Good for Novice Owners:
- Average Size: Medium
- Average Lifespan: 12-13 years
- Registered?: aca, akc
Basset Hound Dog Breed Information
Did You Know?
The Basset Hound is a short-legged hound dog with an unbelievably advanced sense of smell. While the modern Basset Hound is French in origin and was popular with French aristocrats, it is thought that short-legged hunting dogs go back as far as ancient Egypt. It is also well-known that scenthounds were used as far back as the Roman Empire.
The AKC originally recognized this dog breed in 1885 as a member of the Hound Group. The Basset Hound Club of America was first organized in the United States in 1935. It is widely thought that, as a hunting dog, the Basset Hound takes a backseat only to the Bloodhound regarding a sense of smell and tracking ability.
Well-socialized Basset Hounds tend to be affectionate and sweet-natured dogs. They tend to take the role of a droopy-eared playful best friend. Basset Hounds tend to get along well with children and other dogs. It’s no wonder that they are a popular dog breed.
They do have a high prey drive that can be a challenge with other small pets in the household. They can do well with other small pets, but will require some extra training and socialization with them. They tend to do better with pets they were socialized and raised with over those that are introduced later. And, they likely will still have the urge to chase small animals outside of the family.
Bassets will be initially wary of strangers and will bark to alert you. Provided they are well-socialized, Basset Hounds tend to warm up quickly once introduced. It’s not a bad idea to start training your dog to stop barking early on to keep it from becoming a nuisance.
Basset Hounds are highly adaptable dogs. They do well in homes with fenced yards as well as apartments. As long as they get the attention and exercise they need, they tend to fit right in. Due to their prey drive, it is recommended that they are only let off-leash in secure areas as they are likely to ignore recall commands in favor of following interesting scents or chasing small animals.
As one of the more independent dog breeds, they don’t mind some alone time. But, they still should not be left alone for long periods of time. As with any dog, a lack of exercise, boredom, or separation anxiety can result in misbehavior and destructive behavior.
Basset Hounds do well in moderate climates. They do not tolerate heat well and also get cold easily. This tends to make them one of the dog breeds that hate winter. Individual Bassets may enjoy a short romp in the snow, but, in general, they don’t like the cold and will likely need some winter dog products to stay warm when out in it.
Potential health concerns to be aware of in Basset Hounds can include elbow dysplasia, hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, luxating patella, bleeding disorders, and glaucoma. Good breeding practices make a big difference in the health of puppies.
Reputable breeders will screen their dogs to avoid passing preventable issues to puppies. Make sure you ask about the health and genetic history of both parents. You can also ask about any health tests or clearances that have been done. The national breed club recommends an MPS1 test, an ophthalmologist evaluation, and a thrombopathia genetic test at a minimum.
As a barrel-chested breed, the Basset Hound is at a higher risk for bloat. Because bloat in dogs is dangerous and quickly becomes fatal if the stomach flips, it’s important to know how to reduce the risk and what to look for so you can get to the vet.
Similar to Dachshunds, Basset Hounds are also prone to back problems in older age because they tend to be longer than they are tall. As a low-energy breed, they can also be prone to weight gain, which can exacerbate joint-related issues if it gets out of hand.
Although Basset Hounds can be stubborn and independent at times, they are also generally eager to please and are still considered one of the best dog breeds for first-time owners. Because they have a higher tendency to wander off and to chase, they shouldn’t be let off-leash to run freely unless in a secure area or they have been trained as a hunting dog and are tracking with you.
Novice owners may want to be prepared to enroll in puppy training classes to help keep training consistent and effective in case of a stubborn Basset. There are several benefits of puppy training classes as well, including socialization, bonding, and more. So, they can be a great resource even if you don’t necessarily need them for help with training.
The Basset Hound has a short, dense coat that will shed year-round. There are generally two standard coat color combinations, tri-color or black, mahogany, lemon, or red paired with white. Brushing weekly or a few times a week can help keep shedding at bay, make your basset more comfortable, and keep their coat looking great. Bathing is on an occasional, as-needed basis.
In addition to coat care, you will also need to take care of your Basset Hound’s nails, ears, wrinkles, and teeth. Nail trims once or twice a month are usually enough to keep nails from growing too long and causing issues.
Long droopy ears are a classic Basset Hound feature, but it also makes them more prone to ear infections. This is why one of the facts about Basset Hounds is that they usually need their eyes and ears cleaned regularly. Checking ears weekly and carefully cleaning them as needed can help prevent ear infections. Also, check their facial wrinkles and make sure skin folds are clean and dry.
Good dental care for dogs early and throughout your dog’s life is also important. Daily brushing, along with cleanings at the vet when needed, is a good start and can help prevent painful dental diseases later in life. It’s also not a bad idea to have a drool cloth handy.
Basset Hounds tend to sit on the lower end of the activity range. Although they will be active and energetic when they play, they usually don’t require a lot of exercise to be happy and healthy. Daily walks plus some playtime are usually enough for this dog. They can be one of the laziest dog breeds if you let them, so make sure you are giving your Basset enough daily activity.
Fully-grown Basset Hounds usually stand up to 15 inches tall and weigh 40-65 pounds.
Basset Hounds generally live for 12-13 years on average.
In pop culture, the Basset Hound is featured as the logo for Hush Puppies brand shoes and also appears as a cartoon dog named Droopy. Basset Hounds feature in plenty of dog movies and shows. A Basset Hound also appeared in the popular show Lassie as the Collie’s best friend named Pokey early in the series.
If you are a fan of the Dukes of Hazard television show, you would probably know that Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane’s dog Flash was also a Basset. An animated version of a Basset also appears as “Pops” in the movie The Secret Life of Pets.