The Basset Hound, of the Hound family, is a short- legged breed of dog, and is a scent hound that was bred for the purpose of hunting hare and rabbits. Its name is derived from the French word bas, which means “low” with the attenuating suffix –et, and when put together means “rather low”. The basset type originated in France and is descended from the 6th century hounds belonging to St. Hubert of Belgium. The dog eventually became known as the St. Hubert’s Hound around 1000AD, through breeding at the Benedictine Abbey. The St. Hubert’s hound is descended from the Laconian (Spartas) Hound. This is one of the four groups of dogs discerned from Greek representations and depictions. The dogs eventually made their way to Constantinople, and later to Europe.
The Basset Hound on average weighs between 44-77 pounds, and relative to its size, is heavier boned than any other. The height of the Basset should not exceed 14 inches. This is a large, solid, long and short dog, with a curved sabre tail that is held high over its long back. He has a hanging skin structure, which gives the dog its sad appearance, which subsequently adds to his charm for many people. The dewlap is seen as the loose, elastic skin around his neck. He has trailing ears, which is the longest of any breed with the Bloodhound that helps trap the scent of whatever it is they are tracking. The breed’s neck is wider than its head, and this combined with the loose neck and face skin means flat collars can be pulled off easily. The looseness of the Basset’s skin gives him his characteristic facial wrinkles. The skull of the Basset is characterized by the long Dolichocephalic nose. His nose is second only to the Bloodhound in its scenting ability. Because of dwarfism, the Basset’s legs are short, and because they have such short legs and are heavy, they are unable to hold themselves above water very long when swimming. The Basset’s coat is medium-short in length, sheds frequently and is smooth and hard. It is naturally oily, and gives off a distinctive “hound scent”, which is natural to the Hound breed. Any true hound color is acceptable, and many Bassets have a clearly defined blaze and a white tip to their tail. This is meant to help hunters in finding their dogs when they are tracking through underbrush.
Contrary to their sad looking expression, Bassets are actually active, affectionate, and loyal. They make the ideal family pet because of their pack nature. They get along well with other pets and people because of this trait as well. This breed is often referred to as “clown” dogs; they do their own thing, in their own time, and this can often lead to humorous interactions. If bored the Basset will bark and howl so it important the Basset gets plenty of exercise to wear him out, and has lots of toys while the owners are away. They will also bark and howl when they sense something might be wrong (often during thunder storms). Because of their intelligence and independence, training the Basset may be challenging.
The average lifespan of the Basset is about 10.3 years in France, and 11.3 years in the UK. The leading cause of death for this breed is cancer. Because the Basset has such pendulous ears, the breed is susceptible to ear infections and ear mites. The breed is also more susceptible to eye issues, because of their droopy eyes. The most common health issues seen with this breed include dermatitis, reproductive issues, gastrointestinal issues, epilepsy, glaucoma, luxating patella, thrombopathia, Von Willebrand disease, hypothyroidism, hip dysplasia, and elbow dysplasia.