Basset Hounds originated in France, where their name translates to low....
They were bred to hunt rabbits and are still used for hunting in Europe. Their most direct ancestor is the St. Hubert Hound, which belonged to St. Hubert of Belgium in the 6th century. The first-known reference to a Basset Hound was in the hunting book La Venerie in 1585.
Basset Hounds continued to be popular with French aristocrats and made their way to England in the mid-1800s, where they also caught on with royals. Princess Alexandra of Wales kept Basset Hounds in the royal kennels, which lead to the formation of the English Bassett Hound Club in 1884 an organization that still exists today.
Bassets came to the US in the late 1800s and were recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1916. They hit their stride in the 1950s thanks to Hush Puppies ad campaigns and Droopy Dog cartoons, and today they are ranked 28th of 155 in popularity by the AKC.