With their short legs, droopy eyes, and friendly personality, the Basset Hound is perhaps one of the most iconic dog breeds, as evidenced by their many appearances in pop culture. From the Hush Puppies “spokesbasset” to the animated cartoon dog “Droopy,” it’s undeniable that the Basset has managed to capture hearts around the globe.
Don’t be fooled by their lazy looks! Often compared to Beagles, this member of the hound family was originally bred by the French aristocracy to assist hunting parties. While on the trail, the Basset Hound follows a prey’s scent with a single-minded determination. These are dogs ruled by their noses, and with more than 220 million smell receptors, it’s not hard to see (or smell) why!
If you’re looking to add this talented tracker to your family, then this is the article for you! Here we’ll talk about the breed’s history, temperament, health, and much more. Get ready to put your hunting cap on and let us help you sniff out facts from fiction!
The Basset Hound’s loveable appearance and wonderful sense of smell have marked them as a favorite among many over the years. From French nobility and their hunting hounds to Marilyn Monroe and her own Basset named Hugo, this breed is certainly not a stranger to the spotlight. One particular Basset Hound named Victoria was even elected co-mayor of Concord, Ontario! She happily shared this position with her co-mayor, Nelson the Great Dane. You’ll be happy to hear the two mayors were able to raise $1000 dollars for the Concord Merrimack-County SPCA!
The breed’s history is long, just like their bodies. Like most breeds of hounds, they are believed to be a descendant of the hounds raised by St. Hubert. According to the AKC, it is generally thought that the friars of The Abbey of St. Hubert were the ones responsible for the Basset’s low stature. They did this by crossing breeders of older French dogs. In George Tuberville’s book, Art of the Hunting (1575), he notes that the St. Hubert Hound was mighty but slow. They were dogs of short stature who were good on the scent.
The earliest mention of the word “basset” can be found in La Venerie, a French hunting text written by Jacques du Fouilloux in 1585. During this time, all hounds under a height of 16 inches were known as a Basset. In this text, Jacques du Fouilloux takes note of a hound with a short coat that does well in the low vegetation of forests.
Much of their early history is tied to the French aristocracy; as a result, they were an unfortunate casualty of the French Revolution (1789 – 1799). Dogs of the wealthy were seen as status symbols of the elite and were punished in the place of their owners. Hound dogs in particular were associated with the aristocracy’s feudalism.
With many French kennels closing down, the breed was nearly lost. Fortunately, these dogs became popular once more under Emperor Napoleon III (1852–1870). They became a favored hunting partner for the common man who couldn’t afford horses, as the breed was easier to follow on foot in comparison to other hounds.
Heading to Britain
In the year 1866, the breed had made its way to Britain. Lord Galaway imported a breeding pair from France and produced a litter of five pups. Lord Galaway’s Bassets were then sold to Lord Onslow who continued to breed them. Eventually, Lord Onslow sold the Bassets to Everett Millais, who many consider as the father of the modern breed. Millais founded a breeding program for the Basset and is largely responsible for their popularity in Britain.
In 1916, The AKC formally recognized the Basset Hound breed standard, helping to raise awareness for the Basset in America. The first non-human to grace the cover of Time Magazine was a Basset Hound. This cover, as well as an article in the magazine written through the point of view of a Basset puppy, helped introduce the American public to this dog’s unique charm. The ’60s brought about even more publicity for the Basset; The Hush Puppies introduced their Basset brand ambassador and the Freddy Basset comic strip began publication. These events only served to cement the breed into American pop culture.
The AKC ranks the Basset Hound #39 in terms of popularity. While they may no longer find themselves assisting any nobility on their hunts; They’ve definitely found a place in the homes and hearts of many dog lovers around the world.
The Basset Hound is outgoing and mild-mannered. They possess a docile nature that marks them as one of the friendliest dog breeds around. They’ll happily greet just about any stranger they come across! The AKC also notes the Basset as being “extreme in its devotion”, making them a wonderful addition to any family. This is a dog that will be a family’s loyal companion their whole life. They aren’t notorious for being very intelligent, but they make up for it with their love and affection.
