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A Curious Facet in the History of the Basset

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114 – May, 2018

By Lee Connor

‘Dost thou in hounds aspire to deathless fame? Learn well their lineage and their ancient stem.
Each tribe with joy old rustic heralds trace, And sing the chosen worthies of their race.’

As you know, we have just had Crufts here in the UK and, as I predicted, the anti-pedigree lobby were out in force spreading their untruths and sometimes downright lies to an ever-ignorant but always very receptive media.

Among the litany of incorrect statements produced, one in particular really stuck in my mind.

‘Most pedigree dog breeds have been changed beyond all recognition.’

Really? As anyone who has followed this series of historical articles on our beloved pedigree breeds will know, in the vast majority of cases this is blatantly untrue and the person who wrote the pithy remark quite clearly didn’t have the breed under consideration this month, the Basset Hound, in mind.

This instantly recognizable breed has been around, pretty much in its present form, for well over 150 years and maybe even longer. Shakespeare wrote the following lines;

‘So flewed, so sanded; and their heads are hung
With ears that sweep away the morning dew,
Crook-kneed and dew lapped like Thessalian bulls,
Slow in pursuit, but matched in mouths like bells
Each unto each.’

The bard’s little verse is certainly remarkable in its faithfulness to today’s Basset. Short-legged dogs which could be considered of ‘basset-type’ can be seen depicted in wall paintings on Egyptian tombs dating back to 2000 BC. They can also be seen in medieval tapestries and various chroniclers from the Middle Ages have mentioned, ‘low set, long bodied dogs.’

Man has always had a fascination for them.

Click here to read the complete article
114 – May, 2018

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