AKC Ranking: 25
Family: scent hound
Area of Origin: France
Date of Origin: 1500s
Original Function: trailing rabbits and hare
Today's Function: trailing rabbits and hare, field trials, basset field
Avg Size of male: Height: <14 Weight: 40-60
Avg Size of Female: Height: <14 Weight: 40-60
Other Name: none

The first mention of the basset dog is found in a 16th-century text about badger
hunting. Dwarfed short-legged specimens occur in many breeds and have been
known since ancient times, but it is difficult to know at what point such dogs were
purposefully bred and which ones led to the present basset hound. The word
basset is derived from the French word bas, which means "low thing or dwarf," so
that definitive evidence of the breed may be hard to follow. Short-legged dogs
were used by the French for hunting at a slower pace, but most of these dogs
were dispersed, and their fates undocumented, during the French Revolution.
The history becomes clearer after the revolution, when greater numbers of
commoners took up hunting, often aided by guns. They needed a dog that they
could follow on foot, but that still had great scenting ability and strong, heavy
bone — in essence, a short-legged version of the pack hounds popular with the
aristocracy. Because the basset could not pursue its quarry at speed, the quarry
was less likely to be on the run and thus presented an easier target for the
gunman. The dogs would hunt all mammals but were especially suited for rabbits
and hares. Four different versions of short-legged hounds were created, with the
basset Artesien Normand most closely resembling today's basset. In the late
1800s (and again in 1930), crosses with bloodhounds were made to increase
size; the results were then tempered with subsequent crosses to the Artesien
Normand. The first bassets were brought to England and America in the late
1800s, and interest in the breed grew gradually. By the mid-1900s, the basset's
droll expression had won it a place in advertising and entertainment and in many
new pet owners' hearts.

The basset hound is among the most good-natured and easygoing of breeds. It is
amiable with dogs, other pets and children, although children must be cautioned
not to put strain on its back with their games. It is calm inside, but it needs regular
exercise to keep fit. It prefers to investigate slowly, and loves to sniff and trail. It is
a talented and determined tracker, not easily dissuaded from its course. Because
of this, it may get on a trail and follow it until it becomes lost. It tends to be
stubborn and slow-moving. It has a loud bay that it uses when excited on the trail.

The basset needs mild daily exercise, which can be satisfied by walking on leash
or playing in the yard. It does best as a house dog with access to a yard. Its coat
needs only minimal grooming, but its face may need regular cleaning around the
mouth and wrinkles. Bassets tend to drool.

Form and Function
The basset's long, heavy body and short legs make it easy to follow on foot and
give it an edge in dense cover. The basset hound has heavier bone, in proportion
to its total size, than any other breed. Its thick, tight coat protects it from brambles
without becoming caught in them. It is speculated that its long ears may stir up
ground scent, and the wrinkles trap the scent around the face. The large muzzle
gives ample room for the olfactory apparatus. Such room would not be available
in a miniature dog; only a large dog with shortened legs can combine the short
height with large muzzle size. The basset's movement is smooth and powerful; it
tends to move with nose to the ground.