Considering the breed’s origins as a pack dog expected to work with hunting parties, you’ll find that most Basset Hounds are friendly to both humans and other dogs. So friendly in fact, that many suffer extreme bouts of loneliness when left on their own! Be sure to keep this dog company to avoid any unnecessary distress and anxiety. Their need for companionship also makes them best suited in families with other dogs in the home. Their easy-going nature lets them get along wonderfully with children. If socialized at a young age, you’ll find the Basset gets along just fine with any family members of the feline kind.
While the Basset enjoys company, they are also a fairly independent breed. They have a tendency for wanderlust, especially when they catch an interesting scent in the air! This breed is also known for having a bit of a known stubborn streak. If you’re looking to bring a Basset into your home, be prepared to be firm and consistent with your dog. Patience, creativity, and the right motivation will go a long way with this independent breed.
Size & Appearance
The Basset Hound gets its name from the French word bas, which translates to the word low. Their recognizable low bodies certainly set them apart from most other dog breeds. According to the AKC’s breed standard, they should have a maximum height of 14 inches. They also have a bone density markedly heavier compared to other dog breeds. What they lack in height, they certainly make up for in length! They average to about 26 to 35 inches long and weigh around 40 to 65 pounds, with the males growing slightly larger than the females.
Short legs and massive paws help the Basset stay steady on the ground. Despite their short stature, these dogs have a surprising amount of reach compared to other dogs of the same height. Be sure to keep any food away from curious noses and hungry mouths! Their tails are long and curved. You’ll often see them wagging their tails in happiness when on the trail. However, these tails stand upright. This allows them to be easily spotted, even in tall grass.
They possess a large domed head, a wide neck, and flat cheekbones. Their muzzles are long, ending in an adorably rounded nose and droopy jowls. Long, velvety ears frame their face. These features are certainly charming, but they aren’t just for looks! Their long ears and jowls drag across the ground when they track a scent and act as magnets that trap scent particles along the way. This feature helps them follow smells longer than most other dog breeds. Wrinkly yet supple skin and droopy eyes give them a sad but sweet charm and a surprisingly varied range of facial expressions.
Coat & Colors
The Basset Hound has a short, dense coat with straight hair that is both soft and smooth in texture. The coat’s density helps protect the Basset in most weather conditions. Coated in oil, the Basset’s fur repels both dirt and water with relative ease.
You’ll find that the breed comes in a wide range of coloring and markings, all recognized by the AKC. Coat colors come in three types: solid-colored, bi-colored, and tri-colored. Black, white, and brown are just some of the colors this breed can be, with tri-color (black, white, and tan) being the most common coloring. Other potential Basset colors are lemon, tan, red, and mahogany. When it comes to coat colors, This breed is a near rainbow of choices!
Exercise and Living Requirements
When it comes to activity, you’ll find that this dog doesn’t require much. This is a dog built for a slow and steady pace rather than a full-on sprint; a Basset will be perfectly happy to take their time to smell the roses and everything else they happen to come across. That being said, It’s important to make sure your Basset Hound gets plenty of exercise, as they have a tendency to become overweight. Too much weight can put a heavy strain on the Basset’s short legs and will result in joint pain.
When they are indoors, they are rather inactive. They are more than happy to nap nearby their family members. This means that they can live very happy lives in small homes and apartment buildings. It’s outdoors where they need to be monitored.
Make sure to keep them in a fenced area while outdoors. Training them for the leash is also important. This prevents them from wandering off to hunt down a particularly intriguing scent. They are a rather vocal breed, brown to baking and yowling, so keep your neighbors in mind when you consider adding a Basset into your family. Their short coat makes them suitable for mild and moderate climates. It isn’t advised to keep this dog in either extremely hot or cold weather conditions.
The Basset Hound was bred to be instinctual and independent. These are both important personality traits in a dog expected to travel ahead while their human hunters followed from afar. These personality traits are still present in the breed today. This can make training a little challenging for novice dog owners. They may need a bit of convincing during training sessions. Luckily, they are also very food-motivated dogs. Keeps treats handy as motivation; with something to work for, the Basset will do their best to respond to you!
