Basset Hound: Dog Breed Profile

Characteristics, History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

basset hound outside

 

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One of the most popular hound dogs, Basset Hounds make beloved, charming companions for pet owners all over the world. Though they're known for their stubbornness, Basset Hound are also extremely devoted and loyal—and they are typically mild-mannered and agreeable at home—which is why they make excellent family pets. And their scenting and tracking ability is uncanny; the Basset's nose is considered second only to the Bloodhound.

Group: Hound

Weight: 40 to 65 pounds

Height: Up to 15 inches

Coat: Short

Coat Colors: Combinations of black/mahogany, white, brown/tan, red, lemon

Life Expectancy: 12 to 13 years

Characteristics of the Basset Hound

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, Basset Hounds are believed to have originated when friars of the Abbey of St. Hubert crossed strains of older French breeds to create a low-built scenting hound--in fact, the word "basset” is French for “low” and even sometimes "dwarf." The plan was to breed a dog that could navigate over rough terrain while being followed by a human hunting partner on foot as they tracked rabbit and deer. Because of their accuracy in hunting, Bassets because popular choice for French aristocrats, as hunting was a popular 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; they were gifts presented 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

Though they have short hair, the Basset Hound will require regular grooming sessions--and they can be profuse shedders. To decrease shedding--and help keep their skin healthy--a once-weekly brushing with a soft brush or shedding tool as well as occasional bathing will be necessary. Like most breeds, Basset Hounds will also need their nails trimmed on a regular basis.

They may not be the most athletic (or fastest) breed, but that doesn't mean your Basset Hound won't require regular exercise. This breed will thrive on a routine of moderate daily exercise, like a brisk walk each day, and Bassets are known for their endurance. Not only will exercise help keep your Basset Hound healthy, but it can also help prevent weight gain.

Basset Hounds were bred to work together with other dogs, 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 temperament will often be mild and low-key at home (they're known to be a breed that loves long snoozes on the couch, particularly after plying outdoors for any length of time).

Bassets are considered a highly independent, stubborn breed--which means that training them isn't always easy. Over time, Basset Hounds and other scenthounds were bred to hunt on their own, which means they had to follow a track without getting distracted. As a result, 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. Like all dogs, they should also be properly socialized from an early age.

Along with its incredible sense of smell, Basset Hounds are also known to be exceptionally devoted to their families and affectionate and patient with children and even other pets (as long as the dog has been properly socialized).

Common Health Problems

The Basset Hound is generally a healthy breed, although their long, droopy ears make them predisposed to certain issues, such as ear infections. Their ears will need to be checked frequently to ensure that air circulation hasn’t caused an infection, and Basset owners will want to keep an eye out for symptoms such as shaking their head or scratching at their ears, which will warrant a trip to the vet.

Other potential issues in this breed include elbow and hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, glaucoma, bleeding disorders, and luxating patella, which is similar to a “trick knee" in humans.

Like all breeds, their teeth will also need to be brushed with specially-formulated canine toothpaste at least twice a week.

Diet and Nutrition

The Basset Hound should perform well with a 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.

Pros
  • Mild-tempered and charming

  • Loyal and devoted

  • Great family pets

Cons
  • Can be stubborn and difficult to train

  • Can be profuse shedders

  • Prone to ear infections

Where to Adopt or Buy a Basset Hound

Be sure to check your local animal shelters and rescue groups for Basset Hounds that are in need of a forever home. National rescue organizations such as the Basset Hound Club of America can be a helpful source of information to help you find your new best friend.

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

Be sure to do your homework when choosing a dog breed. Talk to other Basset Hound owners, reputable breeders, and rescue groups to learn more about this particular breed and their care. There's a variety of dog breeds, and with a little research, you can be sure you'll find the right dog to bring home.

If you’re interested in learning about other dogs, consider these hound breeds: