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What is a Basset Hound?

By Debra Durkee
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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The Basset Hound is a small dog that was originally bred in France for hunters who desired a hunting dog they could follow on foot. Incredibly heavyset, the Basset Hound has a thick body, short, stocky legs, long ears, and can be any combination of black, tan, red, white, and brown. Known for their mild and pleasant dispositions, Bassets are excellent trackers that will instinctively follow a new scent to see what it leads to. Mild-mannered and loyal, the Basset Hound makes an excellent family dog.

No more than 14 inches (.35 m) at the shoulder, males typically weigh between 50 to 60 pounds (23 to 29 kg), while females are slightly smaller at 45 to 60 pounds (20 to 27 kg). Both genders have a barrel-shaped, stocky body with a deep chest, a large, broad head, and a heavy bone structure unlike that of most other dogs. Their skin is loose, falling in folds over their face, and their long ears and soft brown eyes give them a distinctly sad appearance. For their stocky strength, they retain a graceful gait and the ability to make their way across difficult terrain because they were bred to track small animals through the roughest of conditions.

Developed by the French, Basset Hounds were originally used to chase rabbits and hares. The breed as it is known now was largely the result of breeding by the Friars of the French Abbey of St. Hubert, whose dogs embodied the low, heavyset stance they now possess. Basset Hounds were first shown at the Westminster Kennel Club show in 1884.

Perfectly happy to lounge about indoors, Basset Hounds can do well in an apartment or small house. They do require long walks and opportunities to go outside, which will not only help keep them at a healthy weight but also provide mental stimulation. The average life span is between 10 and 12 years, during which they are known to be devoted and loving companions. Seemingly dogs of contradictions, they are heavy but graceful, and mild-mannered but not timid.

One of the biggest health concerns of the Basset Hound is weight. Because of their small, stocky build, any access weight puts extra strain on already stressed joints. An overweight Basset runs the risk of becoming lame and, in extreme cases, paralyzed. Long walks are a necessity, but Bassets should be discouraged from jumping because of the strain it puts on their legs.

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