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Basset Hound Temperament: Devoted soul on small legs

Have you ever wondered if the Basset Hound is the right dog breed for you? So often described as the most photogenic dog and easily recognisable by their long ears and sad-looking face, they're one of the most prominent dog breeds. But what do you really know about the Basset Hound Temperament?

So before making decisions, read our blog post on this special and unique dog breed.

We'll help you learn about their history, temperament, exercise needs, and health issues.

This information will help determine if this breed is a perfect fit. The Basset Hound is a placid dog with an affectionate and people-orientated side. However, they come with breed-specific challenges that you should be conscious of as a potential future owner.

Let's dive straight in!

Basset Hound History

This little French Hound has a century-long history which started around the 15th century. No history lecture about the Basset Hound is complete without diving into the history of French scent hounds in general. So, what will follow now is a short trip into the Basset origin story and how we luckily ended up with short-legged little hounds.

The French word "bas" means low-set, which already implies their short legs and running close to the ground.

Concerning short-legged dogs, the word Basset was first mentioned in 1562 in Jacques Du Fouilloux's La Venerie, which described the Art of Hunting.

The Basset Hound is one of six basset family members. The other 5 are below and developed due to regional differences when breeding.

  • Basset Fauve de Bretagne

  • Basset Griffon Vendeen (Petit)

  • Basset Griffon Vendeen (Grand)

  • Basset Bleu de Gascogne

  • Basset Artesien Normand

Although lost in history, the most accepted predecessor of the Basset Hound is the St. Hubert Hound. The Abbey of St. Hubert was home to some short-legged hounds bred by monks.

Basset Hound Temperament
Their long ears waffle scent particles into their superior nose.

Basset Hounds were bred for hunting hare and smaller game, making them true specialists in discovering hidden prey in bushes, undergrowth and high grasslands. Their long body and flexible, loose skin were perfectly made to sniff in hard-access areas where humans couldn't follow. The skin was impenetrable as the Hound was moving through thick undergrowth.

They are masters when tracking and hunting in packs. The Basset Hound is a great team player who gets along well with other dogs.

The short legs fulfilled several tasks: The hounds were easier to follow on foot as not everyone could afford horses and their short legs slowed them down naturally. The Hounds were also closer to the ground to sniff out prey better. Finally, the hunted couldn't detect the Hound coming as they were smaller and closer to the ground. All these characteristics are still very evident in the Basset Hound we know today.

The Basset Hound was bred as a scent hound with a sense of smell that is second to only the Bloodhound. The long ears and loose skin can trap scent particles and waffle them towards their nose.

Officially, the first Basset Hounds found their way from France into the UK around 1867. However, there is a lot of historic evidence of short-legged hounds in the 15th century. Even Shakespeare described a short-legged hound in 1598 in "A Midsummer nights dream":

"My hounds are bred out of the Spartan kind
So flew'd, so sanded; and their heads are hung
With ears that sweep away the morning dew;
Crook-knee'd, and dew-lapp'd like Thessalian Bulls;
Slow in pursuit, but match'd in mouth like bells,
Each under each. A cry more tuneable
Was never holla'd to nor cheerd with horn."

Although not the father of the breed, Sir Everett Millais became most associated with creating an English-type Basset breed.

To reduce inbreeding, he added some Beagle and Bloodhound blood into his Basset Hound later to increase the genetic variety.

Basset Hound Temperament
Basset Hound have some Beagle and Bloodhound blood in them.

However, some people were unhappy about adding Bloodhound blood to the Basset. "The Bloodhound experiments of Sir Everett filled his most earnest friends with regret and despair. France is full of Basset outcrosses, so there was no need to create canine nightmares".