Most people are familiar with the basset hound through popular culture. Basset Hounds have hawked shoes, appeared as humorous cartoon characters and acted as amusing sidekicks in movies and television series, among other things. In reality, the basset family of hounds consists of six low-slung hunting dogs bred to track a variety of prey.
Originating in sixteenth-century France, the basset hound is the oldest of all the basset family of breeds. The Friars of St. Hubert developed the basset from the longer-legged St. Hubert hound to create a low-slung dog that unmounted hunters could follow with ease. Basset hounds are gentle dogs that get along well with children and with other pets. They stand just over a foot at the shoulder when adult and have short, low-maintenance coats that come in a variety of colors. Because they are hunting dogs, basset hounds may follow scent trails whenever they find them.
Basset Artesien Normand
The Basset Artesien Normand breed originated by crossing two French strains of basset-family hounds, one from Normandy and one from Artois. The breed standard calls for members of this breed to stand between 12 inches and 14 inches high, but some BANs might stand a little shorter or taller. These "energetic extroverts” are good-natured pets. The BAN’s short, smooth coat comes in tri-color fawn and white.
Basset Bleu de Gascogne
The Basset Bleu was developed from the Grand Bleu de Gascogne, an ancient breed from the Gascony region of France. The breed is large and substantially low-slung yet is still lively and agile enough to enjoy a romp in the yard. The “bleu” part of his name refers to his short and dense fur, which is always mottled black and white, giving his coat a slate-blue appearance. The Basset Bleu is slightly taller than some bassets, standing between 13 inches and 15 inches at the shoulder.
Basset Fauve de Bretagne
The Basset Fauve is a small, stocky, rectangular breed developed to trail rabbit, hare, fox, roe deer and wild boar. The breed’s harsh, wiry coat requires a moderate amount of upkeep and comes in colors that range from light golden to brick red. The Basset Fauve is a medium-size member of the basset family, standing between 12.5 inches to 15.5 inches tall. In general, this breed is cheerful and agreeable, making him a companionable family pet.
Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen
The Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen is descended from the Grand Griffon, a much larger rough-coated hound. This breed is one of the tallest bassets and is the speediest, making it suitable for agility training as well as hunting. Although an attractive and elegant hound, the GBGV tends to be more stubborn and less biddable than other bassets, so he is not an ideal family pet. The hard, midlength coat comes in white and black, black and tan, and white and fawn.
Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen
Until the 1950s, the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen and the GBGV were two varieties of the same breed, with both large and small varieties being found in the same litter. The PBGV is bold and alert, making him a lively companion, but the breed’s “good voice, freely and purposefully used,” makes the breed unsuited for apartment living. The PBGV typically stands between 13 inches and 15 inches at the shoulder. The breed’s rough, tousled coat is always white with orange, black, sable, tricolor or grizzle markings.
- American Kennel Club: AKC Meet the Breeds: Basset Hound
- United Kennel Club: Basset Artesien Normand
- United Kennel Club: Basset Bleu de Gascogne
- United Kennel Club: Basset Fauve de Bretagne
- United Kennel Club: Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen
- American Kennel Club: AKC Meet the Breeds: Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen
- chien de garde image by Eric MATVEEFF from Fotolia.com