Basset Hound Grooming

Basset Hound grooming is no small chore, but as these dogs are big on working, you should not waver on making sure your Hound is not left wanting. These scent hounds are short-legged and tend to keep their nose to the ground even as they do to the figurative grindstone — and that means they are prone to easy access by water, thorns, and critters in their ears, facial folds, and coat. They do have a relatively easy-case coat due to the short hair, but there are many other features that require a lot of attention. On this page, those many features are discussed in detail.

Basset Hound Coat Care

Basset Hounds are dogs who take their work seriously, but they tend to be like eternally little kids otherwise — and more so than most dogs. Due to this, grooming them can sometimes seem like a chore, especially after they have been hunting or just outside playing. Their long ears, short legs, and love of goofing off in weeds, mud, and other places that can quickly make them grubby is simply par for the course. While you can easily learn to groom these dogs at home, they should be taken to a pro groomer perhaps once a year for a total cleaning between the baths and multiple weekly wash-ups done by you. They don't have any heavy shedding periods, but they do love to romp in the muck all year long, so you can be sure you will have constant maintenance with this bred. On this page, you can learn more about the specific things of Basset Hound grooming that will keep your dog clean and healthy.

Brushing

Brushing your Basset Hound may not seem like an activity that requires much time or even be done too frequently due to this dog's short, easily washed coat, but it is not that simple. These dogs love to run about in the brambles and underbrush, and the debris — living and otherwise — that they are sure to pick up needs to be cleaned off as soon as playtime, hunting, and other outside activities are done for the day. This goes especially for their paws and ears, which are discussed in detail in other sections on this page.

Although their coats shed small hairs from their short coat, your Basset Hound still sheds, and he will shed constantly even if he sheds less in winter. You should brush thoroughly after every outside session, and if not every day, at least every three days. This will help deter parasites, keep the skin distributing oils that help protect it, and allow you to inspect the coat and skin for any early signs of mange, infections, or other issues. Done with loving care and with "all hands on deck," he'll love the brushing sessions too!

The best brush for the Basset Hound coat is a slicker, as it removes dead hair, doesn't have long or harsh teeth that can scratch the skin, and it is easy to use. A lot of owners and breeders use the FURminator Curry Comb. It has a strap for fitting around your hand so you can brush for long periods without fatiguing your hand, it doesn't need much pressure to work well, and it has great bristles that your Hound will howl over! Another recommended brush is the SAFARI Pet Products' Rubber Curry Brush. It's inexpensive, easy to clean, and does the job well.

Here are some tips to consider when brushing your beloved Basset Hound:

  • Soft bristle brushes are the best for Basset Hounds
  • Use a spritz bottle with just water to lightly moisten the coat before brushing
  • Have something in which to deposit the hair collected
  • Choose a quiet, calm, and open space, preferably on a hard surface so the hair doesn't get into carpet or furniture
  • Don't be afraid of using your hands and keeping a patter going to help him feel comfortable
  • Inspect the skin as you brush
  • Have a treat ready for when you are finished
  • Clean the brush and area afterward
  • Be sure to read the sections on paw and ear care for details on these very important areas of your dog

Bathing

When it comes to bathing your Basset Hound, you should do more than place him in a pool or tub of warm water with cheap dog shampoo. They may seem easy to clean and have short-haired coats that don't appear to be dirty, but there is a lot going on in that microscopic world that you want to prevent becoming visible to the human eye! This is most obvious when people talk about how their Basset Hound stinks.

Choosing the proper shampoo is important, and it's one of many steps. Of course, you should never use a human shampoo as there are ingredients that are harmful to your dog's skin, essential oils, and internal organs. Be sure to research your dog shampoo to make sure there are no harmful ingredients, product recalls, or questionable origins. One of the best shampoos for Basset Hounds is Oats Fur Coats Shampoo. It's all-natural and it smells great while helping to strengthen your dog's skin under the coat.

