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The Basset Hound: Your Complete Dog Breed Guide - PawSafe

The Basset Hound: Your Complete Dog Breed Guide

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

The Basset Hound

Basset Hounds, with their distinctive long ears and soulful eyes, are a favorite among many dog lovers and you may be looking for a Basset puppy for sale to add to your home. Often described as the perfect combination of loyalty and calmness, they make a wonderful addition to many families. But, like any breed, they come with their own set of challenges and rewards.

Remember, it’s always crucial to research a dog breed thoroughly to make sure they fit your lifestyle and needs in a dog before you get one.

In this article, we’ll explore the characteristics, care needs, and suitability of Basset Hounds as family pets. To ensure our information is accurate and insightful, we have consulted sources like the Basset Hound Club of America and Dr. Neil Pemberton who wrote the full history of how the Basset hound originated in the Victorian dog fancy era.

Basset Hound Keypoints

  • The Basset Hound is a medium-sized scent hound known for its long ears, short legs, and gentle temperament.
  • Basset Hounds are independent and sociable dogs that excel at tracking scents and have a calm demeanor.
  • Despite their hunting heritage, Basset Hounds are calm and affectionate companions indoors.
  • These gentle dogs are great for families and even inexperienced dog owners, and are adaptable to various living environments.
  • Basset Hounds are relatively low-maintenance when it comes to grooming, thanks to their short, dense coat.

The Basset Hound Profile: Physical and Personality Traits

Basset Hound sitting on the grass showing physical traits of Basset Hound dogs

According to the AKC breed standard, Basset Hounds are medium-sized dogs with a distinctive and sturdy build. They typically stand between 13 to 15 inches (33 to 38 cm) tall at the shoulder and weigh between 40 to 65 pounds (18 to 29 kg).

They have a long body, and large, expressive eyes. Their most notable feature is their long ears, which help trap scent particles close to their nose. Their distinctive short legs is actually a form of breed dwarfism that you can find in other dog breeds like the Dachshund.

Their short, dense coat is smooth and comes in a variety of colors, including tricolor (black, white, and tan), red and white, and lemon and white. Any color is allowed as you can find them in rare color patterns like merle.


Basset Hounds are known for their calm, friendly nature and affectionate behavior. They are often described as gentle and loving companions who enjoy spending time with their families. 

One owner aptly describes their temperament:

“Basset Hounds are naturally calm and easygoing. They are perfect family dogs because of their gentle and patient nature. While they can be a bit stubborn, their loyalty and affection make them wonderful pets.”

Keep in mind, these are scent hounds. So, if you let your Basset off-leash, make sure it is in a safe and enclosed area. They love to put their nose to the ground and start sniffing. Be aware that once they catch an interesting scent, they’re likely to take off after it and disappear over the horizon as fast as their little legs will carry them.

This blend of calmness and loyalty makes Basset Hounds a unique and rewarding breed to own. They thrive on human companionship and can be quite attached to their owners. Their easy going nature makes them excellent pets for a variety of households, including kids and other dogs, provided they receive regular exercise and mental stimulation.

Living with a Basset Hound: Pros and Cons

Droopy eye Basset Hound on the beach; what are the pros and cons of having a Basset Hound dog

Basset Hounds are known for their gentle demeanor, making them wonderful pets for many households. Their friendly and calm nature, combined with minimal grooming needs and ease of training, makes them an appealing choice for families and first-time dog owners. However, like any breed, Basset Hounds come with their unique set of challenges.

Here’s an in-depth table of the pros and cons of having a Basset Hound:

