With their trailing ears and adorably drooping faces, Basset Hounds are beloved dogs—but did you know the breed originated in sixth-century France, as hunting cousins to the longer-legged Bloodhound? Here’s everything else you need to know about these jowly jewels of dogs.
1. Basset Hounds Are Great at Scent Work
The Basset Hound’s powerful sense of smell is second only to the Bloodhound’s, and not just the nose doing the work. Those long ears help to stir smells up toward the nose, and the droopy skin on the face holds the smell close, for maximum olfactory impact. This is why Basset Hounds consistently perform so well in AKC Scent Work and Tracking, not to mention the dedicated sport of Basset Hound Field Trials.
2. They Even Border on Stubborn
Bassets were bred to follow a scent single-mindedly, blocking out all distractions. This has made them highly alert and independent, if sometimes reluctant to take instruction. But fear not! Bassets can be trained, it’s just important to buy a properly socialized puppy from a reputable breeder, and train them well and early.
3. They Have Loud Barks
At home, Basset Hounds are mild-mannered, gentle dogs. Outside of the house, they aren’t afraid to assert themselves—perhaps because they were bred to track a scent. And when they do speak up, you’ll know about it, since they have a deep, resonant bark.
4. Bassets Have More Bone Per Pound Than Any Other Breed
The standard height for a Basset is below 15 inches, but don’t be fooled by their low-slung stature. These are surprisingly hefty dogs, weighing up to 70 pounds. Most people struggle to carry a full-grown adult Basset.
5. They Can Be Prone to Various Health Conditions
All breeds have particular health tendencies, and the major ones for Bassets include glaucoma, some blood disorders including thrombopathia (a platelet disorder), and bloat. Many health disorders can be avoided by buying your Basset from a reputable breeder, who should be able to show you genetic test results from the puppy’s parents.
6. Basset Hounds Are Highly Social
Bassets make wonderful family dogs, since they get along well with just about everybody, from children and adults to dogs and even other animals. In fact, they’re so pack-oriented that they can suffer from loneliness. If you’re considering one Basset Hound, you might want to think about acquiring two.
7. Regularly Clean Those Droopy Eyes and Ears
It ain’t easy being beautiful. The Basset’s lustrous ears can trap air, leading to infection, so owners should clean them thoroughly once a week, in addition to keeping a close eye on the droopy skin below the eyes, which can get infected without proper care.
8. Make Sure to Keep Them in a Secure, Fenced Area
Bassets were bred to hunt, so if they catch an interesting scent, they’ll follow it. They should always be kept in a well-fenced area to avoid escaping.
9. Basset Hounds Are Quite Friendly
10. Their Spines Can Be Prone to Damage
The Basset’s substantial weight and long body can put strain on the spine. Owners can help keep their dog fit and healthy by avoiding overfeeding, since extra weight adds extra stress, and not allowing the Basset to jump into or out of cars or other heights, especially during puppyhood, when they’re still growing and their joints are still forming.