Basset Hound Temperament – Don’t Let the Sad Dismal Face Fool You

Bassett Hound SittingWith its gloomy mournful face it’s easy to incorrectly conclude that the Basset Hound is a bore; but while the typical Basset Hound temperament cannot be described as electric, they are a tolerant and friendly addition to any family.

A Little Breed Background

The modern day Basset Hound probably originated through controlled breeding in the late 1800s although some sources trace it even further back to the 1500s. However, mummified remains suggest that similar short-legged hunting dogs existed for millennia before that.

“Basset”, which in French, means “rather short”, describes a key characteristic of the Basset Hound — dwarfism.

While their average height is just over a foot at the shoulder, it may be a surprise to some that the typical Basset Hound weighs in at a fairly hefty 55 to 60 pounds.

If you are considering a Basset Hound, here are some of its key characteristics.

Gentle and Docile

The Basset Hound is noted for being very safe around small children.

It is quite difficult to aggravate the Basset Hound; rather than react aggressively to unwanted attention, they are more than likely to just move to a more sheltered spot.

It takes a lot to upset a Basset Hound.

Tolerant and Sociable

Basset Hound
The typical Basset Hound was bred to be part of a pack. Maybe that is why they are not territorial, instead being quite tolerant and sociable with all and sundry.

They do very well with other pets and are particularly comfortable in a large family. And, while they may alert you with a bark to someone outside the front door, the stranger is likely to be greeted, albeit with some calmness, once the door is opened.

Loves Being Part of a Pack

Basset Hounds hunted in packs and, to this day, are quite happy to be “one among many”.

The drawback to that, however, is that the typical Basset Hound temperament demands company; they do not, usually, do very well if left alone for long periods.

A bored, lonely Basset Hound can create the most unique howls, leaving your neighbors in no doubt about the type of person you are.

Flash Gordon

For all his so-called measured responses, if an interesting smell floats by the Basset Hound’s nostrils — and mind you, this is a scent hound we are talking about, whose olfactory abilities are second only to the Bloodhound — your buddy will be off like a flash, everything else quite forgotten.

Basset Hound Running

If you do not leash him when out for a walk, expect interesting times; needless to say, you will quickly learn.

Low to Moderate Energy

Basset Hounds are noted for their endurance, but that is normally exhibited when in the face of exotics scents.

Otherwise, they are quite content to “go with the flow” of things.

If you are active, they will be happy to accompany you; if you’d rather sit at home, they are unlikely to get into a frenzy like their Border Collie sibling.

Stubborn and Dogged

Basset  Hound
Maybe this trait came about because his short legs required some compensatory quality to make him an effective hunting dog.

Nevertheless, don’t expect brisk and cheerful readiness from a Basset Hound; if you are lucky, you will get a measured, seemingly thoughtful, response; on a bad day, expect downright stubbornness.

Some have suggested that this aspect of the Basset Hound temperament is reflective of poor intelligence, but the truth, as any owner will assert blatantly, is that while this breed is actually extremely intelligent, it’s also just plain stubborn. Of course, it’s impossible to get angry at him.


Like most other breeds, the Basset Hound has a number of idiosyncratic health issues.

Typical of other breeds who also suffer from dwarfism (like the Dachshund), back and joint problems are common; they also are particularly vulnerable to intervertebral disk disease.

Their loose skin makes them somewhat more susceptible to skin problems and their large ears make them quite susceptible to ear infections.

Bassets don’t require a lot of grooming, but their ears do well with regular cleaning as do the folds of skin around the head area.

Other Similar Breeds

While the Basset Hound is quite unique, there are a number of breeds that share some of its traits. They include

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