Basset Hounds are short, long, sturdy dogs with the thick frames necessary to trail animals over any terrain. Their medium-sized heads have rounded skulls, long and deep muzzles, and black noses. They have dark, slightly sunken eyes that have a sad expression, and their ears are long, low and silky. Basset Hounds have deep chests, narrow shoulders and thick, sturdy legs. Their backs are straight and their tapered tails are carried high. They have short, dense, weather-resistant coats that come in almost any color, but typically they are white with brown patterns. Basset Hounds may look awkward, but they have a smooth, fluid gait.
Mild-mannered and obedient, Basset Hounds are excellent members of the household. And they’re also a whole lot of fun. Slightly mellow—but not shy—they can just as easily hang out around the house as romp through the fields. Great all-around playmates, Basset Hounds have a cute and adorable droopiness that can be pretty much irresistible.
Bassets are “pack” dogs: They want to be part of the action, even if the action simply involves the family sitting around and watching a movie. Not especially rambunctious or excitable (except when new people come to visit) Bassets easily blend with the group. They like nothing more than a snuggle on the couch.
Though adorable and endearing, Bassets can be difficult to train and housebreak. They have a selective memory when it comes to commands—especially when treats are not involved—not to mention an occasional stubbornness. Also, they can be very vocal when they want something, howling or even “talking” in a low murmuring sound until their needs are met. But they are always warm and endearing.
Basset Hounds have an excellent sense of smell—second only to the Bloodhound. This means that if they pick up a scent, they can get a little distracted. If allowed to roam, they will track those scents relentlessly. Always walk them on a leash and be warned: They’re good at escaping from yards and slipping out of their collars.
Bassets may look clumsy and lazy, but they are strong and durable dogs that need daily exercise. Keep them moving. They can also be crafty food stealers, so be sure to ration their food intake to prevent obesity and bloat.
A healthy Basset Hound can live as long as 12 years. Common health issues include skin allergies, tumors and ear infections. Clean their ears and brush their coats regularly.
Basset Hounds originated in France several centuries ago and were used throughout Europe as hunting dogs. Designed by monks who wanted a slower dog that could be followed on foot, Bassets (French for “low-set”) proved to be excellent slow trackers of rabbit and deer. Brought to England in the 1860s, they eventually made their way to America and appeared in the 1884 Westminster show. Since 1935, the Basset Hound Club of America has promoted the breed as a resourceful hunter, tracker and companion.