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Basset Hounds - Breed Introduction

This short-legged scent hound is really a large dog with a low profile. Friendly and affectionate, the Basset Hound is an ideal family pet. This breed loves to meet new people and make new friends, and especially enjoys begging or performing tricks for food. His short legs sometimes conceal the true length of his body, as this dog is easily able to reach items (such as food) on tables and counter tops that other dogs of his size could not.

Famous for its long, low body, sagging skin, and sad, droopy eyes, the Basset Hound has remarkable scenting and tracking abilities.

The typical Basset Hound will be 11 to 15 inches in height (28 to 38 centimeters) and will weigh between 45 and 65 pounds (20 to 29 kilograms).

History of Breed

The Basset Hound was originally bred in medieval France to track and chase rabbits and hare through thick forests and brush. The name Basset is derived from the French word “bas,” which means “low”, and “basset,” which means “rather low.” An ancient breed, the name Basset was first seen associated with a breed of dog in an illustrated text on hunting written in 1585 by Fouilloux. Regarding the Basset Hound Shakespeare wrote, “Ears which sweep away the morning dew.” The dog was presented at the Paris dog show in 1863, which is said to have begun his true popularity.

The Basset Hounds belonging to Emperor Napoleon III were immortalized as bronze sculptures by Emmanuel Fremiet in 1853. In 1866, a pair of Bassets were imported to England by Lord Galway, but they were not widely introduced there until 1874 by Sir Everett Millais.

It is believed that George Washington received Basset Hounds as a gift from Marquis de Lafayette, introducing the breed to North America. They have achieved such popularity that Basset Hound picnics and waddles are held in many areas. Events such as the New Orleans Basset Boogie, the Michigan Basset Waddle, and the Buffalo Basset Bash crown king and queen Basset Hounds.

They vote on which hound has the best waddling butt and have other unique games that the dogs participate in. Many times these events serve as fund-raising opportunities for Basset Hound rescues.

Color and Coat

Generally the Basset Hound has a smooth, short-haired coat. Occasionally they may have a rough coat, but it is not common. They are usually tricolor (black, tan, and white), lemon and white, or will have either red spots on white fur or a solid red color with white feet and tails. There are no rules for showing, but most are white with red or sand-colored markings.

Personality and Temperament

This breed of dog is naturally sweet, devoted, and well-behaved. Friendly but not timid, the Basset Hound is very affectionate with his owner, with children, and with other animals. In fact, the Basset Hound so loves companionship, it is said that he should have another pet to keep him company if his family is away from the home more than a few hours per day.

The Basset Hound requires gentle training that involves a lot of patience. They can be very difficult to housebreak, but are trainable with persistence. They are emotionally sensitive and should be treated kindly. The Basset Hound will learn more easily when the training process is entertaining to the dog.

At times the dog’s hunting instinct takes over, and it can be very difficult to gain his attention once he gets hold of a scent. Basset Hounds have a tendency to give chase or follow a scent, and for this reason should be kept on a leash while out on walks. The Basset Hound’s scenting ability is second only to the Bloodhound.

Despite their mellow personalities, Basset Hounds enjoy exercise and will run freely whenever the opportunity presents itself. They may be kept in an apartment, but for health reasons should be allowed to run each day.

Show Characteristics

The Basset Hound has a large, rounded skull with loose skin that forms wrinkles around his head. The long ears should reach beyond the nose, and should fold and not appear flat. He should have a level or scissors bite, and his expression should be that of kindness.

The tail is long and curved, and should be tipped in white. The coat should be short, hard, and shiny.

The chest should be deep and extend in front of the forelegs. The dog’s feet should be large, his hindquarters round, and his movement deliberate.

Typical Health Concerns

Basset Hounds are prone to bloat, also known as torsion. To prevent this life-threatening condition, they should be fed at least three small meals spaced throughout the day. Observe the dog for several hours following a large meal.

The ears of the Basset Hound, as with other long-eared dogs, can become infected if not cleaned regularly. They can also tend to have dry, irritated eyes.

The long, heavy body of the Basset Hound makes this dog susceptible to spinal and other musculoskeletal issues, including hip dysplasia. In order to prevent these problems, the dog should be exercised daily and should not be allowed to gain excessive weight. He should not be allowed to jump.


The Basset Hound has a short coat that sheds continually. This dog is easy to groom, requiring only a combing or brushing with a stiff bristled brush. Shampoo only when necessary, and clean the undersides of the ears once per week.

Country of Origin

The Basset Hound originated in France.

Average Life Span

The average life expectancy of the Basset Hound is 10 to 12 years.

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