Basset Hound: The Ultimate Guide


The fun-loving, rabbit hunting hound with a heart of gold, the low-slung Basset was originally bred as a scent dog and is one of six different types of the breed in its country of origin, France.

Prized as both family dogs and trackers, Basset hounds are easy-going and their playful demeanor has endeared them to generations of faithful owners who wouldn’t even dream of owning any other breed of dog.

Basset Hound

That doesn’t mean that the Basset hound doesn’t have its own set of peculiar quirks and needs, it does, all of which you’ll need to be aware of before you welcome one into your home.

Loyal, loving, and gentle, these unusually low-slung hunters are a law unto themselves, so let’s find out everything that there is to know about them and make sure that you’re fully prepared and ready when you meet your new best friend. 

Basset Hound Key Facts

Let’s begin with the essential information that every potential Basset hound owner really needs to know before they start searching for their new pal

Average Lifespan

In general, pedigree Basset hounds tend to live between ten and twelve years, with the oldest dog on record reaching the grand old age of sixteen and a half. 

Minimum Exercise (per day)

They may be hunting dogs, but Basset hounds are prone to weight gain, being lazy, and enjoy their home comforts a little too much. That means that they’ll need a couple of medium-distance walks a day. 

Even though they might protest about leaving the house, and you might have to encourage them to go on a walk, as soon as they catch their first sniff of fresh air, they’ll be eager to get going.  

Coat Length

Basset hounds have smooth, short-haired coats that are easy to groom, clean, and take care of. All you’ll need is a brush, and a couple of minutes a day to ensure that a Basset hound’s coat is always healthy, and looks and feels incredible.  

Minimum Cost Per Month

 Including pet insurance, food (be careful how much you feed your Basset hound as they LOVE to eat), grooming essentials and treats and toys to keep your boy happy and entertained, Basset hounds usually cost between one hundred and twenty and one hundred and fifty dollars a month.  

Appearance

Bassets are long, short, strong dogs with drooping, floppy ears, and a permanently wagging tail. Because they have hanging, almost sagging skin,  the Basset hound’s “hang-dog” expression has led to the misconception that these happy-go-lucky hounds are always sad, when nothing could be further from the truth.

Size

Even though they’re not what most of us would call tall, Basset hounds can be up to fourteen inches high at the shoulder. What they lack in height, they make up for in length and can be up to thirty-five inches, or just under three feet, long. 

Average Height

Despite the fact that they can reach a height of fourteen inches, most Basset Hounds tend to be between ten and twelve inches tall at the shoulder. 

Average Weight

Basset hounds are strong, muscular dogs and have an incredibly dense bone structure, and weigh, on average, between forty-four and sixty-five pounds.

Their inherent love of food, and desire to constantly eat means that their weight is something that you’ll have to keep a close eye on as the breed is inclined to obesity. 

Temperament

Basset hounds are notoriously gentle, affectionate, and playful dogs with large personalities, which is why they’re much sought-after family dogs. 

Apartment Living

 Their lack of height and the fact that they’re so easygoing, and they tend to do whatever their families want, means that Basset hounds are ideally suited for apartment life. Regardless of how much living space you do, or don’t have a Basset hound will fit right in. 

Good For Novice Owners

Again, their easy-going, friendly personalities make them great dogs for novice owners, but as they can also be incredibly stubborn if you don’t have any experience with working dog breeds, ideally you should enroll your new boy in obedience and socialization classes. 

Sensitivity Level Of The Basset Hound

Basset hounds are sensitive dogs, and a well-treated Basset will be even-tempered, friendly, and incredibly playful. They thrive on attention and human interaction and will happily return your affection tenfold.

If you don’t have the time to devote to a Basset hound that the breed needs, you might want to consider looking for a different type of dog. 

Tolerates Being Alone

When you’re home, your Basset hound will happily soak up all the attention that you can and will give him. But they’re also fine to be left on their own, and separation anxiety isn’t something that you need to worry, or even think about if you live with a Basset hound. 

