The breed standard describes the basset hound as "a short-legged dog, heavier in bone, size considered, than any other breed of dog, and while its movement is deliberate, it is in no sense clumsy. In temperament it is mild, never sharp or timid. It is capable of great endurance in the field and is extreme in its devotion."

All of today's bassets descend from a handful of short-legged dogs imported to England from France in the 1870s and 1880s. The name basset comes from the French word bas, meaning "low." The beagle and the bloodhound were involved in early crossbreeding to create the modern basset hound.

Bassets are scent hounds, with a well-developed sense of smell and floppy ears that help push scent up from the ground. They are keen trackers who often concentrate more on what they smell than on what they see and hear. They are also pack hounds who are used to being in groups, so they get along extremely well with other dogs, humans, and whatever other animals may be in the household. They are wonderful with children.

While they are not high-energy dogs, bassets are capable of surprising bursts of speed. They do enjoy a bit of mischief, and they're not necessarily the easiest breed to train. If you give a command to a basset, he may look at you for a few moments in the hope that you might forget what you commanded him to do, so he can go back to what he wants to do.

Bassets are not fierce or vicious creatures. They rarely snap, and in fact they can be quite sensitive. Bassets can be trained, but they do best with reward methods that suit their gentle personalities.