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Basset Hound Breed Info, Pics, Puppies, Traits & Facts

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

Basset Hound

Height: 11–15 inches
Weight: 40–60 pounds
Lifespan: 10–12 years
Colors: Lemon and white, black and white, tri-color, white and chocolate, black and brown, red and white
Suitable for: Active families, those looking for a low-shedding dog
Temperament: Stubborn, affectionate, loyal, amiable, lazy

Known for their long, dangling ears and hangdog expression, Basset Hounds could teach classes on how to get what you want simply by being adorable.

They’re not just fun to look at, though. These dogs are incredible trackers, and their noses are second to only the Bloodhound in terms of power. If you take these dogs with you on a hunt, they won’t stop until they’ve treed their quarry.

Even if you’re not into shooting things, Basset Hounds can make great pets. In the guide below, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about these wonderful, expressive dogs, so you can decide if one would be right for your family.

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Basset Hound Puppies

basset hound puppy
Image Credit: Jon Buscall, Shutterstock

Basset Hounds are extremely laidback dogs, almost to the point of laziness. This makes them attractive to first-time dog owners, as well as those who don’t want to spend hours a day tuckering out their pet.

However, they can dig their heels in and be extremely stubborn if they want to be. This can make training a chore but essential. These dogs will walk all over you if you let them.

That doesn’t mean that they’re malicious, though — far from it. These pups are sweet, loyal, and loving, and they enjoy nothing more than curling up next to you for a long nap. It’s when you want them to get up and do something productive that you might experience pushback.

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3 Little-Known Facts About the Basset Hound

1. The Loose Skin on Their Faces Helps Them Track Prey

The skin on their face and neck actually has a name: the dewlap. The dewlap works in concert with their long ears to help the Basset Hound sniff after its quarry.

Their ears bounce as they run, helping to waft any odors toward their face. Then, scent molecules get trapped in their dewlap, keeping the smell of their prey front and center.

2. The Ability to Track Prey Is Also Why They’re So Short

If you need to follow a scent trail on the ground, it helps to get as close to it as possible. The Basset’s short little legs keep them close to the smells they’re following without forcing them to crane their necks. This helps conserve energy, allowing them to track their quarry for longer.

Also, the dogs were bred to allow hunters to follow on foot. Their stubby legs limit how fast they can run, making it easier for their humans to keep up.

3. They’re Not Great Swimmers

While the short legs help track prey over solid ground, they’re not much help in the water. It’s difficult for Bassets to paddle enough to keep them afloat, especially since their bodies tend to be on the heftier side.

Basset Hound Dog Breed Info
Image Credit: Ernest_Roy, Pixabay

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A Brief History of the Basset Hound

While short-legged scent hounds have been around since at least ancient Egypt, the Basset Hound’s origins are much more recent.

They were bred in England in the late 19th century using a French dog known as the St. Hubert’s Hound, which was notorious for not giving up chase until they had tracked their quarry down. The St. Hubert’s Hound was bred with Norman Staghounds to produce a lowrider dog with an incredible sense of smell.

Napoleon III was a huge fan of the Basset Hound, and he owned many that he used for hunting. Thanks to his influence, the rest of Europe soon took notice of these incredible hunting companions, and it wasn’t long before the rest of the world discovered them as well.

The Basset Hound was the 10th breed to be officially recognized by the American Kennel Club, earning that distinction in 1885. While not as ancient as some other breeds, the Basset has been around long enough for multiple purebred bloodlines to be established, making it a mainstay at dog shows across the world.

Temperament & Intelligence of the Basset Hound🧠

Basset Hounds are well-known for being extremely friendly and equally stubborn. While those two traits may not seem like they mesh well, understanding the dichotomy between the two will go a long way toward understanding these dogs. They love people, and they love playtime and affection — but on their terms only.

These pups are fairly lazy, and attempting to motivate one is nearly impossible when it wants to sleep. The one thing that never fails to get them up and moving is the opportunity to track something down, but that can be hard to come by in an urban environment, so you may have to improvise.

In terms of intelligence, these dogs are commonly listed among the least-intelligent breeds, as they struggle to learn new concepts and seem to have little motivation to solve problems.

