Originating from France and Belgium, the Basset Hound is an instantly recognizable breed because of their long bodies and short legs. In fact, the word “basset” comes from the French word for low, a reference to the Basset Hound’s proximity to the ground.
Bred originally as hunting dogs, the Basset Hound is a loyal companion with an incredibly accurate sense of smell. Despite his somewhat sorrowful expression and long, droopy ears and jowls, the Basset Hound is a delightful, laid-back breed.
- Very strong and accurate sense of smell, more so than many other breeds
- Recognizable for their long bodies, short legs, and drooping faces
- Built to stay low to the ground while hunting
- Originally very popular breed with French aristocrats
Basset Hounds are thought to have been bred from a different breed called the St. Hubert Hound by the friars at the Abbey of St. Hubert. They were bred to be able to stay low to the ground and follow a scent while being closely followed by their masters on foot.
Their incredible ability to track a scent made this breed extremely popular with the French aristocracy, who enjoyed the sport of hunting.
By the 1800s, Basset Hounds began making their way to England. However, it wasn’t until the 1880s that they started to get a foothold as a beloved pet with the rest of the public. In 1875, a man named Sir Everett Millais brought a Basset Hound from France to England and began his own breeding program, which cemented the Basset Hound’s foothold in England. The Basset Hound was recognized as a breed by the Kennel Club in England in 1882 and was recognized by the AKC in 1885.
The Basset Hound’s popularity in America was established in 1928 after an issue Time Magazine had an image of a Basset Hound on the front cover. They experienced another resurgence in popularity in the 1960s as the face of Hush Puppy shoes.
Today, Basset Hounds enjoy comfortable lives as charming family pets all over the world.
Appearance and Vital Stats
Basset Hounds are one of the most recognizable breeds. Everything about these dogs appears to be long, except for their short legs which allow them to keep their noses and droopy jowls close to the ground.
Dog Breed Group
Basset Hounds are part of the Hound dog breed group. The breeds in this breed group can be quite diverse, but most of them, including the Basset Hound, were bred primarily for hunting. The Basset Hound in particular was good at scenting.
The Basset Hound is a medium-sized, dog, measuring up to 15 inches at the shoulder. They weigh between 40 to 65 pounds.
Basset Hounds generally live between 12 to 13 years.
Coat and Colors
A Basset Hound’s coat will be short, smooth, and dense. You’ll find these squat little dogs in a variety of colors. Tan, black, and white are all possible colorings. Most Basset Hounds will be a combination of these colors, and any placement of the colors is considered acceptable by the AKC.
Despite their short coats, Bassett Hounds are frequent shedders, and you can expect to find a lot of fur around the house if you own one of these dogs.
The Basset Hound’s tail is long, never docked. The dog should carry his tail at spine-level, and you’ll likely find that the hair on the underside of his tail is coarser than the rest of his body.
These dogs’ ears will be low set, and extremely long. The fur on the ears will feel like velvet, and the ears themselves hang loosely against his head.
One of the most prominent aspects of a Basset Hound’s personality is his laid-back nature. These easy-going dogs might appear concerned because of their drooping eyes, but they are anything but. There’s not a lot that can get under the Basset Hound’s skin.
Despite their mild natures, Basset Hounds do tend to be stubborn. You will likely find training one of these dogs to be challenging at times, as they won’t be happy doing anything they don’t want to do. Positive reinforcement is the best way to go about training your Basset Hound, and you’ll need a lot of patience and consistency.
Basset Hounds have a distinctive, high-pitched bark that is loud and can be heard from far away. However, Basset Hounds don’t tend to bark often. Rather, they will howl, and they will want to howl frequently.
Part of the Basset Hound’s easygoing nature is his unwillingness to play. Your Basset Hound will much prefer lying next to you on the couch while you watch TV over playing fetch or tug. If you’re looking for a dog to keep you active, the Basset Hound might not be for you. But if you’re just looking for someone to cuddle up with while you watch a movie, this dog is absolutely perfect.
Basset Hounds make great companions for an apartment, especially if you’re looking for a relaxed, low energy dog. One thing to keep in mind is their tendency to be loud and bark or howl, so you’ll need to train your dog to be quiet.
Another thing you need to be aware of is that Basset Hounds generally prefer not to be alone. If you work from home or part-time or have another dog in your apartment, your Basset Hound will be much happier than if he’s left by himself all day.
Children and Other Pets
Basset Hounds do incredibly well with children, and their funny expressions and calm personalities will delight kids endlessly. You’ll find the Basset Hound to be a very gentle and tolerant playmate who loves being around children.
Even with these mild-mannered dogs, it’s important to teach your child how to properly interact with a dog. They should never pull on a dog’s ears, tail, mouth, or feet, and shouldn’t approach the dog while he’s eating. Remember never to leave your dog and children together unsupervised.
Basset Hounds tend to do best when there are other animals in the house. If you have another dog, your Basset Hound won’t have trouble getting along with them. They tend to do well with cats too.
