hounds are a 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. The Basset Artesian Normand is one of the six recognized French Basset breeds. Originating in Artois and Normandy, it dates back to the 1600's. The Basset Artesian Normand looks like a Basset Hound, but lighter in weight. A short, straight legged hound, its body is twice as long as it is high. Its head is dome-shaped and powerful with hairy cheeks. The neck is slightly dewlap and the muscles are smooth with a moderate amount of wrinkles. The chest is round with clearly visible sternum. The coat is very short, bicolor: tan and white, or tricolor: tan, black and white. Breeders prefer white feet.

By the turn of this century, the Basset Artesian Normand was developing into two distinct lines, straight-legged hunters and crocked-legged, droopy-eared companion and show dogs. French breeder Leon Verrier developed today's standard, which blends attributes of both varieties. The Artesian Basset needed straight legs that would neither hinder his speed nor drain his energy in order to work in unruly terrain, brush and briar. The breed was recognized in 1911.

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 Basset Hounds to the United States as a gift to George Washington.

In France, basset hounds achieved noticeable public cultural popularlity during the reign of Emperor Napoleon III (r. 1852-1870). In 1853, Emmanuel Fremiet, "the leading sculptor of animals in his day" exhibited bronze sculptures of Emperor Napoleon III's basset hounds at the Paris Salon. Ten years later, in 1863, the Basset Hound 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 Basset Hounds were 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 Basset Hounds 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.

In North America basset hound picnics and waddles are traditions in many regions and draw impressive crowds and participations from in some cases hundreds and thousands of bassets and their owners. For example, The Allentown Basset Picnic thrived for seven years before becoming Tri-State's Basset Freedom Fest in 2003. Other major annual basset hound events, including the Buffalo Basset Bash, the New Orleans Basset Boogie, and the Michigan Basset Waddle, share many similarities with North American food festivals and even crown king and queen basset hounds in a manner reminiscent of festival crownings of pumpkin queens. Of course, other traditions, such as deciding which basset has the best waddling butt or can keep a towel on its head the longest, are generally unique to basset hound picnics and waddles. These events also feature a wide variety of purchaseable and usually custom-made items depicting basset hounds and therefore play a role in raising money for basset hound rescue organizations and boosting local economies. Often featured at shows and festivals is a world-famous pack of performing basset hounds known as "The Happy Basset Hounds." The trio consist of Eleanor, Annabel and Buster, and they make their home in Texarkana, Ark. The act was formerly headlined by the celebrated Ernest T. Basset, now deceased.

4. Pack hunting on foot

Hunting with Basset Hounds in a similar fashion as a fox hunt is common in the Mid-Atlantic States of Maryland, Virginia , New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Several private and membership packs exist in these locals. Hunting for cotton tails and hare is the quarry of preference. There were a number of Basset Hound packs in its original home of England when the hunting of hares (see Beagling) was made illegal by the Hunting Act 2004.

Hunting a hound pack requires a staff which consists of a Huntsman and the Whipper-Ins who are responsible for order and discipline of the pack. A Field Master is in charge of the field (members of the hunt and guests) that follows behind observing the hounds work the covert. Most clubs will hunt in traditional attire of a green jacket and brush pants. Recognized clubs offer those members who have supported the pack the opportunity to wear colors on the collar to indicate rank in the club.

These packs are typically of English and French hound blood lines with a mix of AKC blood lines in some packs. The National Beagle Club located at the Institute Farm in Aldie, Virginia approximately 50 miles west of Washington D.C. host spring and fall field trials for basset hounds. The competition held over a 4-day period with participating packs hunting in the traditional manner in braces of up to 1 hour and 15 minutes. The pack size for each competition varies, from 3 to 7 couple.

5. Health

Because of the extremely long ears of bassets they are prone to ear disease. If their ears are allowed to dangle on the ground or in food on a daily basis they are capable of developing chronic and potentially fatal ear diseases. The only recent mortality and morbidity surveys of Basset Hounds are from the UK: a 1999 longevity survey with a small sample size of 10 deceased dogs and a 2004 UK Kennel Club health survey with a larger sample size of 142 deceased dogs and 226 live dogs.

5. 1. Mortality

Median longevity of Basset Hounds in the UK is about 11.4 years, which is a typical median longevity for purebred dogs and for breeds similar in size to Basset Hounds. The oldest of the 142 deceased dogs in the 2004 UK Kennel Club survey was 16.7 years. Leading causes of death in the 2004 UK Kennel Club survey were cancer (31%), old age (13%), GDV (=bloat/torsion, 11%), and cardiac (8%).

