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Basset Hound Temperament: Devoted soul on small legs

Have you ever wondered if the Basset Hound is the right dog breed for you? So often described as the most photogenic dog and easily recognisable by their long ears and sad-looking face, they're one of the most prominent dog breeds. But what do you really know about the Basset Hound Temperament?

So before making decisions, read our blog post on this special and unique dog breed.

We'll help you learn about their history, temperament, exercise needs, and health issues.

This information will help determine if this breed is a perfect fit. The Basset Hound is a placid dog with an affectionate and people-orientated side. However, they come with breed-specific challenges that you should be conscious of as a potential future owner.

Let's dive straight in!

Basset Hound History

This little French Hound has a century-long history which started around the 15th century. No history lecture about the Basset Hound is complete without diving into the history of French scent hounds in general. So, what will follow now is a short trip into the Basset origin story and how we luckily ended up with short-legged little hounds.

The French word "bas" means low-set, which already implies their short legs and running close to the ground.

Concerning short-legged dogs, the word Basset was first mentioned in 1562 in Jacques Du Fouilloux's La Venerie, which described the Art of Hunting.

The Basset Hound is one of six basset family members. The other 5 are below and developed due to regional differences when breeding.

  • Basset Fauve de Bretagne

  • Basset Griffon Vendeen (Petit)

  • Basset Griffon Vendeen (Grand)

  • Basset Bleu de Gascogne

  • Basset Artesien Normand

Although lost in history, the most accepted predecessor of the Basset Hound is the St. Hubert Hound. The Abbey of St. Hubert was home to some short-legged hounds bred by monks.

Basset Hound Temperament
Their long ears waffle scent particles into their superior nose.

Basset Hounds were bred for hunting hare and smaller game, making them true specialists in discovering hidden prey in bushes, undergrowth and high grasslands. Their long body and flexible, loose skin were perfectly made to sniff in hard-access areas where humans couldn't follow. The skin was impenetrable as the Hound was moving through thick undergrowth.

They are masters when tracking and hunting in packs. The Basset Hound is a great team player who gets along well with other dogs.

The short legs fulfilled several tasks: The hounds were easier to follow on foot as not everyone could afford horses and their short legs slowed them down naturally. The Hounds were also closer to the ground to sniff out prey better. Finally, the hunted couldn't detect the Hound coming as they were smaller and closer to the ground. All these characteristics are still very evident in the Basset Hound we know today.

The Basset Hound was bred as a scent hound with a sense of smell that is second to only the Bloodhound. The long ears and loose skin can trap scent particles and waffle them towards their nose.

Officially, the first Basset Hounds found their way from France into the UK around 1867. However, there is a lot of historic evidence of short-legged hounds in the 15th century. Even Shakespeare described a short-legged hound in 1598 in "A Midsummer nights dream":

"My hounds are bred out of the Spartan kind
So flew'd, so sanded; and their heads are hung
With ears that sweep away the morning dew;
Crook-knee'd, and dew-lapp'd like Thessalian Bulls;
Slow in pursuit, but match'd in mouth like bells,
Each under each. A cry more tuneable
Was never holla'd to nor cheerd with horn."

Although not the father of the breed, Sir Everett Millais became most associated with creating an English-type Basset breed.

To reduce inbreeding, he added some Beagle and Bloodhound blood into his Basset Hound later to increase the genetic variety.

Basset Hound Temperament
Basset Hound have some Beagle and Bloodhound blood in them.

However, some people were unhappy about adding Bloodhound blood to the Basset. "The Bloodhound experiments of Sir Everett filled his most earnest friends with regret and despair. France is full of Basset outcrosses, so there was no need to create canine nightmares".

In France, the Basset Hounds split into a smooth-coated and rough-coated variety, also known as Basset Griffon. When breeding the French Basset Hound, the French had plenty of Basset-type dogs to choose from.

In the UK, breeders who bred for hunting continued adding Beagle blood to the mix, so the Basset Hound could withstand a day of hunting and retain their essential breeding purpose.

The First and Second World Wars strained the population of the Basset Hound considerably, with only a few remaining. However, thanks to loyal followers and lovers of the breed, we have today an intelligent and affectionate hound who is stable in temperament and keen on the eye.

Basset Hounds aren't a common sight in the UK, so if you're interested in owning one, be prepared for a longer wait list. The UK Kennel Club recognises 4 breed standard colours.

  • Lemon & White

  • Red & White

  • Tan & White

  • Tricolour

In Q2 2022, 119 Basset Hound puppies have been registered with the UK Kennel Club, which is more than last year. The Basset Hound is certainly not a common sight in the UK but has some loyal following.

