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Basset Hound

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The Basset Hound is a medium to large dog that excels in tracking and hunting and was bred to be a great scent hound. While it is low set it is noble and a great companion and family dog. Despite its size it will do its best to be a lap dog and because it was designed to excel at hunting most of its features have a purpose. Its long ears drag to help pick up scents and the wrinkles help capture them.

Here is the Basset Hound at a Glance
Name Basset Hound
Other Names None
Nicknames Basset, Hush Puppy
Origin France
Average size Medium to large
Average weight 40 to 60 pounds
Average height 11 to 15 inches
Life span 8 to 12 years – shorter than average for its size
Coat type Short, dense, water-repellent
Hypoallergenic No
Color Hound colors in particular tri-color, tan, black, white, brown, red, lemon
Popularity Fairly popular – ranked 39th by the AKC
Intelligence Very good – it is quite smart but willful
Tolerance to heat Moderate – is not good when climate is high than warm
Tolerance to cold Moderate – can also not handle cold that well either
Shedding Frequent – it is a heavy shedder despite being shorthaired
Drooling High – can expect a lot of drool and slobber to clean up
Obesity High – will need food and exercise monitored to keep at healthy weight
Grooming/brushing Moderate – brush daily to keep up with loose hair
Barking Occasional – but will howl and bay if bored
Exercise needs Somewhat active – will need daily walks to keep healthy
Trainability Moderately hard – it is stubborn
Friendliness Excellent – friendly to everyone
Good first dog Good to very good – experience helps with dealing with its willfulness
Good family pet Excellent – it is very affectionate towards the family
Good with children Excellent with socialization
Good with other dogs Excellent with socialization
Good with other pets Excellent with socialization
Good with strangers Excellent – it is very approachable
Good apartment dog Good to very good – its laziness means it can be fine in an apartment
Handles alone time well Good – can deal with it with training
Health issues Chronic health problems including eye problems, back problems, skin problems, joint problems and bloat
Medical expenses $485 a year – covers basics and pet insurance
Food expenses $270 a year – covers a good quality dry food and dog treats
Miscellaneous expenses $245 a year – covers basic training, license, toys and other miscellaneous costs
Average annual expense $1000 as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $1500
Biting Statistics Attacks doing bodily harm: 5 Child Victims: 3 Deaths: 2 Maimings: 3

The Basset Hound's Beginnings

There are early depictions of hunting dogs that also were short legged in Ancient Egyptian engravings. Mummified short legged dogs have been found too and there is also evidence that both Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome had their own short legged hunting dogs.

In the 6th century the Benedictine Abbey were breeding the St Hubert hound in Belgium. These were thought to have been descended from the Laconian hound from Greek origins. These dogs traveled first to Constantinople and then eventually spread to Europe.

The Basset Hound comes from France and was bred around the 1500s to hunt prey like rabbit and hare and sometimes larger game that had been wounded. Bas comes from the French word meaning 'low' referring to its stature. The et suffix making the meaning rather low. Bassets were bred to have amazing scenting abilities, (second today only to the blood hound) but also so that on foot hunters were able to keep up with them being slower than other dogs.

The Bloodhound was used in its breeding. It is thought by some that it is possible some litters produced dwarf dogs and breeders decided to use and breed them. As explained in the introduction much about the Basset was designed for a purpose, its ears, its large feet, its wrinkles, its height and so on. Shakespeare wrote about the Basset's long ears in quite the poetical manner, "Ears which sweep away the morning dew."

In 1863 the breed was shown in Paris and its popularity became assured. This spread to England and there became a division between people who wanted the dog to be more show worthy and those who wanted it to retain its role as a working hunting dog. In 1882 it was recognized by the English Kennel Club. Around the same time it traveled to America. There breeders were interested in developing it into a breed that could be a hunting dog as well as a companion and show dog. It was registered with the AKC in 1885 but was not recognized until 1916.

New Lease on Life

In the US the Basset Hound made the change from primarily a hunting dog to a family companion. In the 1920s it was featured on the front cover of Time magazine and that saw its popularity shoot up. In the late 1950s Colonel Morrison developed a certain variety of Basset for hunting which were added to the Masters of Basset Hounds Association. It differs as it has legs that are longers and straighter and ears that are shorter.

