What do you do when you need a hunting hound that is long in body, but short legged-enough to follow hunters who are moving slowly and carefully on foot? If you’re a French monk at the abbey of St. Hubert in the 1500’s, you develop the long, low Basset Hound!…
Basset Hound Takes A Nap
The Basset Hound is easily identifiable with his long body, short legs, long, droopy ears and wrinkled skin. While the Germans were developing the Dachshund who is smaller but similar in form and function, the French monks bred the Basset for the royals and aristocrats; a hound that, despite his lumbering gait, is a superb badger, rabbit, hare and deer tracker. He’s scent hound; he tracks his quarry by smell rather than by site. The folds and wrinkles in his face that give him such a mournful appearance actually have an essential function; scents are trapped in these folds to insure that the Basset will unerringly pursue his target.
The Basset is a heavy dog without the speed of other hound breeds. Thus, his quarry wasn’t alarmed by a swift dog charging after it and tended to remain in one place while the wily Basset and his hunter closed in. Typical of hound breeds, the Basset has a loud bray and “gives voice” to let the hunter know that their prey has been cornered. He’s a fearless, strong hunting hound who’s not afraid of “treeing” a bear or facing down a wolf. When he came to America in the early 1800’s, his tracking abilities and tireless nature made him very useful in tracking runaway slaves or convicts. He prefers to hunt with other Bassets; the site of a Basset Hound pack slowly but persistently pursuing a “wanted person” is enough to create dread in anyone’s heart! He was recognized by the AKC in 1930, and remains a popular hunter and companion dog.
In temperament, the Basset is extremely affectionate and devoted to his family. He’s good-natured and mellow, very friendly with children and other dogs and pets, and is amiable towards strangers though he’ll bay loudly at their approach. He has a low energy and exercise level, but does like to have a free reign to be outside to sniff anything in sight! As an apartment or city dweller, the Basset needs a daily brisk walk to keep him happy and to prevent obesity. He needs a large fenced yard or rural setting where he can practice his tracking skills. There’s no such thing as a Basset Hound that’s in a hurry to do anything!
The Basset’s temperament is so laid-back, he can be difficult to train in obedience. He has a stubborn streak that shouldn’t be mistaken for lack of intelligence. He’s a very instinctive, savy hunter who is frequently seen taking top honors in tracking field trials. Just give him the scent, and let him do his job! He shouldn’t be expected to achieve obedience or agility honors. Because of his affectionate temperament, he makes an excellent therapy dog and isn’t daunted while visiting sick children who are drawn to pull on his long ears.
Like all long-backed dogs, the Basset is prone to back problems and should not be allowed to jump on and off furniture. Because of his droopy eyes, he sometimes suffers from eye disorders. He can also develop hip or elbow dysplasia and gastric tortion. Owners should supervise small children who often want to ride their amiable companion, putting dangerous weight on his sensitive back.
The Basset Hound is a favorite at AKC dog shows; his lumbering gait, droll expression and friendly disposition is hard to resist! He’s also seen in advertisements and commercials because of his unmistakable appearance. Seeing a heavy-set dog that is long and low to the ground, with a short coat full of wrinkles and a docile expression, no one need ask “What kind of dog is this?”
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