Q1 2021

Q2 2021

Q3 2021

Q4 2021

Yearly 2021

Q1 2022

Q2 2022








Source: UK Kennel Club December 2022

Now that we have a rough idea about their breeding history, let's dive into how your life with a Basset Hound might look.

What is the Temperament of the Basset Hound?

Even-tempered and balanced in their approach towards people and dogs, the Basset Hound makes for a great canine best friend. In addition, their nature of being pack hounds makes them great dogs who get along with other dogs without causing much drama.

Basset Hounds are friendly, loyal and affectionate hounds. They don't like to mistrust strangers and will greet your guests happy at the door if you let them in. They have an open nature and are a very people-orientated breed.

You can expect howling and barking if a knock occurs, as any disturbance needs to be reported to their owner accordingly. This can make them quite efficient watchdogs as they're very vocal.

Basset Hound Temperament
Basset Hound will probably not make the best jogging partner.

If you're an overly active person looking for a jogging partner, climbing buddy or cycling companion, then the Basset Hound is not your best choice. They usually only excessively break into a run if they have to. Basset Hounds should be discouraged from jumping too much.

Although they have a muscular body, it's overly long, and some Bassets can display problems with their spine. They have some stamina in them, but they instead conquer the terrain by walking steadily.

They can be rather lazy around the house, which makes them great family dogs, especially for families with children. They are patient hounds who can deal with a turbulent home without becoming overly stressed.

An important point to be aware of is that Basset Hounds can gain weight quickly. They love food. Their placid nature at home and steady movements don't make them burn calories. An overweight Basset Hound can have issues with their spine and tendons. It's essential to exercise your Basset Hound for at least 1 hour per day to keep them fit and healthy.

They would also do anything for a tasty treat. Bear this in mind when you start training your Basset Hound. Bassets can be stubborn, and a tasty treat can go a long way. The hound breed was generally bred to have a mind of its own, so training can be challenging if you don't find out what makes your Hound tick.

Basset Hound Temperament
Basset Hound can be stubborn.

Spending a lot of time understanding your Basset Hound will go a long way. You need to accept that they will not do something if they don't want to, which is often the case with Hound breeds. They have independent minds and are not bred to please their owner.

Only walk your Basset Hound on a leash. They become very focused and concentrated when they pick up a scent that they'd like to follow and can display some wanderlust potential. Like the Bloodhound, the instinct is deeply ingrained to follow a scent. Over 250 million scent receptors are perfect, for that matter. The Hound breed usually loses all interest in things around them, which can be dangerous when they venture out into traffic.

Basset Hounds are very versatile when it comes to any living arrangement. They can live in an apartment, a small house or a big house and can adapt. As they're more on the lazy side, even no yard or garden is okay if they get enough time outside on their walks. However, you need to be prepared that loud barking can disturb your neighbours in an apartment setting.

The Basset Hound might not be the right breed for you if you're very houseproud. They drool and can bring the typical smell of a Hound home.

Let's now look at some common Basset Hound questions.

Is the Basset Hound a good family dog?

Basset Hounds have a very laid-back and patient temperament, making them good family dogs. They forge a bond with all family members and are good with children and older people.

Basset Hounds love attention, so they welcome a child's attention and enjoy all cuddles with patience. As always, teaching your child how to approach dogs and socialise your pup with people of all ages is essential.

Can Basset Hounds be left alone?

As advised further above, Basset Hounds are relatively independent characters. However, they should gradually be introduced to being alone from a young age. Although they can be left alone for 3-4 hours, you should leave them for the shortest time possible. Basset Hounds will not respond well to being alone for an extended period and may start chewing skirting boards out of boredom or howling very loudly.

You should leave them in a restricted area by closing off other parts of the house or crating them for their safety if they have one. Then, if they behave, you can slowly increase their "freedom" area. We recommend a pet camera so you can check in on them or have a dog walker come in at a half time to check on them.

Do Basset Hounds bark a lot?

Yes, Basset Hounds are prone to bark more than the average dog. However, there are other ways to communicate besides barking. It's also often accompanied by howling. Their nature as hunting dogs makes them want to share anything they deem interesting with their owner. The bark was supposed to scare prey out of the bushes. Unsurprisingly, many owners find the bark of the Basset Hound offensively loud.

There are ways to reduce the barking with patience, consistency and conditioning. First, observe your dog and ascertain why they bark. Then find ways to reduce it by redirecting their energy or positively re-enforcing when they quieten down.

Basset Hound Temperament in a nutshell

  • People-orientated, loyal and loving temperament towards their family

  • A dog that will require patience, understanding and training