The Basset Hound is a scent hound; its sense of tracking second only to that of the Bloodhound. Basset is derived from the French word “bas” plus a suffix, translating literally to “rather low”. This is no exaggeration as the Basset Hound is only around 13 to 15 inches high and has very short legs. What the Basset lacks in height it makes up for in weight, weighing between 50 and 70 pounds. It is a large dog on short legs, originally bred by the French to have dwarfism.
It is a very long dog with a smooth, short-haired coat. The Basset is generally tricolor (black, white, and tan), open red and white (red spots on white fur), closed red and white (solid red with white feet and tail), or lemon and white. It has extremely long ears and lots of loose skin around its head forming wrinkles. Because of the extra skin, the Basset Hound has a permanently sad look; this skin serves a purpose though, it is a dewlap which helps trap the scent of the creature it is tracking. It has a long, white-tipped tail which is easily seen when the Basset is hunting or tracking through tall grass or weeds.
The Basset Hound is a friendly dog, great for families. The Basset enjoys company and will be happiest if it has another animal or a human to play with. It may not be an energetic breed; however it will exercise regularly if given the chance. The Basset is an endurance performer rather than a quick, short-distance traveler. It may be slightly difficult to train, often forgetting training when no reward is present. It is also a difficult breed to housebreak, but it can be housebroken with patience and consistency. The breed loves playing tracking games and has a strong hunting instinct that could lead to it running off if let outside unleashed. The Basset Hound also has a very distinct howl. It also murmurs and whines, changing pitch and volume depending on its needs.
The Basset was originally used to hunt rabbits. It was trained to trail, not kill, their prey, and was capable of following a scent under brush in thick forests, due to its short stance. The early French Bassets resembled the Basset Artesian Normand, one of the six recognized French Basset Hounds. The current breed standard was adopted in 1964.
The Basset Hound’s median lifespan is approximately 11.4 years. The most common health issues are dermatologic, reproductive, musculoskeletal, and gastrointestinal. The Basset is also prone to elbow and hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, Von Willebrand disease, thrombopathia, luxating patella, glaucoma and gastric dilatation volvulus. Its long ears tend to get infected if not cleaned, and its eyes can become dry and irritated.