The Basset Artesian Normand, sometimes spelled Basset Artesien Normand, is one of six breeds of French Basset, all of which are known for their short legs. The Basset Artesian Normand is descended from various hunting hounds native to France, in particular those of Artois and Normandy. Although rare outside of its native country, the Basset Artesian Normand is the most common breed of Basset in France.
During the Middle Ages, hunting with hounds became tremendously popular among the nobility of Europe. This sport became one of the most important, if not the most important, form of recreation enjoyed by Europe’s ruling class. Not only was hunting with hounds a way to relax, it was also a way for the nobility to socialize and discuss political matters. Bonds of friendship and companionship developed over the hunt would often turn into bonds of personal and political loyalty. The decisions that were discussed over hunts impacted the lives of millions across Europe. The sport was particularly popular in the lands of what is now France.
Initially, dog breeding was less careful than it is today. There were a variety of types of dog, and a number of landraces, but there was very frequent mixing. The first records of organized dog breeding in Europe comes from the Saint Hubert Monastery in France. Saint Hubert is the patron saint of hounds and the hunt and the monks at his monastery began to develop a highly specialized hunting hound. They began their breeding program sometime between 750 and 900, and the end result was a breed of dog known as the Saint Hubert Hound, or Bloodhound in England. There is a common belief that they based their dogs on hunting hounds brought back from the Holy Land, although there is little historical fact to base this on. Eventually, it became customary for the Monastery to send several pairs of hounds to the King of France every year. The French King would then distribute these dogs among his nobles as gifts. Partially inspired by the Saint Hubert Hound, huntsmen throughout France began to develop their own unique breeds of hound.
Eventually there were distinctive hounds across France. Many of these have their origins in the Middle Ages or the early Renaissance. Unfortunately, few if any records were kept and so the origin of most of these breeds will forever be unknown. It is believed that the oldest French hounds descend from a mix of dogs brought by Phoenicians, dogs owned by the Pre-Roman Gauls and Basques, dogs imported from across the Roman Empire, and some dogs used by the Germanic tribes. By the end of the Middle Ages, the Saint Hubert Hound had become widespread across France, and heavily influenced the development of almost all other French Hound breeds. A few other French breeds became widely distributed across France and were also highly influential, notably the now-extinct Chien Gris and the Grand Bleu de Gascogne.
Several unique breeds developed in northern France. One such breed was known as the Normand, which originated in Normandy. These dogs were elegant, long, and scroll-eared. Another breed was known as either the Picardy or the Chien d’Artois. This dog was developed in the neighboring regions of Picardy and Artois. The Chien d’Artois is believed to be primarily descended from the Saint Hubert Hound, although the breed has been substantially influenced by the Normand and various English hounds and gundogs.
French hunters would typically take a basic breed and alter it in order to suit the needs of different game or environments. This led to many French hound breeds having multiple varieties, which eventually became separate breeds. One of the most common forms became known as a Basset. Bassets are long bodied and short legged dogs. Many different breeds of Basset have existed over the past several centuries, with six surviving until the present day. The origin of Bassets is something of a mystery. The first description of a dog as a Basset comes from La Venerie, an illustrated hunting text by Jacques du Fouilloux written in 1585. These dogs are shown hunting foxes and badgers, driving these animals into a burrow. Hunters would then dig out the quarry. However, Jacques du Fouilloux’s Bassets are already highly developed in both appearance and purpose. It is likely that they were developed several centuries earlier. Indeed, paintings from Gascony in the 1300’s show dogs which may be the Basset Bleu de Gascogne. All of Fouilloux’s Bassets were wiry-coated; a trait shared with the modern Basset Fauve de Bretagne, Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen, and Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen.
It is not known how Bassets were developed. Some believe that the dogs were exclusively bred from mutated French hounds. Others believe that French hounds were crossed with other small breeds such as Dachshunds, Drevers, Beagles, or Corgis. Due to a paucity of records, the full truth may never be known, although most fanciers prefer the first. It is also unknown how so many breeds came to have a basset variety. Some theories have multiple breeds of dogs being bred down in size. Others have one breed of Basset being developed and then crossed with many other breeds. The second theory seems to be preferred in the literature and is the more likely of the two. What Basset breed is the original is up for debate. Many believe that the Basset mutation was common in the Saint Hubert Hound, and that the first Bassets were developed by the monks at the Saint Hubert Monastery. However, there doesn’t seem to be evidence of this theory, and there is no known breed as the Basset Saint Hubert. Among the oldest breeds of Basset for which we have evidence are the Basset Bleu de Gascogne and the now-extinct Basset Saintongeois.
By the 1600’s, both the Normand and the Chien d’Artois were found in Basset forms. Local breeders combined the two varieties to create the Basset Artesian Normand. It is likely that they crossed other local Artesian and Norman hounds as well, and possibly other Basset breeds. The Basset Bleu de Gascogne in particular shares a similar appearance to the Basset Artesian Normand. The Basset Artesian Normand eventually overtook the popularity of the Basset Normand and the Basset Chien d’Artois, both of which are now extinct.
The first record of Bassets in America comes from the late 1700’s. Several Bassets were given to George Washington by General Lafayette as a gift. It is not known what variety of Bassets these were, but it is quite possible that they were Basset Artesian Normands. These dogs may have factored into the ancestry of such American hound breeds as the American Foxhound.
The French Revolution and resulting social turmoil proved disastrous for French hunting hounds. Many breeds became extinct as what nobility remained could no longer afford their upkeep. However, the Basset breeds grew in popularity. Because their legs were so short, hunters could easily keep pace with them without the need for a horse. This allowed the many Frenchmen who could afford a dog or two but not a horse to enjoy hunting. Basset breeds became the hounds of choice for the common man.
The prominence and popularity of the Basset Artesian Normand greatly grew during the reign of Emperor Napoleon III, 1852 to 1870. The Emperor was a tremendous fancier of the breed. Just one year after his reign began he commissioned the renowned sculptor Emmanuel Fremiet to build bronze statutes of three of his Bassets. In 1863, the Basset Artesian Normand was shown at the Paris dog show. The breed’s unique appearance created quite a stir in the international dog scene. At this point there were four varieties of the Basset Artesian Normand. Wire-coated dogs were known as Basset Griffons and smooth-coated animals were known as Basset Francais’s. Each coat variety also came in two leg lengths.
Breeding of the Basset Artesian Normand became standardized in 1870. For the next several decades, Basset Artesian Normand breeding was dominated by two breeders M. Lane, who focused on hunting performance, and the Count Le Couteaux, who focused on appearance. These lines became separate and quite different. Eventually, Leon Verrier created one unified standard, which combined aspects of both lines. Breeding became so standardized that only one variety of Basset Artesian Normand remains, the smooth coated, short-legged modern variety. Also, the dog’s coat has changed over time. Initially, there were several different coat patterns, although only tri-color or fawn and white are currently considered acceptable. The dog is less cumbersome and more streamlined than its ancestors; although some hunters complain that the modern animal lacks stamina and a sufficiently hound-like voice.
The first record of a modern Basset Artesian Normand leaving France comes from 1866 when Lord Galway imported a pair of Le Couteaux’s dogs into Britain. However, the breed did not become established there until 1874, when Sir Everett Millais began to import them. The Basset Artesian Normand quickly grew in popularity in the English dog show world. Several hunting packs were also created. British breeders favored a heavier dog and tended to breed the largest examples of Basset Artesian Normands. They also crossed Basset Artesian Normands with Bloodhounds, beagles, and other Basset breeds. Within a few decades these British Artesian Normands had become a new breed entirely, the Basset Hound. The Basset Hound quickly spread to America and around the world. The Basset Artesian Normand did not gain this international popularity, although the breed remained comparatively popular in France.
The French Revolution and two World Wars resulted in the extinction, or at least severe numerical decline of most French hound breeds. This process continues to the present day, as hunting with packs of hounds grows continuously less popular. However, the Basset Artesian Normand remains in relatively good shape. The breed has long been a popular companion dog in his homeland and remains the most popular breed of Basset in France. Like many other breeds of dog, the Basset Artesian Normand is now rarely used for its original purpose as a pack hunter, and is now most commonly kept as a companion animal or show dog.
