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Basset Hound

7 year old purebred lemon and white Basset
Nicknames Basset
Country of origin France

The Basset Hound is a short-legged breed of dog of the hound family. They are scent hounds, bred to hunt rabbits by scent. Their sense of smell for tracking is second only to that of the Bloodhound.[1] The name Basset is derived from the French word bas, meaning "low", with the attenuating suffix -et, together meaning "rather low". Basset hounds are commonly brown and black and most often spotted, but also exist in a variety of colors.[2]




6 year-old red & white Basset Hound
1 year-old Blue Basset Hound
6 month old tri-color Basset.
5 month old Basset couple.

Basset Hound appearance

Build: Short-legged; proportionally heavier in bone than any other breed of dog
Weight: 50–65 pounds (23–29 kg)
Height: 12–15 inches (30–38 cm)
Coat: Short, hard and shiny, sheds.
Color: Any recognized hound colour is acceptable (tri-Color, red & white, honey/lemon & white, Blue/Gray, and black & tan)
Head: Large and well proportioned, prominent occiput on males.
Teeth: Scissors or even bite
Eyes: Brown, soft, sad, and slightly sunken, showing a prominent haw
Ears: Extremely long, velvety in texture, hanging in loose folds, low set, and when drawn forward, fold well over the end of the nose
Tail: Slightly curved, erect when walking. White tip aids in tracking. Never docked.
Limbs: Short, powerful, heavy
Feet: Massive, very heavy with tough heavy pads
Life span: Median 10–12 years

These dogs are around 1-foot in height at the withers. They usually weigh between 35-70 lbs. They have smooth, short-haired coats but a rough haired hound is possible. Although any hound colour is considered acceptable by breed standards, Bassets are generally tricolor (black, tan, and white), open red and white (red spots on white fur), closed red and white (a solid red color with white feet and tails), Honey And White (honey coloured back, light brown spotty nose and legs, light brown tails with white tip) and lemon and white. Some Bassets are also classified as gray or blue; however, this colour is considered rare and undesirable. They have long, downward ears and powerful necks, with much loose skin around their heads that forms wrinkles. Their tails are long and tapering and stand upright with a curve. Tails usually have white tips so the dogs are more easily seen when hunting/tracking through large bushes or weeds. The breed is also 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, help trap the scent of what they are tracking.

The Basset Hound is a large dog with short legs. They were originally bred to have osteochondrodysplasia, known as dwarfism.[3] Their short stature can be deceiving; Bassets are surprisingly long and can reach things on table tops that dogs of similar heights cannot. However, because Bassets are so heavy and have such short legs, they are not able to hold themselves above water for very long, and should never be made to swim.


The Basset Hound is seen as an especially friendly breed. For this reason they are an excellent pet for children. Many Bassets "forget" the training when a reward is not present. Bassets should be on a leash when out on walks.

Bassets are known to be a vocal breed. Bassets might howl or bark when they want something or to suggest that they think something is wrong (like a storm is coming). They also use a low, murmuring whine to get attention, which sounds to many owners as though their Bassets are "talking." This whine is also used by the hound to beg (for food or treats) and varies in volume depending on the nature of the individual hound and length of time it has been begging.

Hunting with Bassets

The Basset Hound was bred to hunt. Its keen nose and short stature are suited to small-game hunting on foot, although many Bassets have lost their age-old skills. There are a few groups that promote hunting with bassets. The American Hunting Basset Association and the Basset Hound Club of America has been the most active in promoting the use of Bassets for rabbit hunting.

8 week old Basset Hound

Hunting with Basset Hounds when with an organization such as the American Hunting Basset Association or the Basset Hound Club of America do not involve the killing of any animals. These organizations are merely testing the Basset Hound's skills at tracking/trailing a rabbit's scent. Each organization is different in how it functions. With the AHBA, a group of 4 to 6 hounds (cast) are given one hour to find their own rabbit and judged based upon a standard set of rules while in the BHCA two dogs are paired and then put on a rabbit track and then judged. Typically the BHCA hunting lasts a few minutes per brace, the basset pair. With both organizations, the winning dog in each brace for the BHCA or cast for the AHBA go on to compete against the other winning dogs.

