Information about the Basset Hound

The Basset Hound is a short-legged breed of dog of the hound family. One of six recognized Basset Breeds in France, they are scent hounds, originally bred for the purpose of hunting rabbits and hare. Their sense of smell for tracking is second only to that of the Bloodhound. The name Basset is derived from the French word bas, meaning “low”, with the attenuating suffix -et, together meaning “rather low”. Basset Hounds are usually Bicolors or Tricolors of standard hound coloration.

Bassets are large, short, solid and long, with curved sabre tails held high over their long backs. Everett Millais, founder of the modern Basset Hound, is quoted as saying “Oh, he’s about 4 feet long and 12 inches high.” in reference to his French basset. An adult dog weighs between 20 and 35 kilograms (44 and 77 lb).

This breed, like its ancestor the Bloodhound, is known for its hanging skin structure, which causes the face to occasionally look sad; this, for many people, adds to the breed’s charm. The dewlap, seen as the loose, elastic skin around the neck, and the trailing ears which along with the Bloodhound are the longest of any breed, help trap the scent of what they are tracking. Its neck is wider than its head. This combined with the loose skin around its face and neck means that flat collars can easily be pulled off. The previous FCI standard described the characteristic skin of the Basset, which resembles its ancestor the Bloodhound as “loose”. This wording has since been updated to “supple and elastic”.The looseness of the skin results in the Basset’s characteristic facial wrinkles. The Basset’s skull is characterised by its large Dolichocephalic nose, which is second only to the Bloodhound in scenting ability and number of olfactory receptor cells.

The Basset’s short legs are due to a form of dwarfism. Their short stature can be deceiving; Bassets are surprisingly long and can reach things on table tops that other dogs of similar heights cannot. Because Bassets are so heavy and have such short legs, they are not able to hold themselves above water for very long when swimming, and should always be closely supervised in the water.

The short-haired coat of a Basset is long, smooth and soft, and sheds constantly. Any hound coloration is acceptable, but this varies from country to country. They are usually Black, Tan and White tricolors or Tan and White bicolors. Tan can vary from reddish-brown and Red to Lemon. Lemon and White is less common color. Some Bassets are also classified as gray or blue – this colour is considered rare and undesirable.

They usually have a clearly defined white blaze and a white tip to their tail, intended to aid hunters in finding their dogs when tracking through underbrush.

Basset Hounds are renowned for their gentle, docile demeanour.

The Basset Hound is a friendly dog, to people and other pets, and makes an excellent companion for children.

Because Bassets are scent hounds, they should always be on a leash when out on walks. Although they are thought of as lazy, they have a tendency to run after prey, so a leash is very important for their safety. Even though Bassets sleep a lot, walks are still necessary.

Bassets are known to be a vocal breed. They might howl or bark when they want something, or to suggest that they think something is wrong. They also use a low, murmuring whine to get attention, which sounds to many owners as though their Bassets are “talking” to them. This whine is also used by the hound to beg (for food or treats) and varies in volume depending on the nature of the individual hound and length of time it has been begging.

Basset Hounds are extremely loyal to and very much attached to their owners. They selflessly love their master, or someone who the hound patronizes (for example, children). This dog hates to be left alone and owners should recognize that Bassets can be stubborn and provide gentle correction where required. Bassets are highly social and are best situated as a family dog with a large, fenced back yard.