Complete Guide To The Basset Hound: Health, Exercise, Feeding and More

Basset Hounds are the original easy riders. Short but proud, they stand tall in spirit as cordial sidekicks and steadfast friends.

I’ve seen countless Basset Hounds in my veterinary career over the past 20 years. It’s funny but there are literal Basset clans where multiple clients own multiple Bassets at one time. These characters are lovely dogs, but they’re not for everyone!

How Big Do Basset Hounds Get?

MaleUp to 15″ at the shoulder55 – 65 lbs
FemaleUp to 15″ at the shoulder40 – 55 lbs

What Do Basset Hounds Look Like?

Basset Hounds are easy to recognize by their low-slung bodies, domed heads and droopy, pendulous ears — they’re a one and only.

Their short coats come in a surprising number of hues, similar to Beagles, including:

Black and WhiteBlack, Brown and WhiteBlack, Tan, and White
Black, White and BrownBrown, Black and White

Lemon and White

Red and WhiteMahogany and White

Droopy brown eyes are soft and mournful, offsetting a saber-like tail that wags with glee. Expressive, they wear their hearts on their sleeves.

What Is The Personality Of A Basset Hound?

At home, Basset Hounds are laid-back. Seemingly aloof at times, it’s not that they don’t enjoy your company — it’s that their world-class noses paint a more interesting picture of the world than what humans see, so there’s always something new and different to explore. Affectionate but never needy, they’re lovingly independent, gentle with children and devoted family companions.

On a scent trail, they’re all business — expect loyalty but not strict obedience. Second only to Bloodhounds as trackers, they’re enthusiastic and tireless in the field. Single-minded, they can be challenging to train, but they’re not intentionally obstinate — consistency is the key.

How Much Exercise Do Basset Hounds Need?

Basset Hounds need remarkably little exercise — they’re not quite couch potatoes, but they’re close. A daily walk is all it takes to keep them fit and control their weight. Hunters, they’ll roam after scents, so keep outdoor play areas secure.

Built for endurance, not speed, they’re less interested in catching balls than prey. They enjoy games geared to their abilities — hide-and-go-seek and DIY scent trails are ideal backyard activities between naps. Most Bassets enjoy the company of other dogs, so the park is always a favorite stop.

How Much Grooming Do Basset Hounds Need?

Basset Hounds shed moderately year-round but have short, easy-care coats — grooming is straightforward. Weekly brushing with a grooming mitt keeps loose hair off the furniture and distributes skin oils so their smooth hair stays shiny. Folds of redundant skin around their chest, neck and head can trap unwanted odors, but a bath every three to four months keeps them fresh.

Basset Hounds have large, broad paws with thick toenails. Overgrowth can spread the toes apart, putting unnatural strain on their joints as they walk, so they should be trimmed every two weeks with heavy-duty clippers or a grinding tool. Pro tip — grinding tools leave smoother edges.

What Kind Of Food Is Good For Basset Hounds?

Basset Hounds require no special dietary considerations other than they tend to lean towards obesity as they get older. They’re notorious scroungers and you’ll want to make sure you keep your trash containers closed and locked.

Before we start with the food lists, just know that grain-free dog foods are a myth. There’s zero science showing that they are helpful. In fact, there’s increasing evidence that it’s causing issues in certain breeds of dogs (so far not Beagles). Food allergies are the only reason to even consider a grain-free diet but only choose one with the help of your veterinarian.

Basic dog foods that I recommend include:

Over the Counter Weight Management Diets:

How Long Do Basset Hounds Live?

12-13 years according to information from the AKC but I have seen a few stretch this to 14-15 years old. A lot of that is based on their orthopedic and dental health.

What Health Conditions Do Basset Hounds Commonly Get?

Basset Hounds do tend to have a lot of health concerns. The most common issues I see with this breed in my practice are:

  • Dental Disease (a lot worse in this breed than in many others; they have really large teeth but seem to accumulate tartar a lot faster than many other dogs their size)
  • Obesity
  • Back issues such as IVDD
  • Patella Luxation

Any dog can have obesity but it’s pretty rare for me to see an adult Basset Hound who isn’t overweight. Much of that stems from their general laziness (it’s an endearing quality in this breed).

You’ll see quite a few breed guides around the internet that will tell you Basset Hounds need frequent ear cleaning at home because of their long, floppy ears and how they can easily get ear infections because of those. However, for many Bassets that’s just not the case. It’s not the anatomy of the ear flap that causes ear infections, it’s usually an underlying health issue such as allergies that is triggering problems with the ears.

Where Can I Learn More About Basset Hounds?

Basset Hound Club of America

AKC Breed Page

Where Can I Find A Basset Hound?

Breeder List from the Basset Hound Club of America

There’s also a large list of local/regional Basset Hound clubs all across the country who could give you a great local breeder recommendation.

AKC Puppy Marketplace

Interesting Facts About Basset Hounds

Basset Hounds are more than pretty faces.

Did you know?

They Hail from France

Basset Hounds were developed in France and Belgium. Records suggest the friars of the Abbey of St Hubert may have played a role, crossing local breeds to create an all-terrain scent hound. The name Basset Hound reflects the French word, bas, meaning low.

They’re Terrible Guard Dogs

Basset Hounds are big talkers — they’ll bark, bay or howl at anything, alerting you of someone’s presence. But they’re rarely aggressive and far more likely to befriend strangers than chase them away.

• And Even Worse Swimmers

Basset Hounds are heavy. They carry most of their weight in the front half of their body while their legs are disproportionately small and struggle with propulsion in the water. Swimming isn’t for them.

• Their Nose Knows

Basset Hounds have more than 220 million scent receptors. Their sense of smell is so good that, like Bloodhounds, they excel at tracking. Surprisingly, their ears may play a role in their success, stirring up odor molecules as they scrape along the ground.

Hollywood’s Hound

Few dogs have garnered the attention of high-powered celebrities as much as Basset Hounds. A-list owners, past and present, include award-winning actress Angelina Jolie, comedienne Betty White, American icon Marilyn Monroe, actor/director Clint Eastwood and the incomparable entertainer, Frank Sinatra.

Hush, Puppy

A Basset Hound named Jason has been the face of the Hush Puppies shoe brand for more than 30 years. Company executives were hesitant at first to use a dog in advertising, wanting a more sophisticated approach. But once the initial ad ran, they couldn’t ignore its success — sales soared.