Trust the French to develop such a distinctive breed, with its “jolie” appearance, jolie meaning pretty-ugly, or unconventionally attractive. The name Basset means “low” and in France it refers to a distinct level of hound by height.
Bassets probably descended from the St. Hubert Hound, the ancestor of the present-day Bloodhound, and came about when a mutation in the St. Hubert strain produced a short-legged or dwarfed hound. Perhaps the dwarf hounds were kept as curiosities and later bred on purpose when their ability to track rabbits and hare under brush in thick forests was observed.
The first recorded mention of a Basset Hound was in an illustrated book about hunting, La Venerie, written by Jacques du Fouilloux in 1585. From the illustrations, it appears that the early French Basset Hounds resembled the present-day Basset Artésien Normand, a dog breed today known in France.
Basset Hounds were first popular with the French aristocracy, but after the French Revolution they became the hunting dogs of commoners who needed a dog they could follow on foot, not having access to horses. They made their way to Britain by the mid-19th century. Lord Galway imported a pair to England in 1866 and they produced a litter of five pups, but he didn’t show them so they remained relatively unknown.
Then, in 1874, Sir Everett Millais imported a Basset Hound named Model from France. Millais promoted the breed in England and started a breeding program in his own kennel as well as in cooperation with breeding programs established by Lord Onslow and George Krehl. For his efforts in gaining publicity for the Basset Hound in England, Millais is considered to be the “father of the breed” in England.
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19 May, 2016
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