Breed standards

Basset Hound

Breed standards are the official guidelines that describe the ideal characteristics, temperament, and appearance of a breed and ensures that the breed is fit for function with soundness essential.

Last Updated: 22 May 2009
Group 4 (Hounds)

Short legged hound of considerable substance, well balanced, full of quality. It is important to bear in mind that this is a working hound and must be fit for purpose, therefore should be strong, active and capable of great endurance in the field.


A tenacious hound of ancient lineage, which hunts by scent, possessing a pack instinct and a deep, melodious voice.


Placid, never aggressive or timid. Affectionate.

Head And Skull:

Domed with some stop and occipital bone prominent; of medium width at brow and tapering slightly to muzzle; general appearance of foreface lean but not snipy. Top of muzzle nearly parallel with line from stop to occiput and not much longer than head from stop to occiput. There may be a small amount of wrinkle at brow and beside eyes. In any event skin of head supple enough as to wrinkle slightly when drawn forward or when head is lowered. Flews of upper lip overlap lower substantially. Nose entirely black except in light coloured hounds when it may be brown or liver. Large and well-opened nostrils may protrude a little beyond lips.


Lozenge shaped neither prominent nor deep set, dark but may shade to mid-brown in light coloured hounds. Expression calm and serious. Light or yellow eye highly undesirable.


Set on low, just below line of eye. Long, reaching only slightly beyond end of muzzle of correct length, but not excessively so. Narrow throughout their length and curling well inwards; very supple, fine and velvety in texture.


Jaws strong, with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. the upper teeth closely overlapping the lower teeth and set square to the jaws.


Muscular, well arched and fairly long with pronounced but not exaggerated dewlap.


Shoulder blades well laid back; shoulders not heavy. Forelegs short, powerful and with great bone; elbows turning neither in nor out but fitting neatly against side. Upper forearm inclined slightly inwards, but not to such an extent as to prevent free action or to result in legs touching each other when standing or in action; forechest fitting neatly into crook when viewed from front. Knuckling over highly undesirable. Some wrinkles of skin may appear on lower legs, but this must on no account be excessive.


Long and deep throughout length, breast bone prominent but chest neither narrow nor unduly deep. There should be adequate clearance between the lower part of the chest and the ground to allow the hound to move freely over all types of terrain. Ribs well rounded and sprung, without flange, extending well back. Back rather broad; withers and quarters of approximate same height, though loins may arch slightly. Back from withers to inset of quarters not unduly long.


Full of muscle and standing out well, giving an almost spherical effect when viewed from rear. Stifles well bent. Hocks well let down and slightly bent under but turn neither in nor out and just under body when standing naturally. Some wrinkles of skin may appear between hock and foot, and at rear of joint a slight pouch of skin may be present, but on no account should any of these be excessive.


Large, well knuckled up and padded. Forefeet may point straight ahead or be turned slightly outwards but in every case hound always stands perfectly true, weight being born equally by toes with pads together so that feet would leave an imprint of a large hound and no unpadded areas in contact with ground.


(Stern) well set on, rather long, strong at base, tapering, with moderate amount of coarse hair underneath. When moving, stern carried well up and curving gently, sabre-fashion, never curling or gay.


Most important to ensure that the hound is fit for purpose. Smooth, powerful and effortless action with the forelegs reaching well forward and hind legs showing powerful thrust, hound moving true both front and rear. Hocks and stifles never stiff in movement, nor must any toes be dragged.


Smooth, short and close without being too fine. Whole outline clean and free from feathering. Long haired, soft coat with feather highly undesirable.


Generally black, white and tan (tri-colour); lemon and white (bi-colour); but any recognised hound colour acceptable.


Height: 33-38 cms (13-15 ins) at withers


Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog.


Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.