The Basset Hound is one of the most identifiable dog breeds in the world. Those long, droopy ears, sad brown eyes, stubby legs, and loud, low bark make them quite the character! They also have a larger than life personality that backs it all up. Stubborn, determined, social, and sweet, this pup is a one-of-a-kind blend of independent and family-oriented.
Basset Hound Characteristics (Physical)
The Basset Hound’s entire body has adapted to tracking scents, allowing them to travel through difficult terrain with endurance that matches their devotion. They are a long and low breed, with a full body and stocky legs that give them a powerful and smooth gait.
Basset Hound Size
Female Basset Hounds are 11 to 14 inches tall. Males can reach about 15 inches. Despite their low height, the Basset Hound is considered a medium to even large dog breed with the ability to reach up to 80 pounds.
This dog’s head is large and in proportion with their body, with a broad, flat skull and a long, straight muzzle. Their nose is darkly pigmented with wide-open nostrils — good for sniffing!
Their lips are also dark, hanging in the back. They are often brown. The American Kennel Club describes the Basset’s eyes as “soft, sad, and sunken.” The Basset Hound’s ears are extremely long and low set, their neck is powerful and well arched. Altogether, this creates a very appealing and unique head that sets the Basset Hound apart.
The Basset Hound has a deep chest and their shoulders are powerful. Their forelegs are quite short with heavy boning. The top of their torso is straight and level, making them appear even longer. The dog’s hindquarters are well rounded. Bowed legs are considered a “serious fault” by the AKC and their tail should never be docked.
Basset Hound Personality
The Basset Hound is a friendly and easygoing dog with a sweet temperament. They are known to be excellent companions for families and households of all sizes since they get along with just about everyone. This includes children and other pets!
This is a lazy breed that enjoys spending quality time with family, whether it’s relaxing on the couch with you after work or going on nature walks. It’s important to keep in mind that the Basset Hound is a hunting dog. They have a stubborn attitude — especially when it comes to following a scent or seeing a small animal.
They are known to be quite vocal, so it may be tough to get them to stop barking once they’ve spotted or smelled something. Not one to easily give up on a scent, this floppy-eared pup may even find ways to escape the house or dig under a fence!
Basset Hound Exercise
The Basset Hound is admittedly a bit lazy. They enjoy laying around with you, which can be quite appealing. But it’s very important to make sure they get the exercise they need to be healthy and happy. Bring this pup to dog parks, go on walks around the neighborhood, and play fetch in the backyard — anything to get them moving. You’ll notice that, despite being lazy, this breed is quite determined once they get started!
One thing that will really get your Basset Hound going is following scents. Get them really excited by taking them on a nature walk or hike. Just remember to keep them on a leash at all times or they might wander. You’ll notice them using all of their energy when they get on something’s trail, meaning they will be calmer and quieter at home.
Basset Hound Training
Basset Hounds are not the easiest breed to train. They are stubborn and smart, often wanting to go after scents in the backyard and meander off trails during a walk. The Basset isn’t ill-tempered or sneaky — they’re just easily distracted. This has made them notoriously harder to train than other breeds that just want to please you.
The best way to train a Basset Hound is to understand the motivation behind their actions. With a sensitive nose, these dogs are often motivated by scents. You will need to establish creative ways to get their attention when they are a puppy, encouraging them to listen to you even when they smell something interesting. Always have patience and remember it will take time.
Start off in a distraction-free zone where you are the center of their attention. Hold up a tasty dog treat and say, “look at me.” When your Basset Hound stares in your direction (which may take a while), use a clicker or words of encouragement, offering them a treat each time. Once they learn this command, you can follow it up with other things like sitting, staying, and fetching.
In between training sessions, allow your Basset Hound some time to sniff around. Incorporate games where they use scent to discover different treats or prizes.
Basset Hound History
The Basset Hound is an older breed, dating back to the 1500s. It’s believed that Abbey of St. Hubert friars were responsible for crossing various French breeds to create a low-built scent hound meant to traverse rough terrain.