5. 2. Morbidity

Among 226 live Basset Hounds in the 2004 UKC survey, the most common health issues noted by owners were dermatologic (e.g., dermatitis), reproductive, musculoskeletal (e.g., arthritis and lameness), and gastrointestinal (e.g. GDV and colitis).

Basset Hounds are also prone to glaucoma, luxating patella, thrombopathia, Von Willebrand disease, hypothyroidism, hip dysplasia, and elbow dysplasia.

5. 3. Care notes

Basset Hound owners should take particular note of the prevalence of GDV (gastric dilatation volvulus, also known as bloat or torsion) in this breed because this emergency condition requires immediate veterinary care if the dog is to survive.

Excessive weight in a long-backed, short-legged dog exacerbates musculoskeletal issues.

Long ears are prone to infection if not cleaned regularly. The pronounced haw of Basset Hound eyes can become dry and irritated.

5. 4. Significant crossbreeds

A hybrid of a Labrador Retriever with a Basset Hound is known as the Bassetdor or Bassador. Also, (one of the most popular) is the basset/beagle mix, and is known as the Bagle.

6. Training

Training is a touchy topic when dealing with the Basset Hound breed. Gentle and patient training is the most effective form of training. Trainers must be persistent with this breed in order to achieve a well mannered dog. Bassets have a tendency to become stubborn by listening to their noses rather than their masters. Owners need to make the training process lively and entertaining to allow the Basset to learn more efficiently.

7. Popular culture

In February 27th 1928, Time magazine featured a Basset Hound on the front cover. The accompanying story was about the 52nd annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden as if observed by the Basset Hound puppy. This prestige is often seen as the event which made the Basset Hound a popular part of American pop culture.

Basset Hounds have had prominent roles in movies and television. Some Bassets have been featured in comic strips and cartoons. Examples include cartoon character Droopy Dog, originally created in 1943 by Tex Avery, and Fred Basset, the main character in the comic strip Fred Basset, created by Alex Graham in 1963. Basset Hounds playing more minor roles include Rosebud the Basselope from Berke Breathed's comic strip Bloom County and Lafayette, from the 1970 Disney film The Aristocats. The notable webcomic PvP by Scott Kurtz occasionally features the author's pet Basset Hound. Rodney Dangerfield voices a Basset Hound in the animated feature film, "Rover Dangerfield". Basset Hounds in films include Fred, the companion of Cledus in the 1977 movie "Smokey and the Bandit" and Gabriel, Batou's Basset Hound in "Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence"; Gabriel is in fact director Mamoru Oshii's real life pet, and is included in many of his films. In a scene most likely referencing Smokey and the Bandit, a truck driver has a Basset Hound beside him in American Pie 2. Basset Hounds are featured prominently in off-beat roles as well - one gets hit by a car and survives in "The Rage: Carrie 2", and in the film Monkeybone a Basset has its own nightmarish dream sequence. Finally, Basset Hounds appear in such other mainstream films as "An American Werewolf in Paris", "Nanny McPhee", and "Spider-Man 2".

Television programs have used Basset Hounds as characters as well. In the early days of television, Elvis Presley famously sang "Hound Dog" to a Basset Hound named Sherlock on "The Steve Allen Show" on July 1, 1956. One of the most famous Bassets on television was Flash, the dog owned by Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane in the 1980s TV series "The Dukes of Hazzard". A life-sized replica named "Flush" was used in dangerous situations. Other Bassets on television include Cleo from "The People's Choice", the Basset Hound named simply "Dog" from "Columbo", Henry from Emergency!, Quincey, from "Coach", Sam from That's So Raven and Socrates in Judging Amy.

Basset Hounds have also been featured in advertising. The logo for Hush Puppies brand shoes prominently features a Basset Hound. Basset Hounds are occasionally referred to as "Hush Puppies" for that reason. The dog used in the photos was named Jason. A Basset Hound also serves as the companion to the lonely Maytag Man in Maytag appliance advertisements. Tidewater Petroleum advertised its Flying A Gasoline using a Bassett Hound named Axelrod. In the 1990's, a handsome red/white Basset Hound called SIGMUND featured in a several advertisements including one for Domestos bleach.

Finally, on Cory in The House, Humphrey, the president's dog, is a basset hound, however Disney channel states it is a blood hound.

The breed has also had at least one notable role in a comic book series. This being Kirby, a basset hound in the PvP series based on the authors real life pet of the same name.

Copyright (c) 2008 Kitt Killion Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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