Hunting with Basset Hounds as a pack is common in the Mid-Atlantic States of Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Several private and membership packs exist in these states. Hunting for cotton tails and hare is the quarry of preference. There were a number of Basset Hound packs in its original home of England when the hunting of hares (see Beagling) was made illegal by the Hunting Act 2004.

Hunting a hound pack requires a staff which consists of a Huntsman and the Whipper-Ins who are responsible for order and discipline of the pack. A Field Master is in charge of the field (members of the hunt and guests) that follows behind observing the hounds work the covert. Most clubs will hunt in traditional attire of a green jacket and brush pants. Recognized clubs offer those members who have supported the pack the opportunity to wear colors on the collar to indicate rank in the club.

These packs are typically of English and French hound blood lines with a mix of AKC blood lines in some packs. The National Beagle Club hosts spring and fall field trials for basset hounds. The competition held over a 4-day period with participating packs hunting in the traditional manner in braces of up to 1 hour and 15 minutes. The pack size for each competition varies, from 3 to 7 couple.


Because of the extremely long ears of Bassets they are prone to ear disease. If their ears are allowed to dangle on the ground or in food on a daily basis they are capable of developing chronic and potentially fatal ear diseases. The only recent mortality and morbidity surveys of Basset Hounds are from the UK:[4] a 1999 longevity survey with a small sample size of 10 deceased dogs[5] and a 2004 UK Kennel Club health survey with a larger sample size of 142 deceased dogs and 226 live dogs.[6]

5-week old tan and white female Basset

In addition to ear problems, basset hounds may also have 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 eye irritation.

Basset Hounds can be on the lazy side and can become overweight on their own if allowed to. They need plenty of exercise and a good diet.

Basset hounds are also 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.


Median longevity of Basset Hounds in the UK is about 11.4 years,[4] which is a typical median longevity for purebred dogs and for breeds similar in size to Basset Hounds.[7] The oldest of the 142 deceased dogs in the 2004 UK Kennel Club survey was 16.7 years.[6] 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 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).[6]

Basset Hounds are also prone to epilepsy, glaucoma, luxating patella, thrombopathia, Von Willebrand disease, hypothyroidism, hip dysplasia, and elbow dysplasia.


Training is a touchy topic when dealing with the Basset Hound breed. Trainers must be persistent with this breed in order to achieve a well mannered dog, as Bassets have a tendency to listen to their noses instead of verbal commands. While this can lead to stubbornness, it also means that they are highly motivated by food (particularly fragrant ones) and tend to respond well to treat-based positive reinforcement methods. Owners need to make the training process lively and entertaining to allow the Basset to learn more efficiently.

Popular culture

Photograph of Halloween-themed Hush Puppies plush basset hounds.

In February 27 1928, Time[8] magazine featured a Basset Hound on the front cover. The accompanying story was about the 52nd annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden as if observed by the Basset Hound puppy. This prestige is often seen as the event which made the Basset Hound a popular part of American popular culture.

Basset Hounds have had prominent roles in movies and television. Some Bassets have been featured in comic strips and cartoons. Examples include cartoon character Droopy, originally created in 1943 by Tex Avery, and Fred Basset, the main character in the comic strip Fred Basset, created by Alex Graham in 1963. Basset Hounds playing more minor roles include Rosebud the Basselope from Berke Breathed's comic strip Bloom County, Byron Basset in Tiny Toon Adventures, Toby, from The Great Mouse Detective, and Lafayette, from the 1970 Disney film The Aristocats. The notable webcomic PvP by Scott Kurtz occasionally features the author's pet Basset Hounds. In the children's novel Lunchbox and the Aliens (2006 Henry Holt), by Bryan W. Fields, a basset hound named Lunchbox is abducted by a pair of misfit aliens and accidentally made intelligent. Rodney Dangerfield voices a Basset Hound in the animated feature film, Rover Dangerfield.