“Basset” is French for “low.” The bowlegged French hunting dogs were fine-tuned in the 1800s in England, resulting in the present-day Basset Hounds. Their slow pace and sharp nose made them quite popular with hunters throughout history. They were favorites for hunting rabbits and hares. Sometimes they were even used to track larger game that had been wounded. Not many animals can outwit and outrun the Basset Hound’s nose.
Overseas in the United States, families started adopting this unique breed as family pets. They have become a companion dog in recent years. Still, the sport of “pack hunting” with Basset Hounds continues to this day in France and England.
Basset Hound Health Problems
With proper veterinary care, Basset Hounds can live up to 12 years. Still, they are a breed prone to major health conditions. This means that regular vet visits are very important.
Certainly, this dog breed should receive pretty frequent eye and joint exams. Puppies are known to suffer from joint problems as they grow, so don’t let them jump on the sofa or overexert themselves! Proactive owners can also provide canine treats that promote joint mobility.
Some of the most common and serious health problems include:
- Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD)
- Gastric torsion
- Canine hip dysplasia
- Elbow dysplasia
- von Williebrand’s Disease
How to Care for a Basset Hound
Basset Hound owners are often not prepared for how much the breed drools. In fact, a lot of these dogs are given up to shelters because of their sloppy jowls. They have a lot of loose skin around their mouths, meaning they may also make a mess when they drink!
Pay attention to your Basset Hound’s face, ensuring that the wrinkles around their mouth are kept clean. Check around their eyes as well. It’s also important to clean their long, droopy ears as wax and dirt can easily get caught in them. Use a vet-approved wipe to gently remove any buildup in their ears.
This breed’s short stature and characteristically large feet make dirt tracking quite common. Always check your dog’s paws for excess dirt when they come in from playing outside or going on a walk. Basset Hounds can be quite determined when it comes to following scents or animals. Make sure that they have the proper space to play outdoors safely. They should most likely be supervised.
Basset Hounds will use their powerful, stubby legs and claws to dig under fences and find other ways to escape confinement. If you aren’t able to watch them while they’re outside — even if there’s a lead or fence — they should probably be kept indoors.
Nutrition and Feeding
Basset Hounds are prone to obesity. They love eating and will overeat any chance they get. Putting on extra pounds can make their back and joint problems even more prominent. It’s very important that your Basset Hound eats the right portion of food. If you’re unsure about your hound’s diet, you can discuss their portion sizes with your vet.
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Basset Hounds are prone to bloating, which can sometimes become fatal. Instead of feeding them their proper portion in one sitting, it’s better to break it up into two or three smaller meals throughout the day. This should make bloating a less common occurrence. After eating, make sure your Basset Hound relaxes. You may need to keep an eye on them for an hour to make sure they are feeling okay.
This dog breed is known to have gas! While farting is only natural, sometimes it can get a bit excessive. If that’s the case, talk to a vet. You may need to change their diet to ensure they’re safe and healthy — and to protect your family’s noses.
When it comes to treats, Cheef Botanicals’ organic, vegan, non-GMO heart and immune dog treats are healthy alternatives that can be fed sparingly to your Basset Hound. As an added bonus, they contain CBD, a non-psychoactive and natural phytocannabinoid that may promote your Basset Hound’s joint mobility. CBD interacts with the receptors in your dog’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which maintains their balance and well-being. This is a natural and efficient way to soothe your dog’s problem areas, keeping them happy and active.
Coat Color And Grooming
The Basset Hound’s coat is hard, smooth, and short. Therefore, its density makes it perfect for all weather! The American Kennel Club states that “any recognized hound color” is acceptable. That’s often a mixture of brown, white, and black.
Because of their short fur, Basset Hounds are easy to groom. It’s recommended that you use a natural cleansing shampoo to bathe and brush them once or twice a week. It should be a pretty quick brushing session and may only take a few swipes if you keep up with it.
Children And Other Pets
Basset Hounds are easy-going and calm, making them the perfect companions for children of all ages. This people-oriented dog is known as “peaceful.” They love hanging out with children, whether it be playing fetch or cuddling on the bed. Make sure you keep an eye on your children to ensure they aren’t pulling your Basset Hound’s ears or getting scared of their loud barking.
