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Basset Hound

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Basset Hound
Tan and white Basset Hound
Height Males 30–38 cm (12–15 in)
Females 28–36 cm (11–14 in)
Weight Males 25–34 kg (55–75 lb)
Females 20–29 kg (45–65 lb)
Coat Smooth, short and close
Colour Generally black, white and tan (tri-color) or tan/lemon and white (bi-color); but any recognized hound color acceptable.
Litter size 6–8 puppies
Life span Median 10–12 years
Kennel club standards
The Kennel Club standard
Fédération Cynologique Internationale standard
Dog (domestic dog)

The Basset Hound is a short-legged breed of dog in the hound family. The Basset is a scent hound that was originally bred for the purpose of hunting hare. Their sense of smell and ability to ground-scent is second only to the Bloodhound.[1]

Basset Hounds are one of six recognized "basset"-type breeds in France. The name Basset is derived from the French word bas, meaning 'low', with the attenuating suffix -et—together meaning 'rather low'. Basset Hounds are usually bicolours or tricolours of standard hound coloration.


Adult Basset Hound


Bassets are large, short, solid and long, with curved sabre tails held high over their long backs. An adult dog weighs between 20 and 35 kilograms (44 and 77 lb). This breed, relative to its size, is heavier-boned than any other.[2]

This breed, like its ancestor the Bloodhound, has a hanging skin structure, which causes the face to tend to have a sad look; this, for many people, adds to the breed's charm. The loose elastic skin around the neck is known as the dewlap.[3]

Basset Hounds are renowned for their gentle, docile demeanor.[4]

The coat is short, generally black, white and tan tricolor or tan and white bicolor, but with many other possible colors. The EM allele produces a black mask on the face that may extend up around the eyes and onto the ears. This pattern is most easily seen on mahogany dogs, although any Basset color pattern may express the EM allele, except for "red and white" or "lemon and white" due to e/e.[5]


The Basset Hound is a friendly, outgoing, and playful dog, tolerant of children and other pets.[4]


An adult Basset Hound with a puppy on its back


The Basset Hound's short stature is due to the genetic condition osteochondrodysplasia.[6] Osteochondrodysplasia causes stunted growth and impacts movement. Affected dogs develop splayed hind limbs, enlarged joints, flattened rib cages, shortened and bent long bones, and deformed paws.[7]

Life expectancy[edit]

A 2015 French study found a life expectancy of 10.3 years.[8] A 2024 study in the UK found a life expectancy of 12.5 years compared to an average of 12.7 for purebreeds and 12 for crossbreeds.[9]

Other health issues[edit]

A common eye condition Basset Hounds develop called cherry eye

Basset Hounds are prone to yeast infections.[10]

Leading causes of death in a 2004 UK Kennel Club survey were cancer (31%), old age (13%), gastric dilatation volvulus (11%), and cardiac (8%).[11]

Information from veterinary data found the prevalence of glaucoma to be 5.44%, second highest in the study.[12]

The Basset Hound is predisposed to gastric dilatation volvulus.[13] One study found the odds ratio to be 5.9.[14]

Basset Hound hereditary thrombopathy is an autosomally inherited platelet disorder characterised by a thrombasthenia defect in primary aggregation abnormality of clot retraction. Glycoprotein IIb-IIIa is defective although detectable.[15]

The Basset Hound is prone to several skin conditions: allergic skin disease; intertrigo; Malassezia dermatitis; and otitis, primary keratinization defects.[16]


St Hubert's Hound[edit]

The Basset type originated in France, and is descended from the 6th-century hounds belonging to St Hubert of Belgium, which through breeding at the Benedictine Abbey of St. Hubert eventually became what is known as the St Hubert's Hound around 1000 AD. St Hubert's original hounds are descended from the Laconian (Spartan) Hound,[17] one of four groups of dogs discerned from Greek representations and descriptions. These scent hounds were described as large, slow, "short-legged and deep mouthed" dogs with a small head, straight nose, upright ears and long neck, and either tan with white markings or black with tan markings.[18] Laconian Hounds were reputed to not give up the scent until they found their prey. They eventually found their way to Constantinople, and from there to Europe.[17]


1879 woodcut of Everett Millais' first Basset-type hound named Model, who was imported from France in 1874

The first mention of a "Basset" dog appeared in La Venerie, an illustrated hunting text written by Jacques du Fouilloux in 1585.[19][20] The name "Basset" has its origins in the Latin word for low, bassus, and the French diminutive -et. The dogs in Fouilloux's text were used to hunt foxes and badgers. It is believed that the Basset type originated as a mutation in the litters of Norman Staghounds, a descendant of the St Hubert's Hound. These precursors were most likely bred back to the St. Hubert's Hound, among other derivative French hounds. Until after the French Revolution around the year 1789, hunting from horseback was the preserve of kings, large aristocratic families and of the country squires, and for this reason short-legged dogs were highly valued for hunting on foot.

