These droopy-eyed pups have long curried favor with the American masses for their laid-back demeanors and endearing expressions. Find out more about the Basset Hound’s origin and some fun facts about the breed!
Facts About Basset Hounds
Basset Hounds originally come from France, and have existed since the 1500’s. They were originally bred by monks who persisted in selective breeding to get the ideal dog size. They cross bred Bloodhounds with Laconian Hounds, and with Artesian Normands to get the shorter legs. The word “basset” comes from the French word “bas” or “low.”
The purpose of the Basset Hound was to be a scent-dog who was low enough to the ground to be able to track small animals, such as rabbits, foxes, and badgers, as well as larger animals like brush deer. Because they move slowly, the dogs could not get ahead to scare off the prey, but were hardy enough to withstand areas of heavy foliage.
These dogs do indeed have highly sensitive noses. Their owners can often attest to how they follow a scent, through any kind of terrain, beit grasses, bushes and tricky terrain to get to their object of pursuit.
Because of their focus, the Basset Hound makes an invaluable hunting companion. But as a live-in family member, Bassets can sometimes be ornery and stubborn. They have been known to disregard the command “stay” or “come” and may also take off in a flash after a scent while on a walk. Though it can be hard to deter their determination, once they are connected to a family, these dogs are loyal and affectionate for life.
While they do not require much grooming, the Basset Hound can be a pungent pet. Their dense coats and skin hold onto moisture and will need to be washed regularly, especially after romping around in the woods or fields.
Basset Hound owners should also make sure that these slow-moving dogs do get the exercise they were bred to handle. If they are not taken on lengthy walks daily, this breed has a high likelihood of becoming obese.
Basset Hounds first arrived in America when the Marquis de Lafayette gifted George Washington with several of these dogs in 1785. Washington primarily used the hounds as hunting dogs and companions for him and his family.
The Basset Hounds when training with farmers and hunters in America would bark and bay when they would pick up a key scent. To quiet the dogs, the men would throw fried cornballs to the Basset Hounds, there were called “hush puppies.” (The brand of shoes designed by James Gaylord Muir called “Hush Puppies” were inspired by the long-enduring Basset Hounds. The dog breeds have long been featured in commercials and ads for the brand ever since!)
A Basset Hound was once on the cover of Time Magazine in 1928 regarding a sports section. Marilyn Monroe and her then husband Arthur Miller famously owned a Basset Hound named Hugo, and TV shoes like MGM’s Tom and Jerry, as well as the “Dumb Hounded” cartoon by Tex Avery in the 1940’s all featured Basset Hound characters.