Used to hunting in a pack, Basset Hounds love being around other pets, especially dogs. They are eager to bond with other pups, often encouraging them to play with some loud barks. Sometimes it’s even recommended to get two hounds to make sure your dog always has a friend since they’re quite social!
Since they are quite calm, this breed is also good with cats. Just make sure they are introduced gradually and calmly! Consequently, cats may be taken aback by their loud barking. But once they realize Basset Hounds are quite calm and docile, they may come around. They might even enjoy their company, cuddling with them once your dog is more relaxed.
Unfortunately, the Basset Hound can often find themselves in shelters due to their stubborn behavior or extra drool. But people who understand the dog’s unique personality are always looking for hounds to adopt.
There are many rescue groups for Basset Hounds as well since many dog enthusiasts are big fans of this one-of-a-kind canine!
- Tri-State Basset Hound Rescue: New England Basset Hound lovers can find Basset Hound and mixes to rescue here. They will even hold events to raise awareness about adoption and collect donations for their ongoing efforts.
- Golden Gate Basset Hound: This Northern California rescue finds homes for over 100 hounds a year. The rescue takes Basset Hounds from abusive, abandoned, and unwanted situations, putting them in foster homes until they are ready to adopt.
- Mid-Atlantic Basset Hound Rescue: This rescue group provides veterinary care, food, shelter, and support to hounds needing assistance in the mid-Atlantic states. Sixty percent of their rescues come from shelters, 40% from homes.
- Guardian Angel Basset Rescue: Serving Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri, this non-profit helps pups in bad situations, giving them the vet attention they need. Basset Hounds are available for foster parents and adoption.
Basset Hound Club of America provides dog sports, educational events, and breed health research. Clubs and organizations from all over North America can register with the club to better promote their events and connect with other Basset Hound enthusiasts and breeders. You’ll find hunting-oriented events all over the United States on their calendar. They also have events coming up for agility, obedience training, and tracking.
More About This Dog Breed
The Basset Hound has been a popular breed for hundreds of years thanks to the breed’s lazy, lovable nature and distinct appearance. As a result, these traits have made them one of the most identifiable dog breeds, thanks in part to their constant appearance on television shows and marketing campaigns.
Time Magazine featured a Basset Hound on its cover in 1928. The issue was promoting a story about the Westminister Kennel Club’s Madison Square Garden dog show. Basset Hounds appeared in print throughout the next few decades. In 1963, the Fred Basset comic strip made its debut. On television, Basset Hounds had similar success. In 1956, Elvis Presley sang “Hound Dog” to a hound named Sherlock on The Steve Allen Show.
In Popular Media
Basset Hounds have also made it into popular media — thanks to their diva personalities! A stubborn Basset named Fred was chosen to star in the Smokey and the Bandit movie series. A Basset Hound also starred in The Dukes of Hazzard series. Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane was often accompanied by a Basset named Flash. A Basset named Doug appeared in the TV series Columbo, owned by Lt. Columbo. At first, actor Peter Falk refused to work with a dog, calling it a “gimmick.” But when he met Doug, Falk was infatuated with the dog’s personality.
You may also recognize this breed on some of your favorite brands! The Hush Puppies shoe brand features a Basset Hound. Decades of this marketing has led people to call this breed “hush puppies” sometimes — even though they’re anything but quiet!
Maytag appliance advertisements also featured this pup accompanying the Maytag repairman. There’s just something about this breed that people can’t resist. They are eye-catching and lovable, making them perfect for a variety of brands.
Their lovable nature has also made them favorites with celebrities. Elvis Presley owned multiple Basset Hounds! Clint Eastwood, Frank Sinatra, David Arquette, Angelina Jolie, George Clooney, Sharkia, Marilyn Monroe, and Jennifer Lawrence also own this breed.
Lovable, relaxed, and full of personality, it’s hard to resist this long, low dog breed. They have a look unlike any other breed and a unique personality to match. This is a dog that will keep you on your toes, they will make everything worth it when you’re snuggled up on the bed for hours after a tough day at work.