The Basset is a hound endowed with an incredible sense of smell, which he puts to good use on collective hunting expeditions by his master’s side. Very sociable, he can cohabitate with other animals and actually needs to feel surrounded to be fully content. A short-legged dog, he is none the less active, very enduring, and leaves nothing to be desired compared to his fellow hound-type dogs.
Key facts about the Basset Hound
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Origins and history
He hails from the ‘Basset artésien normand’ (Norman Artesian Basset) which was imported from France to England mid last century, before being crossbred with the Bloodhound- this gave birth to specimens similar to the current breed, but smaller. The last stage in the breed’s development was carried out by the Americans, who took the breed ‘under their wing’ and fashioned a companion dog out of the former hunting dog. After a certain period during which the United States claimed ‘paternity’ over the Basset Hound breed, its official birthplace was (rightfully) reassigned to England by dog experts in 1987, and adopted the British official standards only.
FCI breed nomenclature
Group 6 - Scent hounds and related breeds
Section 1 : Scent hounds
Physical characteristics of the Basset Hound
Female : Between 13 and 15 in
Male : Between 13 and 15 in
Female : Between 55 and 66 lb
Male : Between 55 and 66 lb
The Basset Hound is often tricolored (black, white and tan) but can also be bicolored (lemon and white). Any Hound colour is accepted.
Type of coat
The coat is short.
The coat is smooth and close-lying. It should be neither long, soft nor fringed.
The eyes are dark but can go up to a lighter brown in individuals with a lighter coat colour.
The Basset Hound is a truly unique dog: he has short legs which nevertheless have the sturdiest bone structure (in relation to body size) of all the breeds. The frame is sticky and elongated. The head is long but proportionately built, the stop is moderately pronounced. The muzzle is deep and heavy, the lips are pendant. The eyes are very soft and ‘sad-looking’, which renders his gaze irresistibly endearing. The tail, always jovially wagging about, is what truly reflects his character, as he is in fact very cheerful.
Good to know
Nowadays, he is predominantly a companion dog, and is much more widespread in the United States than in Europe, where there is a false perception that flat-dwelling dogs should be small. In reality, the Basset Hound (who is by no means small despite his short legs) is much more calm, still and easy to live with in a flat than most ‘toy’ breeds.
The breed’s official standard describes him as an affectionate dog, and it is indeed true that the Basset is very attached to his family, and loves spending time with them. He needs to fully feel part of their lives to be completely at peace.
In spite of his ‘detached’ and sad demeanour, the Basset Hound loves to play and is always ready to frolic around, be it with his fellow dogs or with children.
Tireless when he hunts, the Basset Hound is an otherwise calm and composed dog when at home, making him a very pleasant housemate.
Somewhat stubborn, this dog is nevertheless gifted with quite a few capacities (in both his hunter and companion roles), and takes great pleasure in using them to please his family.
The Basset Hound is a very good scent hound, particularly in a pack, and is despite his appearance very enduring and tenacious at hunting. He is endowed with a very refined sense of smell, and can follow trails for hours on end without showing so much as a trace of fatigue.
Unfortunately, this breed is not as esteemed in the hunting world as it should be, since not many work-destined lineages are being bred these days.
Fearful / wary of strangers
The Basset Hound is very sociable - just as much with his fellow dogs, as with other animals and with humans, which he loves to interact with as long as he is being respected. He is neither aggressive nor wary, even with people he doesn’t know - he welcomes the latter with just as much enthusiasm as long as they seem well-intentioned.
Though very attached to his social group, this dog is first and foremost an adventurer, always in search of a good trail.
Behaviour of the Basset Hound
If he has had enough exercise and all of his needs have been met, this scent hound will have no problem spending a few hours alone at home, especially if he has some occupational toys at his disposal.
Be careful, however, as he does in general consistently require human contact - it is therefore not an option to leave him alone for a whole day, without any outings or social interactions.
Easy to train / obedience
Somewhat stubborn, the Basset Hound pup requires precocious, positive, firm and coherent training. Some boundaries and rules of conduct must be implemented as soon as possible to prevent him from developing any bad habits.
As soon as a mutually trusting relationship is established, the Basset’s calm and easygoing nature will greatly facilitate the training process and actually render working with him remarkably pleasant.
According to the official standard, the Basset Hound’s voice is deep and melodic.
Tendency to run away
His incredible sense of smell can trigger this scent hound’s pursuit of intriguing trails, capable of highjacking all of his attention and consideration for his owners. In this way, he can tend to run away, but if he is exposed to scent-stimulating activities (trailing) on a regular basis, this urge can be kept under control.
Actually, if he lives in the country, his environment will have to be secured by way of a foolproof fence in order to minimise the risk of escape, especially during his owners’ absences.
Usually calm by nature, this hunting dog can tend to be destructive during his juvenile phase or when he feels the need to relieve some pent up energy, which could be the case if his owners do not provide enough opportunities, on a daily basis, for him to get some exercise.
