Basset Bleu de Gascogne
The Basset Bleu de Gascogne , also known as the Blue Gascony Basset, is a long-backed, short legged breed of dog of the hound type. A breed with origins in the Middle Ages which descends from the Grand Bleu de Gascogne however it nearly went extinct around the early 19th century and its saviour was attributed to Alain Bourbon. A French native breed, it is rare outside of its homeland. It is recognized internationally by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale, in the UK by The Kennel Club, and by the United Kennel Club in the United States. The "bleu" of its name is a reference to its coat which has a ticked appearance.
The color of their coat is predominantly white, ticked so as to give a bluish appearance, with brown spots and tan markings above the eyes and on the ears. They are a smooth-coated breed. Height at the withers is usually between 34–42 centimetres (13–17 in) although the Kennel Club standard specifies 30–38 centimetres (12–15 in). Their general appearance is usually not too heavy, and they weight between 16–18 kilograms (35–40 lb). They have dark brown eyes and low-set ears that can reach at least the end of their muzzle. Because of their working nature as a hunting hound, effects of this work such as scars, nicks, notches on the ears and so on are not considered a fault in the show ring.
The Basset Bleu de Gascogne descended directly from the old breed of Grand Bleu de Gascogne. They have been recorded in paintings from the 14th century in Gascony, southwest France. The exact origin of the breed is debated, one theory is that it is a cross of the Grand Bleu with the Saintongeois Basset, another theory is that the Basset Bleu is a natural mutation of the Grand combined with selective breeding for shorter legs in order to slow down the breed. It is thought that Gaston III of Foix-Béarn kept a pack of these dogs to hunt wild boar and wolves. He is known as the writer of the Livre de chasse, considered the classic treatise on medieval hunting.
Prior to the French Revolution, hunting was reserved for the nobility who generally hunted on horseback. Following the French Revolution, hunting was opened up to the common people who would hunt on foot and found following a large hunting dog difficult. From this the slower, shorter legged Basset Bleu de Gascogne may have been created.
During the early 19th century the breed nearly went extinct with a declining popularity in hunting. However, the breed was saved and revived by the work of Alain Bourbon.
Today, the Basset Bleu is one of six types of Basset Hound recognised by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale.