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All Dog Breeds >>History of Basset Hound

Basset Hounds are a cross between the Bloodhound, the Regular Artisien Normand, and the Basset Artésien Normand. The first application of the word "Basset" to a breed of dog can be traced to La Vénerie, an illustrated text on hunting written by Jacques du Fouilloux in 1561. Fouilloux illustrates wire-haired bassets resembling the modern Basset Fauve de Bretagne. In Fouilloux's treatise, bassets are used to pursue foxes and badgers to ground, after which the quarry is dug from its burrow and so reduced to possession. Other early French Bassets closely resembled the Basset Artésien Normand, which is still a breed today. The Basset Artesian Normand is one of the two recognized French Basset breeds. Originating in Artois and Normandy, it dates back to the 17th century. The Basset Artesian Normand looks like a Basset Hound, but lighter in weight. A short, straight legged hound, its body is twice as long as it is high. Its head is dome-shaped and powerful with hairy cheeks. The neck is slightly dewlap and the muscles are smooth with a moderate amount of wrinkles. The chest is round with clearly visible sternum. The coat is very short, bicolor: tan and white, or tricolor: tan, black and white. Breeders prefer white feet.

By the turn of the 20th century, the Basset Artesian Normand was developing into two distinct lines, straight-legged hunters and crocked-legged, droopy-eared companion and show dogs. French breeder Leon Verrier developed today's standard, which blends attributes of both varieties. The Artesian Basset needed straight legs that would neither hinder his speed nor drain his energy in order to work in unruly terrain, brush and briar. The breed was recognized in 1911. Because many short-legged dogs from this time were called Basset and record-keeping from this time was sparse, it is difficult to speculate which of these breeds have bloodlines in common with today's Basset Hounds. It is commonly believed that Marquis de Lafayette brought Basset Hounds to the United States as a gift to George Washington. A smooth-coated Basset Hound from 1915.In France, basset hounds achieved noticeable public cultural popularlity during the reign of Emperor Napoleon III (r. 1852-1870). In 1853, Emmanuel Fremiet, "the leading sculptor of animals in his day" exhibited bronze sculptures of Emperor Napoleon III's basset hounds at the Paris Salon. Ten years later, in 1863, the Basset Hound reached international fame at the Paris Dog Show. At that time there were two common Bassets, those with a rough coat (Basset Griffon) and those with smooth (Basset Français). The dogs were further classified by the length of their legs. The two popular Basset breeders at this time were M. Lane and the Count Le Couteulx.