This breed has lots of heavy skin folds on the body and especially the face, and that is where bacteria thrive. Les Pooch is a dog shampoo which, while a bit on the pricey side, smells great for a long time afterward. If that one is too much for your budget, consider an oatmeal and baking soda dog shampoo that will help clean the skin and deodorize it naturally. There re many on the market. There are other products that can help remedy doggy odor after and between baths too, and a couple are Oatmeal Baking Soda Facial Cleanser for after the bath and Hot Spot Foam for between bathings.

Before dumping the dog, water, and shampoo into the mix, however, be sure to prepare for the event. Below is a list of tips and pointers that will help him and you feel warm and fuzzy during and after the doggy bath!

  • Fill the tub — or kids play pool, or whatever you like to bathe your pooch in! — with room-temperature or lukewarm water. (It's best to run all the water before he is in the tub, as the noise and commotion can create anxiety.)
  • Have everything at the ready Use a rubber mat so he doesn't slip around
  • Have lots of towels in case things get messy
  • Use cotton balls gently in his ears as they will drag in the water and you want to keep the inner ear dry
  • Wash from the rear forward, and wash then rinse in sections so the soap doesn't dry on the skin
  • Perform an overall rinse after washing and rinsing
  • Pay special attention to the paws, and be sure to read the section on paw care for further detail
  • You should also learn how to clean basset hound ears inside, and that is discussed elsewhere on this page too Remove as much hair from the water before letting him out, and do one final quick rinse
  • Check the water for mites, ticks, fleas, etc. use towels instead of a hair dryer as the short coat won't protect much against the intense heat
  • Have a warm, dry, and clean area where he can relax and continue drying afterward

Paw Care

Paw care is one of two things that are very important for Basset Hounds. (Ear care, discussed elsewhere on this page, is the other.) And there are two things about Basset Hounds' nails you should understand before adopting one of these dogs. One is that these dogs are more sensitive than most when it comes to their paws, and those big clod-hoppers need to be attended frequently. Two is that the nails of the typical Basset Hound are large, long, and tough.

There are three types of nail clippers you can use to care for your Basset's big, tender nails: scissor-type clippers, guillotine type trimmers, and grinders. All three have their pros and cons, and all three are preferred by someone or another. It's best to understand what you prefer, what your dog prefers, and how each type of trimmer works.

The scissor-type is perhaps the most known and most popular. These can give a clean cut, are relatively quick to use, and can be manipulated to shape the cut. The guillotine is the quickest but can also allow the dog to move at the last split-second and either miss the nail entirely or, worse, shove the nail in and have the nail's quick suddenly sheared off. (The guillotine-style tends to be the least liked among dog lovers whose dogs have large nails like this Hound's.) The grinder is the least likely to cause blood-letting but it can be noisy, long, and, if done improperly, burn the quick with friction.

Then there are the overall preparations you should do to make this bit of care as easy as possible:

  • Like any dog care event, pick a time and space that's calm
  • Have all your tools laid out on a towel
  • It's a bonding session, so talk and pet him as you work
  • Handle your Hound's feet when he is a puppy to get him accustomed to future paw care
  • Trim nails right after the bath when the nails are soft and less prone to breaking when you cut
  • Learn to identify the quick so you don't cut into it
  • Have styptic powder on hand in case you do make a crucial cut into the quick
  • Have a treat for each of their feet for when you are finished!


Nail care, hair-trimming, and close inspections are part of your responsibility when owning a Basset Hound. Picking the right set or type of nail clippers is essential too. Many dog owners and breeders tend to tout the Dremel 7300-PT 4.8V Pet Nail Grooming Tool as it is cordless, is durable, and has multiple speeds. There is also the Dremel 4000-2/30 120-Volt Variable Speed Rotary Tool Kit which has many versatile parts.