Basset Hounds in films include Fred, the companion of Cledus in the 1977 movie Smokey and the Bandit and its two sequels and Gabriel, Batou's Basset Hound in Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence. Gabriel is in fact director Mamoru Oshii's real life pet, and is included in many of his films. In a scene most likely referencing Smokey and the Bandit, a truck driver has a Basset Hound beside him in American Pie 2. Basset Hounds are featured prominently in off-beat roles as well - one gets hit by a car and survives in The Rage: Carrie 2, and in the film Monkeybone a basset has its own nightmarish dream sequence. In The Cassandra Crossing a basset is airlifted by helicopter off a doomed train allowing officials to identify a deadly plague (and thus becomes one of the few survivors of the all-star cast disaster film). Finally, bassets appear in such other mainstream films as The Lost Treasure of Sawtooth Island (where it prominently appears alongside star Ernest Borgnine on the film poster/DVD cover); An American Werewolf in Paris, Nanny McPhee, Spider-Man 2 and Kit Kittredge: An American Girl.

Television programs have used Basset Hounds as characters as well. In the early days of television, Elvis Presley famously sang "Hound Dog" to a Basset Hound named Sherlock on "The Steve Allen Show" on July 1, 1956. One of the most famous Bassets on television was Flash, the dog owned by Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane in the 1980s TV series "The Dukes of Hazzard". A life-sized replica named "Flush" was used in dangerous situations. Other Bassets on television include Cleo, the doggie femme fatal from "The People's Choice", which starred Jackie Cooper; Pokey, a canine friend of Lassie early (1954-57) in the "Lassie" television series ; the Basset Hound named simply "Dog" from "Columbo", Henry from "Emergency!", Governor from "The Governor & J.J.", Quincey, from "Coach", Sam from "That's So Raven", Chips from "EastEnders", Arthur in "Our House" and Socrates in "Judging Amy".

Basset Hounds have also been featured in advertising. The logo for Hush Puppies brand shoes prominently features a Basset Hound whose real name is Jason.[9] Basset Hounds are occasionally referred to as "Hush Puppies" for that reason. A Basset Hound also serves as the companion to the lonely Maytag Man in Maytag appliance advertisements. Tidewater Petroleum advertised its Flying A Gasoline using a Basset Hound named Axelrod. In the 1990s, a handsome red/white Basset Hound called SIGMUND featured in a several advertisements including one for Domestos bleach.

In June 2007, a realistic life-size Basset Hound mascot began to make appearances at various nightclubs and music festivals in the UK and across Europe. Ulysses the Basset Rave Hound was photographed with festival goers and famous DJ's at the Renaissance "Wild in the Country" festival, The Big Chill 2008 festival and famous Ibiza super-clubs Pacha, Space and Amnesia. Ulysses has his own fan page on the social networking website Facebook entitled "We love Ulysses".

Real Radio in the UK uses a basset hound in advertising. 'Barry' is used in TV ads, newspaper ads, and is referred by presenters on Real Radio itself.


Basset Hounds are a cross between the Bloodhound, the Regular Artisien Normand, and the Basset Artisien Normand. The first application of the word "Basset" to a breed of dog can be traced to La Vénerie, an illustrated text on hunting written by Jacques du Fouilloux in 1561. Fouilloux illustrates wire-haired bassets resembling the modern Basset Fauve de Bretagne. In Fouilloux's treatise, bassets are used to pursue foxes and badgers to ground, after which the quarry is dug from its burrow and so reduced to possession.

Other early French Bassets closely resembled the Basset Artésien Normand, which is still a breed today. The Basset Artesian Normand is one of the six recognized French Basset breeds. Originating in Artois and Normandy, it dates back to the 1600s. The Basset Artesian Normand looks like a Basset Hound, but lighter in weight. A short, straight legged hound, its body is twice as long as it is high. Its head is dome-shaped and powerful with hairy cheeks. The neck is slightly dewlap and the muscles are smooth with a moderate amount of wrinkles. The chest is round with clearly visible sternum. The coat is very short, bicolor: tan and white, or tricolor: tan, black and white. Breeders prefer white feet.

By the turn of the 20th century, the Basset Artesian Normand was developing into two distinct lines, straight-legged hunters and crocked-legged, droopy-eared companion and show dogs. French breeder Leon Verrier developed today's standard, which blends attributes of both varieties. The Artesian Basset needed straight legs that would neither hinder his speed nor drain his energy in order to work in unruly terrain, brush and briar. The breed was recognized in 1911.

Because many short-legged dogs from this time were called Basset and record-keeping from this time was sparse, it is difficult to speculate which of these breeds have bloodlines in common with today's Basset Hounds. It is commonly believed that Marquis de Lafayette brought Basset Hounds to the United States as a gift to George Washington.

In France, basset hounds achieved noticeable public cultural popularlity 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, the Basset Hound reached international fame at the Paris Dog Show. At that time there were two common Bassets, those with a rough coat (Basset Griffon) and those with smooth (Basset Français). The dogs were further classified by the length of their legs. The two popular Basset breeders at this time were M. Lane and the Count Le Couteulx.

In 1866, Lord Galway imported a pair of Le Couteulx Bassets to England, but it was not until 1874 that Basset Hounds were widely introduced there by Sir Everett Millais. The Kennel Club accepted the breed in 1882 and the English Basset Hound Club was formed in 1884. The American Kennel Club first recognized Basset Hounds as a breed in 1885. In 1935, the Basset Hound Club of America was organized in the United States. The current American breed standard was adopted in 1964.

Civic Events

In North America, Basset Hound picnics and waddles are traditions in many regions and draw impressive crowds and participations from hundreds or even thousands of Bassets and their owners. Most events are held to raise funds for local and regional Basset rescue groups. For example, The Allentown Basset Picnic thrived for seven years before becoming Tri-State's Basset Freedom Fest in 2003. Other major annual basset hound events, including the Buffalo Basset Bash, the New Orleans Basset Boogie, the Washington (state) Basset Rescue's Basset Blast in Spokane, the Woodinville, Washington Annual Basset Bash and parade and the Michigan Basset Waddle, share many similarities with North American community or food festivals and even "crown" king and queen bassets in a manner reminiscent of other civic festival crownings of event "royalty". Other traditions and competitions, such as deciding which basset has the best waddle, longest ears, best bay, or can keep a towel on its head the longest, are generally unique to basset hound picnics and waddles. These events also feature a wide variety of custom-made items depicting basset hounds and play an important role in raising money for basset hound rescue organizations. Often featured at shows and festivals is a world-famous pack of performing basset hounds known as "The Happy Basset Hounds." The trio consist of Eleanor, Annabel and Buster, and they make their home in Texarkana, Ark. The act was formerly headlined by the celebrated Ernest T. Basset, now deceased.


  1. ^ Hart, Ernest H:This is the Basset Hound, T.F.H. Books, 1974. ISBN 0-87666-214-6
  2. ^ Basset definition
  3. ^ "Histopathologic study of long-bone growth plates confirms the basset hound as an osteochondrodysplastic breed"Can J Vet Res. 2007 January; 71(1): 66–69.
  4. ^ a b Dog Longevity Web Site, Breed Data page. Compiled by K. M. Cassidy. Retrieved July 8, 2007
  5. ^ Michell, A. R., 1999. Longevity of British breeds of dog and its relationships with sex, size, cardiovascular variables and disease. Veterinary Record 145:625-629.
  6. ^ a b c Kennel Club/British Small Animal Veterinary Association Scientific Committee. 2004. Purebred Dog Health Survey. Retrieved July 5, 2007
  7. ^ Dog Longevity Web Site, Weight and Longevity page. Compiled by K. M. Cassidy. Retrieved July 5, 2007
  8. ^ TIME Magazine Cover: Baby Basset Hound, TIME Magazine, February 27, 1928
  9. ^ Jason's Hush Puppies Scrapbook

External links

Simple English

Country of origin Great Britain
Weight Male kg (lb)
Female kg (lb)
Height Male 33–38 cm (13–15 in)
Female 33–38 cm (13–15 in)
Coat Short and smooth
Color Generally tri-colour (black, white, tan), bi-colour (lemon, white)
Litter size 6-8 puppies
Life span 11-13 years

Basset-Hound is breed of dog with short legs, long ears and body. They are scent hounds of hound family.

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