Monday, June 30, 2014

Basset Hounds 101

   It occurred to me that while many of you may recognize Bentley as a Basset Hound, you may
Basset hound puppy

Bentley was an adorable puppy ♥

not know very much about his breed.  When most people think of the Basset, the first image that comes to mind is the old 1960’s Hushpuppies advertisements.  Their tagline was “Hushpuppies are dumb.”  Let me start by saying that is simply not true; at least for the breed.  The shoes might be kind of dumb, but that is another story.  Basset are definitely not dumb.  Sure, they can be stubborn and think very hard about a command before they decide whether or not it’s worth their time to obey.  When I tell Bentley to do something, I can see him pondering if the reward is worth his effort.  Sometimes he thinks it is and sometimes he doesn’t.  That’s not because he isn’t intelligent; he is just a free thinker!

  So, who came up with the long-eared, short-legged hound?  Just like the Coneheads from Saturday Night Live, they’re from France.  The name Basset comes from the French word “bas” which means low.  It is believed they are descendants of the St. Hubert Hound, the ancestor of today’s Bloodhound.  Bentley’s sense of smell is second only to the Bloodhound.  This is great unless you are trying to walk at a brisk clip.  His nose often leads us to a complete standstill while he enjoys a good long sniff.  This is why it is important to always keep him leashed.  A Basset can pick up a scent and will follow it with total disregard to such dangers as traffic and getting lost.
   The first recorded mention of a Basset Hound was in an illustrated book about hunting; La
Photo from La Venerie by Jacques du Fouilloux
Venerie written by Jacques du Fouilloux in 1585.  They were used to track rabbits, hare, deer, and other game that can be trailed under the brush in thick forests.  Bassets were first popular with the French aristocracy, but after the French Revolution, they became hunting dogs of commoners.  They were popular because their slow gait made it possible to follow their dogs on foot.  Commoners did not have access to horses, so this made the Basset an ideal hunting companion.
   Lord Galway imported a pair of Basset Hounds to England in 1866 and they produced a litter of five pups.  He didn’t show them, so they remained relatively obscure.  Then, in 1874, Sir Evert Millais imported a Basset Hound named Model from France.  He promoted the breed in jolly old England and started a breeding program with Lord Onslow and George Krehl.  For his contribution in gathering publicity for the Basset Hound, Millais is considered the “father of the breed” in England.  He first exhibited his dogs at an English dog show in 1875, but it wasn’t until he helped make up a large entry for the Wolverhampton show in 1880 that the public started to notice the breed.  A few years later,
Bentley Basset Hound

"Hold that thought Mom.  I'll get back with you!"

Alexandra, Princess of Wales kept Basset Hounds in the royal kennels.  In 1882, the Kennel Club in England accepted the breed and two years later, the English Basset Hound Club was established.
   Even though the Basset came to America in colonial times, they didn’t gain prominence until the early 20th century.  The American Kennel Club began registering Basset Hounds in 1885, the first one was a dog named Bouncer.  It still wasn’t until 1916 that the A.K.C. formally recognized the breed.  Bentley is registered with the Continental Kennel Club.
Basset Hound smiles

"Personally, I think that I make a perfect best friend."

   The year 1928 was a major turning point in the breed.  That year Time magazine featured a Basset Hound on its front cover to accompany a story of the 52nd Westminister Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden.  The feature was written through the eyes of a Basset puppy.  That was the beginning of the popularity of the lovable dogs.  They were ranked 41st among the 155 breeds registered by the A.K.C. in 2013.
   I hope that you enjoyed learning a little bit about the history of Bentley’s breed.  Please let me know in your comments.  I’d like to feature some information on the Basset Hound in a series of Monday posts.  Future articles will include the standards, the pros and cons of ownership, training, health, and other interesting facts that will help you decide if a Basset Hound would make a perfect best friend for you.
  You can see Bentley's personal infographic explaining how he uses his "Basset Houndness" to his advantage here.

Don’t miss the entire series of Basset Hounds 101
Part 5 


  1. My momma had basset hounds growin up - dey are pawsome dogs. I was good friends wif em - to dis day, bassets are really da only big (bigger than me) dog I like.

  2. I have heard lots of great things about Basset Hounds, but have only met one once! One of our neighbors stopped over with hers...very cute pup!

  3. That was interesting, Bentley! I saw some of your cousins at field work, it's fascinating what they can do with their noses. Think there is no trace in the world they can't follow.

  4. Love you Bentley! I don't know where the GBGV nose ranks, but I bet it is close to a Bassett nose! I do some tracking with mine, but I am more into the nose work thing. Bailie, on the other paw, is totally into tracking and it does make walking difficult!

  5. We just love your ears and bet they are so soft :)

  6. There used to be a blogger who had 2 Basset Hounds and her blog was one of my faves. She had Bassets named Freddie and Gloria...She hasn't blogged since January 2013, here is her link: .....I tried emailing her a few weeks ago to see how she is but never heard back. Dakota is the same about "being stubborn and thinking very hard about a command before they decide whether or not it’s worth their time to obey." He does it ALL of the time!!!

  7. We love bassets here too. We used to have one that lived behind us and we just loooovvvvvveeeed to run along the fence and play barky face!! Mama just loved their deep woofs!!
    Dory, Jakey, Arty & Bilbo

  8. Wow! What a great post Melissa!!! Loved learning more about Bassets!
    Actually, they remind me a lot of huskies! They also sort of sit and ponder whether or not they would like to listen to you at that point in time! BOL!!! To smart for their own good I think!!! hahaha!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

  9. A lot of time people think a breed is dumb when the dog is merely deciding whether to obey a human command or disregard it as unimportant. That's the way Bassets always seemed to me. I do think a Basset doing agility would be a show in itself though.

  10. I always think of bassets as very similar to beagles, only with shorter legs and bigger ears. I love both breeds! Their stubbornness and independence can be frustrating, but it is endearing at the same time. I think I've told you before that my hubby has always wanted a basset, so I would love to learn more about the breed.
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

  11. We did not know all of this! Maybe we will do a post of when our goldendoodle ancient ancestors ran wild. Oh wait, that would be a real short post!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

  12. Wow!! I did not know that Bassets had such a long history, but they are also adopted by the royals like Corgis :). I tell ya, one day I will have a Basset!

  13. How cool! I know A LOT about Greyhound history, and I like to write about it from time to time, but I didn't know about Basset Hounds. I would love to know more!


  14. Thank you for all the great information!

  15. Oh well, the stubborn aspect sounds just like Shiner! BOL she is very stubborn and does the same thing as Bentley.

  16. Loved learning about Bassets - we don't see too many of them out here, so love seeing photos of Bentley all the time.

  17. Looks like Bentley had to grow into those ears when he was a puppy, BOL. I have always loved the breed since they are so cute but did not know alot about them. Thanks for sharing the information and letting me learn a little bit about the breed :)
    Nadie likes to consider my commands too. I do not think that makes them dumb but more intelligent. They like to ponder the possibilities and make an informed decision :)


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