Other Care

In this section, ear and teeth (dental) care is discussed. While dental care is important for all dogs, Basset Hound ear care is far more important due to the large, flappy ears these dogs have as well as the sensitivity of their inner ears. That said, dental care is still an important topic, and Basset Hound bad breath is a topic that tends to rate high on owners' concerns. Drool is also a concern with Basset Hounds, but this concern is easily "wiped away" with a daily gentle and thorough cleansing with a cloth dampened with water and some hydrogen peroxide. This combination will help loosen debris, destroy harmful bacteria, and help prevent infections.

Dental hygiene is a bit more complicated, and there are many things that can help prevent most issues. A good diet (many Basset Hound breeders recommend a raw food diet and lots of clean, fresh water), weekly brushings, and frequent inspections go a long way toward maintaining a dog's teeth. Like any other kind of care, you should start when he's a puppy. You can get him used to such handling by simply using your fingers very early on, and then graduating to brushing. As finger brushes are the best way to later brush your Basset's teeth, this will help greatly to get him accustomed to this exercise. While a human toothbrush is not entirely improper, human toothpaste is to absolutely be avoided. A good doggy toothpaste is a flavored one that will help him stay as still as he'll be to get the work done. There are chicken, peanut butter, beef, and many other flavors available. It's all a matter of what your dog will tolerate if not love. (It's not unheard of for dogs to follow-up a brushing session by following you around in search of more flavored doggy toothpaste!) A couple of dog toothpastes are Petrodex Enzymatic Toothpaste Dog Poultry Flavor and Paws & Pals Pet Dog Cat Enzymatic Toothpaste. If bad breath or other dental complications persist, however, it may be time to schedule a vet visit.

Ear care is a nearly daily task that will take only a few moments, and should definitely be done after each and every outside session (regardless whether it's play, work, or otherwise) and after each bathing session. Your aim is to keep your Basset Hound's ears dry, clean and free of debris — alive and otherwise! A cloth dampened with hydrogen peroxide first and then a dry cloth to "mop up" the moisture works wonders at keeping crusty yucks out of your beloved doggy's inner ears.

Basset Hound Styling & Haircuts

There is not much to do when it comes to Basset Hound stylings, especially after basic grooming is completed. A Basset Hound trim is pretty much the same when it comes to doing the coats of these dogs properly: cut short so they can hunt, track, and work — or to just be comfortable and not shed so much. Of course, a shaved Basset Hound is neither a good look nor good for the dog's health, so that should only be an option in an emergency. Many people resolve this in a way that allows for a vast range of looks while allowing the Hound to remain "ruff and ready" for field work: costumes!

Basset Hounds are perfect dogs for dressing up because they have long bodies, short legs, and big heads. They tend to move slowly when not on a scent, and when they are on a leash or at a party with lots of people (and food nearby!), they are not as prone to run off with the costume. You should be sure to give ample clearance underneath, however, so that when he has to relieve himself, he won't end up with a wet costume underneath!

You can either go whole hog and really dress him up, or you can simply add something that requires little preparation but makes him stand out. Here are some suggestions that run the gamut of easy and quick to complicated and complete:

  • Tee-shirt: You can grab a cool-looking baby Tee (be sure it's not too tight) and use this for an impromptu event. If it only has a design on the front, make sure it's on your dog's back. And be sure to experiment beforehand so you can trim or fashion the shirt to allow "undercarriage" clearance for when he's had enough to drink!
  • Booties: These have been around forever, and while they are not for long-term use (dogs use their feet to perspire and keep cool), they are fine for a walk in the park, to the corner store, or a short visit to a friend's soirée.
  • Doggy suit: These can be found and ordered online, and they can be pricey. You may need to look into measuring your dog and making sure it's something that can fit. You can get a modern suit and make him look like a Vegas high-roller, or go back in time and have a faux-felt hat, long-tail coat, and the look of an oil or steel baron
  • Cool collars: There are collars made with design in mind, and these are found everywhere. It's only a matter of how much you wish to spend, but a seemingly small collar can go a long way in making a huge statement. Having a small collection of them so he can change his look every day is something to consider too.