Basset Hound: Dog Breed Characteristics & Care

History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

basset hound outside


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The Basset Hound is a medium-sized French hound breed known for its floppy ears, short legs, long nose, wrinkly skin, and short coat. One of the most popular hound dogs, Bassets are second only to Bloodhounds when it comes to their powerful sense of smell and tracking ability. This breed is easily identifiable thanks to its velvety ears, but it also stands out for its signature bay and charming, unique character.

Though they're known for being stubborn, Basset Hounds are also extremely devoted and loyal. They're typically mild-mannered and calm at home, which makes them excellent family dogs for the right owners. Training is notoriously challenging, but there's a reason this breed has such a devoted following. Filled with personality and spirited antics, the Basset Hound is as lovable at home as it is determined when following a scent.

Group: Hound

Height: Up to 15 inches

Weight: 40 to 65 pounds

Coat: Short, smooth fur

Coat Color: Combinations of black, brown, tan, white, lemon, mahogany, and red

Life Span: 12 to 13 years

Temperament: Loving, stubborn, playful, sweet-tempered, friendly

Hypoallergenic: No

Origin: France

Characteristics of the Basset Hound

Along with their incredible sense of smell, Basset Hounds are also known to be exceptionally devoted to their families, affectionate, and playful. This breed has a patient temperament with children, other dogs, and even cats as long as it's properly socialized.

Basset Hounds were bred to work in packs, so this breed will be especially happy in the company of other canines. It also means they can be very playful and social, though their personalities will often be mild and low-key at home. Known for their love of snoozing on the couch, your Basset will be happy to come lounge inside after playing outdoors for any length of time. Although they're highly intelligent, Bassets tend to use this trait to their own advantage rather than obeying their owners' requests. With a little love and a lot of patience, however, they can become well-mannered dogs for a dedicated family.

Affection Level High
Friendliness Medium
Kid-Friendly High
Pet-Friendly Medium
Exercise Needs Medium
Playfulness Medium
Energy Level Medium
Trainability Low
Intelligence High
Tendency to Bark High
Amount of Shedding Medium

History of the Basset Hound

Originally bred in France and Belgium, it's believed that Basset Hounds originated when friars of the Abbey of St. Hubert crossed strains of older French dog breeds to create a low-built scenthound. In fact, the word "bas” translates in French to “low” and even sometimes "dwarf." The plan was to breed a dog that could navigate rough terrain while being followed by a human hunting partner on foot as they tracked rabbits and deer. Because of their tracking accuracy, Bassets became a popular choice for French aristocrats that practiced hunting as a pastime.

The Basset Hound was first recognized in 1885 by the American Kennel Club (AKC), and it was only the organization's 10th established breed at the time. It's believed that George Washington was a Basset Hound owner. These dogs were presented as gifts by Lafayette, a French aristocrat and military officer who commanded American troops in several battles, after the conclusion of the American Revolutionary War. In 1935, the Basset Hound Club of America was organized in the United States.

Basset Hound Care

While Bassets need less exercise than many other hunting dogs, they require significant time and patience from their owners when it comes to training. These strong-willed and stubborn dogs are likely to ignore lessons in favor of play, treats, and other fun distractions. However, with consistency and positive rewards, your Basset can learn desirable behaviors at home. In the grooming department, this short-coated breed only needs routine care.


They may not be the most athletic (or fastest) dogs, but that doesn't mean your Basset Hound won't require regular exercise. These hounds thrive with a routine that includes about 30 minutes to an hour of moderate daily exercise. Bassets are known for their endurance, and options like long walks are a great way to keep this breed active. They're also very playful, so running around in the backyard with toys and family members will likely become a favorite activity. Not only will exercise help keep your Basset healthy, but it can also help prevent weight gain, which these food-motivated dogs are especially prone to.


Though they have short hair, Basset Hounds require regular grooming sessions. They're also known for being profuse shedders. To decrease shedding and keep your dog's skin healthy, plan for once-weekly brushings with a soft brush or shedding tool. It's also important to include occasional baths as necessary when your Basset's coat becomes noticeably dirty.

