- Hush Puppy
- Big Nose
- Long Ears
- Hound Dog
Country of Origin – Great Britain, France
- Male – 55–75 pounds (25–34 kg)
- Female – 45–65 pounds (20–29 kg)
- Male – 12–15 inches (30–38 cm)
- Female – 11–14 inches (28–36 cm)
Coat – Smooth, Short and Close
- Generally black, white and tan (tri-colour)
- Tan/lemon and white (bi-colour)
- Any recognized hound colour acceptable
Litter Size – 6 to 8 puppies
Life Span – Median 11 to 12 years
Instantly recognizable due to its big, heavy body, short legs and long ears, the Basset Hound has proven itself to be a multi-purpose dog that excels in conformation, obedience, tracking, field trialing and pack hunting. The breed is known for its strong hunting instinct and, if given the opportunity, will chase or follow a scent willingly. Because of its gentle, non-confrontational nature, the Basset can be used for hunting in packs or alone. The Basset can be any hound color, which includes combinations of black, tan, white, red and other colors.
The Basset Hound was originally developed in France as a trailer of small game that hunters could follow on foot. Bassets continued to achieve very notable popularity during the reign of Emperor Napoleon, and in 1880 Queen Alexandra kept Basset Hounds in the royal kennels. Marquis de Lafayette brought Basset Hounds, known for their impeccable sense of smell, to the United States as a gift to President George Washington to use in his hunting expeditions.
Right Breed for You?
The Basset’s sweet, gentle disposition makes him a great companion and his short coat requires minimal grooming. New owners should be prepared for a dog that actively follows scent while outside or on walks.
If you are considering purchasing a Basset Hound puppy, learn more here.
- Hound Group; AKC recognized in 1885.
- Height should not exceed 14 inches tall at the shoulder.
- Hunting dog; trailing dog.
The Basset Hound is a short-legged breed of dog of the hound family, as well as one of six recognized Basset breeds in France; furthermore, Bassets are scent hounds that were 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.
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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 (see: Health). Their short stature can be deceiving; Bassets are surprisingly long and can reach things on table tops that other dogs of similar height can not. Because Bassets are so heavy and have such short legs, they are not able to hold themselves above wat The Basset Hound’s short stature is due to a genetic condition known as Osteochondrodysplasia (meaning abnormal growth of both bone and cartilage). Dwarfism in dogs is traditionally known as Achondroplasia. Basset Hounds, Dachshunds and Bulldogs are a few of the dog breeds classified as Achondroplastic.
Basset Hound puppies, or very old dogs, should not be allowed to jump down from a height, due to how low they are to the ground. Because of a basset’s body build (short stubby legs, low to the ground), if they fall too far, they can hurt their hips, injure their spine or break a leg. Many aging bassets have been euthanized due to such injuries. If a puppy sustains one of these injuries, the damage can be permanent.
In addition to ear problems, basset hounds may be susceptible to eye issues. Because of their droopy eyes, the area under the eyeball will collect dirt and become clogged with a mucus. It is best to wipe their eyes every day with a damp cloth. This helps to lessen the build-up and prevent eye irritation.
Bassets are bred for endurance. They need plenty of exercise and a good diet, free of grains and fillers to avoid potential food allergies and skin conditions. Being overweight leads to paralysis in Bassets.
Basset Hounds are prone to yeast infections in the folds around the mouth, where drool can collect without thoroughly drying out. Wiping the area with a clean, dry towel and applying talcum powder can minimize this risk.
The only recent mortality and morbidity surveys of Basset Hounds are from the UK: a 1999 longevity survey with a small sample size of 10 deceased dogs and a 2004 UK Kennel Club health survey with a larger sample size of 142 deceased dogs and 226 live dogs. See Mortality and Morbidity below.
Median longevity of Basset Hounds in the UK is about 11.3 years, which is a typical median longevity for purebred dogs and for breeds similar in size to Basset Hounds. The oldest of the 142 deceased dogs in the 2004 UK Kennel Club survey was 16.7 years. Leading causes of death in the 2004 UK Kennel Club survey were cancer (31%), old age (13%), GDV bloat/torsion (11%), and cardiac (8%).