It’s important to get this breed used to their leashes to make sure they aren’t going to wander anywhere unsupervised. They are dogs with a heart for adventure and will take any chance to follow wherever the wind takes them. The Basset is also a talkative breed, prone to barking. This cannot be completely trained out of them, but early training can help keep noise to a minimum.
The Basset’s easy-going and friendly personality makes socializing fairly straightforward. They eagerly greet strangers and are playful with other dogs. As with any breed of dog, it is important to start socializing them early. Doing so will ensure your dog is happy and well-adjusted with the confidence to fall back on when in unfamiliar situations.
Bassets do best with short but frequent training sessions. Consistency is key with this breed. They need time and care from their owners; they thrive on positive reinforcement. Be patient with them. This is a dog that rewards your effort with equal amounts of love and loyalty. Once properly trained, you can expect them to be a faithful companion both on the trail and in the home.
This is a hardy breed, with an average life expectancy of 12 to 15 years. However, their highly specialized body leaves them vulnerable to a number of health concerns. The Basset’s long ears can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Their tendency to drool also means that their jowls need regular cleaning. Develop a habit of making sure your Basset’s problem areas are always clean to keep this breed happy and healthy!
Another common health concern in this breed is hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is a condition where the thigh bone and hip joint do not perfectly align. This condition can be very hard on the breed; affected dogs may require surgery to alleviate pain. Hip dysplasia is a hereditary condition, so make sure to ask your breeder if your puppy has been screened for this ailment. It can also be triggered by poor nutrition and lack of exercise. Too much or too little activity may also cause this condition to develop in your Basset Hound.
Also known as bloat, gastric torsion happens when a dog’s stomach fills with gas which causes it to expand and then twist. This causes the stomach to put pressure on the other organs in the body. It can also cause a dog’s blood pressure to drop, leading them to go into shock. Gastric torsion is a potentially fatal condition. It affects deep-chested dogs such as this breed, and others.
While it is a serious condition there are steps you can take to make sure your dog does not develop gastric torsion. Make sure your Basset eats three small meals a day instead of one large meal. Allow them to drink water at least an hour before eating, and keep them rested after meals, instead of jumping into strenuous activity.
Due to the drooping build of their eyes, Basset Hounds are prone to a number of eye conditions. Ectropion is one of them. This is a condition where lower eyelids “roll” outwards, which causes the lower eyelid to appear droopy. This can result in conjunctivitis, corneal inflammation, and dry eyes. All these conditions can be very painful for your Basset.
Cherry eye is another eye condition that can affect the breed. It is more common during the puppyhood stage. Cherry eye is caused by the swelling of the gland underneath a dog’s third eyelid. This creates a red protrusion from the dog’s eye. If you suspect your Basset to be suffering from a case of cherry eye, be sure to let your vet know immediately. This is usually corrected with surgery.
If you want to keep your Basset Hound in the best shape possible, it’s important you start with their nutrition. It’s important to tailor a dog’s diet to their age and activity level. The general rule of thumb for Bassets is that they should be fed around 1.5 to 3 cups of dry dog food a day. You can divide this amount into either two or three meals a day.
This breed is known for enjoying their food a little too much, and as such are prone to obesity. It’s important you keep an eye on the amount of dog food your Basset consumes. Don’t give in to the temptation of giving them more than they need! It may be hard to resist their sad faces, but it will help lessen health risks in the long run.
Grooming is fairly straightforward with this breed. They have short coats that naturally repel dirt and water. They don’t need to be bathed; a good brushing every now and then will make sure their coats stay in good condition. Brushing will make sure your Basset’s shedding stays at a minimum. Make sure to wipe away any drool your Basset drags with them, and on your furniture as well!
Their ears tend to drag along the ground. This and poor air circulation can cause ear infections. Their facial wrinkles can also be a breeding ground for bacteria. Make sure to clean them regularly to keep this from happening. You can also use a clean damp cloth to wipe away dirt from the outer ear. When in doubt, ask your vet how best to clean the ears and wrinkles of your Basset.
Try to make a habit out of regular grooming; be sure to offer your Basset lots of praise during the process. This will make sure that grooming will go as smoothly as possible, and will help get your Basset Hound used to handling. This will help with any future veterinary exams, and also provide a nice bonding experience for you and your Basset.
