Origins of the Basset Hound

The Basset Hound is a Dwarf, carrying the gene for a form of dwarfism (medical name Achondroplasia) affecting limb development - growth is restricted - resulting in an animal with normal head and body development, but stunted legs. The ‘stunted’ bone is stronger than ‘normal’ bone; Hunters have found such dogs to be useful for hunting Rabbit and Badger, and occasionally Fox, from their underground warrens and lairs.

Evidence of largish dwarfed dogs has been found from Roman Garrison excavations of Corbridge Station in Northumberland, dated around 80 - 120 AD. Excavation of an ancient harbour area of Pisa, in Tuscany, uncovered of large-bodied dog skeleton having short twisted legs - the dating of the material was to about 10 AD. Dogs with ‘stunted’ limbs are also depicted on the monuments of two Ancient Egyptian Rulers. These dogs, however, are only ‘basset types’ not Basset Hounds.

Royalty, Nobility and the ‘Higher’ Clergy used dogs as an aid to The Hunt. The ‘Cleric’ Hubert (656 - 727) - a son of the Duc de Guienne - hunted in the Ardennes region, it is documented that he had a number of ‘dwarf’ hounds. Descendants of these hounds have spread throughout the world - but it is from those which continued to be developed in France that the Basset Hound, itself, has been further developed - in Great Britain! Throughout the World THE Basset Hound ‘Country of Origin’ is given as Great Britain.

In France ‘basset’ is a descriptive word for a dog standing 10 to 15 inches at shoulder. Other sizes are the Chien d'Ordre standing about 23 to 30 inches at shoulder - and the ‘medium’ sized Briquet, more compact, shorter coupled and standing about 15 to 23 inches at shoulder. Huntsmen found the shorter legged ‘basset’ type to be better and 'gentler' at ‘flushing out game’ to the gun - and they also found the hounds much easier to follow on foot. They bred and selected not only for hunting proficiency but also for health and strength.

Some Basset Hound Clubs have a clause in their Rules to say that they ‘support’ the activities of Hunting and Working Trials. TheMidland Basset Hound Club is the only Club which - with the backing of the Hound Association - do hold trials.

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