basset hound, breed of short-legged, long-bodied hound developed centuries ago in France. It stands from 12 to 15 in. (30.1–38.1 cm) high at the shoulder and weighs from 25 to 50 lb (11.3–22.7 kg). The short, dense coat is usually black, tan, or white or any combination of these colors. The basset was perfected to hunt such game as rabbits, fox, squirrels, and pheasant in very heavy ground cover; the shortness of its legs allows it to keep its head to the scent with a minimum of difficulty. It has also been trained to hunt raccoons and opossum and to retrieve. Renowned for its scenting ability, which is second only to that of its close relative the bloodhound, the basset is still popular as a slow but efficient hunter. It is also raised as a pet. See dog.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.