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Basset Hound

Basset Hound

Basset Hounds are substantial dogs on short legs. From the scent hound group, this breed was originally used for hunting small game but are now popular as family dogs due to their relaxed and affectionate demeanours.

  • Dogs suitable for experienced owners
  • Extra training required
  • Need to be aware of potential health issues
  • Enjoys active walks
  • Enjoys one to two hours of walking a day
  • Large dog
  • Some drool
  • Requires grooming once a week
  • Chatty and vocal dog
  • Barks and alerts to visitors/anything unusual
  • Could have issues with unknown dogs but gets along with known dogs
  • May need additional training to live with other pets
  • May need additional supervision to live with children
  • Needs a small garden
  • Can live in semi-rural areas
  • Cannot be left alone

Key Facts

Lifespan: 10–12 years
Weight: 18–27kg
Height: 33–38cm
Colours: Their short, smooth coat comes in any hound colour, but is usually tricolour (black, tan and white) or bicolour (lemon and white)
Size: Medium
Kennel Club group: Hound


Family-friendly: 5/5
Exercise needs: 2/5
Easy to train: 2/5
Tolerates being alone: 3/5
Likes other pets: 5/5
Energy level: 2/5
Grooming needs: 4/5
Shedding: 4/5
Tricolour basset hound sitting on the grass.


Despite looking morose and serious, the Basset Hound dog breed is sociable, calm, polite and quietly playful. Affectionate with people they know and reserved with others, they love children and get on well with other dogs and with some training, other animals in the home. They are very companionable dogs who hate to be left alone and so always need some company - whether human or canine.

Basset hounds with the owners on the beach.

History and Origins

Country of Origin: France

The Basset Hound originated in France where they were used to hunt rabbit, hare and wild boar, and the name ‘basset’ translates to ‘short’ or ‘low’.

Their history is somewhat accidental coming from short-legged mutations appearing in traditional scent hound breeds. Rather than rejecting these dogs, it became clear that they were useful for hunters who were following dogs on foot rather than horseback and couldn’t move as fast. Often this was because there was heavy cover where horses couldn’t go or else poverty following the French Revolution meant that many people could no longer afford horses.

The Basset Hound came to England in 1866 where it was crossed with the Bloodhound to give a heavier bodied version than the original French dog - and this is the Basset Hound we see today.

Health and Common Issues

The most common health problems seen in the Bassett Hound are related to their body shape. They are prone to spinal disorders and abnormal joint development, particularly of the elbows, and obesity can make these disorders more problematic. They are also predisposed to ear and skin infections, as well as various eye conditions and so should be regularly assessed for these.

Exercise Needs

About an hour's daily exercise is needed. Basset Hounds can tend to be lazy if given half a chance, but they do need exercise to ensure they do not put on too much weight, which can cause back problems in later life. During the rapid growth periods, however, exercise must be limited as joint complications may occur. Because of the length of their bodies, Bassets should not be allowed to go up and down stairs until they are 18 months old.

As well as walking exercise, regular/daily scent work enrichment is a real joy for these dogs.

Space Requirements

The Basset Hound is very much a country dog as, while they don’t need a huge amount of exercise, they do need daily country walks where they can get to use their incredible nose. Much of the joy of exercise for a Basset Hound is following scents and sniffing - so owners need to be able to indulge them in that and enjoy watching them, and not get frustrated. They enjoy having their own garden to wander around and sniff in too. Given their joy of howling, it’s best if you don’t have close neighbours!

Nutrition and Feeding

Your dog's diet needs to have the right balance of all the main nutrient groups including a constant supply of fresh water. It's also important to conduct regular body condition scores to ensure you keep your dog in ideal shape and remember to feed them at least twice daily and in accordance with the feeding guidelines of their particular food. The deep-chested Basset is prone to bloating and stomach problems; smaller, more frequent meals can help minimise this risk.

Grooming Basset Hounds

The short, smooth coat requires little grooming – a quick brush over once a week is all that is usually required. The folds of the skin, eyes and long ears should be checked and cleaned (and thoroughly dried) every other day to prevent potential problems arising.

Training Basset Hounds

The Basset Hound looks on training with some amusement and largely feels it is a pointless exercise. As they tend to go deaf when they find a great scent, training them to walk on a harness and lead is important as once in the great outdoors their recall is likely to be less than reliable, no matter how much time you spend training.

The Basset Hound excels is in scent work so find a training class that will help you explore and celebrate your dog’s strengths and never focus on their training failings.

Separation related problems can be an issue if they are left alone without company.

Best Family Dog Breeds

Basset Hounds make wonderful family dogs as they are kind and patient as well as being friendly to all. It is important however that children are taught not to take advantage of this good nature.

While many dogs are traditionally thought of as being good with children, all dogs and children need to be taught to get on with and respect each other, and be safe together. Even so, dogs and young children should never be left alone together and adults should supervise all interactions between them.

did you know?

Did You Know?

  • The Basset Hound has found fame in a variety of unexpected places - including advertising Hush Puppy shoes and also in the cartoon character of Fred Basset.
  • Basset Hounds are the second-best sniffers in the canine world, second only to the Bloodhound.
  • This dog breed has difficulty swimming because of their small legs and dense bodies.
  • Marilyn Monroe had a Basset Hound called Hugo.
  • Their long, floppy ears help to lift scents off the ground right to their nose to help them track things better.

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