15 Things You Should Know about the Basset Hound

Looks can be deceiving, and the Basset Hound is living proof of that.

Ever since Roscoe P. Coltrane’s hound dog sidekick Flash came on the scene in “The Dukes of Hazzard,” the basset hound has gotten a bad rap. They’ve been portrayed as lazy, uninterested in their surroundings, and even stupid.

The truth is that Basset Hounds are actually smart, extremely competent at tracking and hunting, and while they love a good nap, can go for surprisingly long distances when tracking a scent.

Read on to learn 15 things you need to know about the breed standard of this short legged dog breed. First, some quick facts:

  • Height: 11 inches – 15 inches
  • Weight: 50 – 65 pounds
  • Lifespan: 10 – 12 years
  • Coat Color: Tri Color, Red and White, Black and Tan
  • Very keen sense of smell
  • Energy Level: Low
  • Health Conditions: Hip Dysplasia, Elbow Dysplasia, Glaucoma
  • Bassets are recognized by the American Kennel Club, Westminster Kennel Club (they did a great show at Madison Square Garden) and Basset Hound Club of America


1.    Basset Hounds were originally bred in Belgium and France.

“Basset” comes from the French word bas meaning low. Some Basset Hound experts believe a genetic mutation that occurred when breeding the Bloodhound is responsible for the Basset Hound. They look to a churchman named St. Hubert as the originator of the dog breeds, believing he was trying to breed something closer to the Bloodhound but ended up with a dog much smaller in stature.

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Basset Hounds are short and sweet. They sit very low to the ground, especially considering that they are not small dogs. The average Basset Hound weighs 40-65 pounds.

2.    They were sought-after hunting dogs.

Because they were low enough to the ground to track the scent of small game and slow enough (because of their short legs) to allow people to easily follow them, Basset Hounds became a favorite hunting dog. The accuracy of their ability to trail a scent is second only to the Bloodhound.

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Tracking a scent is something the Basset Hound was bred to do. Its proximity to the ground makes it easy for these breeds to track small game, and its small legs make it easy for hunters to keep up while the dog is tracking.

3.    What it lacks in height, the Basset Hound makes up for in weight.

While it’s definitely on the shorter side (usually no more than 15” high at the shoulder), these hounds are not considered small dogs. On average, they weigh between 45-60 pounds.

4.   They were favorite breeds among several famous Europeans and Americans.

As they became more popular, Basset Hounds found their way into the homes of British royalty, including Queen Alexandra and Queen Victoria, not to mention French aristocracy, who used the hounds for hunting. Across the pond in America, George Washington was rumored to have a few of them too.

5.   You’ll know a Basset Hound when you see one.

With their domed head, long ears, and droopy eyes, Basset Hounds are one of the most recognized dog breeds in the world. In addition to Flash on “The Dukes of Hazzard,” you may also remember this distinctive breed from “Columbo” (Dog belonged to Columbo) and “Coach” (Quincy was Luther’s pet dog).

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Their domed heads, long ears, and droopy eyes – to say nothing of their short stature – make Bassets one of the most recognizable breeds in the world.

6.   The Basset Hound is famous for their mild tempers.

Due to its laid-back personality and easygoing manner, these hounds are good with children and other animals. By nature they are pack animals, and may do better in your home if there is another dog to keep them company. Because of their temperament and their love of sleeping, they do not make good guard dogs.

7.   The Basset Hound is known for being stubborn, but is very trainable.

They were bred to be hunting dogs they are really good at following a scent – but can be very bad at taking instruction. That doesn’t mean that they can’t be trained, only that you’ll have to be more diligent and it may take more time than with other breeds. Starting training as a puppy is critical to successfully training these dogs.

8.   You need to watch their diet so you can watch their weight.

Their short stature and large bones make Basset Hound great candidates for obesity. To prevent that, you’ll need to monitor your hound’s dog food intake to make sure that they’re eating the proper amount for their size and weight. You can use treats to train your hound, but make sure you’re not using too many.

9.   The Basset Hound is ranked #39 in popularity with the AKC.

They’re members of the hound group (obviously), and are ranked in the top 25% of the AKC’s (American Kennel Club) popularity chart. This is likely due to their mild temperament and how great they are with children and other pets.

10.  If a Basset Hound is going to have a health condition, it will probably be related to their joints or their ears.

Because of the short stature and heavy bones that are the hallmark of this breed, there is a lot of stress placed on their joints. You’ll need to monitor them for hip or elbow dysplasia, among other joint issues.

Those long velvety ears are great to stroke, but because they keep the ear closed off and don’t allow air to circulate, they can be a breeding ground for infection. You’ll want to check their ears regularly, and have a vet monitor them too.

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This dog’s legs are extremely short and must bear the considerable weight of the hound. This can put a lot of pressure on the leg joints over time. Carefully monitoring the dog’s legs over the course of his lifetime is a necessity for Basset Hound owners, both on your own and at your vet’s office during regular checkups.

11.  Barking and drooling and digging, oh my!

While Bassets are best known for being easygoing, some do have a tendency to develop the a few negative behaviors. Luckily, there are treatments for them.

  • Barking – Remember our advice to train them early to stop barking, and reinforce positive behavior (i.e. ceasing barking) with a treat.
  • Digging – Keeping their nails trimmed will help to curb the desire to dig. Also make sure that you stay outside with your dog and monitor his behavior. Left to his own devices he might dig, but if you see him, stop him, and reward him with a treat when he quits digging, you can curb the behavior.
  • Drooling – There’s not much that can be done about drooling. This breed drools. You can designate a special spot in the house for them to sleep if you want to try and contain it.

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Look closely and you can that drool starting in the corner of his mouth. That little string is just the beginning of what is to come!

12.  You won’t need a groomer, but you will need to watch out for those ears.

You will need to keep up with the following dog care routines for your hound.

  • Brush them regularly. Even though these hounds are short-haired and smooth-coated dogs, they can still shed quite a bit.
  • Keep the folds of their wrinkles are clean.
  • Trim their nails regularly.
  • Bathe them occasionally to keep their coats shiny.
  • Check their ears often for those pesky ear infections.

13.  If you’re a Netflix-and-chill kind of person, you’ll meet your spirit animal (and actual ideal pet) in the Basset Hound.

These cuddly dogs love napping, and there’s no better place to take a snooze than an owner’s lap. You can’t neglect their exercise; they should get a daily walk to stretch their legs, get their energy out, and keep their weight down. But they don’t need much more exercise than that and are happy to lunge the rest of the day.

14.  They were thrust into the spotlight when Elvis Presley released the song, “Hound Dog.”

Even though the song isn’t actually about a dog, that didn’t stop Elvis from once singing it directly to an actual Basset Hound during a performance on “The Steve Allen Show.”

15. Speaking of Elvis, the theme song for this breed’s puppies could be, “Love Me Tender.”

This breed is known for their heavy bones. Because the weight of the bones puts stress on their joints, Basset Hound puppies should be especially careful about jumping. Too much activity at too young an age can permanently injure or disable a dog. When they are about a year old, the risk in those activities goes down significantly.

Basset Hounds are among the friendliest and sweetest dogs you will meet. Keep these useful facts in mind as you consider whether one might make a good pet for you.