By F. W. Howard
The conformation of the Bassett makes him conspicuous among other varieties of hounds. Although he stands on short legs, only a few inches high and usually crooked like those of the Dachshund, at the same time he has a heavy, powerful-looking body, with a head much resembling that of the blood-hound. He is an importation from France, whence he was brought to England by the late Sir Everett Williams, son of the great artist, in 1874.
The type most favored has a head as much like a (blood-hound as it can be. The ears are long and hang in graceful folds. The head, is long and narrow, without a stoop below the eyes, and the forehead is of great depth through the flews. There should be ample dew-lap and the skin across the forehead and down the side of the head should be wrinkled. The front legs, which are only about four inches long, may be either crooked or straight, but in any case they should be heavily boned and set on well under the body. Elbows that turn out or joints that knuckle unfit the animal for any prolonged exertion. The chest is deep, full and well let down. The hind quarters should be full of muscle and the stifle well bent. The arched loin and the fact that the hind legs are longer than those in front give the Bassett a gait which is thoroughly distinctive. The stern is carried hound fashion and is well feathered underneath. The coat of the smooth variety is short and fine, skin loose and elastic; markings usually black, white and tan, sometimes beautifully flecked or spotted. Average weight is between 40 and 50 pounds.
The Bassett hound is used as a very slow driver of game and will hunt almost any kind. They have grand voices, deep and sonorous like the blood-hound.
A gentleman from Natal, South Africa, who had experienced difficulty in finding a dog that would drive the smaller variety of buck out of the thick cover, imported pointers, foxhounds and harriers; but found nothing that would suit until he tried a couple of Bassetts.
They possess a very keen nose. One who used to be taken out with the bloodhound would hunt a man with the best of them, giving tongue all the way, but of course coming in long after the larger hounds had finished. Bassetts are very independent workers, each preferring to verify the line for himself. They can get over the ground at a surprising pace considering their size and conformation. Although the writer is not aware that this breed of hound is used at all in this country for actual hunting, he is confident that a dog with the qualifications as above mentioned would prove valuable in certain kinds of hunting. Having had a deal of experience killing foxes ahead of the hounds, the writer is of the opinion that the slower a dog drives them, providing he keeps the fox moving, the more success can be had killing the fox and at the same time with much less ground to be covered. As soon as the fox realizes that he is in no danger of being outrun by his pursuer, he will run in small circles. He does not think it necessary to keep so much distance ahead.
The fastest dog the writer ever owned was about the poorest to kill foxes ahead of. He crowded them so that they kept going as fast and far as they were able and if he closed up on them finally, they usually took to a den; he very seldom succeeded in catching one.
He was a fine 'coon dog and while hunting the latter got crippled so badly that he afterwards was obliged to run on three legs. Driving foxes on three legs, he was a great success and for the purpose of shooting fox ahead of him, was several times more valuable than when he was "all there."
While the Bassett hound would be unable to do anything in deep snow, they ought to be fine fox dogs in all ordinary weather. Probably fences would prove to be the main disadvantage in using them in any well settled country. Speaking of fences would say, that the wolves wire fences so much in use at present art 1 great help to 'coon and fox, as they are frequently of such mesh and so high that the most nimble dogs are not able to negotiate them.
Fur, News. Fur News, January 1916.
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