That’s not entirely fair, however. Bassets were bred for a specific purpose — tracking prey — and they’re geniuses in that regard. It’s not fair to compare them to other dogs in categories they were never designed to care about. Still, expect training to be a struggle, and you’ll likely need to find novel ways to teach them.

Are These Dogs Good for Families?🏡 

Basset Hounds make excellent family pets, provided you’re looking for a laidback, playful dog. They’re patient with children and they love to play, so little kids can have a grand time with one. You also have little to worry about in terms of aggression. Little ones will love that this dog is down at their level as well.

However, if you want a dog who will keep up with you while you go on a family fun run, this breed isn’t for you. They like to laze around, waiting for their next meal (or scent trail).

They’re also not a good choice for anyone who enjoys showing off their dog’s obedience training. They’re often stubborn and uncooperative, and you may have difficulty getting them to do the most basic things (like giving you space on the couch).

Their sedentary nature makes them a natural fit for apartment life, however, as they don’t require a big yard to run around in.

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets?🐶 😽 

Given that these dogs were bred for hunting, you might think that they’d do poorly around other animals. However, Bassets are born lovers, and they’ll accept anyone into their home.

In fact, they were bred to be pack dogs, so they’re most comfortable in the company of other pooches. They love to play and generally aren’t possessive of toys, food, or territory.

They do have a fairly strong prey drive, but their inclination is merely to track the other animal, not attack it. So, your cats may discover that the Basset Hound will find them wherever they hide. But instead of biting them, it will merely bark to let you know that they’re safe.

Another good thing about having these dogs around smaller pets is that they’re quite slow. If they did decide to chase the cat for some reason, they don’t stand much of a chance of actually catching it.

basset hound sitting
Image Credit: Maria Symchych, Shutterstock

Are There Any Other Things You Should Know About Having a Basset Hound at Home?

One of the most important things to realize about this breed is that the desire to track prey is totally irresistible. If they catch a whiff of a scent trail, they will follow it to its conclusion.

As a result, these dogs are natural escape artists. You need to be absolutely certain that your yard is adequately fenced-in if you’re going to leave them outside unattended. They’re also quite persuasive, as they can convince other dogs to follow them out in the Great Unknown, even if the other mutt hasn’t previously shown a tendency to roam.

Also, while they don’t really bark much, they will bay. This is a deep, long, expressive howl that’s designed to alert hunters to the fact that they’ve located their prey, even though the hunters may be a great distance away.

As you can imagine, this kind of loud, pervasive howling doesn’t usually go over well with the neighbors at 5 a.m., so you need to find a way to discourage your dog from doing it too often.Divider 4

Things to Know When Owning a Basset Hound

Basset Hounds are generally a low-maintenance breed, but there are still a few things you should be aware of before adding one to your pack.

Food & Diet Requirements🦴

The Basset Hound is a naturally stocky breed, but you need to take care that you don’t let it get out of hand. These dogs can easily slip into obesity, and their little legs just aren’t equipped to handle a bunch of extra weight.

It’s essential to feed them a high-quality dog food. Any kibble packed with cheap fillers like wheat, corn, or soy should be immediately rejected, as those ingredients offer little more than empty calories. Instead, look for lean protein, antioxidant-rich vegetables, and nutritious fruits.

Don’t let them free-feed, as they don’t really have an “off” switch on their hunger drive. Offer them two meals a day, and be sure to pick up the bowl when they’re done eating.

Be judicious with treats and scraps as well. Given how bullheaded these dogs can be, it’s tempting to use food to get them to obey your orders. While this strategy will likely be successful in terms of compliance, the health problems that it can cause are not worth it.

These pups are expert beggars too. They may well be the inspiration for the term “puppy dog eyes,” and they know full well how to use their cuteness to get what they want. We know it’s hard, but you need to be disciplined enough to tell them “no” if you want them to lead long, healthy lives.


It’s the central battle that you must fight if you own a Basset Hound: You know they need to exercise, and they know they can talk you out of making them.

Given the breed’s propensity for obesity, though, it’s essential you convince them to get physical activity every day. It doesn’t take much — a half hour or so should be plenty. In fact, even though these dogs were bred to run for miles, their bodies really aren’t designed to handle that kind of stress. You should limit their amount of high-impact activity, and things like running and jumping should be kept to an absolute minimum.

