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  • Temperament: Charming, Patient, Low-Key
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 39 of 192
  • Height: up to 15 inches
  • Weight: 40-65 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 12-13 years
  • Group: Hound Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Basset Hound standing in three-quarter view
Basset Hound head and shoulders facing left
Basset Hound lying down facing forward in three-quarter view
Basset Hound coat detail

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Basset Hound possesses in marked degree those characteristics which equip it admirably to follow a trail over and through difficult terrain. It is a short-legged dog, heavier in bone, size considered, than any other breed of dog, and while its movement is deliberate, it is in no sense clumsy. In temperament it is mild, never sharp or timid. It is capable of great endurance in the field and is extreme in its devotion.

HEAD

The head is large and well proportioned. Its length from occiput to muzzle is greater than the width at the brow. In overall appearance the head is of medium width. The skull is well domed, showing a pronounced occipital protuberance. A broad flat skull is a fault. The length from nose to stop is approximately the length from stop to occiput. The sides are flat and free from cheek bumps. Viewed in profile the top lines of the muzzle and skull are straight and lie in parallel planes, with a moderately defined stop. The skin over the whole of the head is loose, falling in distinct wrinkles over the brow when the head is lowered. A dry head and tight skin are faults.

BODY

The rib structure is long, smooth, and extends well back. The ribs are well sprung, allowing adequate room for heart and lungs. Flatsidedness and flanged ribs are faults. The topline is straight, level, and free from any tendency to sag or roach, which are faults.

FOREQUARTERS

The chest is deep and full with prominent sternum showing clearly in front of the legs. The shoulders and elbows are set close against the sides of the chest. The distance from the deepest point of the chest to the ground, while it must be adequate to allow free movement when working in the field, is not to be more than one-third the total height at the withers of an adult Basset. The shoulders are well laid back and powerful. Steepness in shoulder, fiddle fronts, and elbows that are out, are serious faults. The forelegs are short, powerful, heavy in bone, with wrinkled skin. Knuckling over of the front legs is a disqualification. The paw is massive, very heavy with tough heavy pads, well rounded and with both feet inclined equally a trifle outward, balancing the width of the shoulders. Feet down at the pastern are a serious fault. The toes are neither pinched together nor splayed, with the weight of the forepart of the body borne evenly on each. The dewclaws may be removed.

TAIL

The tail is not to be docked, and is set in continuation of the spine with but slight curvature, and carried gaily in hound fashion. The hair on the underside of the tail is coarse

COAT

The coat is hard, smooth, and short, with sufficient density to be of use in all weather. The skin is loose and elastic. A distinctly long coat is a disqualification.

HINDQUARTERS

The hindquarters are very full and well rounded, and are approximately equal to the shoulders in width. They must not appear slack or light in relation to the overall depth of the body. The dog stands firmly on its hind legs showing a well-let-down stifle with no tendency toward a crouching stance. Viewed from behind, the hind legs are parallel, with the hocks turning neither in nor out. Cowhocks or bowed legs are serious faults. The hind feet point straight ahead. Steep, poorly angulated hindquarters are a serious fault. The dewclaws, if any, may be removed.

EARS

The ears are extremely long, low set, and when drawn forward, fold well over the end of the nose. They are velvety in texture, hanging in loose folds with the ends curling slightly inward. They are set far back on the head at the base of the skull and, in repose, appear to be set on the neck. A high set or flat ear is a serious fault.

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basset hound illustration

About the Basset Hound

The Basset Hound stands no higher than 14 inches at the shoulder but, with his remarkably heavy bone, powerful little legs, and massive paws, he possesses big-dog strength and stamina. Bassets are famous for a large, domed head that features extremely long, velvety ears, mournful eyes, and a wrinkled brow, which give the breed the look of a sad clown. Built more for endurance than speed, the Basset moves in a deliberate but effortless manner. The breed’s scenting ability is uncanny; it’s said that among dogs only the Bloodhound’s nose is more accurate. Mild and agreeable at home, the Basset is stubborn on the trail and barks in a loud, ringing voice. Although they may not be wildly demonstrative in their affections, they are steadfastly loyal.

Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Basset Hound

Find a Puppy: Basset Hound

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Find Basset Hound Puppies

Care

NUTRITION

The Basset Hound should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

GROOMING

Although it might seem that with his short, smooth hair the Basset Hound won’t need any grooming, that’s not quite the case. Regular grooming sessions are an important part of keeping the breed healthy and happy. The Basset’s short hair can shed profusely. Shedding can be kept under control by gently going over the dog at least once a week with a soft brush or a shedding tool. As well as removing hair that is ready to shed, grooming is like an all-body massage that benefits his skin and overall health. The Basset will also need his nails trimmed regularly, and an occasional bath will help to keep his coat clean and shiny.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
2-3 Times a Week Brushing

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Occasional

EXERCISE

Basset Hounds are not as active as some breeds, but they do require regular, moderate exercise. Usually a daily walk at a moderate pace will fill the bill. Exercise will help to keep the Basset healthy and prevent him from becoming overweight. Since the breed was developed to work in a pack with other dogs, Bassets enjoy canine company on their outings, and the breed can be quite playful. After a walk or play session they’ll typically settle down for a comfortable sleep.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Regular Exercise

TRAINING

Basset Hounds are very independent, and training the breed can be a challenge. Over the centuries, scenthounds of this type were developed to hunt on their own and to follow a track without distraction. Because of this, they can seem aloof and not interested in following your commands. However, a Basset definitely can be trained—it will just take time, consistency, and persistence. Using treats and early socialization in puppyhood is crucial, and as the Basset matures he and his owner can benefit from continued positive obedience training.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Independent