Among the 226 live Basset Hounds in the 2004 UKC survey, the most-common health issues noted by owners were dermatologic (e.g., dermatitis), reproductive, musculoskeletal (e.g., arthritis and lameness), and gastrointestinal (e.g. GDV and colitis). Basset Hounds are also prone to epilepsy, glaucoma, luxating patella, thrombopathia, Von Willebrand disease, hypothyroidism, hip dysplasia, and elbow dysplasia.
The earliest-known depictions of short-legged hunting dogs are engravings from the Middle Kingdom of Egypt. Mummified remains of short-legged dogs from that period have been uncovered in the Dog Catacombs of Saqqara, Egypt. Scent Hounds were used for hunting in both Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome.
St Hubert’s Hound
The basset type originated in France, and is descended from the 6th century hounds belonging to St Hubert of Belgium, which through breeding at the Benedictine Abbey of St. Hubert eventually became what is known as the St Hubert’s Hound around 1000AD. St Hubert’s original hounds are descended from the Laconian (Spartas) Hound, one of four groups of dogs discerned from Greek representations and descriptions. These scent hounds were described as large, slow, ‘short-legged and deep mouthed’ dogs with a small head, straight nose, upright ears and long neck, and either tan with white markings or black with tan markings. Laconian Hounds were reputed to not give up the scent until they found their prey. They eventually found their way to Constantinople, and from there to Europe.
The first mention of a “basset” dog appeared in La Venerie, an illustrated hunting text written by Jacques du Fouilloux in 1585. The dogs in Fouilloux’s text were used to hunt foxes and badgers. It is commonly believed that the Basset type originated as a mutation in the litters of Norman Staghounds, a descendant of the St Hubert’s Hound. These precursors were most likely bred back to the St. Hubert’s Hound, among other derivative French hounds. Until after the French Revolution around the year 1789, hunting from horseback was the preserve of kings, large aristocratic families and of the country squires, and for this reason short-legged dogs were highly valued for hunting on foot.
1879 woodcut of Everett Millais’ first basset type Hound ‘Model’ who was imported from France in 1874.
Basset type hounds achieved noticeable public cultural popularity during the reign of Emperor Napoleon III (r. 1852-1870). In 1853, Emmanuel Fremiet, “the leading sculptor of animals in his day” exhibited bronze sculptures of Emperor Napoleon III’s basset hounds at the Paris Salon. Ten years later in 1863 at the first exhibition of dogs held in Paris, basset hounds attained international attention.
The controlled breeding of the short haired basset began in France in the year 1870. From the existing Bassets, Count Le Couteulx of Canteleu fixed a utilitarian type with straight front legs known as the Chien d’Artois, whereas Mr. Louis Lane developed a more spectacular type, with crooked front legs, known as the Basset Normand. These were bred together to create the original Basset Artésien Normand.
French bassets were being imported into England at least as early as the 1870s. While some of these dogs were certainly Basset Artésien Normands, by the 1880s linebreeding had thrown back to a different heavier type. Everett Millais’, who is considered to be the father of the modern Basset Hound, bred one such dog, Nicholas, to a Bloodhound bitch named Inoculation through artificial insemination in order to create a heavier basset in England in the 1890s. The litter was delivered by caesarean section, and the surviving pups were refined with French and English bassets. The first breed standard for what is now known as the Basset Hound was made in Great Britain at the end of 19th century. This standard was updated in 2010.
Hunting with Bassets
The Basset Hound was bred to hunt. Its keen nose and short stature are suited to small-game hunting on foot, and it particularly enjoys running in a pack. There are a number of groups that promote hunting with bassets.
There is a variety of Basset Hound developed purely for hunting by Colonel Morrison that were admitted to the Masters of Basset Hounds Association in 1959 via an Appendix to the Stud Book. This breed differs in being straighter and longer in the leg and having shorter ears.