Do These Bones Make Me Look Fat?

The marvelous Basset Hound is heavier in bone than any other breed of dog when one considers its size.

Gosh, but we love a bold statement. And this one is true.

A unique skeletal structure accounts for the breed’s bone density which is influenced by its achondroplastic, or dwarf, breed characteristics. This condition affects the growth of only long bones in young Bassets causing those bones to be stronger and heavier than bones of normal length. Their forelegs, per breed standard, are short, powerful, and heavy in bone. Their massive paws are (again, according to the standard) “very heavy.” In short (no pun intended), the Basset Hound is a big dog with short legs and heavy bones.  Indeed, Basset Hounds carry as much as 25 percent of their body weight in bone, proportionally the most of any breed.

Despite their short stature,  a Basset Hound’s substantial bone mass is balanced with their overall body size – and it would be a mistake to assume, then, that a Basset is a cloddy, clumsy breed. Check out the Topsfield Lebrera Basset Hound pack in video below:

While the Basset was considered an ideal hunter for the older hunter, this is still a working breed. Bassets were designed for endurance and power, both needed to plow through bramble and brush calling for the sturdiness afforded by heavy bones.

This is an ancient dog (the first mention of a Basset was used in Jacques du Fouilloux’s book, La Venerie, in around 1573) but the Basset Hound Club in the UK wasn’t formed until 1884, and it was nearly ten years before the AKC recognized the first Basset Hound; A Basset named “Nemours,” was the first Basset to appear in American conformation competition, and it happened at the 1884 Westminster Kennel Club show.

We leave you with “the Bard’s” description of a dog in his, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. By the end of the 16th century, the breed phenotype was recognized well enough that most believe Shakespeare had a Basset Hound in mind as he wrote these lines:

My hounds are bred out of the Spartan kind,
So flew’d, so sanded, and their heads are hung
With ears that sweep away the morning dew;
Crook-knee’d, and dew-lapp’d like Thessalian bulls;
Slow in pursuit, but match’d in mouth like bells,
Each under each. A cry more tuneable
Was never holla’d to, nor cheer’d with horn.

Image: Basset Hound by Rachel Parker –rachelsstudio


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