In hopes that I can give my readers some insight into dog breeds’ personalities, I am featuring different breeds each week. I will give a little history about the breed, i.e., what they were bred to do, talk about their personalities, and provide advice on the lifestyle needs of the breed. Remember, as I always say, every dog is an individual. Some dogs will exactly fit the breed characteristics while others may be nothing like it.

Do you like to laugh? Then the Basset Hound may be the dog for you. With their short little legs, long droopy ears, and jaunty walk, the Basset is not only funny to look at but they also have a comical personality.

Henry 10-31-13

Bassets are obviously a part of the hound group, in particular they are scent hounds. They were bred to follow their noses to track smells. Their origins can be traced back to the late 16th century in France where they were bred to hunt rabbit and hare. Their short legs make them perfectly built for getting under low brush. The word “Basset” means dwarf! They are deceiving in their appearance, however. Despite their short legs, Bassets are big dogs, often weighing up to 70 pounds. They can be as long as four feet, too. Bassets are quite strong and sturdily built.

They are descended from the St. Hubert hound which is similar to a Bloodhound, where the Basset gets its long ears and excellent sense of smell. It is rumored that the Marquis de Lafayette brought the first Bassets to the United States as a gift for George Washington. But they didn’t achieve notoriety until the late 1800s when bronze sculptures of Napoleon III’s Bassets were exhibited in Paris.

Bassets have a laid back and friendly personality, and some people like to call them “speed bumps” because of their penchant for napping stretched out across the floor in the path of where you want to walk. They are truly pack animals from their breeding as hunting dogs. They love to be around other dogs, and they have taken on humans as pack members too. They are generally very good with children for this reason and because of their mellow and patient temperament. They are good with strangers as well. Bassets’ love of being part of the family can be an issue if you leave them alone for long periods of time. They miss their families and may not do well alone. Another dog can be a good option, though.

Even though they can be “speed bumps” in the home, once you get them outside, it’s a different story. On walks, your Basset will forget that you exist. Their noses will be to the ground the whole time and they make take off running after the scent of whatever critter they detect. For that reason, it is strongly advised that you keep your Basset in a fenced yard or on a leash at all times. They will run away and will not hear you calling them. All other senses cease to exist when their noses engage. Bassets need exercise. A long walk or two every day will keep them happy. It’s good for their health and for their need to explore the world with their noses. Bassets can have a tendency to be obese if overfed and under-exercised.

Do you live in a neighborhood that will tolerate howling and barking? It’s a good thing because that’s exactly what Bassets were bred to do. It’s in their genes to howl and bark as an alert when they catch the scent of a rabbit. The silly “arrooo” of a Basset which often lifts their front paws off of the ground is part of their comic charm. If you don’t want a dog who barks, don’t get a Basset Hound!

Bassets are often described as stubborn but that is not always true. The stubbornness is usually associated with their determination to track a scent. Bassets really are very cooperative and easy to train. They are very food motivated. Positive rewards-based training works best with them because of their sweet and easygoing nature. Punishment-based training would be a huge mistake with a Basset (and with any dog for that matter). They are sensitive dogs, so any punishment would have detrimental effect on your dog and your relationship.

When it comes to choosing a dog who is a great, lovable companion, Basset Hounds are one of the best breeds. As with all dogs, there are traits that some people can tolerate and some traits that others cannot tolerate. With Bassets, the barking and howling seems to be the most problematic issue. I’ve fostered five Bassets in the past year and I’ve adored every one of them. Thank goodness, I have neighbors who love dogs and don’t mind an “arrrooo!” every now and then.