In 1924 the name Artesien Norman Basset (Basset Artésien Normand) was finally adopted for the breed and the club, Mr. Léon Verrier, who took over as chairman of the club in 1927, at the age of 77, wanted to strengthen the Norman character of the breed and in the book of “Standards Of Hunting Dogs of 1930”, the following reference is made to this breed and the club : “The committee of the “Société de Vénerie” (Game Society) decides and notes that the Basset Artésien-Normand should not be but one stage of transition towards a Norman type, without any trace of Artois.”
Largely overshadowed overseas by its descendant the Basset Hound, the Basset Artesian Normand is beginning to find fanciers in both the United Kingdom and the United States. Although not yet recognized by the American Kennel Club even as a Foundation Stock Service Breed, the Basset Artesian Normand was recognized with the United Kennel Club (UKC) in 1995. However, the Basset Artesian Normand, or B.A.N. as it is commonly known in the United States, is still quite rare outside of its homeland.
The Basset Artesian Normand closely resembles its descendant the Basset Hound, although the Basset Artesian Normand is much slimmer and streamlined than its heavier and more well-known relative. These dogs are long and low to the ground, with a head and color pattern typical of French hound breeds. This dog should have the appearance of having been purebred for some time.
The Basset Artesian Normand is short in stature, as is the case all Basset breeds. These dogs are between 12 and 14 inches tall at the shoulder. There is less sexual dimorphism in size than in many hound breeds. Breed standards do not have a specific weight require for the Basset Artesian Normand, although most weigh between 33 and 38 pounds. This dog is not particularly heavily built, and should appear somewhat slim.
The Basset Artesian Normand has the classic head and face of a French Hound, although somewhat slim. These dogs have a long snout and nose giving them extra room for scent receptors. The breed’s ears are low-set on the head, long and droopy, which many fanciers believe entraps scent particles and buffets them toward the dog’s nose. There is little scientific data to support this, however. The Basset Artesian Normand has some amount of what appears to be excessive skin on the lips and face, although not nearly to the extent of Basset Hounds. These dogs have dark eyes, which are said to have a calm and serious expression.
The Basset Artesian Normand has a short and smooth coat, which is designed to give the breed protection from brambles and other low-lying plants. Although the breed initially came in many color varieties, only two are still considered acceptable, tri-color and fawn and white. The fur of tri-color dogs may have some grizzle. Many tri-color dogs have a large saddle-shaped black marking on their backs.
Although primarily kept as a companion, the Basset Artesian Normand is still a hunting animal. As such, they should appear fit and muscular. These dogs are more well-muscled than many similar breeds, especially around the legs. The breed has a long tail, although not as long as many other hound breeds. This tail is often held in an upright saber-like position.
While developed as a hunting animal, the friendly and affectionate nature of the Basset Artesian Normand is what has made the breed a beloved companion animal in its native country. Basset Artesian Normand’s are known for being very affectionate and friendly with their families. Although some may function as watch dogs, Basset Artesian Normand’s typically greet strangers warmly. The breed has a reputation of being very gentle and affectionate with children. If you are looking for a family companion, the Basset Artesian Normand will most likely fit in just fine if provided with adequate exercise. If you are looking for a guard dog, you should look elsewhere.
As is typical among pack hunting hounds, the Basset Artesian Normand is generally good with other dogs. If you are looking to introduce a dog into a home with existing canine residents, the Basset Artesian Normand may be an excellent choice for you. However, it is always advisable to be careful and cautious when introducing new dogs to each other, particularly adult dogs. Some Basset Artesian Normands, particularly those raised in a pack environment, may show some bullying and dominance behaviors, especially when the social order has not been fully established.
The Basset Artesian Normand is not the most ideal breed to have around non-canine pets, although it is a far better choice than most hounds. This breed was created to pursue non-canines, and will sometimes do so. However, the Basset Artesian Normand was not typically responsible for the actual catching or attacking of the prey once brought to ground, meaning that its prey drive is somewhat less than a breed such as a Black and Tan Coonhound. These dogs can get along well with cats and other small pets, although it is important to properly socialize them. It is probably not advisable to bring an adult Basset Artesian Normand into a home with non-canine pets unless that individual has been properly socialized.
Basset Artesian Normands are known for being quite intelligent and comparatively obedient. This is likely one of the easiest of all scent hound breeds to train, and with the best end results. However, some Basset Artesian Normands may be somewhat stubborn and exhibit selective listening. While this breed will listen and obey its masters, it would most likely prefer to do what it wants rather than what its owner wants. As with most hound breeds, any training regimen involving a Basset Artesian Normand is likely to be most successful if there is a large amount of food reward involved.