Like all dog breeds, Basset Hounds also need to have their nails trimmed and teeth brushed regularly. Another regular grooming step is essential for this breed: checking their ears for dirt and buildup. Floppy-eared dogs are more prone to ear infections than others, and the Basset's particularly long ears hold in moisture at high rates. Clean your dog's ears weekly with a pet-safe ear cleaner and a cotton ball, and check for signs of infection like redness, irritation, swelling, unusual odor, or dogs shaking their heads and scratching at their ears. If any of these signs are present, consult your veterinarian as soon as possible to acquire prescription medication.


Bassets are considered a highly independent, stubborn dog breed, which means that training them isn't always easy. Basic obedience lessons should begin early—when puppies are as young as eight weeks old—and will need to be reinforced several times per day.

Over time, Bassets and other scenthounds were bred to hunt on their own, which means they had to follow a track without getting distracted. As a result, they're still mostly interested in following their own desires. Training will require extra time, patience, and consistency, as Basset Hounds will often appear aloof and disinterested in following the commands of their owners. This breed will respond well to treats (offered in moderation) and positive praise during training sessions. Avoid methods involving punishment, which can make Bassets resist training further. Like all dogs, they should also be properly socialized from an early age.

Common Health Problems

The Basset Hound is generally a healthy breed, but like most purebreds, it's still susceptible to certain inherited health issues. Responsible breeders strive to maintain high standards by testing parent dogs for genetic conditions prior to breeding. Always ask your breeder to provide the litter's medical history when adopting a puppy.

The following are common conditions associated with Basset Hounds:

  • Elbow and Hip Dysplasia: Dysplasia is caused by a malformation in the joints, and severe cases may require surgery to help your dog live comfortably.
  • Hypothyroidism: Also known as underactive thyroid, this disease prevents the body from producing normal levels of important hormones. It can cause weight gain, lethargy, and skin and coat problems.
  • Glaucoma: This painful eye condition causes pressure to build inside the eye, and it requires care from a veterinarian as soon as possible.
  • Luxating Patella: Similar to a "trick knee" in humans, this condition causes your dog's knee to pop in and out of place.
  • Bleeding disorders: Diseases like Von Willebrand Disease and platelet disorders can prevent the dog's blood from clotting normally, so owners need to be proactive by preventing injury.

Diet and Nutrition

The Basset Hound should perform well with high-quality commercially or home-prepared (under veterinary supervision) dog food. Fresh, clean water should be available at all times. As with all breeds, treats should be given in moderation and their diet should be controlled in order to avoid weight gain or obesity-related issues. Since Bassets are especially prone to weight gain, it's best to talk to your veterinarian to determine a healthy diet and portion plan based on your specific dog's age, weight, and activity level.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Basset Hound

Like many other hound breeds, Bassets can end up in shelters when owners aren't prepared for their specific care needs. These dogs are especially vocal (opting to bay, or howl, instead of barking) and they're known for being stubborn. Talk to other Basset Hound owners, reputable breeders, and rescue groups to learn more before adopting this breed. If you're certain the Basset is right for you, start your search by checking your local shelter and breed-specific rescues for Basset Hounds in need of forever homes.

If you plan to adopt from a breeder, it's essential to do your research. Find a responsible breeder that readily provides you with the litter's medical history, introduces you to the parent dogs, and shows you that they're raised in a comfortable, safe indoor location. Basset Hound puppies typically cost between $600 and $1,500 from breeders, but prices may be higher depending on pedigree and availability.

The national breed club, breed-specific rescues, and the AKC can help you find your next best friend:

Basset Hound Overview

  • Mild-tempered and charming

  • Loyal and devoted

  • Great with children and other pets

  • Can be stubborn and difficult to train

  • High shedding coats

  • Prone to ear infections

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

If you love the Basset Hound, you may also like these similar hound breeds:

There's a whole world of dog breeds out there that can join your family. With a little research, you can find your perfect match to bring home!

  • Is a Basset Hound a Good House Dog?

    Thanks to their gentle nature and friendly personalities, Basset Hounds are popular family dogs. Prospective owners should prepare for this breed's stubborn streak that can make training difficult.

  • Do Basset Hounds Cuddle?

    Especially loving and affectionate toward their families, Basset Hounds are a cuddly dog breed. Bassets are typically content to curl up with their owners inside the home, and they also do very well with children.

  • Are Basset Hounds Good for First-Time Owners?

    Basset Hounds are a good breed for owners that can tolerate a stubborn dog that follows its own desires. This means that they can be difficult for first-time owners, but their calm temperament can make them the perfect choice for the right family.