Breed Group:
Hound Dogs

Middle Age: 6 years

Geriatric Age: 10 years

Life Span: 10 to 14 years

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Basset Hound Breed Info & Background

The Bassett Hound breed originated in France sometime during the sixth century. With it’s short body, usually not over 14” all, the Bassett Hound is believed to have resulted from a genetic mutation culminating in the dwarf, short-legged variety we see today. The word Bassett comes from the French word bas meaning “low thing” or “low-set.”

Bassett Hounds were bred and trained as hunting dogs. With their short legs and powerful bodies, Bassett Hounds excelled at hunting rabbits and hares. Bassett Hounds have a particularly acute sense of smell, which aided them in tracking game for their owners. Their distinctive and loud bay allowed them to alert hunters when they had caught the scent of their prey. Bassett Hounds were traditionally used to hunt in packs, and were used to flush out game from areas of dense brush or thicket.

From the early 19th century onward, following the French Revolution, increased numbers of commoners began hunting, and Bassett Hounds became increasingly popularized. By the late 19th century the breed had been spread to England and America.

Basset Hound Temperament & Personality

Bassett Hounds generally have an easygoing, amiable, and loving personality. Bassett’s have a very calm and sensitive temperament, both towards their owners and other animals. They have a low energy level, preferring lounging in the sun or cuddling on a lap, to other activities. Due to these Bassett Hound characteristics, they are not the ideal choice for a guard dog.

Their deliberate nature leads many to mistakenly assume a lack of intelligence, however Bassett Hounds are incredibly keen and intelligent dogs. Due to this intelligence, Basset Hounds are known to have a stubborn streak, and love to get their way. The result can be food sneakily stolen from the dinner table, or a hefty body suddenly laying on your lap.

Training a Basset Hound

The Bassett Hounds stubborn streak results in a dog that is more difficult to train than some other breeds. Properly training a Bassett Hound is a process that requires a higher degree of patience and creativity. Although bred to hunt in packs, Bassett Hounds are largely independent creatures, and this independence is evident during training. Bassett’s may ignore commands, or just find a sunny spot of ground and lay down in it. Bassett Hound’s keen nose and traditional hunting role can also throw a wrench in training plans. Once a Bassett catches a scent, they will often pursue that scent regardless of their owner’s commands. This Bassett Hound behavior is due more to the fact that they were bred to hunt independently of commands than a general lack of attention or intelligence.

Exercise Requirements for a Basset Hound

While Bassett Hounds have the reputation of being lazy due to their predisposition towards lounging about, they are in fact not lazy dogs. Although they don’t have the energy levels of spunkier breeds, Bassett’s do need and enjoy a moderate amount of exercise. A Bassett will thoroughly enjoy a daily long walk with their owner, or a period of outdoors playtime at their leisure. Unlike some other breeds, Bassett Hounds are fairly flexible in the frequency of exercise they get. While it is recommended to walk with your Bassett Hound daily, if a few days are missed your Bassett Hound will be fine. Due to the Bassett Hound’s propensity towards obesity later in life, regular exercise is recommended for their health and general happiness.

Basset Hound Lifespan & Longevity

Bassett Hound life expectancy is about 12 years on average, with the healthy Bassett Hound lifespan ranging between 10-14 years of age.

Breed popularity of a Basset Hound

Bassett Hounds remain a relatively popular breed in the United States. Their mild-mannered, easy going, and loving personality traits have significantly contributed to this. However, their stubborn streak and challenges experienced while training them have offset their popularity to a degree. Bassett Hounds are not for everyone, and new dog owners can become frustrated with their relatively slower progress during training.

Feeding a Basset Hound

Bassett Hounds should have access to clean water, and be fed high quality food appropriate for their age and weight. Look for food with high quality proteins and fats, and avoid fillers such as soy, wheat, or corn. Because Bassett Hounds vary in size from 45-75lbs, food requirements will vary. For example, for a 75lb Bassett, you should be feeding them about 2 ½ – 3 cups of dry food split into two meals. For a 45lb Bassett you would probably be fine with just 1 cup of food in the morning, and 1 cup of food in the evening. You should be feeding them two equal meals a day, o avoid Basset Hound health problems like bloating and gastric torsion. With Bassett Hounds, it is important to take into account that they tend to gain weight as they get older, which can lead to health problems over time. To ensure optimal Basset Hound health, make sure to adjust their portion size if they start getting a little heavier.

Grooming a Basset Hound

Bassett Hounds have a short, easy to care for coat that requires only minimal grooming. Like all breeds, Bassett’s require regular teeth brushing to prevent plaque buildup, bathing, and nail trimming. Bassett Hound’s long ears need regular cleaning and attention, as the lack of air flow through them can lead to ear infections. The same goes for their droopy eyes, which need to be kept clear of debris or buildup to prevent any Bassett Hound eye problems.

Are Basset Hounds Good with Kids?

