Breed Profile: Basset Hound

Meet the dog that will be happy to doze in your lap while you read the paper. But there are some downsides… Read this breed profile of the Basset Hound.

Breed profile: Basset Hound
Breed profile: Basset Hound

Breed

Basset hound

Group

Hound

(Hounds are often divided into two subgroups, scent hounds and sight hounds. Scent hounds rely primarily on their keen sense of smell to track prey, sight hounds on their eyesight. Basset hounds are scent hounds.)

Physical Description

These squat little dogs aren’t as little as they seem; the Basset Hound commonly weighs up to 70 pounds. Only 13-15 inches high at their withers (shoulders), that means the basset is a very solid, stocky dog. They have powerful, short legs meant to make it easy for a hunter to keep up with them on foot and easy for the dogs to chase game down holes — especially rabbits.

The UK Kennel Club allows any recognized hound color, but the most common colors are the tri-colored (black, brown and white) and lemon-colored (light tan and white).

Origin

According to the American Kennel Club, the first mention of the Basset Hound was in 1585 in an article about hunting. The Friars of the French Abbey of St. Hubert were instrumental in developing the modern tri-colored Basset Hound. The less popular lemon-colored basset was developed at the same time, but this breed has not gained the same popularity as the tri-colored basset because of its tendency for knuckling.

The breed subsequently made its way to England, where it was refined into the modern Basset Hound in the mid-1800s, arriving at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 1885.

Purpose

As with most hounds, the basset was bred for hunting. These dogs were meant to be able to hunt game in heavy cover — lots of underbrush and dense woods — while still being slow enough for owners to follow them on foot.

Temperament

Friendly, affectionate, mellow with short bursts of energy.

Exercise Needs

Regular walks every day with a long walk once a week.

Grooming Requirements

It depends on how fussy the basset’s owner is about grooming. These dogs have very short coats and do not need extensive brushing. However, being low to the ground, they do easily pick up mud on their underbellies. We recommend regular baths as needed.

Bassets are famous for drooling excessively. While this doesn’t cause many grooming issues, you may spend copious amounts of time washing drool off your walls and furniture. Their ears also get dirty from being dipped into water bowls and then dragged along the ground as the basset tracks a scent.

Here’s a video from a woman showing off her drooly hound:

Common Health Problems

Basset hounds are prone to orthopedic problems because of their short legs and large bodies. Obesity is often a problem because they like lying around — that’s why walks are important. Like all purebred dogs, they have been the victim of overbreeding and irresponsible inbreeding. They can also have problems with their eyes; glaucoma is common in older dogs. Some dogs will have a clotting disorder that causes their blood to lack the ability to clot in the event of an injury.

Is the Basset Hound the Right Dog for You?

Bassets (the “Hush Puppy” dogs) are great family dogs; the Kennel Club of the United Kingdom holds the breed standard temperament as “Placid, never aggressive or timid. Affectionate.” These dogs are terrific friends with children and aren’t easily upset by noise or energetic behavior. This is the dog that will be happy to spend time with his head in your lap while you read the paper. Should you happen to drop any crumbs from your morning breakfast, the basset will be thrilled to clean them up for you.

Bassets require daily exercise and the occasional really long walk to satisfy their need to hunt & track. It doesn’t matter if it is the same park that you’ve been to every week of their life; the basset will always find something new to smell.

These dogs are often very stubborn, so the ideal owner must be the sort of person who is willing to compromise in terms of behavior. You most likely will not be able to train a Basset Hound to stay off your couch when you aren’t home, but you will be able to train them to stay off the couch while you are eating.

The Basset Hound is a perfect dog for people who like comedic behavior, a lot of drool and a great companion dog.

Adopt, Don’t Buy

Please check rescues and adoption resources first. Even purebred animals can end up in shelters. Try Pets Adviser’s adoptable pet search.

Photo: Soggydan/Flickr

Sarah Blakemore

View posts by Sarah Blakemore
Sarah Blakemore has been researching and writing about pet care and pet behaviors since 2007. She has cared for many pets over the years and has volunteered with several animal shelters around the world.

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