In our second installment of Basset Hounds 101, we are going to discuss the breed standards. If you missed Part 1 click here. A breed standard is the blueprint for a dog that fits into the function that it was bred such as tracking, herding, etc. A breed standard is not etched in stone and can vary in different associations and countries, even for the same breed.
For the purpose of this post, we will use the American Kennel Club breed standard. Bentley is registered with the Continental Kennel Club, but the A.K.C. is the most accepted standards in the U.S.A. There aren’t any glaring differences in the two clubs preferences.
General Appearance: As I mentioned in last week’s article, the Basset was bred to follow a trail over and through difficult terrain. Considering their size, they have shorter legs and are heavier-boned than any other breed. A Basset moves deliberately and once it grows into those long ears, they are not clumsy at all. They’re known for their mild temperament and should never be aggressive or timid. Bassets are known for having great endurance in the field and are extremely devoted.
Head: A Basset’s head is large and well proportioned. Their skull is well domed, showing an obvious occiput (the bump at the back of the head) and a broad flat skull is considered a fault. The length of the nose should be same as the length from the stop (the spot where nose ends between eyes) to the occiput. The skin is loose with distinct wrinkles over the brow. Their muzzle is deep and heavy with a black nose and large wide-open nostrils. A basset’s teeth are large, sound, and have a regular bite. An overbite or under bite is a serious fault. The kissable lips are dark and fall squarely in front with loose hanging flews or upper lips. The eyes are one of their trademarks due to their soft, sad, slightly sunken appearance. Brown or dark brown eyes are preferable. Of course, their ears are very long, low set on their head, and when pulled forward, will fold over the end of their nose. They feel like velvet and hang in loose folds. A high set ear or flat ear is another serious fault.
Forequarters: Bassets have a deep, full chest with prominent sternum showing clearly in front of their legs. The distance from the chest to the ground at the deepest point is not more than one-third the height at the shoulder blades in an adult. Their forelegs are short but powerful, heavy boned with wrinkled skin. Knuckling over (a fault where the weight of the body causes the wrist joint to flex forward) in the front legs will result in a disqualification in a sanctioned show. The Basset paw is massive and very heavy with tough pads. Their feet are equally inclined and have a slight outward appearance. This balances with the width of their shoulders.
Body: The topline (the line from the withers to tail set) is straight, level, and does not sag or roach (humpback). Sagging or roaching is another serious fault. Their rib structure is long, smooth, and extends well back on their body. The ribs themselves are well open, allowing ample room for the heart and lungs.
Whether you are interested in a Basset Hound for show, agility, or just a loving pet, it is important to know what to look for in a puppy. Always buy from a reputable breeder and see both parents if possible. Basset puppies are extremely cute and it is easy to fall in love at first sight. Always be prepared to decline a puppy if you notice any of the faults listed above. Some abnormalities can lead to a life of hardship and heartbreak for you and the puppy. Unfortunately, this is one reason so many Bassets are given up for adoption once they reach adulthood. If you are hard-pressed to think logically when faced with a litter of long-eared sad-eyed puppies, it is best to bring along a friend that will be objective. There are many Bassets in rescues and shelters that need homes. Please consider adoption when you are looking for a new Basset to add to your family.