You should feed your Basset Hound 1.5 to 2.5 cups of high-quality dog food every day. Because of their relaxed, non-energetic natures, Bassett Hounds do tend to become obese. Divide his food into two separate meals to keep him feeling full throughout the day and stop him from overeating.
Despite the Basset Hound’s short coat, he will require a fair amount of grooming. Bassett Hounds can be heavy shedders, and you’ll want to give your dog a thorough brushing at least once a week to help remove dead hair. If you can brush him more frequently, that’s even better.
The Basset Hound’s wrinkly skin and long, floppy ears will also require care. You’ll want to make sure the folds where his skin wrinkles are kept clean, and that you clean his ears at least weekly to keep him from getting any ear infections.
The Basset Hound is a low-key dog who will much prefer lounging around the house over going for a walk or jog. Despite this, or perhaps because of this, it’s very important to make sure you exercise your Basset Hound. Since this breed does tend to become obese because of their laid-back and relaxed natures, moderate exercise combined with a healthy diet is a must for these dogs.
Basset Hounds aren’t high energy, but they are built for endurance and are generally hearty dogs. A long walk once per day should be enough to keep your Basset Hound fit and at a healthy weight.
Basset Hounds are, in general, a very resilient and hearty breed. But like all purebred dogs, they can be prone to some illnesses and diseases.
Because the Basset Hound’s ears are so long, it’s very easy for dirt and debris to become trapped, which might cause an ear infection. This is why it’s very important to keep his ears clean. If you notice your Basset Hound shaking his head often, or scratching his ears, that’s a sign he might have developed an ear infection.
Hip Dysplasia is a genetic condition that commonly affects Basset Hounds. This condition occurs when a dog’s hip joint doesn’t fit together properly, causing the bones to grind together instead of sliding smoothly into place. Over time, hip dysplasia can lead to arthritis and, eventually, lameness.
If you notice your dog limping or favoring one leg, that’s a sign he might have hip dysplasia. If you are buying a Basset Hound puppy from a breeder, always make sure the puppy’s parents have been tested for hip dysplasia as it can be hereditary.
Bloat, known more formally as gastric dilatation volvulus, is a life-threatening condition that affects dogs with deep chests, like Basset Hounds. Bloat occurs when the dog’s stomach is filled with food, fluid, or gas which makes the stomach expand and put pressure on other important organs.
If your dog is experiencing bloat, you might find him with an enlarged abdomen, retching, drooling excessively, or seeming restless. If you suspect your dog has bloat, you should get him to your vet right away.
Like hip dysplasia, patellar luxation is caused by the bones that make up the patella not aligning properly. This causes the bones to grind together, which over time will lead to arthritis or lameness of the affected leg. Basset Hounds can be particularly prone to this condition. If your dog has severe patellar luxation, your vet might recommend corrective surgery.
Basset Hounds are frequently compared to the Bloodhound, and they most likely are descendants from the same ancestor. Bloodhounds are said to be the only breed with a better sense of smell than the Basset Hound.
Bloodhounds are larger than Basset Hounds, with males measuring 25 to 27 inches tall, and females 23 to 25 inches. Male Bloodhounds will weigh between 90 to 110 pounds, and females 80 to 100 pounds.
Like Basset Hounds, Bloodhounds also tend to be very vocal dogs. Bloodhounds are much more energetic and require more exercise than the Basset Hound, but you’ll find the same high level of independence.
Despite the Bloodhound’s larger size, they have a similar if slightly shorter life span to Basset Hounds, generally living 10 to 12 years.
Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen
These dogs, similar to the Basset Hound in weight, weigh in at about 40 to 45 pounds. They are, however, generally taller, measuring 15.5 to 18 inches at the shoulder.
Despite both dogs having the word “Basset” in their names, they are two very distinctive breeds. You’ll find that the Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen’s similarly long, and low to the ground body is covered in much longer, wavy fur. Even though these dogs’ fur is longer and more textured, you’ll find that you have to brush your Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen less often. He’ll likely only require weekly brushing, whereas for the Basset Hound a weekly brushing is the bare minimum.
The Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen is also a much more energetic dog and will require and enjoy more vigorous exercise than the Basset Hound.
You’ll find two distinct varieties of the Beagle. The first is the taller version, standing between 13 and 15 inches tall. The other, shorter type will measure less than 13 inches at the shoulder. They are generally much smaller than the Basset Hound, weighing under 20 pounds for those under 13 inches, and 20 to 30 pounds for those between 13 and 15 inches tall.
Beagles have been called the most popular hound breed because of their loving, happy natures. Unlike the Basset Hound, these dogs are highly energetic and will require a very active owner to keep up with their energy levels.
Like Basset Hounds, Beagles have a short yet dense coat that requires more grooming than you might expect. You’ll need to brush your Beagle a few times a week to remove dead fur and keep his coat healthy.