The Basset Hound is a short-legged breed of dog of the hound family. They are scent hounds, bred to hunt rabbits by scent. Their sense of smell for tracking is second only to that of the Bloodhound. The name Basset is derived from the French word bas, meaning "low", with the attenuating suffix -et, together meaning "rather low". Basset hounds are commonly brown and black and most often spotted, but also exist in a variety of colors.
These dogs are around 1-foot in height at the withers. They usually weigh between 35 and 70 lb (16 and 32 kg). They have smooth, short-haired coats but a rough haired hound is possible. Although any hound colour is considered acceptable by breed standards, Bassets are generally tricolor (black, tan, and white), open red and white (red spots on white fur), closed red and white (a solid red color with white feet and tails), Honey And White (honey coloured back, light brown spotty nose and legs, light brown tails with white tip) and lemon and white. Some Bassets are also classified as gray or blue; however, this colour is considered rare and undesirable. They have long, downward ears and powerful necks, with much loose skin around their heads that forms wrinkles. Their tails are long and tapering and stand upright with a curve. Tails usually have white tips so the dogs are more easily seen when hunting/tracking through large bushes or weeds. The breed is also known for its hanging skin structure, which causes the face to occasionally look sad; this, for many people, adds to the breed's charm. The dewlap, seen as the loose, elastic skin around the neck, and the trailing ears, help trap the scent of what they are tracking.
The Basset Hound is a large dog with short legs. They were originally bred to have osteochondrodysplasia, known as dwarfism. Their short stature can be deceiving; Bassets are surprisingly long and can reach things on table tops that dogs of similar heights cannot. However, because Bassets are so heavy and have such short legs, they are not able to hold themselves above water for very long, and should never be made to swim.
The Basset Hound is seen as an especially friendly breed. For this reason they are an excellent pet for children. Many Bassets "forget" the training when a reward is not present. Bassets should be on a leash when out on walks.
Bassets are known to be a vocal breed. Bassets might howl or bark when they want something or to suggest that they think something is wrong (like a storm is coming). They also use a low, murmuring whine to get attention, which sounds to many owners as though their Bassets are "talking." This whine is also used by the hound to beg (for food or treats) and varies in volume depending on the nature of the individual hound and length of time it has been begging.
The Basset Hound was bred to hunt. Its keen nose and short stature are suited to small-game hunting on foot, although many Bassets have lost their age-old skills. There are a few groups that promote hunting with bassets. The American Hunting Basset Association and the Basset Hound Club of America has been the most active in promoting the use of Bassets for rabbit hunting.
Hunting with Basset Hounds when with an organization such as the American Hunting Basset Association or the Basset Hound Club of America do not involve the killing of any animals. These organizations are merely testing the Basset Hound's skills at tracking/trailing a rabbit's scent. Each organization is different in how it functions. With the AHBA, a group of 4 to 6 hounds (cast) are given one hour to find their own rabbit and judged based upon a standard set of rules while in the BHCA two dogs are paired and then put on a rabbit track and then judged. Typically the BHCA hunting lasts a few minutes per brace, the basset pair. With both organizations, the winning dog in each brace for the BHCA or cast for the AHBA go on to compete against the other winning dogs.
Hunting with Basset Hounds as a pack is common in the Mid-Atlantic States of Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Several private and membership packs exist in these states. Hunting for cotton tails and