Why Were Basset Hounds Bred? (Interesting History of the Breed!)

When we first brought our Basset Hound Copper home, we found it challenging to train him. He was defiant and stubborn and, at times, downright cranky. 

An expert dog trainer told us to take a look at the Basset Hound dog breed’s history. And boy, was she right!

The more we came to know why Basset Hounds were bred, the more we could understand Copper’s defiant behavior. You know why Basset Hounds were bred?

Basset Hounds were selectively bred as hunting hounds to live and hunt in packs. Their uncanny sense of smell helped them track and hunt small animals like rabbits, making them invaluable companions for hunters.

In today’s article, we will look deep into the history and origin of Basset Hounds.

A Short History of the Basset Hound

French or Scandinavian Origins

The Basset’s origins can be traced back to 6th Century France. Several strains of Hounds existed during this period, both short and tall versions. 

The short-stumpy-legged hounds were called Bassets, with ‘basset’ being French for “low-set .”Basset Hounds were distant cousins of Bloodhounds which were long-legged hounds.

One of the ancestors of the Basset Hound was the St. Hubert Hound. As their name indicates, this breed was developed by monks in St.Hubert Monastery in Belgium since its abbots often gifted dogs to the French Kings.

St.Hubert Hounds had long pendulous ears and elongated faces with broad heads. They were either black and tan or white in color. It is estimated that the Basset Hound of today was created from the dwarf strain of the St.Hubert Hounds.

Another line of thought is that the Basset Hound was originally a Scandinavian breed. They were brought into Normandy in France by Scandinavian invaders.

Valuable Hunting Companion

No matter their true heritage, Basset Hounds soon became invaluable companions for hunters in England and France. 

Basset Hounds’ powerful sense of smell helped them easily flush out small game, such as rabbits, which, in turn, helped them secure a spot in the family. 

Their long drooping ears further helped trap the scent they were tracking, so they could easily track the game over long distances. 

Their short legs also helped them maneuver easily through tight spaces so they could enter burrows and flush out small burrowing animals. 

Another advantage of their short legs was that they could not outrun their humans, so the hunters could comfortably follow their Bassets on foot.

What Does This History Indicate About Basset Hounds’ Personality?

Now that you know your Basset Hound’s history, you will be in a better position to appreciate your tail-wagger and why they do what they do. Here are some facts to note about your Basset’s personality:

Your Basset Can Smell a Steak Miles Away!

To say Basset Hounds have a powerful sense of smell is an understatement. 

They have nearly 20 million olfactory receptors in their noses – where humans only have 5 million. This means that their sense of smell is 40 times higher than that of humans.

If you find your Basset Hounds darting for the trash can or stealing your meals, please forgive them; they simply cannot help it.

You Need to Secure Your Yard

The downside to your Basset’s incredible sense of smell is that they will find ways to reach the source of that delicious scent. 

Whether your Basset smells a steak being grilled in the neighborhood, or your unspayed/unneutered dog smells a potential mate nearby, they are sure to be gone in a matter of seconds! 

Please secure your yard or keep your Basset safely indoors to prevent them from darting into the streets.

They Are Social Dogs and Prone To Separation Anxiety

The fact that Bassets lived and hunted in packs means they are incredibly social animals. 

This is the reason why most Bassets hate being left alone and often suffer from separation anxiety. Many Bassets get depressed when separated from humans and other canines.

If your furbaby’s anxiety is severe, it may be a good idea to bring home another Basset to give your dog company.

You Will Have to Firmly Train Your Basset

Bassets have a stubborn streak which, combined with their willful behavior, can pose a challenge during training.

 That is why you must establish your authority from the very beginning. You must consistently and patiently train your fur baby in basic obedience. Commands such as ‘stay,’ ‘drop it,’ and ‘come back’ can be useful when living with Bassets.

You Must Learn Not To Give In To Your Dog’s Doleful Eyes

Basset Hounds have the most beautiful, soulful eyes, and many owners end up letting their pets get away with bad behavior due to them.

While it is hard not to melt when your puppy looks at you that way, it is important not to give in to your pet’s begging.

 Bassets are notorious for quickly packing on the pounds, thanks to treats and table scraps. Remember: obesity can lead to many health issues in your Basset, so it is important to be firm and strict with your buddy.

FAQs- Why Were Basset Hounds Bred?

Which two breeds make up the Basset Hound?

Basset Hounds may have descended from St.Hubert Hounds or Norman Staghounds.

What were Basset Hounds originally used for?

Basset Hounds were initially used to hunt hares, rabbits, and other small burrowing animals. In the USA, they mainly became family pets.

Is Basset Hound a Beagle?

The Basset Hound and Beagle are similar breeds. Both are hunting dogs having a powerful sense of smell. However, they also have several differences, viz., the Basset Hound is heavier and has longer ears than the Beagle.

Conclusion – Why Were Basset Hounds Bred?

Basset Hounds were bred to be hunting companion dogs. They were skilled in flushing out small animals like rabbits and hares. Their powerful sense of smell, long ears, and short legs all aided them in this task.

We hope this guide gives you an insight into your Basset’s personality.