Basset Hounds: A Comprehensive Guide for New Dog Owners

Basset Hounds are known for their calm temperament, their droopy faces, and their incredible smelling abilities, but what else is there to know? Read on to learn more about this short, sweet little breed.

Basset Hounds: A Comprehensive Guide for New Dog Owners

Basset Hounds are known for their calm temperament, their droopy faces, and their incredible smelling abilities, but what else is there to know? Read on to learn more about this short, sweet little breed.

Paula grew up around dogs and loves to learn about how breeds are different from one another.

Everything you need to know about the basset hound breed

Photo by Ksuka from Getty Images: Canva

Basset Hound 101: Everything You Need to Know About This Breed

Recognized by their short legs, their long ears, and their loose skin, Basset Hounds are one of the sweetest, most even-tempered dogs around. Though they were officially recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club in 1916, Bassets have been kept as pets for centuries. Initially bred as hunting dogs, they have a keen sense of smell and a low, alerting bark–useful for tracking prey. Nowadays, they are still used for hunting, but have also been adopted as a family-friendly house pet.

Are you thinking about incorporating a Basset Hound into your home? Read on to learn more about the breed and figure out if its the right dog for you!

Breed Traits and Characteristics of Basset Hounds

Below are the average characteristics of basset hounds. To read the official breed standards from the American Kennel Club, click here.

  • Height: 11-15 inches
  • Weight: 40-65 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 12-13 years
  • Shedding Level: Moderate
  • Drooling Level: High
  • Coat Type: Smooth
  • Coat Length: Short
  • Energy Level: Low
  • Trainability: Moderately easy to train
  • Barking Level: Moderately vocal
  • Colors: Brown, white, and black, with random spotting
Why do basset hounds have such large ears?

Photo by kyle smith on Unsplash

Why Do Basset Hounds Have Long Ears and Loose Skin?

Believe it or not, the ears of the Basset Hound actually help their sense of smell. Because they were bred for hunting, the dogs' ability to smell is vital. Their long, swinging ears help carry scents to their noses.

The same goes for their loose, wrinkly skin. When hunting, the prey's scent gets stuck in the folds of the dogs' fur, making it easier for them to identify and follow their target.

Are Basset Hounds Good With Kids?

Because of their mellow temperament, most basset hounds are good with children. They are also great with strangers and other dogs.

Please note that supervision of children is still important when they're around any breed of dog.

Do Basset Hounds Bark a Lot?

Basset Hounds, like most hounds, are very vocal animals. They are accustomed to barking or howling when hunting, as a way of alerting others that a target has been identified. They also are excellent singers (see the video below).

Are They Good Watchdogs?

According to the American Kennel Club, Basset Hounds don't make very good guard dogs. Because they are so sweet, they might be more inclined to become friends with an intruder, rather than fend them off.

Are They Affectionate?

Very. gave Basset Hounds 5/5 stars in all four "friendliness" categories. So, if you're looking for a cuddle buddy, the Basset's a safe bet.

Are Basset Hounds OK to Be Left Alone?

Though they are a more independent breed, Basset Hounds don't fare well when left alone for long periods of time. These are good pets for people who have other dogs in the household or are frequent home-bodies that can give their pup enough attention to keep them content.

Basset Hound Temperament and Training

Basset Hounds are especially known for their calm and gentle demeanor. Even in cartoons, they are typically depicted as slow, sleepy, lazy dogs. Because of this, their temperament is classified as even, calm, and friendly.

How to Train Your Basset Hound

However, because they tend to be slow, they can be difficult to train. has an extensive amount of information about training these soft–but occasionally stubborn–little dogs. They recommend you start training as soon as possible, because younger dogs learn a lot faster than older ones. The types of training they suggest are as follows:

  • Crate training
  • Potty training
  • Socialization training
  • Leash training
  • Placement training (of food, toys, crates, etc.)
  • Handling training (grooming, being touched, etc.)

The Importance of Positive Reinforcement

If you have ever studied psychology, the term "positive reinforcement" might be familiar to you. This is a method used to reward (and essentially promote) good behavior. Experts recommend using positive reinforcement with your pets as a way of teaching them tricks and good habits.

Here's how it works: When you witness your pet practicing a behavior you'd like them to repeat, you reward them. When you tell them to sit, and they do so successfully, you give them a treat. Your dog then learns that sitting when they're told to often results in a reward, and they are more likely to keep the habit. This method reinforces their behavior with a positive reaction ("positive" meaning the addition of something, rather than a "negative," which would be taking something away).

Basset Hound starter pack

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Basset Hound Grooming and Health Needs

Because the Basset's coat is so short, it doesn't need very frequent fur trims. Do not trim your dog's hair yourself; it is best to take them to a groomer and get them professionally pampered!

