Second only to the Bloodhound in its ground-scent ability is the Basset Hound, a form-following-function marvel.
We start with its bone. The only breeds in the Hound group that are comparable in size to the Basset Hound are the Beagle and PBGV, but within the context of its size, the Basset has more bone than any other breed of dog. This isn’t to say it should have the same bone as a Bernese Mountain Dog because the latter is a much larger dog, but for its size, it is ‘heavier in bone’ than similarly sized hounds, and the breed standard notes this. This is important because for all its endearing qualities, this is a working breed designed for endurance in the field, and powering through bramble and brush calls for sturdiness provided by those heavy bones.
Moving on to the legs, we state the obvious. They’re short. This serves two purposes, and the first is practical: Short legs keep the dog close to the ground where the scents are. A Basset can keep her nose on the trail of a scent without having to crane her neck, and that preserves her energy. Short legs can power through dense cover, and massive paws with tough heavy pads make short work of it. As both feet incline a bit outward, the dog is balancing the width of his shoulders. Short legs also mean a slower dog, and a happy outcome of this low-and-low stature is that older hunters can keep up with the dogs on foot, and people who couldn’t afford a horse back in the day could still hunt with a dog.
And then there are those glorious wrinkles and saggy skin enveloping the head. When a Basset Hound lowers his head to the ground, “supple and elastic” skin, a pronounced dewlap, and pendulous ears and lips not only gather and trap scent towards the nose where it belongs, but help protect the face from thorns while moving through underbrush.
At the “working” end of the dog is a large dolichocephalic nose filled with olfactory receptor cells. At the other is a gaily carried tail often white tipped making the dog easier to spot in tall grass.
Basset Hounds are natural scene-stealers (as the late Peter Falk would admit from having had a Basset as his occasional co-star in Columbo), but it should never be forgotten that the breed has a rich working heritage.
Be sure to check out our post on Stan Boreson, the “King of Scandinavian Humor” whose five Basset Hounds (all named NoMo) took turns appearing on “Kings Clubhouse,” a Seattle kid’s show of the 50’s and 60’s.
Summer is coming, hound owners, and that means baseball cap season.
NPDD’s best selling hat is Yupoong’s Flexfit®, the original comfort-fit baseball cap that will become your favorite cap! Navy blue and embroidered on the front: The Hounds: Chase it • Track it • Got it.
Order your hat here.