The Basset Hound is a chunky, 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" or "dwarf". more...
These dogs are around 33 to 38 cm (13 to 15 inches) in height at the withers. They have smooth, short-haired coats and are generally tricolor (black, tan, and white). These dogs also occur in 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, though few, are also classified as grey Basset Hounds.
They have long, low-set 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 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 loose, elastic skin around the neck and trailing ears are thought to help catch the scent of what they are tracking.
Basset Hounds are a "large dog" on short legs. They were specifically bred to have dwarfism, specifically achondroplasia. Their short stature can be deceiving: Bassets are surprisingly long and can reach things on table tops that dogs of similar heights cannot.
The Basset Hound is a very calm and companionable breed, but they are often very stubborn. They are an especially loyal breed, are very friendly, and will gladly play with children. Bassets are amiable and generally love being around people.
When left on their own, Bassets tend to excessively eat and sleep rather than exercise. Care must be taken to prevent unhealthy weight gain. The mournful appearance of the Basset Hound can cause owners to be "sympathetic" and give them extra food; owners should resist this temptation lest their dogs become overweight.
Like other hounds, Basset Hounds are often very difficult to obedience 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.
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 bay rather than bark when they want something or to suggest that they think something is wrong.
Basset Hounds are an aristocratic 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.
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