In between trips to the groomer, you can brush their fur about once a week. This helps with shedding and keeps the dog's healthy oils spread all over their body. You can also bathe your pup at home whenever you feel like they are getting a little stinky.

Basset Hound Ear Health

Because the Basset's ears are such prominent parts of their body, it is important that they receive a little extra attention. Basset Hounds are prone to ear infections, which, if left untreated, can cause major discomfort and even permanent harm to their ears. Typically, an ear infection can be identified by any redness, swollen areas, or irritated skin around the dog's ear canal. If you identify any of these symptoms, or if your dog is constantly itching around their ears, it is best to bring them to the vet.

Another common issue with Basset Hound ears is wax buildup. If ignored, the wax can harden into dense, uncomfortable lumps. These lumps can cause more discomfort and eventually will lead to an infection.

Types of Ear Wax in Dogs

Healthy Basset Hound ear wax is usually yellow or brown. Occasionally, it can appear grey if the dog is in an environment with excess dirt or dust.

Black, green, or red wax usually indicates something unhealthy. The important thing to remember about dog's ear wax is that it is typically odorless. No matter the color, if you can distinctly smell something around your dog's ears, there is likely a yeast or ear infection at play.

How to Clean Your Basset Hound's Ears

To clean your dog's ears, professionals recommend using cotton balls and a solution of water and hydrogen peroxide (vinegar can also work in place of hydrogen peroxide if you don't have it). You can also purchase ear-cleaning solution from most pet stores.

When cleaning the outer ear, douse your cotton ball in the cleaning solution and gently rub it around the skin. This will clean it of any dirt or tiny bits of debris that could potentially enter the ear canal and cause an infection. Wipe the skin with this wet cotton ball and then dry the area with a clean one.

To clean the outer ear, pour a few drops of your cleaning solution directly into the ear's opening. This might seem strange, but it will help wash out any clumps of dirt or wax that have made their way inside. Massage the base of the ear for a full minute to loosen any buildup, then clean up any leakage with a new cotton ball. The solution will slowly come out, bringing any extra gunk with it.

Is a Basset Hound Right for You?

If you're looking for a jogging companion, a fuzzy friend to play lots of catch with, or a pet that can jump super high, then the Basset Hound might not be right for you. However, if you want a calm, slow, easygoing sort of dog, then look no further; you've found the one.

Basset Hound Rescue

The Basset Hound Club of America (BHCA) has an extensive amount of resources for those interested in this breed. If you are interested in adopting a rescue (a dog that has been saved from an unfortunate circumstance), BHCA has a list of official rescue groups. The groups vary in size and location, so look to see which one works best for you. Please note that because these dogs are so special, foster homes will spend time deciding if your home is the perfect fit. Be patient, this breed is worth it!

Another option for adoption is through You can search for the breed you're interested in and it will show you the dogs that are available. Most of the dogs here are rescues or are in animal shelters.

Some Bassets come to rescue because of a change of their family’s financial circumstance, a move to a location where dogs are not be allowed, illness or death of a family member, or for unsuitable behavior in the home due to lack of training or proper socialization.

— Basset Hound Club of America

Tips for Finding a Breeder

If you feel as though rescues aren't the best option for your home or lifestyle, you can also choose to purchase a Basset Hound through a breeder. BHCA certifies breeders that they feel are professional, ethical, and reputable. Keep in mind, breeders do not have a list of puppies readily available–their methods are meticulous and organized, and they plan litters by request.

See their Breeder Directory to find the contact information for breeders in your state. BHCA recommends you fill out their Information Request Form and include it in the email/letter you send to the breeder you choose; this way, your intentions are clear and the breeder can decide if your household is the right fit for their animals.

Basset Hound Mixes

Basset Hounds can be mixed with all sorts of other dog breeds. Check out the photo gallery above (and the video below) to see what these cute little crossovers look like.

Fun Facts About Basset Hounds

  • Basset Hounds originated in France in the 6th century. They're old!
  • In French, the word "bas" means "low."
  • The American Kennel Club officially recognized Basset Hounds as a breed in 1916.
  • In 2011, a Basset Hound was elected as co-mayor of Concord, New Hampshire. He shared the role with a Great Dane.
  • Basset Hounds have 220 million smell receptors in their noses. To compare, humans only have 5 million.
  • According to this Wikipedia article on the intelligence of dogs, Basset Hounds received a score of 71/79, putting them in the "Lowest Degree of Working Intelligence" category.

There You Have It!

Now you know (nearly) everything there is to know about Basset Hounds. Remember to do your research before accepting any new pet into your home, and be sure you have all the adequate dog-caring equipment. Good luck!

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Sources and Further Reading

(Excluding for the Headline, this article ("story") has not been edited by MiBiz News and is published from a web feed or sourced from the Internet.)