Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
Photo of adult Bassador
Alex Alonso /

To some, the Bassador is a controversial breed as the Basset Hound is a dog bred to have chondrodysplasia (a form of dwarfism), which can lead to certain health issues. The Labrador Retriever is usually a dog built in normal proportion that would not otherwise experience these issues. However, outbreeding the Basset Hound with other pedigrees is one of the best ways to reduce orthopedic issues within this breed.

Bassadors tend to have a similar face shape to the Labrador but with the shrunken body and bent limbs of the Basset Hound. They have a short, shiny coat that can be several colours, including black and yellow. This hybrid is warm, affectionate and gentle and most are very protective of their humans. Bassadors are highly food driven so require close monitoring and strict calorie control to prevent them from becoming over-weight; something which is especially important when it comes to maintaining healthy joints.

About & History

It’s thought that the first Bassador was bred around 20 to 30 years ago, although to this day it remains a rare crossbreed and not one that is seen often. While its parents were bred to hunt, the Bassador has never been used for this purpose and is always kept as a pet.

The Basset Hound

Basset Hounds are a French hunting dog that have existed for many hundreds of years, having first been developed to hunt small animals, such as rabbits, through dense foliage, where their superior sense of smell helped them to track their prey in areas of poor visibility. They withstood the test of time well as their short stature ensured they were not the speediest of scent hounds, meaning they were a good choice for those who could not afford horses and would hunt on foot.

The breed changed quite dramatically during the second half of the 19th century when they were exported to Britain and mixed with breeds, such as the Bloodhound and the Beagle, in an effort to further refine them. Bassets waned in popularity during both World Wars (a fate suffered by many pedigrees) but they live on today and are mainly kept as companion animals.

The Labrador Retriever

The Labrador Retriever is a sensationally popular breed of dog and is particularly loved by families with young children, who know they can depend on them to be gentle and tolerant of even the most boisterous of youngsters. These dogs first came from Canada but were brought to Britain in 1820 where they were selectively bred to resemble the Labradors of today.

They have long been a preferred breed of hunting dog thanks to their famed sense of smell, biddable nature and ability to retrieve from water, as well as on dry land. Though the original Labrador was black, nowadays, we also see yellow and chocolate Labradors. The Labrador is one of the most popular breeds today used as an assistance dog and is commonly seen as a sniffer dog and a seeing eye dog.


Bassador Large Photo
Jmaley1 /

The Bassador would probably be the first to admit that they are an odd-looking dog. When you first see one, it is their body shape that stands out as they have a disproportionately large head, barrel shaped body and stubby, little limbs. Though their ears are not as impressively over-sized as those of their Basset Hound parent, they are still large in comparison to most dogs. They hang sweetly to the side of their face and are set rather low down. They have deep brown eyes, which portray a ‘hangdog’ look and make it that much more difficult to refuse them when they’re asking for treats! They have a long muzzle and a pronounced stop. Their tail is slender and medium in length.

The size of the Bassador will vary tremendously from individual to individual depending on which genes they inherit from which parent. For most, they will end up measuring about 40-50cm and weighing from 22-28kg. As with both parents, the Bassador’s fur will be short and straight. They shed quite a lot despite their short coats and most are surprised at the extent of the fur they lose. Coat colour is often black but can also be brown or yellow and white patches are common.

Character & Temperament

The Bassador has a fun and relaxed personality, seemingly never getting particularly worked up about anything. Though their parents are working dogs, they are not particularly highly strung and tend to go with the flow. Most are polite, fit in well to family households and should not get up to too much mischief.

Some Bassadors can be quite lazy and may enjoy spending more time curled up on the sofa or in their dog beds than other dogs of the same age. However, they still enjoy chasing a ball as much as the next dog and particularly enjoy trailing scents in the garden and out on walks.

Confident by nature, these dogs enjoy their own company and can be quite independent, meaning they are unlikely to develop separation anxiety. This is a real advantage for those who may need to spend some time away from home due to work or other commitments.


Many describe their Bassador as willing and eager to please but some breed members can be a little stubborn and, due to this, may require some extra time spent with them during their training.

A dog that seemingly always has food on their mind, trainers should use this to their advantage during training sessions and reward good behaviour with low calorie treats, such as small pieces of boiled chicken.


With a lifespan of 10 to 12 years, most Bassadors enjoy a good quality of life although can be prone to orthopaedic issues due to their conformation. However, one would expect them to be less affected than their Basset Hound parents.

Otitis Externa

The large and floppy ears of the Bassador mean that they are very prone to developing ear infections and many will suffer with them throughout their lives. Owners may initially notice that dogs are shaking their heads and scratching their ears. On examination, they may see that the skin is red and sore looking and there is a buildup of wax and other debris within the canal.

A vet should examine the affected ear (or ears) to ensure the eardrum is still intact and there is no foreign body present. A swab may be taken to determine what type of infection is present and which medications would be most appropriate.


The long back of the Bassador means they are predisposed to developing a painful and potentially debilitating condition called IVDD (intervertebral disc disease). Symptoms can range from mild pain to complete paralysis, depending on how severely affected an animal is. The key is to have the dog assessed by a vet as soon as possible as if they do require a surgery, the sooner it is performed, the better the prognosis.

Elbow Dysplasia

The cartilage and the surrounding structure in the elbows do not form properly and result in local arthritis causing difficulty with mobility and chronic pain. It can be tricky to detect this condition on X-ray so many vets will suggest a CT scan. While conservative therapy is an option for some, others would benefit more from surgery.


As both Labradors and Basset Hounds are known for their hearty appetites, it is little wonder that the Bassador is highly food-driven and prone to obesity. As obesity is linked to serious health conditions, such as cancer and arthritis, it should be avoided at all costs.

Exercise and Activity Levels

A dog who enjoys being outdoors and exploring, the Bassador enjoys hiking, jogging and even swimming. They do not need excessive amounts of exercise and most are content with a couple of half hour excursions a day.

Bassadors love to use their nose and keep their minds active, so should be given the opportunity to sniff and scent whenever possible. Owners can set up scenting games in the back garden, hiding treats and setting trails.


The short coat of the Bassador is not prone to tangling but should still be brushed daily to remove dead skin and fur as they shed quite a lot. Their ears must be checked every few days for signs of infection and should be cleaned out regularly.

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