The Basset Hound. His short legs have managed to walk right into our hearts. From 16th century France to modern Hollywood, he gets around quite a bit for a dog merely 14 inches tall. If you know him, you love him, so let’s check out some fun facts about this Droopy canine.
10. Basset means “Low.”
The name Basset means low. In French, the word “bas” means low or short. The suffix -et in French translates to “rather” or “very,” emphasizing how low this dog is to the ground. But just because he is short doesn’t mean he’s delicate: Basset Hounds are typically only 14 inches tall but weigh a whopping 50 to 60 pounds.
9. The Basset Hound is Low for a Reason
Breeders intended the short-legged the basset hound to be smaller and lower than typical hounds because his short stature makes him a more effective hunting companion when pursuing a variety of small game like rabbits. This squat pooch was bred by French aristocrats and was tasked with tracking and scaring small animals out of the low brush for hunters.
8. Basset Hounds are Dwarves
All basset hounds have achondroplasia, a common form of dwarfism in humans and sometimes dogs characterized by genetically abnormal bone and cartilage growth. For most dog breeds, achondroplasia is considered a defect. In the basset hound, the trait is essential and defining. This is the case for the dachshund, basset hound, corgi, and bulldog breeds. Data from genome studies in short-limbed dogs reveal a strong association of this trait with a retrogene coding for fibroblast growth factor 4.
7. The Basset Hound Has Changed
Dogs described as bassets date back to the 16th century, when “low” hounds gained popularity as hunting companions, particularly in France. But basset breeding was not strictly codified, and the basset underwent many changes over time. It wasn’t until the late 19th and early 20th centuries that breeders crossed bassets with bloodhounds to increase the small dog’s size, incidentally adding the bloodhound’s typically droopy jowliness.
6. He’s Got Himself a Sniffer
Speaking of the bloodhound, the Basset is second only to the Bloodhound when using the ol’ sniffer. The Basset Hound has a serious sense of smell. He has over 220 million smell receptors, and the portion of his brain responsible for the sense of smell is 40 times that of a human’s, who have just five million scent receptors. Using his complex nose, he can simultaneously take in a wide range of smells and zone in on just one. Once he’s targeted a scent, the dog can follow the smell for impressive distances.
5. No, He Can’t Fly, but……
It’s not just his nose that helps him follow smells. Although they are adorable, a basset hound’s floppy ears also serve a practical purpose. The Basset’s ears have a lot to do with tracking. When a basset hound tracks his prey, his ears sweep the scent up toward the dog’s nose. The loose skin at the basset hound’s throat, aka the dewlap, also helps trap the scent to amplify the dog’s already powerful olfactory ability.
4. Is Someone Eating Corn Chips?
As a result of being so low to the ground, the basset picks up more dirt than other dogs—which means he needs frequent baths if you want your house to stay clean. Additionally, his eyes need frequent wiping to prevent infection, and because those large ears don’t circulate air very well, they need to be cleaned at least once a week. Oh, and like most hounds, he does tend to be a bit stinky, with many often describing the smell like corn chips. Shampooing is an option, but too many baths will dry out his skin.
3. Well, He’s No Michael Phelps
Although he is a hunting dog, he is not a water dog. Thanks to his stubby legs and thick body, the basset hound has trouble swimming. Stick to outdoor activities away from large bodies of water. While the dog is generally happy to hang out on the shoreline, he shouldn’t be left where he can fall in.
2. Get the Basset Hound a Peanut Butter & Nanner Sandwich
He ain’t nothing but a hound dog. The song “Hound Dog” is not about an actual dog, of course. But when Elvis recorded the song in 1956, he performed a version that significantly changed the lyrics, so it didn’t seem like such a stretch when, performing on “The Steve Allen Show,” he sang the song to a basset hound wearing a top hat. Elvis later called this “the most ridiculous performance of my entire career.”
1. California Is the Place He Oughta Be …
And like Elvis, the Basset Hound is rather entertaining. Basset hounds are natural show-stealers. From Flash on The Dukes of Hazard to Fred in the Smokey and the Bandit movies to Sam on That’s So Raven, the Bassets have hammed it up on screens both large and small. Also, the breed inspired Droopy, the slow-talking cartoon character created by Tex Avery in 1943.
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