Basset Hound

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Basset hounds are instantly recognizable, thanks to their endearingly droopy face, short legs, and floppy ears, which give them a permanently gloomy expression. This charming breed is a favorite among dog owners all over the world.

Bred as hunting dogs, Basset hounds are often equally happy doing scent tracking activities as they are snuggling up on the couch for a nap. They often have a calm, even temperament and a friendly demeanor, making them an excellent pet for families in particular.1

Basset hounds are part of a group referred to as scent hounds; Bloodhounds are another example. Their short stature, large paws, and heavy bone structure indicate that Bassets are built more for endurance than speed. Their floppy ears and skin folds all help trap and waft scents up to their nose, which is part of why they are so good at tracking.2

Want to learn more about this loyal and adorable breed? Continue reading below to see if a Basset hound is right for you.

History & Origin of Basset Hounds

The name Basset comes from the French word bas, which means ‘low.’ The suffix -et emphasizes this, so Basset means ‘rather low,’ referring to the dog’s low height and stocky frame.3 Bassets belong to the hound breed category, which, aside from Basset hounds, include dogs such as, Bloodhounds, Foxhounds, Beagles, Coonhounds, Dachshunds, Greyhounds, and several others.2

Bassets originated in France and are descendants of the 6th-century hounds that belonged to St. Hubert of Belgium. They emerged through selective breeding at the Benedictine Abbey and eventually became known as the St. Hubert’s Hound around 1000 A.D.4

The earliest mention of a Basset dog was in a hunting text by Jacques du Fouilloux in 1585. The text described them as useful for hunting foxes and badgers.5 Basset hounds became especially popular during Emperor Napoleon III’s reign from 1852-1870. This was largely due to the renowned sculptor, Emmanuel Fremiet, who created impressive bronze sculptures of Napoleon III’s Basset hounds.

When Paris hosted its first dog exhibition in 1863, people from all over the world came to see the splendor of Fremiet's art and were thereby introduced to the Basset hound breed. Controlled breeding began in Paris in 1870, creating two sub-groups called the Basset Normand and the Chien d’Artois.

Eventually, these dogs were crossbred, which resulted in the original Basset Artésien Normand — a lightweight version of the normal Basset hound. Basset Artésien Normand dogs were already being imported from France to England in the 1870s and by the 1880s, the heavier, modern-day Basset hound had emerged as the most common type. The first breed standard information emerged in Britain during the late 19th century and was most recently updated in 2010.6 The American Kennel Club (AKC) officially recognized this breed in 1885.6

Basset hound height, weight, and life expectancy information

Physical Attributes of the Basset Hound

Basset hounds were originally bred to track hares and deer, but have also been used for hunting foxes, birds, and other game animals. This breed is a slow, deliberate tracking hunter, using its keen sense of smell as a guide, which is second only to Bloodhounds.

Basset hounds have a deep bark and despite being rather mellow at home, can be quite stubborn out in the field. They have short legs and a heavy-boned, stocky body. Their long, swinging ears often drag on the ground, which helps to bring smells up to their noses. Many people find this trait irresistibly cute, which adds to their popularity as pets. They have a lifespan of 10-12 years.7

Standing at a maximum height of only 15 inches tall and weighing 40-65 pounds, these dogs are tougher than they look. Their coloring is typically a combination of black, reddish brown or tan with white. In addition, they have a very short fur coat that requires only minimal grooming. However, owners should regularly check their Basset hound’s skin folds — particularly around the eyes — and along the ears to prevent infections or other complications.7

List of behavioral traits describing Basset hounds over a picture of a Basset hound

Behavioral Characteristics of Basset Hounds

Even though their saggy skin and floppy ears make them look sad, Basset hounds tend to be sociable, calm, obedient, and playful. They may exhibit more energetic behavior when out on a walk or tracking a scent, but they are generally regarded as a very patient, docile breed. Every dog is different, so some Basset hounds are more lively than others, depending on their individual personality. Ideally, they require constant companionship, whether human or other animals, therefore, they aren’t the best breed to have as a single dog. Generally, Basset hounds get along well with people, but their patient nature makes them especially good with children.1

They are quietly affectionate with their owners and other people they know, while remaining more reserved towards strangers. They don’t like being left alone and can develop separation anxiety, but are often content in the company of other dogs. A Basset hound generally does well in a multi-pet household where they always have humans or animals around.1

List of Basset hound health risks

Basset Hound Health Risks

Their genetics makes Basset hounds at risk for certain health complications, including8:

  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Primary Open Angle Glaucoma — A buildup of fluid inside the eye, causing pain and potential blindness. This condition is hereditary, so it’s recommended that all Basset hounds are screened for it every year.