Greedy / Gluttony
This dog is a big eater, you must therefore be careful not to overfeed him, at risk of triggering potential back problems.
Physically, this dog is far from being a deterrent. What’s more, being as affectionate, sociable and friendly as he is, he sooner has a habit of imploring you to pat him with his big sad eyes. However, if someone gets on the wrong side of him, or he perceives a threat, he can become wary and raise his voice. In this sense, he is a good ‘alarm dog’.
Sociable and friendly, this dog is completely suitable for a first adoption. In addition to this, he is very compatible with various lifestyles, be they in the city or countryside, with or without children, with or without other animals - anything goes!
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Basset Hound in a flat
Despite his robustness, it is generally advised to have this dog live inside, so living in a flat should not be a problem as long as he is walked several times a day.
Beware of apartment buildings lacking a lift though: this short-legged dog can quickly suffer from back pain if he walks up and down the stairs several times a day.
This scent hound feels particularly good dwelling in the countryside, but, even if he has a garden at his disposal, he should never simply be left locked out. He requires several walks a day under all circumstances.
Need for exercise / Sporty
The Basset Hound is, after all, a scent hound, and acts like one: true to form, he needs to be taken out in the country as often as possible. He needs plenty of physical exercise and, contrary to what his constitution might lead you to believe, he actually runs remarkably fast!
He should not be made to walk up and down stairs too often (up the stairs, the male individuals suffers from a certain predicament in particular, which you might easily guess and want to spare him).
Also, in addition to his usual walks, all activities that stimulate the Basset’s sense of smell will be welcomed by this dog endowed with an incredible nose- such as trailing, mantrailing, snack-hunting, nosework, etc.
Travelling / easy to transport
This dog may have you think that he is small, and he is indeed short on his legs, but he is actually medium-sized. This can therefore render travel somewhat tricky in some situations.
Having said that, if the Basset Hound is habituated towards travelling with the family, and exposed to different environments and means of transport from his youngest years, he will have no problems keeping his family’s company during all sorts of trips.
Basset Hound and cats
His rather pacifist nature reveals itself when in the company of cats or other animals. This positive interaction will be even more seamless if the Basset has grown up with other animals and if he is used to cohabitating with them from his youngest years.
However, his hunting instinct can unfortunately rear its head at times, that is why it is important to supervise him, and teach him how to surrender and calm down again when necessary.
Basset Hound and dogs
As he was bred to work as part of a pack, he rarely enters into conflict with other dogs: he gets along well even with same-sex individuals. Whether at work or at home, he takes pleasure in sharing his day-to-day with fellow canines.
Basset Hound and children
This scent hound is particularly keen on the company of children. Gentle, friendly, and never aggressive, he is harmless to them and reveals himself to be a very good playmate.
Basset Hound and the elderly
Both calm and affectionate, this dog is rather compatible with the elderly but should not be subjected to a sedentary lifestyle, which could leave to behavioural problems on his part.
The price of a Basset Hound varies depending on its origins, age, and sex. You have to count an average of £840 for dogs registered at the Kennel Club.
With regards to the monthly budget required to meet the needs of a dog this size, you have to estimate an average of £35 per month- including quality nutrition and classic yearly maintenance (vaccines, deworming, etc.).
Caring for the Basset’s short coat is not complicated, but does require some diligence in maintaining its quality and beauty: weekly brushes are advised.
What’s more, his ears and drooping eyelids need to be closely monitored to prevent potential infections.
The Basset’s hair loss is not overwhelming, but is more pronounced during both molting seasons, which is when brushes will have to be daily in order to eliminate any residual dead hairs.
Nutrition of the Basset Hound
On account of his atypical constitution, the Basset Hound requires nutrition that is consistently and gradually adapted to his age, weight, shape and health throughout his growth. This will help prevent any potential health issues- most notably back issues, once he has already reached maturity.
He can be fed with kibble but they must be premium-quality so as to avoid any risk of malnutrition. Buying any kind of dry food in the supermarket is not an option.
Be careful if you opt for home-cooked food- it is often difficult to calibrate a completely balanced diet. In this case, you might want to consult a vet who will oversee and validate the dog’s nutrition.
Health of the Basset Hound
Life expectancy is 11 years on average.
Strong / robust
Contrary to popular belief, this dog is an enduring and athletic scent hound, and particularly resilient as well.
During intense heat, it is of utmost importance to pay close attention to this dog, who can rapidly begin to suffer in extreme temperatures. Walks will need to be scheduled early in the morning and late in the evening, to ensure that the Basset get his share of exercise in more manageable conditions.
He is quite wary of the cold and of humidity in particular. He should not be left to sleep outside if the weather conditions are not optimal.
Tendency to put on weight
This short-legged dog is particularly vulnerable to weight gain since it can have grave consequences for his elongated spine.