Meet the Breed: The Basset Hound



  • Height: 12-15 (Male), 11-14 (Female)
  • Weight: 55-75 pounds (Male), 45-65 pounds (Female)
  • Historical function: Rabbit hunting
  • Modern function: Companion
  • AKC classification: Hound

Physical Characteristics:

 The Basset Hound is characterized by its long body, short legs, long ears, and sad-appearing face. The long nose gives him an excellent sense of smell, second only to the Bloodhound. The low body is effective in keeping that powerful nose close to the ground where he can sniff efficiently. The long ears also assist in the scent tracking by keeping the scent close to the nose, even collecting samples of the scent to keep them engaged. The Basset body is very stout, and the bones are very dense, so supervise them near water as they will sink.

The coat is short and usually sports the tri-colors of black, tan, and white. They may also be tan and white. The tail was bred to show a white "flag" to keep the hound visible in the brush. The coat is easy to care for, but Bassets often require bathing simply because they are low to the ground and are likely to get dirty.

History of the Breed:

The Basset Hound is an old breed and a direct descendant of the Bloodhound. It has been suggested that it was bred from dogs expressing a dwarfism gene. Bassets are scent hounds that were used to track and hunt fox, rabbit, pheasant, and opossum and continue to be used for hunting to this day. 


Bassets are wonderful family pets as they are docile, easy to get along with, and naturally well behaved, at least as far as friendliness. They do have a stubborn streak, particularly when they ae zeroed in on a scent, to the point where they simply cannot hear directives. Some consider Bassets to be some of the most difficult dogs to train, so patience is required with this breed.

  • Best suited for: Bassets are known for their gentle demeanor with children. Can be used for hunting, but most are under the impression that they are lap dogs as well, even though they are very heavy.
  • Preferred living conditions: Bassets can do okay in an apartment when sufficiently exercised, but they do best with a larger yard where they can explore with that specialized nose of theirs. This dog needs a buddy around the house, either human or another cat or a dog, especially for when they are home alone. Bassets are fairly inactive indoors but need daily exercise that will include bursts of surprising energy.

Care and Health:

  • Grooming requirements: Bassets do shed moderately, even though their coats are short. Regular brushing means less hair in your house. Bathing may be required more than most short-haired dogs since they are low to the ground and tend to collect dirt.
  • Exercise needs: A daily walk keeps this food lover's weight in check. Too much weight on this dog is detrimental to their body structure, which is already prone to spinal injuries.
  • Life Expectancy: 10-12 years
  • Health Concerns: Do not allow this dog to jump much, and be prepared to give him a boost in and out of cars to protect that long back from injuries. Feed smaller meals to this dog as they are prone to bloat and being gassy.

Breed Club Links: The Basset Hound Club of America, Inc. Perfect Pairings: Because of the Basset Hound's small head, and large neck, a standard collar is likely to slip off. We recommend a harness for this reason, and also to protect that long back. This Web Master Dog Harness, by Ruffwear is ideal for bassets due to its sturdiness and the handy handle to assist with lifting.

Featured photo by Armando Aguayo Rivera.


This entry was posted by Mary.
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