Affectionate and LoyalStubborn and Independent
Basset Hounds are known for their affectionate nature, forming strong bonds with their families. They are loyal and loving companions.Basset Hounds can be stubborn, which can make training a challenge. Their independent streak means they may not always respond promptly to commands.
Gentle and Good with ChildrenProne to Obesity
Their gentle disposition makes them excellent family pets, particularly good with children due to their patient and tolerant nature.Basset Hounds have a tendency to gain weight easily, which can lead to obesity and related health issues. Regular exercise and controlled feeding are essential.
Low Exercise NeedsStrong Scent Drive
Basset Hounds do not require extensive exercise and are content with moderate daily walks and playtime.Their powerful scent drive means they are likely to follow their nose, sometimes ignoring calls or commands. This can make them prone to wandering off if not supervised.
Good with Other PetsProne to Ear Infections
When properly socialized, Basset Hounds typically get along well with other dogs and pets.Their long ears, while charming, are prone to infections and require regular cleaning and maintenance.
Quiet and Calm IndoorsDrooling and Odor
They are generally quiet dogs, making them suitable for indoor living. They enjoy lounging around the house and are not overly energetic.Basset Hounds can drool quite a bit, and their dense coat can have a distinct doggy odor if not groomed regularly.
Relatively Healthy BreedBack and Joint Issues
Basset Hounds are generally healthy and have a decent lifespan when properly cared for.Their long backs and short legs make them prone to back and joint issues, such as intervertebral disc disease (IVDD).
Minimal Grooming NeedsNot Ideal for Guard Dogs
Their short, dense coat requires minimal grooming. A weekly brush and occasional bath are usually sufficient.Due to their friendly and non-aggressive nature, Basset Hounds do not make good guard dogs. They are more likely to greet strangers than deter them.
Adaptable to Various Living EnvironmentsNot Hypoallergenic
Basset Hounds can adapt to both apartment living and houses with yards, as long as they get their daily exercise.Basset Hounds are not hypoallergenic and can shed, which may be a concern for those with allergies.
Laid-back and Low EnergySlow to House Train
Their laid-back nature means they are content with lounging around the house, making them low-energy pets.Basset Hounds can be slow to house train due to their stubbornness and independent nature. Patience and consistent training are required.
Easy to Train with Positive MethodsSensitive to Heat
They respond well to positive reinforcement training methods, especially with treats and praise.Their dense coat makes them sensitive to heat, so they need to be monitored during hot weather to prevent overheating.
Friendly and SociableCan Be Vocal When Left Alone
Basset Hounds are friendly and sociable dogs that enjoy the company of their family and other pets.They can become vocal and howl if left alone for long periods, which may be an issue for those who are away from home often.

This table provides a comprehensive overview of the various advantages and potential challenges of owning a Basset Hound.

Basset Hound vs. Beagle vs. Bloodhound: What’s The Difference?

Beagle vs Basset vs Bloodhound

When choosing a scent hound, understanding the differences between Basset Hounds, Beagles, and Bloodhounds can help you determine which breed best fits your lifestyle. Here’s a comparison to help you identify the ideal scent hound for your needs and preferences:

CategoryBasset HoundBeagleBloodhound
Size and BuildMedium-sized, sturdy build. Stands 13-15 inches (33-38 cm) tall, weighs 40-65 pounds (18-29 kg).Small to medium-sized, compact build. Stands 13-15 inches (33-38 cm) tall, weighs 20-30 pounds (9-14 kg).Large, powerful build. Stands 23-27 inches (58-69 cm) tall, weighs 80-110 pounds (36-50 kg).
TemperamentCalm and gentle, slightly stubborn.Energetic and friendly, very sociable.Gentle and affectionate, strong scent drive.
Exercise NeedsModerate exercise needs; enjoys leisurely walks and scent games.High exercise needs; enjoys active play and exploration.High exercise needs; enjoys long walks and scent tracking.
Living EnvironmentsAdaptable to apartments and homes with yards; content with moderate exercise and indoor relaxation.Well-suited for active homes with space to play; enjoys outdoor activities.Best suited for homes with large yards; needs space to roam and explore.
Health and LongevityRelatively healthy but prone to obesity; lifespan of 10-12 years.Generally healthy; lifespan of 12-15 years.Prone to certain health issues like hip dysplasia; lifespan of 8-10 years.
Ideal OwnersFamilies and individuals seeking a calm, affectionate companion.Active families and individuals who enjoy outdoor activities.Experienced owners who can provide ample exercise and mental stimulation.

Basset Hound Common Health Issues & Lifespan

Basset Hounds are generally known for their good health and can live around 10 to 12 years. Proper care and attention to their specific health needs can help ensure a full and healthy life.

To understand more about genetic predispositions in Basset Hounds, we refer to Dr. Alex Gough’s comprehensive guide, “Breed Predispositions to Disease in Dogs and Cats“. So, let’s look at some common Basset health issues.

Cardiovascular Conditions

Basset Hounds are susceptible to several heart conditions, including Dilated Cardiomyopathy. Regular veterinary check-ups can help manage these risks effectively.

Musculoskeletal Conditions

A notable condition among Basset Hounds is Elbow Dysplasia, which can cause lameness and arthritis. Proper weight management and regular exercise can help mitigate this condition.

Eye Conditions

Basset Hounds are at risk for several eye conditions, including Glaucoma and Cherry Eye, both of which can significantly affect their quality of life. Eyelid and lash deformities like entropion and ectropion may need surgical correction

Ear & Skin Infections

Due to their long ears, Basset Hounds are prone to ear infections. Regular cleaning and monitoring can help prevent these issues. This breed is also very prone to Yeast dermatitis or Malassezia dermatitis and a greasy skin from seborrhea which starts in a dog’s pores.