The Bassett Hound’s laid back nature and calm, loving personality makes them great with children. A Bassett will be more than content both lounging about with children or going in the yard for some playtime. However, their low energy levels can make them less than ideal playing companions with highly energetic young children. As such, they may not be a great choice for children that want to play catch for hours or need a constant, high level of energy from a dog. With all that said, Bassett Hounds are great companions for children, and have a patient temperament that allows them to be excellent family dogs.

Basset Hound Health Issues

Elbow Dysplasia: Elbow dysplasia in Bassett Hound’s is a condition that results from mismatched growth patterns at the elbow joint, between the elbow and wrist (radius and ulna.) Although the exact cause of elbow dysplasia is unknown, it is believed to be a combination of factors related to genetics, trauma, diet, and exercise. Bassett’s with elbow dysplasia will exhibit symptoms of pain and lameness in their forelegs. A common indicator of elbow dysplasia is an uneven gate, slow recovery from front limb lameness following exercise, and progressively worsening symptoms. Elbow dysplasia commonly presents through the puppy growth stage, typically after about 5 months of age, although can develop later in a Bassett’s life. Presence of elbow dysplasia early in a Bassett’s life will often result in progressively worsening arthritis in the elbow joint as they get older.

Ear Problems: The anatomy of the Bassett Hounds’ ear leads them to be very prone towards ear infections. This is due to the long length of the ear that inhibits air flow and creates the moist conditions that are ideal for an infection. Typical signs of Typical signs of a Bassett Hound ear infection are a brown discharge or bad odor. Additionally, your Bassett Hound may let you know they have a developing ear infection if you notice them scratching their ears more than usual, tilting or shaking their head, or exhibiting signs of pain when you touch the area. Like any infection, an ear infection is best caught early, so make sure you are checking and cleaning your Bassett Hound’s ears regularly.

Entropian or Ectropian eyelids: The characteristic droopy eyes of a Bassett Hound can allow them to be more susceptible to developing Entropian or Ectropian eyelids. With an entropian eyelid, the eyelid rolls inward. This can allow eyelashes or hair near the eye to rub against the cornea. This can be extremely painful for your Bassett Hound, and result in tearing and scarring of the cornea. Ectropian eyelids occur when they eyelid rolls outward. This rolling outward of the eyelid allows dust and debris to affect the inner lining of the eyelid, which can produce a significant amount of discomfort, and lead to damage to the eye over time. Both entropian or ectropian eyelids will require consultation with a veterinarian to determine the appropriate treatment plan.

Cherry eye: Cherry eye is a protrusion of the gland within the third eyelid of a Bassett Hound. This eyelid resides directly against the eye, providing lubrication and protection. If the gland in the third eyelid is exposed, it can quickly become irritated and inflamed. This results in redness, hence the name “cherry eye.” In some cases cherry eye can be treated using medication, although in more serious cases surgical intervention may be necessary.

Glaucoma: Glaucoma is a common ailment in Bassett Hounds that results from a blockage in the eye that creates a buildup of fluid. As the fluid builds, the pressure within the eye increases, enlarging the eye over time. If left untreated, glaucoma can cause retina damage and loss of vision. Treatment of glaucoma can encompass medication or surgery, depending on severity.

Gastric Torsion: Bassett Hounds, like other dog breeds, can suffer from gastric torsion. Gastric torsion is a quickly accelerating and potentially life-threatening condition that results from a buildup or food and gas within the stomach. As the food or gas causes the stomach to dilate and expand, it will continue to build pressure in the stomach. The pressure in the stomach can build rapidly, causing the failure of blood flow to the lining of the stomach and surrounding tissue, while placing pressure on the lungs. In some cases the dilation of the stomach can lead to a condition known as volvulus, which is a rotation of the stomach within the abdomen. Common signs of gastric torsion are drooling, attempting to failing to vomit, abdominal swelling, and pacing. If you suspect your Bassett Hound is suffering from gastric torsion you should seek medical attention immediately.

Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is an abnormal development in the hips, resulting in a loose fit between the femur and pelvic socket. Over time the looseness of this joint causes an uneven loss of cartilage and a resulting buildup of scar tissue or bone spurs. In younger dogs, hip dysplasia presents as a looseness in the hip assembly. In older dogs, hip dysplasia is characterized by arthritis resulting from this condition. The most common cause of hip dysplasia is hereditary, and often appears in large dogs. However, environmental causes such as jumping or running, particularly during the period of puppy growth, can also cause Basset Hound hip dysplasia.

Von Willebrand: Bassett Hounds can also suffer from von Willebrand’s disease, which affects the ability to form blood clots. Dogs with von Willebrand’s disease suffer from a deficiency in a clotting factor antigen, which gives blood the ability to clot normally. If your Bassett Hound is suffering from von Willebrand’s disease they will experience heavier than normal bleeding from a cut or wound. Most dogs suffering from von Willebrand’s disease will continue to have a healthy, long life. If you suspect your Bassett may be suffering from this be sure to have them assessed and diagnosed by your veterinarian.

Other Resources

National breed website: The Basset Hound Club of America, Inc
Rescues: Basset Hound Rescue