Tolerates Cold Weather

Basset hounds can cope with most climates but aren’t designed to cope with the extreme cold. If you do live somewhere where temperatures regularly drop below freezing, you’ll need to ensure that your boy has the additional “clothing” that he’ll need in order to handle the cold 

Tolerates Hot Weather

While they can easily handle most climates, Bassets don’t fare well in excessively hot climates, so you’ll need to take that into account if you do live somewhere where the weather has a tendency to be a little on the warmer side. 

Affectionate With Family

Basset hounds are loyal, affectionate dogs and love nothing more than spending time with their families. Most of them are convinced, despite their size, that they’re lap dogs and love to cuddle up on the couch with the members of their pack. 

Is a Basset Hound Kid-Friendly?

Their laid-back nature means that they’re incredibly child-friendly, and will tolerate being pushed and pulled from pillar to post, dressed up, and invited to play whatever “games” your children and their friends press-gang them into. 

Dog Friendly

The same laid-back nature that makes them great around kids, also makes them great with other dogs. A basset hound that’s spent time in socialization classes, or has been raised around other dogs won’t be bothered by, and might even thrive in, the company of other canines. 

Friendly Toward Strangers

Basset hounds will greet everyone they meet as friends unless they think that person poses some sort of threat to them or their family. If you do sense any danger,  they’ll become extremely vocal and will bark and growl to warn the person in question to stay away. 

Health & Grooming

Basset Hound

The basset hound, like every other breed of dog, is susceptible to a number of health conditions which you should be aware of in order to care for and look after your best friend properly. 

Shedding

Bassets will shed, not as much as some dogs do and less than others, but they will, and do shed. They’re also more likely to shed in Summer and Spring than other months, in order to maintain their internal temperature and stay cool when it gets too hot. 

Drooling

Bassets, because of their hanging skin, drool a lot and spill a lot of water while they’re drinking. It’s one of the reasons why so many Bassets end up in shelters, as people are unprepared to deal with either. So, before you shop, think about adopting and be aware that drooling is a breed-specific issue.   

Grooming

As they have short, smooth coats, Bassets are easy to groom with a regular dog brush. A couple of minutes a day should be more than enough to keep their coat healthy, shiny, and bright. 

General Health

Bassets are, unfortunately, susceptible to a number of different inherent health issues, and as such aren’t regarded as being a robust or generally healthy breed.

Common Health Problems

 Their large drooping ears need to be thoroughly cleaned at least once a week as their size and shape don’t allow air to circulate around, and through them properly, and they are prone to developing ear infections and mites.

Because they also drool excessively, bassets can also develop oral yeast infections, which need to be treated immediately before they become serious. Their hanging skin can also lead to them developing dermatitis, and due to the breed’s unusual size and stresses placed on their skeletal structure, they are also susceptible to arthritis and other joint problems such as hip dysplasia.

Bassets are also particularly vulnerable to cancer, a disease that accounts for nearly thirty percent of all basset deaths,  glaucoma, epilepsy, and hyperthyroidism. They are a breed with more than its fair share of health issues, which can make them expensive to insure. 

Potential For Weight Gain

Bassets love to eat, adore food, and can be incredibly lazy.  And those three things are a recipe for disaster as far as weight gain is concerned. They can, and will put on a lot of weight if their diet isn’t carefully monitored and strictly supervised. If they do start to put on weight, you’ll need to think about switching their diet and trying to get your pup to eat more healthily. 

Trainability

Bassets are scent hounds, they were bred to hunt rabbits and track their prey and as soon as they find an interesting smell, they’ll follow it until they find whatever made it. They are, like all hound dogs,  single-minded and incredibly stubborn. 

Easy To Train

Their stubborn nature, and willingness to drop everything and chase after a scent or a smell that they find interesting makes them incredibly difficult to train.

The very thing that they bred to do makes them wilful and means that they won’t always listen to you when you call them. While they’re difficult to train, they’re not impossible to train, which is why it’s essential to enroll a basset hound in obedience classes.

Intelligence

Basset hounds are reasonably intelligent dogs, but their independent nature and stubborn streak and their lack of desire to please their owners make people who aren’t used to being around them think that they have a far lower collective IQ than they actually do. They just need a little more time, effort, and work than other breeds do. 

