Basset Hound Field Trials

Basset Hound Field Trials: History of the Sport

It is generally acknowledged that the first Basset Hounds came to America from France. George Washington's friend Lafayette sent him hounds for pack hunting in America, and these hounds were probably the so-called Old Virginia Bench-Legged Beagles. Other imports in the early nineteenth century were obtained from France, but some also came from British packs, especially the Walhampton Pack. Gerald Livingston imported from the Walhampton Pack in the 1920s forming his well-known Kilsyth Pack. At the same time, Loren Free of Ohio also imported from the Walhampton Pack to form his Shellbark Pack. During the 1930s, another Ohioan, Carl Smith, acquired the Starridge Pack, and when economic conditions improved, he was able to supply a new demand for hunting Bassets.

The American Kennel Club registered Bassets in 1885 and recognized them as a breed in the United States in 1916. After AKC recognition of the Basset Hound Club of America in 1937, show and field-trial activities grew and spread rapidly. The first Basset field trial was an AKC-sanctioned trial held at Hastings, Michigan, on October 24, 1937, by the then newly formed Basset Hound Club of America. It attracted seven Bassets. The hounds were run in Braces (pairs)under the AKC rules and procedures already in use for Beagle trials.

Soon, thereafter, two AKC-licensed Basset field trials a year were held in Michigan, Ohio, or Pennsylvania, with a growth to about thirty to forty entries per trial. By 1964, ninety-seven Bassets had fulfilled the requirements for the Field Championship title. The sport spread rapidly to New York State, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland, Kentucky, Illinois, California, and Texas, with many trials attracting over one hundred entries. Today some twenty Basset Hounds clubs hold thirty-eight trials each year, and the Basset Hound Club of America gets the best of the Bassets together each spring and fall for a national event.

There have been only 9 Dual Champion Bassets over the years. The first, Dual Ch. "Kazzo's Moses the Great," won his second of the Champion titles in 1964.