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Basset Hounds

Pet Road Tests > Dogs

Basset Hounds


Breed: Basset Hound
Temperament: docile, loyal, stubborn
Lifespan: average 12 years
Recommended for: families and older couples
Dumpage rate: medium
Maintenance: medium



The Basset is a short legged, deep voiced pack hound with a long, powerful body. Its head is similar to the bloodhound, with a long narrow skull slightly shorter than the generously lipped muzzle. The dogs are characterised by their loose skin and low-set ears which hang in folds. Bassets have well boned forelegs, and angulated hind legs which finish with large feet. The tail is carried upright. Basset hounds are tricoloured (white, black and brown), lemon (pale lemon and white), red and white, and blank red (solid red with a speck of white on the tail tip and feet). On rare occasions white Bassets occur. Bassets are medium sized, usually reaching between 33-38cm.



Basset Hounds are a gentle and loyal breed but they can be quite stubborn. They are not a particularly playful breed and have a low level of excitability and general activity. The Basset Hound is not particularly territorial, nor does it have the tendency to snap at children. The Basset Hound is therefore ideal for anyone who is searching for a dog that is neither active, excitable or aggressive.

Health and lifespan


The conformation of the Basset Hound leads to a number of inherent problems, the most common being shoulder and foreleg lameness. Bassets can also suffer back strain and slipped discs, therefore climbing stairs and overeating should be avoided because these activities can put extra strain on the spine. Basset Hounds should be picked up correctly with one hand under the chest and the other supporting the rear end to avoid strain on the spine and front legs.

The Bassets ears and eyes are prone to infection and must be regularly checked and cleaned. The long ears can droop into food and if moist, will become infected. The Basset's loose-lidded eyes predisposes the breed to entropion (inversion of the eyelids) and ectropion (excess drooping of the eyelids). Weepy eyes need to be bathed with warm water to prevent excessive accumulation of dirt and dust. Bassets need time to digest their food before exercising otherwise they can experience problems with bloat.

The Basset Hound lives between 11-14 years.



Bassets are not big eaters but should be fed a balanced diet of meat, vegetables and pasta and good quality biscuits. Basset puppies should not be given too much exercise and should have a balanced diet (the diet should not be overloaded with calcium and other extras which will cause abnormal growth). In its old age the Basset enjoys its food and if allowed can become fat and lazy. Breeders estimate it costs between $7 and $10 a week to feed a Basset Hound.

Breeding and cost


Basset Hounds have difficulty breeding and require assistance with mating. They can be slow whelpers and generally have large litters (7 to 12 with an average number of 9). Caesarean sections are routine. Breeders recommend only those with experience try to breed Bassets. Basset hounds cost around $600 depending on the supply of the dogs. Prospective owners may have to join a waiting list for a pup.

Housepet potential


When it comes to house training the Basset Hound presents quite a challenge. More patience and attention to housebreaking technique is required for the Basset than with most other breeds. Between winter and spring they shed their winter coat and can leave hair around the house.

Space and exercise


Despite their short stature, Bassets are not recommended for the inner city dweller. They need a good sized yard and at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. Basset need to be kept in a securely fenced back yard because they have no road-sense.

Ideal owner


Basset Hounds are people oriented dogs so ideal owners need time to give their dog attention. They are particularly suited to families or an older couple who will take them on slow walks.



Regular grooming of the Basset's short coat will keep the coat in good condition. A grooming routine should also include wiping the dog over to remove loose hair, clipping and filing nails, cleaning eyes and ears and a regular bath.



The Basset Hound is a scent hound. There is considerable debate about the origins of the Basset Hound. Some experts claim it is the result of a cross between the Bloodhound and the Beagle, while others say it was a mutation found in a litter of Stag hounds. Another theory is that the Basset is a descendant of the old St Hubert hounds. The British landed gentry reportedly used Bassets when hunting on foot because its short legs and steady gait made it possible to keep pace whereas other hounds had to be followed on horseback. The name Basset is actually derived from the French word bas, meaning low. The Basset was first introduced into Australia in the early 1900's.



Basset Hounds were used to trail and drive game such as rabbits and hares. The unhurried conduct of the breed in the fields made it possible to move game to gun without startling the game into flight. Today, Bassets make excellent family pets and companions. Due to the low level of aggression of this breed, they do not make good protectors of home and property.


The Basset Hound can be difficult to train because of its stubborn nature. Owners should insist on discipline and training from an early age to maintain firm control over their hound. The Basset is a scent hound and can be trained to do tracking work.

National contacts

To find up-to-date contacts for breeders, contact the following organisations.

The Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC)

Dogs NSW
Phone: 1300 728 022 (NSW only) or (02) 9834 3022
Fax: (02) 9834 3872

Dogs Victoria
Phone: (03) 9788 2500
Fax: (03) 9788 2599

Dogs ACT
Phone: (02) 6241 4404 - Fax: (02) 6241 1129.

Dogs West
Phone: (08) 9455 1188
Fax: (08) 9455 1190

Dogs SA
Phone: (08) 8349 4797

Canine Control Council of Queensland
Phone: (07) 3252 2661
Fax: (07) 3252 3864

Tasmanian Canine Association
Phone: (03) 6272 9443
Fax: (03) 6273 0844

Dogs NT
Phone: (08) 8984 3570
Fax: (08) 8984 3409
The Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC)

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