Basset Hound

Basset Hound picture


The Basset Hound is an old breed originating in France in the 15th century. They were bred as hunters, being dwarfed to make them slower and more manageable on foot. It is certain that they were around in the 16th century as they are even mentioned by Shakespeare. The English took the Basset to heart when they were imported in 1870's by Everett Millais. Queen Alexandra also became a great lover of the breed, having several in her kennels. Basset popularity had its ups and downs in the 20th century. The lowest point was during the 2nd World War, where numbers fell to an all time low. The survival of the breed is due entirely to Miss Peggy Keevil, who managed to keep a nucleus of good hounds and lafter the war imported Bassets from France and America to provide much needed fresh blood. In the 1960's there was an explosion in popularity, mainly due to the Hush Puppies shoes. This was not an entirely happy period for Bassets, as many irresponsible people saw this as a way of making money. Luckily numbers have now stabilised, though there is still a problem with puppy farmers breeding untypical hounds with bad temperaments and selling them to unsuitable homes. If you want a Basset puppy, please make sure you buy from a recognised breeder. The Secretaries of the Basset Hound Clubs are the best people to advise you. Lists from the Kennel Club may contain names of unrecognised breeders.


Basset Hounds are heavily boned hounds with long bodies, short legs and large feet. They have beautiful heads with the most wonderful serious expressions and long ears that sweep the ground when using their very keen nose on the scent. They are very sturdy with plenty of heart and lung room to enable them to track and follow a scent for long periods of time. Bassets come in all colours - tricolour (black, tan & white), red & white, lemon & white, black or red blanket, broken tricolour, hare pied.


The word Basset comes from the French meaning dwarfed or low-set. They also were prized for their extremely good sense of smell and for following a scent with great persistence. The persistent side of the breed must always be remembered as it still dominates their character. Basset are pack animals who are good-tempered affectionate and loyal. They are very sociable, loving the company of both humans and other animals. A Basset regards his owners as members of the pack and it is natural for him to try and work his way up in the pecking order hoping to become the leader. This is tried out in various ways, and part of their charm for many is in their convenient deafness - or stubborn disobedience! They usually don't take 'NO' for an answer the first time - or even the tenth! A Basset is very good at pretending to be fast asleep - but open the oven door when the joint is cooking and he will be there! Basset Hounds are not usually destructive, and as long as there is a bone or something to chew, he will leave your furniture alone. Some people think they are a lazy breed, but just show them their lead and you will have no peace until they have taken you out !

Exercise and Care

Though Basset Hounds look very appealing and are easy to cuddle when very young it is well to remember that they grow into large dogs. Some can weight up to 80lbs! In adulthood they will require a walk every day as they are built to keep going all day. Puppies should not be taken on long walks until they are at least 10 month - as their bones are still forming, and any undue strain on their joints should be avoided until they are fully grown. They will usually not be comfortable living in a flat without a garden as they needs a fair amount of space. A Basset laid out asleep takes up quite a bit of room - and that is usually in front of the fire! He also enjoys pottering around and having a good sniff and poking his nose into all sorts of corners.

Each week the inside of the ears should be gently cleaned of excess wax. Nails may need to be cut as Basset feet are well padded and they don't always wear their nails down. Their coat is easy to maintain with a quick brush each day.

Health Issues

Basset Hounds are a pretty healthy breed, but there a few things that may crop up. To be sure of help and advice - always buy from a recognised breeder.

  • Skin problems

    Mainly a yeaty one called Malassezia pachydermatis, which is still being investigated), but there is a good shampoo that keeps it under control.

  • Eyes

    Occasional problems can be entropion or ectropion (where the eyelids turn in or out) and glaucoma mainly in old age.

  • Structure

    Slipped patellas (kneecaps) and growth plate damage on front legs (mainly due to over exercise or Basset puppies being allowed to jump on and off furniture and up & down stairs while their joints are still growing).

Basset Hound breed guide written by : Sandra Thexton & Margaret Martin (Barrenger Basset Hounds)