It was used in various forms of media in the 1960s, the cartoon Fred the Basset and the commercials for Hush puppy shoes for example. While it is still not too uncommon to find hunters using a pack of Basset Hounds to hunt with in France and the UK that rarely occurs in the US. It is ranked 39th now by the AKC.

The Dog You See Today

This is a medium to large dog, heavy boned, low set with bowed short legs and a long back. It stands 11 to 15 inches tall and weighs 40 to 60 pounds. It has floppy ears, droopy brown eyes, wrinkles, a large bulky body, large head with a long face and a tail that curves up. Its coat is short, tight, water-repellent and dense. Common colors for it are brown, grey, white, black, tan, tri-color and red.

It does have loose hanging flews which is in part why it drools so much. It is also what makes it look permanently sad even though it may be quite happy! Its lips are dark and the skin hangs loose around the head. The neck of a Basset is actually wider than the head and it has a large nose. It has a deep chest, large paws and it is a slow maturing dog. This means it will not reach full size for a good two years of growing. Because of its size and weight and its short legs though Bassets are not able to hold themselves up for long when in water.

The Inner Basset Hound


A Basset Hound makes a great family dog because it is friendly, affectionate, gentle, easy going and sweet natured. But keep in mind while it is mild mannered it should not be timid. It is a good dog for new owners because of its good nature but while it is intelligent it can be stubborn so training will take some patience. It is important to do though as Bassets are diggers, they can bark and if bored they also howl and bay. These are things you are going to want to be able to control especially with neighbors around you to consider.


It also has a strong hunting instinct still even if not being used as a hunting dog and it is a pack animal. It will want company and will be happier when you are around. Some can suffer from separation anxiety if left for too long. It does drool and there will be gas to deal with and snoring when it is sleeping! It is very affectionate but with owners that are too mild and do not take control it can be stubborn and harder to deal with.

In general Bassets can be quite bumbly and clownish though some are a bit more dignified. It is happy to be approached by anyone, children, strangers and so on. This relaxed nature disappears though if it should catch a scent it wants to follow. At that point it becomes single minded and focused on finding a way to follow it.

Living with a Basset Hound

What will training look like?

As smart and good natured as this breed is, the fact is training is not easy in terms of obedience as well as housebreaking. The Basset is stubborn, it will try to refuse to do what you want of it. It is essential to be firm and establish yourself as the pack leader with no occasional weakening that allows the Basset to try and get its own way. With the training you are going to need patience, stay consistent and use positive techniques. The handy fact is this dog loves its treats so using treats in your training methods can be very motivating for it!

For housebreaking it may be worth using crate training and expect it to take up to 6 months of hard work. You can use professional help in the form of trainers or schools. You should also make sure you dedicate time to early socialization so that it becomes the best dog it can be, and is one you can trust. It is equally amusing and frustrating at how selective a Basset can be with its hearing!

How active is the Basset Hound?

The Basset Hound is just slightly active. Despite being bred to be a hunting dog, it really is quite happy lazing around for much of its time. Since it is not that active indoors it could adapt to apartment living but ideally it would have a home with a small to medium sized yard. Even though it is inclined to relax once you get it outside it is happy and should be given a couple of walks a day to keep it healthy and better behaved. This does mean that it is suitable for owners who are not very active for whatever reasons.


Remember it is a scent follower. When walking you need to keep it leashed so it can not get away from you. Only let a Basset off leash in safely contained areas. Trips to a dog park are a great idea as not only does it get a chance to roam off leash safely, it can also socialize. A yard or dog park is also a place where you can play with it which it will enjoy. Do not let its reluctance to leave the fireplace persuade you you can skip the walk. It will be happy when out and it needs the exercise and mental stimulation to keep it better behaved.

Bassets can be prone to obesity and often this caused not just because owners let it over eat but also because they are under exercised. A short 10 minute walk a day is not enough. Two moderate walks at least should be undertaken. Obese Bassets put a lot of strain on their backs and joints. Also keep in mind because of those legs and back it is not a good jumper and may need help with the car, the couch and so on.

Caring for the Basset Hound

Grooming needs

Bassets do shed a moderate amount so expect hair to be around the home and on your clothing. This means it will need to be brushed daily to keep up with some of that hair and remove debris from its outings. It is likely to bring in dirt from outside because it is low set. The firm bristle brush will take care of its coat along with occasional bathing using a dog shampoo. Avoid bathing too often as it will damage its natural oils. Thankfully their smooth coat is easy to wipe down so you can do that in between baths.