Fortunately, these dogs love long, lazy walks, so it doesn’t take much to tucker them out. They love to play as well, so a few minutes with a rope toy will go a long way toward keeping your dog in shape.

Scent training is an excellent way to challenge these dogs both physically and mentally. You can hide treats around the house and have them sniff them out; not only will this tax both their bodies and brains, but they’ll love every second of it.

Basset Hound Dog Breed Info
Image Credit: AlbanyColley, Pixabay


Training your Basset Hound is going to be a struggle, so it’s best to understand and accept that before you begin. However, much of the difficulty that many people experience stems from the fact that they don’t challenge these dogs in the proper manner.

Bassets can quickly ferret out which humans will demand compliance from them and which ones will let them slide; if you’re in the latter group, you can abandon any hope of getting them to do what you want (unless they happen to want to do it too).

It’s important to be firm and consistent in your training methods and only use positive reinforcement. If you punish or abuse these dogs, you’ll only calcify their resistance.

As far as the “proper” way to challenge them, you need to remember that they were designed to interact with the world through their noses, not their eyes and ears. If your training method requires them to keep in constant visual contact with you, it will likely fail.

Try to stay on their level, and give them tasks that are easy for them to complete. They’re not going to be great at catching Frisbees, for example, but you can teach them to roll over fairly quickly.

House Training Basset Hounds

Bassets are notoriously hard to potty train, but that’s often due to not attacking the problem correctly. It’s important not to give them free roam of your house before they’re potty trained. Keep them crated up if you’re not able to observe them, and take them out every two hours or so to see if they need to go.

If they eliminate outside the house, praise them effusively. This is also the time to give them a treat or use your clicker. Then, in every subsequent trip outside, take them to the same general area in which they already relieved themselves. Their powerful noses will quickly remind them of what to do.

Don’t scold or punish them if they have an accident. Instead, stop them in the act if you can, and then immediately rush them outside. You need to solidify the connection in their minds between using the bathroom and being outside.

As long as you’re consistent, there’s no reason that you can’t have your Basset housetrained in a matter of days.

Grooming ✂️

The Basset Hound is a short-haired breed, which causes many people to believe that these dogs don’t require much in the way of grooming. But Bassets shed constantly and need to be brushed daily if you don’t want your home covered in dog hair. If you’ve stayed on top of brushing your dog, then a quick once-over with a soft brush may be all that’s needed. If you’ve lapsed in your duties, however, you’ll likely need to bring in a heavy-duty shedding tool.

Their big ears require quite a bit of attention as well. You’ll need to clean them out with a damp cotton ball at least once a week and dry them out immediately if they get wet. Failure to do either of these things will dramatically increase their risk of ear infections.

They also need their teeth brushed and nails trimmed regularly, but they don’t have any special requirements in that regard.

Health and Conditions❤️

These dogs were bred to chase prey over long distances; however, that doesn’t mean that their bodies are quite up to the task.

Their barrel-like bodies put a great deal of strain on their backs and legs, and their exaggerated facial features leave them vulnerable to infections. That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the issues these dogs can face.

Common Health Conditions of the Basset Hound
  • Glaucoma
  • Skin infections
  • Ear infections
  • Entropion
  • Ectropion
Common Health Conditions of the Basset Hound
  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Osteochondrosis dissecans
  • Bloat
  • Thrombopathy
  • Von Willebrand’s disease
  • Patellar luxation
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Male vs. Female

Male Bassets are generally a bit heavier than their female counterparts, as well as an inch or two taller. Males tend to be more happy-go-lucky and thrive on playtime. Females are more independent, and while they won’t make as many demands on your attention, they’re usually harder to train.

Related read: Best Water Bowls for Basset Hounds – Reviews & Top Picks

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Final Thoughts

The Basset Hound was bred to help hunters track prey over great distances, so we suppose that it’s just luck that they turned out to be such great house pets.

These dogs would much rather help you track down dinner than go for a jog in the park, making them great for less-active families. They’re also patient and affectionate with children, as well as accepting of other pets.

Be aware that they have a strong stubborn streak and aren’t the easiest dogs to train. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort, though, you should have a loyal, well-mannered companion that will follow you to the ends of the Earth — or at least, the end of the couch.

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Featured Image Credit: Bill Anastasiou, Shutterstock

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