Best Dog Food For Basset Hounds

When selecting dog food brands, it’s important to choose those that offer high-quality ingredients and cater to the specific nutritional needs of different life stages and health conditions of Basset Hounds. Here are some recommended dog food brands for Basset Hound puppies, adults, and seniors, as well as options for those with specific health needs:

For Puppies

Royal Canin Medium Puppy 

Specifically designed for puppies of medium-sized breeds, this food offers a balanced diet with optimal levels of protein and fats to support healthy growth and development.

Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Small Paws 

This formula provides high-quality protein for muscle growth, plus DHA from fish oil for healthy brain and eye development, suitable for small and medium breed puppies.

For Adult Basset Hounds

Orijen Original Dry Dog Food 

High in protein from free-run chicken, turkey, and fish, this food helps maintain lean muscle mass and is grain-free to aid digestion.

Purina Pro Plan SPORT Performance 30/20 

Formulated for active dogs, this product offers a 30% protein and 20% fat ratio to fuel metabolic needs and maintain lean muscle. Feed this only if you have a very active Basset hound that takes part in sports like tracking. 

For Senior Basset Hounds

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Senior 

Tailored for older dogs, this formula includes proteins, antioxidants, and L-carnitine to help maintain muscle mass and support overall health in aging dogs.

Wellness Complete Health Senior 

This food provides whole foods, balanced nutrients, and reduced calories to meet the needs of less active, aging dogs, ensuring they maintain a healthy weight.

When choosing food for a Basset Hound with specific health issues or dietary needs, it’s always best to consult with a veterinarian. They can provide guidance tailored to your dog’s individual health profile and nutritional requirements.

Daily Care and Management for Basset Hounds

Proper daily care and management are essential for maintaining the health and happiness of your Basset Hound. This section focuses on the specific needs of Basset Hounds, drawing on expert insights to provide tailored recommendations for grooming, routine care, and exercise.


Basset Hounds have a short, dense coat that is generally easy to maintain, which simplifies the grooming process significantly. They  don’t require extensive grooming — a monthly bath is sufficient to keep their coat clean and healthy. Between baths, use a soft bristle brush or a grooming mitt once a week to remove loose hair and distribute skin oils, which will help maintain their coat’s natural luster.

Routine Care

  • Check your Basset Hound’s ears weekly for signs of infection, irritation, or wax buildup. Clean them using a vet-approved ear cleaner. Their long ears are prone to infections, so regular checks are essential.
  • Dental health is crucial for Basset Hounds. Brush their teeth several times a week with a toothpaste formulated for dogs to prevent tartar buildup and gum disease.
  • Keep your Basset Hound’s nails trimmed to prevent discomfort while walking. Regular nail maintenance is necessary to avoid overgrowth and splitting.

Exercise Routines

Basset Hounds require moderate exercise to stay healthy and happy. They thrive on having a safe, enclosed space where they can explore scents, which is crucial for their physical and mental well-being. Include activities such as:

  • Daily walks are important for their routine, helping to keep them mentally stimulated and socially engaged.
  • Activities like hiding treats or scentwork are great  for them to find and can cater to their strong scenting instincts.
  • Short play sessions in the yard can help burn off energy and keep them active. They love a good game of fetch once they learn how to bring the ball back.

By integrating these specific grooming, care, and exercise practices into your daily routine, you can ensure that your Basset Hound remains healthy, happy, and well-adjusted to family life.

Training and Behavior for Basset Hounds

Owner using positive reinforcement to train Basset Hound

Bassets are ranked as the 71st most intelligent dog breed, not because they aren’t smart but they tend not to really like training. When they’re done or bored, they like to either lie down and ignore you or just wander off. This is pretty typical of the breed. Choosing to hand feed them can help them to learn to work for rewards and food. 

However, since they’re such easy dogs in general, most owners don’t focus on too much training. One good thing to teach them is recall. This can be quite important if they have a tendency to run off when they catch a scent. 

Behavioral Management

Basset Hounds are intelligent but can be stubborn, making them generally responsive to training if approached correctly. To leverage their intelligence:

  • Positive reinforcement helps reinforce good behavior and motivates them during training sessions. 
  • Consistency in commands and expectations helps your Basset Hound understand and adhere to household rules.
  • Basset Hounds are more responsive when training involves variety and challenges that keep them mentally stimulated.

Addressing Behavioral Challenges

  • Basset Hounds can be stubborn and independent. Training them to respond to commands like ‘sit’ or ‘stay’ in controlled environments is essential.
  • They have a strong scent drive, making them prone to wandering off. Training them to respond to commands like ‘come’ or ‘leave it’ is crucial. Start this training in a secure area and gradually introduce distractions to ensure they listen even in tempting situations.
  • Basset Hounds respond best to gentle training methods. Harsh corrections can be counterproductive, leading to timidity or anxiety.