Potential To Bite

Basset hounds aren’t an overly aggressive breed of dog and as such don’t, and won’t bite unless they feel that they’re being threatened or are in danger and have no choice. They can however nip when playing, a behavior that, if your dog begins to display it needs to be addressed immediately. 

Tendency To Bark Or Howl

Bassets, like all hound dogs, are incredibly vocal and will howl and bark where they’re disturbed, or encounter an unusual situation. It isn’t aggressive behavior and is associated with pack response and warning, but it might be something that you need to be aware of if your neighbors aren’t “dog people”. 

History

Basset hounds can trace their origins all the way back to Sixth century France and after being bred by Benedictine monks at St. Hubert’s monastery, eventually became known as St. Huberts hounds. However, the ancestors of the modern basset hound bore only a passing resemblance to the dog that we are familiar with. 

The breed didn’t become known as basset hounds until the Sixteenth century, when they first appeared in Le Venerie, an illustrated guide to hunting that was written by Jacques de Fouilloux.

And it wasn’t until the reign of Napoleon III, who was a champion of the basset hound, during the mid-nineteenth century that the breed first came to public prominence, when following their Emperors lead, his subjects began to keep basset hounds for hunting and as family pets. 

The standard for the breed was first established in the UK when the French dogs were imported and bred with bloodhounds, the offspring of which were in turn then bred with the basset hounds which led to the creation of the dog that is recognized by the Kennel Club, as the modern basset hound.

Originally bred by the English aristocracy to hunt rabbits and small game, the basset hound despite being a much cherished and beloved family dog, is still a slave to its hunting nature, which is why these stubborn, but much-loved and thoroughly individual dogs are so difficult to train. 

Costs

An average basset puppy can cost anywhere between eight hundred and fifteen hundred dollars to buy from a reputable breeder, and over the course of the dog’s lifetime will usually cost its owner somewhere in the region of thirteen to fourteen thousand dollars.  

However, as a lot of bassets end up in shelters and with rescue organizations because their would-be owners didn’t do their homework and are unable to cope with the demands of being a basset owner, we’d always recommend that you adopt instead of shop.

Don’t think of the dogs as being pre-owned or pre-loved, just think of them as a dream dog that desperately needs a home. And the fees that you’ll pay a rescue organization or shelter, will pale in comparison to those that a breeder will charge for your new best friend. 

Basset Hound Fun Facts 

Bassets are a fixture of modern popular culture, and as well as being the subject of famous works by artists such as Scott Kurtz and Mamoru Oshii, a basset hound appeared on the cover of Time Magazine in February, nineteen twenty-eight as the magazine was covering a Madison Square Garden dog show, and ran a story documenting the event from the perspective of a puppy. And the puppy in question just happened to be a basset hound. 

Basset hounds have been a fixture in cartoons and animated films throughout the latter half of the twentieth century, and have appeared in two Disney films, Basil the Great Mouse Detective and The Princess and The Frog.

And Fred Basset the star of his own newspaper comic strip has been a regular feature in the tabloids since he made his debut in nineteen sixty-three. 

While he neither denied nor confirmed it during his lifetime after he appeared on the Steve Allen Show singing Hound Dog to an incredibly unimpressed basset hound, Elvis was thought to have based the imagery of the same song on a basset hound. It would make sense, as the dogs have been, and still are used for hunting in the South. 

Then there are the numerous television appearances that basset hounds have made over the years. In the long-running small screen staple, Columbo, the disheveled detective owns a basset hound named, rather imaginatively, Dog.

And it was the star of the show, Peter Falk, who insisted that the basset hound appear as he thought that it was the only kind of dog that Columbo would own. 

Columbo might have popularised the basset hound on mainstream television, but it was a Burt Reynolds film that made Americans fall in love with the dog on the big screen.

Fred the basset hound was the driving partner of Snowman in Smokey And The Bandit and was chosen for the role by Burt Reynolds because, just like most basset hounds, Fred absolutely refused to listen to anyone and would only do what he wanted to. 

And we feel like no list of basset fun facts would be complete if we didn’t mention Flash, Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane’s dog in The Dukes Of Hazzard, who just like every other television basset hound, absolutely would not do as he was told. 

Kerry White

Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners. Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.

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