Breed clubs and veterinarians will be able to advise you on how to choose a healthy dog. Responsible breeders will screen their dogs for potential health risks and will only breed puppies from healthy parents. Old age takes its toll on any creature, including dogs, so some health issues will occur in your Basset hound. A dog’s specific family history can also play a role in the likelihood of them developing certain health problems.

Caring For a Basset Hound

These gentle dogs need about 1-2 hours of exercise per day. They love putting their nose to the ground and figuring out the world by using their sense of smell. Be patient with your Basset and allow them enough time to sniff around during daily walks. Sniffing is great mental stimulation for most dogs, especially hounds. However, if they get too focused on tracking a scent, they may be unresponsive to recall commands. Make sure that your Basset hound has a firm grasp on their obedience training.

Like other short-legged dogs, Bassets are not good jumpers, nor should they be jumping a lot, because it can injure their back. Keep this in mind when getting them into the car or upstairs. They walk along at a steady pace that’s not too slow, but also not as fast as some other breeds. They usually aren’t very good swimmers, so keep an eye on your Basset hound when they’re around water. Since they have a short coat, grooming should consist of weekly brushing and an occasional bath or shower. It’s important to clean the skin around the head and ears in order to combat odor in the skin folds.

Basset hounds are prone to obesity due to their relatively low energy lifestyle. Owners can prevent this with a moderate feeding routine and regular exercise. Their food should be well-balanced; a kibble for larger breeds is usually a good choice. If you notice that your Basset hound is suffering from bloating or stomach problems, talk to your vet.

FAQs

Are Basset hounds high-maintenance?

Generally, Basset hounds are considered low-maintenance dogs. They require little grooming and only weekly brushing. They often prefer napping on the couch, but do enjoy some outdoor time.

Can you leave Basset Hounds alone?

It’s best not to leave your Basset hound – or any pet alone for long periods. Basset hounds in particular tend to be social dogs. Having another dog or pet around can help combat this. Additionally, you may consider hiring a pet sitter or dog walker if you plan to be out of the house for several hours a day.

Do Basset Hounds bark a lot?

Basset hounds don’t bark more than the average dog, but when they do, they’re loud. They might howl frequently and may start barking if they’re feeling lonely or anxious. However, this will vary depending on each individual dog’s personality.

Basset hound

Final Notes

Basset hounds are generally one of the most calm, low-energy dog breeds. They often love snoozing indoors and are usually affectionate towards their owners. They’re also often very tolerant of children and other pets. Being around other animals can also make them less likely to suffer from separation anxiety. With their droopy, sad-looking faces and long ears, many people find Basset hounds to be endearing and sweet. So, if you’re looking for a napping and walking buddy, a Basset hound might be the right choice.

Sign up for Dutch.com to get access to our efficient tele-vet services, available as a live chat and video calls. Speak to one of our licensed veterinarians to receive helpful advice and guidance in your journey as a pet parent.

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References

  1. “Basset Hound Dog Breed Information.” Purinawww.purina.co.uk/find-a-pet/dog-breeds/basset-hound#no-back. Accessed 17 May 2023.

  2. Kriss, Randa. “Basset Hound Dog Breed Information.” American Kennel Club, 6 Nov. 2017, www.akc.org/dog-breeds/basset-hound/. Accessed 17 May 2023. 

  3. https://basset-bhca.org/about-bassets/history-of-the-basset-hound/ 

  4. “Hound Group.” American Kennel Clubwww.akc.org/dog-breeds/hound/page/3/. Accessed 17 May 2023. 

  5. Thornton, Kim Campbell, and Michele Earle-Bridges. Bloodhounds: Everything about Purchase, Care, Nutrition, Breeding, Behavior, and Training. Barron’s, 1998.
  6. “Pure-Bred Dogs.” American Kennel Gazette, 1989.
  7. Davis, Peggy. “Breed Standard, Basset Artésien Normand.” 12 Dec. 1991.
  8. Coile, Caroline. "Basset Hound". Encyclopedia Britannica, 25 Feb. 2023, https://www.britannica.com/animal/basset-hound. Accessed 17 May 2023.

  9. “Basset Hound.” The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA)www.pdsa.org.uk/pet-help-and-advice/looking-after-your-pet/puppies-dogs/large-dogs/basset-hound. Accessed 17 May 2023. 

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