Basset-type hounds became popular during the reign of Emperor Napoleon III (r. 1852–1870). In 1853, Emmanuel Fremiet, "the leading sculptor of animals in his day" exhibited bronze sculptures of Emperor Napoleon III's Basset Hounds at the Paris Salon.[21] Ten years later in 1863 at the first exhibition of dogs held in Paris, Basset Hounds attained international attention.[22]

The controlled breeding of the short haired Basset began in France in 1870. From the existing Bassets, Count Le Couteulx of Canteleu fixed a utilitarian type with straight front legs known as the Chien d'Artois, whereas Mr. Louis Lane developed a more spectacular type, with crooked front legs, known as the Basset Normand. These were bred together to create the original Basset Artésien Normand.[23]


An early 20th century Basset-type hound

French Basset Hounds were being imported into England at least as early as the 1870s. While some of these dogs were certainly Basset Artésien Normands, by the 1880s linebreeding had thrown back to a different heavier type. Everett Millais, who is considered to be the father of the modern Basset Hound, bred one such dog, Nicholas, to a Bloodhound bitch named Inoculation through artificial insemination in order to create a heavier Basset in England in the 1890s. The litter was delivered by caesarean section, and the surviving pups were refined with French and English Bassets.[24] The first breed standard for what is now known as the Basset Hound was made in Great Britain at the end of 19th century.[25] This standard was updated in 2010.[26]

Hunting with Bassets[edit]

The Basset Hound was bred to hunt, with a keen nose and short stature suited to small-game hunting on foot. A variety of Basset Hound developed purely for hunting by Colonel Morrison was admitted to the Masters of Basset Hounds Association in 1959 via an appendix to the Stud Book. This breed differs in being straighter and longer in the leg and having shorter ears.[27]

In popular culture[edit]

  • Basset Hounds have been featured in popular culture many times. Some artists, such as director Mamoru Oshii and webcomic artist Scott Kurtz, regularly feature their pet Bassets in their work.
  • Many cartoon dogs are based on the Basset, such as Droopy, with several Bassets appearing in animated Disney films. Syndicated comic strip Fred Basset has been a regular feature in newspapers since 1963.
  • In the television series Columbo, Lieutenant Columbo owns a Basset Hound named Dog. Originally, it was not going to appear in the show because Peter Falk believed that it "already had enough gimmicks" but once the two met, Falk stated that Dog "was exactly the type of dog that Columbo would own", so he was added to the show and made his first appearance in 1972's "Étude in Black".[33]
  • Basset Hounds are often used as advertising logos. The logo for Hush Puppies brand shoes prominently features a Basset Hound whose real name is Jason.[35] Basset Hounds are occasionally referred to as "hush puppies" for that reason. A Basset Hound also serves as the companion to the lonely Maytag Man in Maytag appliance advertisements. Tidewater Petroleum advertised its "Flying A" gasoline using a Basset Hound named Axelrod.

Related breeds[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hart, Ernest H. This Is the Basset Hound, T.F.H. Books, 1974. ISBN 0-87666-241-6
  2. ^ "Basset Hound". American Kennel Club. Retrieved 2015-06-08.
  3. ^ "9 Floppy Facts About Basset Hounds". www.mentalfloss.com. November 30, 2015. Retrieved 2020-03-28.
  4. ^ a b Liebers, Arthur; Hardy, Dorothy. How to Raise and Train a Basset Hound, T.F.H. Publications, Jersey City, New Jersey, 1959.
  5. ^ Drega, Dana (January 25, 2011). "Basset Hound Coat Colours". University of Saskatchewan. Retrieved 2015-06-15.
  6. ^ Martínez, Simón; Fajardo, Raúl; Valdés, Jesús; Ulloa-Arvizu, Raúl; Alonso, Rogelio (January 2007). "Histopathologic study of long-bone growth plates confirms the basset hound as an osteochondrodysplastic breed". Can J Vet Res. 71 (1): 66–69. PMC 1635992. PMID 17195339.
  7. ^ "Osteochondrodysplasia (OCD) in Miniature Poodles". University of California, Davis, Veterinary Medicine. Retrieved 2024-02-11.
  8. ^ Leroy, G. G.; Phocas, F.; Hedan, B.; Verrier, E.; Rognon, X. (2015). "Inbreeding impact on litter size and survival in selected canine breeds". The Veterinary Journal. 203 (1): 74–78. doi:10.1016/j.tvjl.2014.11.008. PMID 25475165. S2CID 27631883.
  9. ^ McMillan, Kirsten M.; Bielby, Jon; Williams, Carys L.; Upjohn, Melissa M.; Casey, Rachel A.; Christley, Robert M. (February 1, 2024). "Longevity of companion dog breeds: those at risk from early death". Scientific Reports. 14 (1). Springer Science and Business Media LLC. doi:10.1038/s41598-023-50458-w. ISSN 2045-2322. PMC 10834484.
  10. ^ "Yeast Dermatitis in Dogs". vca_corporate. Retrieved 2018-02-01.
  11. ^ Adams, V. J.; Evans, K. M.; Sampson, J.; Wood, J. L. N. (October 1, 2010). "Methods and mortality results of a health survey of purebred dogs in the UK". Journal of Small Animal Practice. 51 (10): 512–524. doi:10.1111/j.1748-5827.2010.00974.x.
  12. ^ Gelatt, Kirk N.; MacKay, Edward O. (February 18, 2004). "Prevalence of the breed‐related glaucomas in pure‐bred dogs in North America". Veterinary Ophthalmology. 7 (2). Wiley: 97–111. doi:10.1111/j.1463-5224.2004.04006.x. ISSN 1463-5216.
  13. ^ Bell, Jerold S. (2014). "Inherited and Predisposing Factors in the Development of Gastric Dilatation Volvulus in Dogs". Topics in Companion Animal Medicine. 29 (3). Elsevier BV: 60–63. doi:10.1053/j.tcam.2014.09.002. ISSN 1938-9736.
  14. ^ Glickman, Lawrence T.; Glickman, Nita W.; Pérez, Cynthia M.; Schellenberg, Diana B.; Lantz, Gary C. (May 1, 1994). "Analysis of risk factors for gastric dilatation and dilatation-volvulus in dogs". Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 204 (9). American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA): 1465–1471. doi:10.2460/javma.1994.204.09.1465. ISSN 0003-1488.
  15. ^ Mattson, Joan C.; Estry, Douglas W.; Bell, Thomas G.; Patterson, Wayne R. (1986). "Defective contact activation of platelets from dogs with basset hound hereditary thrombopathy". Thrombosis Research. 44 (1). Elsevier BV: 23–38. doi:10.1016/0049-3848(86)90177-5. ISSN 0049-3848.
  16. ^ Hnilica, Keith A.; Patterson, Adam P. (September 19, 2016). Small Animal Dermatology. St. Louis (Miss.): Saunders. ISBN 978-0-323-37651-8.
  17. ^ a b Campbell Thornton, Kim; Earle-Bridges, Michele (1998). Bloodhounds: Everything about Purchase, Care, Nutrition, Breeding, Behavior, and Training. Barron's Educational Series. ISBN 0764103423. Retrieved 2016-01-15.
  18. ^ "Dogs in Rome and Greece". Penelope.uchicago.edu. Retrieved 2014-12-08.
  19. ^ "Pure-bred Dogs, American Kennel Gazette, Volume 106". American Kennel Club. 1989.
  20. ^ Peter, Isaac (1982). Which pet?. London: Jill Norman & Hobhouse Ltd. ISBN 0906908566. OCLC 10965647.
  21. ^ Fusco, Peter and H. W. Janson, eds., The Romantics to Rodin, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1980, p. 272.
  22. ^ Leighton, Robert (1907). The New Book of the Dog. Cassell and Company, Ltd. ISBN 978-1-151-75332-8.
  23. ^ Breed standard, Basset Artésien Normand (DOC file) at FCI.be; Archived November 1, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ "The Early History of the Basset Hound in England, 1874-1921". Basset.net. Retrieved 2014-12-08.
  25. ^ "Standard of the Breed Bassethound with Comments by Iva Černohubová". Bohemia-horrido.com. Retrieved 2014-12-08.
  26. ^ Breed standard, Basset Hound 2010 (DOC file) at FCI.be; Archived November 1, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ All About Dogs. Orbis Publishing Ltd. 1974. ISBN 0-85613-033-8.
  28. ^ "Baby Basset Hound". Time. February 27, 1928.
  29. ^ "Smokey and the Bandit (1977)". IMDb.
  30. ^ "Mr. Morgan"
  31. ^ "Morgan the Basset Hound"
  32. ^ "The Basset Hound Lowdown"
  33. ^ "A Lieutenant's best friend: Columbo and Dog". The Columbophile. July 24, 2016. Retrieved 2019-08-16.
  34. ^ "The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks Summary". 2020.
  35. ^ "Jason's Hush Puppies Scrapbook". Archived from the original on 2006-02-19. Retrieved 2006-03-05.

External links[edit]