The Basset Hound is thought to have descended from a type of bloodhound, bred by the Benedictine Monks of the St Hubert Monastery in Belgium. Whilst the body and head shape confirms this, Bassets were further developed in France, where they were deliberately dwarfed, to be followed by hunters, on foot. Their primary purpose was to hunt rabbits and hare and their name comes from the French word “bas”, which means “low”.
The original Basset Hounds were slightly longer legged than the modern breed and they are described by the breed standard as a hound of substance, bred for endurance
In the fifteen and sixteen hundreds, the St Hubert Monks supplied many of these hounds to the French Aristocracy, and from France they were exported to England, then gradually to other parts of the world.
They are second in scenting ability only to the Bloodhound.
Domed head with prominent occiput, lozenge shaped eyes, nose tapered but not snipy or pointed. Ears should be set just below eye level and should be long enough to extend beyond the end of the muzzle. Strong jaw with scissor bite. Muscular neck with a dewlap (skin fold) under the chin. In the field, the long ears stir up the scent and the dewlap holds the scent to the nose. Tail should be carried up, and gently curved like a sabre – never curled or touching the back. Reach and drive movement with level top line.
Acceptable colours: tri-colour, red and white, tan and white, lemon and white – and any recognised hound colour.
Height: 33-38 cm at withers.
Ribbing – well rounded and sprung, not flanged. Adequate length of rib is required to protect the organs of this low slung hound, in the field. Rounded “apple” bottom. Loose skin across the body, which moves with the dog and serves as a lubricant, if the hound becomes snagged by foliage. Fold of skin on the head (not exaggerated), which drops forward and protects the eyes as the Basset travels with nose to ground.
Like other barrel chested breeds, without careful feeding, the Basset is prone to bloating. The long back needs to be looked after. A single level house / yard is preferable. Secure fencing is necessary. Lifting into and out from the car is essential.
The ears need to be cleaned to avoid infections. Weight must be carefully monitored. A warm, dry sleeping area is required if you don’t want to be kept awake with howls of protest. Can have litters of up to thirteen puppies.
Laid back, a little bit stubborn with a strong personality, the Basset is a loyal family member who will walk all day, but is just as happy staying home. Not a dog that suits being an ‘only child,’ as he may howl if left alone all day. Always the comedian, can tell a story with the raising of one eyebrow! Great with children and other dogs.
Fairly challenging to train, but responds well to a regular routine, lots of treats, repetition and kindness.
The Basset Hound is suited to families with active lifestyles, who are prepared to take the dog with them to school sport or other activities. If they are to spend long periods of time alone, it is recommended that the dog be paired with another Basset or some suitable companion dog.
Leash free walking needs to be offered only where the dog will come to no harm, especially if it “gets on the scent” and forgets to listen.
The Basset is a great watch dog with a deep, melodious bark, and very vocal in play. As they are food motivated, their food needs to be kept under lock and key, as there is very little you can hide from these excellent scent hounds. Basset Hounds, are like chips, hard to stop at just one.
Words: Helen Topalov Photo supplied by Julie & Amber O’Flynn
Now you know a little about the Basset Hound you may have think that this is the dog for you. Before you make a decision, please make contact with the breed club or your State controlling body for purebred dogs. They will be able to give you information about available puppies and also suggest dog shows where you can see the breed and speak to breeders. In this way you will gain a better perspective of the Basset Hound and its needs and whether this breed would suit your lifestyle.