Breeders & Puppy Costs
When it comes to breeders, always make sure to research the kind of care they are giving to their dogs. There are many breeders who are only concerned with turning a profit. This results in parents and puppies with many health concerns. Puppies from puppy mills may also develop behavioral problems, stemming from living in less-than-ideal conditions.
Make sure your breeder is someone with a real love for the breed. Good breeders will know the history and health concerns of the breed. They’ll be thorough in screening potential parents for health issues, and ensure Basset puppies don’t inherit any conditions that threaten their quality of life. Another thing to keep in mind when scouting for a breeder is to see if they take care to teach puppies social skills while they are young. This helps to make sure that your Basset will ground into a friendly and outgoing pup! Expect to pay around $1,000 and up for a Basset Hound puppy from a reputable breeder.
A good way to look for good breeders is to ask your vet if they have any suggestions. Dog shows and events specifically catered to Bassets are also good sources of information for breeders who care for their dogs. The AKC’s puppy finder marketplace is also a good collection of breeders who are sure to have your potential puppy’s best interest in mind.
Rescues & Shelters
The Basset Hound’s look is extremely charming. This leads to many people buying Basset Puppies without doing any proper research about this breed’s need. Sadly, many Bassets are left at shelters when owners find out the hard way that they weren’t prepared to take care of them.
Adopting instead of shopping means that these Bassets are given another chance at having a family that can give them a happy life! Senior Bassets in particular are a wonderful option for families as these Bassets have mellowed out and are just looking for a family to love.
Look for a shelter that can tell you about the personality of the dogs in their care. This helps you see if a Basset’s personality is a match for your home. The Basset Hound Club Of America has a wonderful list of recognized Basset rescues looking to give dogs a new lease on life!
As Family Pets
- This breed is a low activity dog that does well in small homes.
- As social pups, they love children and treat them very gently.
- If you like quiet space, pick a different breed. Basset Hounds can be very talkative.
- They are very friendly dogs to friends, strangers, and other pets.
- Your Basset Hound craves companionship and can get lonely if left alone for long period.
- They do better as part of a pack, or multi-dog household.
- This breed can be stubborn, so be patient and consistent with them.
- Keep your eyes on your pup, as Basset Hounds have a strong sense of wanderlust.
- We recommend having an enclosed yard for them to roam in at all times.
If you’re thinking of adding a Basset Hound into your family, we hope that this article helped you track down all the information you needed to know! Adopting a new pet is a major decision that requires proper research. It is important to know all the facts necessary to give them a happy and healthy life. They may be short in stature, but they’ve got a long history, a charming personality, and a very talented nose.
The Basset Hound is an independent spirit with a lot of love to give. This is a breed that may need more care and patience than others. However, their loyalty knows no limits. Gentle and patient with children, the Basset is perfect for families with little ones. For families with dogs that may be looking for canine companionship, the Basset Hound is happy to help! If you’ve got the means, open your home to the Basset and they’ll be sure to fill it with a lot of love!
October 18, 2021 at 4:05 pm
This is what I hate about these generalised garbage opinions by people who don't know the breed, not intelligent is a ridiculous comment and their temperament can be as mixed as any person on the planet, don't read Fred Basset and think you understand a very complex and beautiful animal, I've had bassets for over 40 years and I learn everyday they range from total pussycats to full on wolves in sheep's clothing who can do a lot of damage to man and beast. Judge the individual as a puppy with its parents and take a view on it's likely temperament but don't assume they are all cutie pies.
September 3, 2021 at 12:48 pm
I love Basset Hounds. I've had several since 1985. They're the best dogs for friendliness with children and adults.
Apiffany Gaither Billings
September 5, 2021 at 9:34 pm
We have a Basset named Gus who is such a loving and sweet pup. Bassets are special!
August 24, 2021 at 3:22 am
looking for good breeder in Indianapolis, Indiana area. Wonderful article.
August 24, 2021 at 8:40 pm
Thanks Norma. Good luck with finding a lovable Basset for your home.
April 3, 2021 at 11:12 pm
Love the information! Thanks!
April 5, 2021 at 8:48 pm
Thank you, Patricia, glad you enjoyed it!