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Friendly

HEALTH

Because of the Basset’s ears are long and droopy, it’s important to check them frequently to ensure that air circulation hasn’t led to an infection. Shaking the head or scratching at the ears may indicate the need for a vet visit. Responsible breeders check for health conditions such as hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, glaucoma, hypothyroidism, bleeding disorders, and luxating patella, a dislocated kneecap once called a “trick knee” in humans. Brushing your dog’s teeth with specially formulated canine toothpaste at least twice a week is also a vital part of Basset health care.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  • Gonioscopy

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

Basset Hound
Basset Hound
Basset Hound
Basset Hound
Basset Hound
Basset Hound

History

Basset Hounds were originally bred in France and Belgium (“basset” is French for “low”). It is thought that the friars of the Abbey of St. Hubert were responsible for crossing strains of older French breeds to create a low-built scenting hound that could plod over rough terrain while followed on foot by a human hunting partner tracking rabbit and deer. Their accuracy and persistence on scent made Bassets a popular choice for French aristocrats, for whom hunting was a way of life.

Did You Know?

In trailing ability, the accuracy of the Basset’s nose makes him second only to the Bloodhound.
In 1935, the Basset Hound Club of America was organized in the United States.
The February 27, 1928 issue of Time magazine carried the picture of a Basset puppy on the cover. The accompanying cover story was a write-up of the 52nd annual dog show of the Westminster Kennel Club at Madison Square Garden as if it were attended and observed by the puppy.
"Basset" as applied to a breed of dog derives from the French adjective bas, meaning "low thing" or "dwarf".
In the US, it was thought that George Washington owned Bassets presented to him as a gift by Lafayette after the American Revolution.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Basset Hound possesses in marked degree those characteristics which equip it admirably to follow a trail over and through difficult terrain. It is a short-legged dog, heavier in bone, size considered, than any other breed of dog, and while its movement is deliberate, it is in no sense clumsy. In temperament it is mild, never sharp or timid. It is capable of great endurance in the field and is extreme in its devotion.

HEAD

The head is large and well proportioned. Its length from occiput to muzzle is greater than the width at the brow. In overall appearance the head is of medium width. The skull is well domed, showing a pronounced occipital protuberance. A broad flat skull is a fault. The length from nose to stop is approximately the length from stop to occiput. The sides are flat and free from cheek bumps. Viewed in profile the top lines of the muzzle and skull are straight and lie in parallel planes, with a moderately defined stop. The skin over the whole of the head is loose, falling in distinct wrinkles over the brow when the head is lowered. A dry head and tight skin are faults.

BODY

The rib structure is long, smooth, and extends well back. The ribs are well sprung, allowing adequate room for heart and lungs. Flatsidedness and flanged ribs are faults. The topline is straight, level, and free from any tendency to sag or roach, which are faults.

FOREQUARTERS

The chest is deep and full with prominent sternum showing clearly in front of the legs. The shoulders and elbows are set close against the sides of the chest. The distance from the deepest point of the chest to the ground, while it must be adequate to allow free movement when working in the field, is not to be more than one-third the total height at the withers of an adult Basset. The shoulders are well laid back and powerful. Steepness in shoulder, fiddle fronts, and elbows that are out, are serious faults. The forelegs are short, powerful, heavy in bone, with wrinkled skin. Knuckling over of the front legs is a disqualification. The paw is massive, very heavy with tough heavy pads, well rounded and with both feet inclined equally a trifle outward, balancing the width of the shoulders. Feet down at the pastern are a serious fault. The toes are neither pinched together nor splayed, with the weight of the forepart of the body borne evenly on each. The dewclaws may be removed.

TAIL

The tail is not to be docked, and is set in continuation of the spine with but slight curvature, and carried gaily in hound fashion. The hair on the underside of the tail is coarse

COAT

The coat is hard, smooth, and short, with sufficient density to be of use in all weather. The skin is loose and elastic. A distinctly long coat is a disqualification.

HINDQUARTERS

The hindquarters are very full and well rounded, and are approximately equal to the shoulders in width. They must not appear slack or light in relation to the overall depth of the body. The dog stands firmly on its hind legs showing a well-let-down stifle with no tendency toward a crouching stance. Viewed from behind, the hind legs are parallel, with the hocks turning neither in nor out. Cowhocks or bowed legs are serious faults. The hind feet point straight ahead. Steep, poorly angulated hindquarters are a serious fault. The dewclaws, if any, may be removed.

EARS

The ears are extremely long, low set, and when drawn forward, fold well over the end of the nose. They are velvety in texture, hanging in loose folds with the ends curling slightly inward. They are set far back on the head at the base of the skull and, in repose, appear to be set on the neck. A high set or flat ear is a serious fault.

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basset hound illustration

Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
BLACK & WHITE Check Mark For Standard Color 019
BLACK BROWN & WHITE Check Mark For Standard Color 022
BLACK TAN & WHITE Check Mark For Standard Color 030
BLACK WHITE & BROWN Check Mark For Standard Color 031
BLACK WHITE & TAN Check Mark For Standard Color 034
BROWN BLACK & WHITE Check Mark For Standard Color 064
LEMON & WHITE Check Mark For Standard Color 115
MAHOGANY & WHITE Check Mark For Standard Color 130
RED & WHITE Check Mark For Standard Color 146
BLACK & BROWN 009
BLACK RED & WHITE 027
BLUE & WHITE 045
BLUE TAN & WHITE 291
BROWN & WHITE 063
TAN & WHITE 197
WHITE & LEMON 211
WHITE & RED 214
WHITE BLACK & BROWN 360
WHITE BLACK & RED 361

Markings

Description Standard Markings Registration Code
BLACK MARKINGS 002
BLACK MASK 004
TICKED 013
WHITE MARKINGS 014

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