Importance of Socialization

  • Introduce your Basset Hound to a variety of people, environments, sounds, and animals early in their life. This exposure helps them become more adaptable and less fearful in different situations.
  • Continue to expose your Basset Hound to diverse scenarios throughout their life. Regular visits to dog parks, urban walks, and interaction with other dogs and people can help maintain their social skills.
  • Enroll them in puppy classes or doggy daycare where they can interact with other dogs under supervision. These structured settings help reinforce social norms and behaviors in a controlled environment.

Although Basset Hounds are relatively easy to keep, dedicating time to comprehensive training and socialization can greatly enhance their abilities to interact safely and enjoyably with their surroundings. It not only fulfills their potential but also strengthens the bond between you and your Basset Hound.

Purchasing and Adoption of Basset Hounds

cute lemon and white Basset Hound for sale

When deciding to bring a Basset Hound into your life, whether through purchase or adoption, it’s important to choose a path that supports ethical breeding and animal welfare. Here’s how you can ensure a responsible choice:

Finding Reputable Breeders

To find a reputable Basset Hound breeder, consider the following guidelines:

  • Look for breeders who perform health screenings on their breeding dogs to ensure they are free of genetic diseases. Ethical breeders will be transparent about the health and lineage of their puppies.
  • Visit the breeder’s facility in person. This allows you to see the conditions in which the puppies are raised and how they interact with the breeder.
  • A reputable breeder should be willing to provide references from previous buyers and veterinarians.
  • The Basset Hound Club of America offers resources and referrals to trusted breeders committed to the health and welfare of the breed.

Adoption Options

Adopting a Basset Hound can be a rewarding way to add a loyal and loving companion to your family. Numerous organizations specialize in rescuing and rehoming Basset Hounds, providing a second chance for these charming dogs. Here are some reputable organizations where you can find a Basset Hound to adopt:

Basset Hound Club of America Rescue (BHCA Rescue)

This national organization offers a comprehensive list of Basset Hound rescues across the United States. Their website is an excellent resource for finding a rescue organization near you. 

Basset Hound Rescue of Georgia (BHRG)

Based in Georgia, BHRG is dedicated to rescuing and rehoming Basset Hounds in need. They offer detailed adoption information and profiles of available dogs. 

Guardian Angel Basset Rescue (GABR)

 Serving the Midwest, GABR rescues Basset Hounds from shelters and unsafe environments, providing them with medical care and loving foster homes until they find their forever families. 

Tri-State Basset Hound Rescue(TSBHR)

Operating in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, TSBHR rescues Basset Hounds and offers adoption and fostering opportunities. They focus on matching each dog with the right family. 

Carolina Basset Hound Rescue (CBHR)

This organization is dedicated to rescuing and rehoming Basset Hounds in the Carolinas. They provide comprehensive care and support for the dogs they rescue. 

Basset Hound Rescue of Southern California (BHRSC)

Serving Southern California, BHRSC rescues Basset Hounds and offers them for adoption to loving homes. They also provide education on Basset Hound care and health. 

Each of these organizations is committed to the welfare of Basset Hounds and can help you find the perfect companion to welcome into your home. By adopting, you provide a Basset Hound with a second chance at a happy life.

Cost Overview

Typically, you can expect to pay between $800 and $1,500 for a Basset Hound puppy.

Owning a Basset Hound involves ongoing expenses such as food, veterinary care, grooming, and training. Regular expenses include high-quality dog food, annual vet checkups, vaccinations, and heartworm prevention. Also, consider costs for items like leashes, beds, and toys.

Choosing whether to purchase from a reputable breeder or adopt from a rescue should be based on thorough research and consideration of your ability to meet the needs of a Basset Hound. Both paths require a commitment to responsible pet ownership, ensuring your Basset Hound leads a happy, healthy life.


Choosing to bring a Basset Hound into your home is a decision that promises both joy and responsibility. Whether you’re drawn to their distinctive appearance, affectionate nature, or their history as a capable scent hound, Basset Hounds make wonderful companions for those who understand and respect their needs. By investing in proper care, training, and regular health management, you can ensure that your Basset Hound thrives in your family.

If you’re considering a Basset Hound, remember the importance of finding a reputable breeder or adopting from a rescue organization that prioritizes the welfare of these charming dogs. Embrace the opportunity to provide a loving, structured environment for your Basset Hound, and you will be rewarded with a loyal and charming companion for years to come.

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe


Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.