What Were Basset Hounds Bred For?

Basset Hounds, with their droopy ears and soulful eyes, have captivated dog lovers all around the world. But have you ever wondered what these adorable canines were originally bred for? In this blog post, we will delve into the history of Basset Hounds to uncover their purpose and origins. Let’s embark on an exciting journey through time!

The Origins of Basset Hounds

To understand why Basset Hounds were bred in the first place, we must trace back their roots to 16th-century France. The word “basset” itself is derived from the French term “bas,” which means low or short. These hounds were selectively bred from larger scent hound breeds like Bloodhounds to create a shorter-legged hunting companion.

Hunting Abilities Like No Other

The primary objective behind breeding Bassets was to enhance their hunting abilities by exploiting certain desirable traits they possess naturally. With their exceptional sense of smell coupled with a distinctive baying bark that resonates through woodland areas, these dogs became experts in tracking game while alerting hunters from afar.

Their unique physical characteristics also played a vital role in shaping them into skilled hunters. The exceptionally long ears help sweep scents upwards toward the nose while trapping them close for enhanced detection capabilities. Moreover, their elongated bodies combined with sturdy legs allowed them to navigate dense underbrush effortlessly without compromising speed or agility.

Breeding for Tracking Small Game

Bassets’ main purpose was initially geared towards assisting hunters in tracking small game such as rabbits and hares due to their excellent nose-to-ground scenting style commonly known as trailing. Their low stature and slow pace made them particularly suitable for covering large areas meticulously, ensuring no scent went unnoticed. The breed’s hunting style complemented their purpose perfectly, allowing them to excel in this specific role.

Bassets as Companions: A Modern Role

Over time, Basset Hounds transitioned from being solely working dogs to beloved family pets. Their friendly and gentle nature combined with an easygoing disposition make them wonderful companions for people of all ages. While they may not be actively used for hunting purposes like before, their remarkable tracking abilities still shine through in modern-day activities such as scent work trials or search and rescue operations.


In conclusion, Basset Hounds were originally bred with a clear purpose in mind – to excel as hound dogs during hunts by tracking small game efficiently. From their origins in France to becoming cherished household companions worldwide today, these lovable canines have garnered immense popularity due to their exceptional scenting abilities and amiable temperament. Whether as a dedicated hunting partner or a loyal family pet, the unique legacy of the Basset Hound continues to endure through generations.