The Basset Artesian Normand was bred to follow trails for hours on end, and it will do so with great success. As a result, the breed has a tendency to catch a scent and follow it. Although more obedient than most hounds, some trails might prove too enticing to give up, and the breed may be difficult to call back. It is definitely advisable to keep a Basset Artesian Normand on a leash at all times unless the dog has been extremely well-trained. It is said that the breed is intelligent enough and so skilled as a tracker that if you were to leave a piece of clothing around where the dog wandered off it would be able to find itself back there after running away. This is still definitely not an ideal situation.
The Basset Artesian Normand does have a tendency to follow a trail. These dogs are also quite intelligent, and surprisingly strong and athletic. These traits can combine to create an escape artist. Although not as capable of scaling fences as a breed such as a Bluetick Coonhound or a Siberian Husky, the Basset Artesian Normand is more than able to dig under a fence, or find a weak spot and go through. If you intend to leave a Basset Artesian Normand off-leash, it is important to make sure that the fence is quite secure.
Although its close kinship with the Basset Hound may suggest that the Basset Artesian Normand is a couch potato, this is definitely not the case. This breed requires a significant amount of daily exercise and stimulation. The Basset Artesian Normand is capable of trailing game for many hours, while solving many problems along the way. They must be taken on frequent walks or they will become restless. Restless and bored Basset Artesian Normands may become destructive and noisy. As an athletic and intelligent breed, the Basset Artesian Normand is capable of being surprisingly destructive. If you are not able or willing to provide a dog with substantial exercise, the Basset Artesian Normand is probably not the ideal breed for you. Exercise is especially important for the Basset Artesian Normand as overweight dogs are very susceptible to back problems.
One tendency of the Basset Artesian Normand which may cause difficulties for those who wish to keep the dog in an urban or suburban area is the breed’s penchant for noise. The Basset Artesian Normand has a reputation for being less loud and less vocal than most other hound breeds. As a result, this breed fits into city life more than some hounds. However, some of these dogs are still quite vocal. They were bred to bay when on the trail, in order to alert their handlers when they were on a scent or had driven an animal to ground. You may be surprised at the volume and variety of sounds that this breed will make. Be aware that a Basset Artesian Normand may result in noise complaints.
The Basset Artesian Normand has a short, smooth coat that should require little, if any, professional grooming. A regular brushing is all that this breed’s coat should require. However, this does not mean that the breed is not a shedder. While the Basset Artesian Normand does not have quite the reputation for shedding of some breeds, if a family member is sensitive to dog hair, or just doesn’t like having it on furniture, carpets, and clothes, this may not be the ideal breed to have around.
Just because the coat of a Basset Artesian Normand is low-maintenance does not mean that the breed doesn’t have grooming requirements. As is the case with many droopy-eared dogs, the Basset Artesian Normand is very susceptible to getting ear infections as a result of dirty ears. Owners must regularly and thoroughly clean the Basset Artesian Normand’s ears to prevent this problem. This process should be started when the dog is young, as older dogs may be frightened and nervous of it.
The Basset Artesian Normand is a relatively healthy breed, especially when compared to other Basset varieties. These dogs are quite long-lived, with an average life expectancy of 13 to 14 years. However, the breed is still susceptible to several common health defects.
Many long-bodied and short legged dogs have a tendency to have back problems, and the Basset Artesian Normand is no exception. These breeds’ backs are very likely to suffer damage as a result of injury or activity. In particular, the Basset Artesian Normand is likely to suffer from ruptured disks. Weight gain is a particular problem in the breed. These dogs’ already sensitive backs can be greatly strained by excess weight. It is important that a Basset Artesian Normand’s diet be closely monitored and that they get sufficient exercise.
It is always advisable to get your Bloodhounds, and all other dogs, tested by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals and/or the Canine Eye Registration Foundation, particularly if you intend to breed. The OFA and CERF test for various genetically inherited disorders such as blindness and hip dysplasia. These conditions can be detected, and potentially prevented in your dog. It is also possible to avoid breeding animals with these conditions and thus eliminate or reduce their occurrence in future generations.
Other Common Health Problems to which a Basset Artesian Normand may be susceptible include: