Basset Hound History
ALTHOUGH THE BASSET HOUND did not arrive in the English-speaking world until the latter part of the 19th century, low, heavy-set houndshad been known on the continent for at least 300 years. Historians believe that the first of these short-legged dogs appeared in litters of otherwise normal limbed hounds, possibly throw-backs to the now extinct, low-set St. Hubert hound. It is also thought that these “dwarfs” were retained as curiosities and that later, by the process of selective breeding, pure strains of low-set hounds were established. Named for its appearance by the British (the word “basset” is French for “low set”) the breed was first imported into England in 1866 by Lord Galway. The first exhibitor was Sir Everett Millais who showed a dog named Model at Wolverhampton in 1875. Sir Everett wrote a breed text: “Bassets: Their Use and Breeding” and is credited with setting the distinctive long-headed British Basset type by means of a Basset/Bloodhound cross. After a probationary period The Kennel Club (England) gave official recognition to the breed, and in 1883 the Basset Hound Club was formed. By 1886 the breed’s popularity had so increased that a London show drew an entry of 120.
Thereafter, for some reason, interest in the low-set hound declined. Happily the same condition does not prevail today. On this continent too the Basset’s popularity has waxed and waned. While the breed had been in the United States since the 18th century, outside of a few sporting hound enthusiasts, the Basset Hound was virtually unknown. Then in the 1920s Basset fanciers in the
east imported quality hounds from France and England which were to become the foundation breeding stock of the present day American Basset Hound. On this continent the breed has been developed into a heavier set hound than the British and European type. As a sporting dog, Bassets were used in Britain and the United States,
and to some extent still are, to trail hare, deer, and rabbit. According to his sporting admirers, the breed has a bell-like voice and there is no finer sound than a Basset pack in full cry. The Basset Hound was officially recognized by The Canadian Kennel Club in 1937. The Stud Book for the years 1936-1937 lists nine individual registrations
The Basset Hound possesses in marked degree those characteristics which equip it admirably to follow a trail over and through difficult terrain. It is a short-legged dog, heavier in bone, size considered, than any other breed of dog, and while its movement is deliberate, it is in no sense clumsy. In temperament it is mild, never sharp or timid. It is capable of great endurance in the field and is extreme in its devotion.
The head is large and well proportioned. Its length from occiput to muzzle is greater than the width at the brow. In overall appearance the head is of medium width. The skull is well domed, showing a pronounced occipital protuberance. A broad flat skull is a fault. The length from nose to stop is approximately the length from stop to occiput. The sides are flat and free from cheek bumps. Viewed in profile the top lines of the muzzle and skull are straight and lie in parallel planes, with a moderately defined stop. The skin over the whole of the head is loose, falling in distinct wrinkles over the brow when the head is lowered. A dry head and tight skin are faults. The muzzle is deep, heavy, and free from snippiness. The nose is darkly pigmented, preferably black, with large wide-open nostrils. A deep liver-coloured nose conforming to the coloring of the head is permissible but not desirable. The teeth are large, sound, and regular, meeting in either a scissors or an even bite. A bite either overshot or undershot is a serious fault. The lips are darkly pigmented and are pendulous, falling squarely in front and, toward the back, in loose hanging flews. The dewlap is very pronounced. The neck is powerful, of good length, and well arched. The eyes are soft, sad, and slightly sunken, showing a prominent haw, and in color are brown, dark brown preferred. A somewhat lighter-coloured eye conforming to the general coloring of the dog is acceptable but not desirable. Very light or protruding eyes are faults. The ears are extremely long, low set, and when drawn forward, fold well over the end of the nose. They are velvety in texture, hanging in loose folds with the ends curling slightly inward. They are set far back on the head at the base of the skull and, in repose, appear to be set on the neck. A high set or flat ear is a serious fault.
The chest is deep and full with prominent sternum showing clearly in front of the legs. The shoulders and elbows are set close against the sides of the chest. The distance from the deepest point of the chest to the ground, while it must be adequate to allow free movement when working in the field, is not to be more than one-third the total height at the withers of an adult Basset. The shoulders are well laid back and powerful. Steepness in shoulder, fiddle fronts, and elbows that are out, are serious faults. The forelegs are short, powerful, heavy in bone, with wrinkled skin. Knuckling over of the front legs is a disqualification. The paw is massive, very heavy with tough heavy pads, well rounded and with both feet inclined equally a trifle outward, balancing the width of the shoulders. Feet down at the pastern are a serious fault. The toes are neither pinched together nor splayed, with the weight of
the forepart of the body borne evenly on each. The dewclaws may be removed.
The rib structure is long, smooth, and extends well back. The ribs are well sprung, allowing adequate room for heart and lungs. Flatsidedness and flanged ribs are faults. The top line is straight, level, and free from any tendency to sag or roach, which are faults.
The hindquarters are very full and well rounded, and are
approximately equal to the shoulders in width. They must not appear slack or light in relation to the over-all depth of the body. The dog stands firmly on its hind legs showing a well-let-down stifle with no tendency toward a crouching stance. Viewed from behind, the hind legs are parallel, with the hocks turning neither in nor out. Cow hocks or bowed legs are serious faults. The hind feet point straight ahead. Steep, poorly angulated hindquarters are a serious fault. The dewclaws, if any, may be removed.
The tail is not to be docked, and is set in continuation of the spine with but slight curvature, and carried gaily in hound fashion. The hair on the underside of the tail is coarse.
The height should not exceed 14 inches. Height over 15 inches at the highest point of the shoulder blade is a disqualification.
The Basset Hound moves in a smooth, powerful, and effortless manner. Being a scenting dog with short legs, it holds its nose low to the ground. Its gait is absolutely true with perfect coordination between the front and hind legs, and it moves in a straight line with hind feet following in line with the front feet, the hocks well bent with no stiffness of action. The front legs do not paddle, weave, or overlap, and the elbows must lie close to the body. Going away, the hind legs are parallel.
The coat is hard, smooth, and short, with sufficient density to be of use in all weather. The skin is loose and elastic. A distinctly long coatis a disqualification.
Any recognized hound color is acceptable and the distribution of color and markings is of no importance.
Height of more than 15 inches at the highest point of the shoulder blade. Knuckled over front legs. Distinctly long coat.