Because of its long ears you will need to look after them more carefully, they drag on the ground and dirt gets into them very easily. They will need checking for infection and wiping clean each week. Also wipe underneath them and make sure they are dried after they get wet. The wrinkles also need a bit of extra care, they need to be wiped clean and kept dry on a daily basis.

It will need its teeth brushed two to three times a week if not daily. If it does not wear down its nails naturally it will need them to be trimmed when they get too long. Dog nails have a lower part called the quick that has live nerves and blood vessels. Cut or nick that and it will cause a great deal of pain and bleeding. Have a dog groomer or vet trim them if you are not familiar with dog nails.

Feeding Time

Bassets should have their food measured as they will happily overeat and become obese. They will need something like 2 to 3½ cups of a good quality dry dog food a day, split into two meals. Exactly how much it will need though can vary depending on size, health, metabolism, age and build. Owners of Bassets need to learn straight away to be very firm about food, treats and table scraps. This is a dog that knows how to bed and make you feel bad about not giving into them. It is also good at stealing food from counter tops and tables.


Basset Hounds with children and other animals

As mentioned this is a great family dog and it gets on excellently with children. It plays and is very affectionate with them and gentle when needed. With their long low backs it is important that it is not encouraged to jump though in the games the kids play with it, and that young children do not ride them. Also teach the young ones how to touch and play with dogs in a kind and safe way. It gets on well too with other pets and other dogs.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

Basset Hounds live just 8 to 12 years which is a shorter time than is average for its size. It is important to keep it at a healthy weight, to avoid hurting its back, avoid giving it large meals that can trigger bloat and take care of its ears and wrinkles. Other health issues that a Basset can be prone to include ear problems, back problems, joint problems, eye problems, yeast infections, cancer, heart problems, bloat, skin problems, epilepsy, patella luxation, Von Willebrands, joint dysplasia, thrombopathia, hypothyroidism, panosteitis, allergies, IVDD and obesity.

Biting Statistics

When looking at reports of dogs attacking people and doing bodily harm over 34 years in the US and Canada, the Basset comes up as being involved in 5 incidents. 3 of those victims were children, 2 out of the 5 died, and 3 of the 5 were considered maimings. This means the victim was left with permanent scarring, disfigurement or loss of limb. This means the Basset averages at an incident every 6 years which makes it a breed very unlikely to be involved in any attack. It is important to remember that any dog can become aggressive at any time. Certain situations can trigger it, and a dog with no training, socialization, home, care or exercise is more likely to snap.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

A Basset Hound from a pet quality good breeder is going to cost about $1500. That can go up to $2800 and then even more if you are getting something to show from a top show breeder. When you are getting a new puppy you should make sure it goes to a vet for a check over, have its blood tested, given inoculations, dewormed, micro chipped, neutered or spayed and this will cost another $290. Some breeders will have some of those things covered in the price of the puppy. It will also need a crate, collar, leash and other items to start it off for another $180.

There are also annual expenses you will need to be able to afford. Health care for a Basset can get expensive because of the number of issues it can be prone to. Just the basics of pet insurance, check ups at a vet, shots, flea and tick prevention are going to cost you $485 a year.

It will need to be fed of course! Based on feeding it a dry dog food diet using a good brand, along with some treats that price is $270 a year. If you are feeding it top and expensive gourmet food and treats though that will be a lot more.

Other miscellaneous costs will also occur. Training for however long you take it on for, a license, toys and other misalignment items are going to come to another $245 a year.

This gives an estimated annual starting cost of $1000.



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The Basset like all hounds is not an easy dog to train and it can be stubborn. While its nature makes a good dog for first time owners, experience or help with training may be needed. It is a great companion or family dog because it is so friendly and easy going. Just watch out for when it catches a scent it wants to chase after.

As well as being a firm owner you will need to ignore its begging for food for its own good as it is prone to obesity. It also has some noise issues with its snoring, baying and howling, some smell issues with its houndy scent and flatulence and some drooling issues! Make sure you give it the care and grooming it needs and keep it away from swimming pools. It will be very loyal and affectionate for any home that treats it well.

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