Monday, July 7, 2014

Basset Hounds 101 ~ Part 2

   In our second installment of Basset Hounds 101, we are going to discuss the breed standards. If you missed Part 1 click here.  A breed standard is the blueprint for a dog that fits into the function that it was bred such as tracking, herding, etc.  A breed standard is not etched in stone and can vary in different associations and countries, even for the same breed.
   For the purpose of this post, we will use the American Kennel Club breed standard.  Bentley is registered with the Continental Kennel Club, but the A.K.C. is the most accepted standards in the U.S.A.  There aren’t any glaring differences in the two clubs preferences.
General Appearance: As I mentioned in last week’s article, the Basset was bred to follow a trail over and through difficult terrain.  Considering their size, they have shorter legs and are heavier-boned than any other breed.  A Basset moves deliberately and once it grows into those long ears, they are not clumsy at all.  They’re known for their mild temperament and should never be aggressive or timid.  Bassets are known for having great endurance in the field and are extremely devoted.
Basset Hound in the grass with a smile
Head: A Basset’s head is large and well proportioned.  Their skull is well domed, showing an obvious occiput (the bump at the back of the head) and a broad flat skull is considered a fault.  The length of the nose should be same as the length from the stop (the spot where nose ends between eyes) to the occiput.  The skin is loose with distinct wrinkles over the brow.  Their muzzle is deep and heavy with a black nose and large wide-open nostrils.  A basset’s teeth are large, sound, and have a regular bite.  An overbite or under bite is a serious fault.  The kissable lips are dark and fall squarely in front with loose hanging flews or upper lips.  The eyes are one of their trademarks due to their soft, sad, slightly sunken appearance.  Brown or dark brown eyes are preferable.  Of course, their ears are very long, low set on their head, and when pulled forward, will fold over the end of their nose.  They feel like velvet and hang in loose folds.  A high set ear or flat ear is another serious fault.
Forequarters: Bassets have a deep, full chest with prominent sternum showing clearly in front of their legs.  The distance from the chest to the ground at the deepest point is not more than one-third the height at the shoulder blades in an adult.  Their forelegs are short but powerful, heavy boned with wrinkled skin.  Knuckling over (a fault where the weight of the body causes the wrist joint to flex forward) in the front legs will result in a disqualification in a sanctioned show.  The Basset paw is massive and very heavy with tough pads.  Their feet are equally inclined and have a slight outward appearance.  This balances with the width of their shoulders.
Body: The topline (the line from the withers to tail set) is straight, level, and does not sag or roach (humpback).  Sagging or roaching is another serious fault.  Their rib structure is long, smooth, and extends well back on their body.  The ribs themselves are well open, allowing ample room for the heart and lungs.
Hindquarters: This is the rear end of the dog that includes the hocks (ankles), paws, pelvis, and thighs.  On a Basset, the hindquarters are very full and well rounded.  They are almost equal to the shoulders in width.  They should not look slack or light in comparison to the overall depth of the body.  It should never appear that they are crouching and should stand firmly on their hind legs.  When you look at them from behind, their hind legs are parallel with the hock not turning in or out at all.  The back feet should point straight ahead.  Bowed legs, or steep, poorly angled hindquarters are serious faults.
Bentley Basset showing his number seven

Tail: A Bassets tail is NEVER docked (cut) and appears as a continuation of the spine.  It’s slightly curved and carried in a hound fashion, arched over the back.  Their hair on the underside is coarser than the hair on the rest of the body.
Size: Bassets are vertically challenged at no more than 14 inches in height at the shoulder blade.
Gait: The gait is the pattern of their footstep.  They move effortlessly in a smooth, powerful gait.  Since they are a scent dog with short legs, a Basset holds its nose low to the ground.  Their coordination is perfect between the front and hind legs.  Moving straight ahead, the hind legs follow in line with the front.  The front legs don’t paddle, weave, or overlap.  Many Basset clubs hold annual Basset Waddles, a group of Bassets walking together for fun, parades, or fundraisers.  They look adorable coming and going!
Coat and Color:  A Basset’s coat is hard, smooth, and short.  They do shed quite a bit and require brushing.  Their skin is loose and elastic which adds to their character.  You can find Bassets in a variety of colors including tri-color (tan, black, and white), black and white, brown and white, or red and white.  They are also found in lemon and white.  The color of a Basset does not matter in a dog show.
   Whether you are interested in a Basset Hound for show, agility, or just a loving pet, it is important to know what to look for in a puppy.  Always buy from a reputable breeder and see both parents if possible.  Basset puppies are extremely cute and it is easy to fall in love at first sight.  Always be prepared to decline a puppy if you notice any of the faults listed above.  Some abnormalities can lead to a life of hardship and heartbreak for you and the puppy.      Unfortunately, this is one reason so many Bassets are given up for adoption once they reach adulthood.  If you are hard-pressed to think logically when faced with a litter of long-eared sad-eyed puppies, it is best to bring along a friend that will be objective.  There are many Bassets in rescues and shelters that need homes.  Please consider adoption when you are looking for a new Basset to add to your family.

Don’t miss the entire series of Basset Hounds 101


  1. I agree Basset puppies are extremely cute :o) I specially like the deep voice of this breed, think their barking is unique :o)

  2. They are beautiful doggies and sadly yes people will adopt by cuteness and sometimes forget the breed and it's needs or health issues that may arise..great info for people to really understand this adorable fun loving and family friendly breed :) hugs Fozziemum

  3. Whenever I think of Basset Hounds, I think about the song from camp: "Do your ears hang low?" I think Bentley is adorable.

    --Wags (and purrs) from Life with Dogs and Cats

  4. I thought I was short, but GBGV standard is 18" and I am right at the top of that scale! You are a lot shorter than I am. We will have to stack on each other to reach out of reach cupboards and stuff! Bailie is not breed standard, way too tall at almost 20" and her legs are too long as well, but who cares as long as she is healthy.

  5. This was very informative! Basset Hounds are adorable, it is good to learn more about them.

  6. My brother has a wonderful basset named Bacci (kisses in Italian) - unfortunately she suffered with severe back issues as she got older.

  7. None in my family have woofies as pet. This is definitely very informative.

  8. It never ceases to amaze me how detailed breed standards are. I've read through the Great Pyrenees standards several times just to see if either of mine would fit the criteria (not that it would matter).

  9. Breed standards are interesting to read. I've been dismayed at how skewed the judging gets to reward the extremes - that' how we end up with big fat Labs. Does it happen for Bassetts too?

  10. Interesting to hear such specific breed standards!
    Yay for Bassets!!!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

  11. Bentley looks like a perfect example of his breed! Now I didn't know that Bassets came in different colors....I think I've only ever seen the tri-color.
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

  12. Lots of factors come into play for a pawfect specimen! We think they can just throw all that out and just show a picture of YOU!

    Your pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

  13. Great part 2, really enjoyed it. Beautiful pictures.

  14. That's a lot of cool new information! Are there any coat or eye colors that are a disqualification or fault?



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