With an instantly recognizable appearance, the Basset Hound is one of the most iconic breeds of dog out there. And while it is tempting to choose a new pooch based on looks alone, you are much better off understanding the full range of facts about the breed of dog that you are going to invite into your home. This is why we have put together this guide which details the breed facts and temperament of your canine companion.
But before we get into things that you should know about Basset Hounds, let’s start by looking at the history of the dog in closer detail.
History of the Basset Hound
While some of the newer ‘designer’ dogs have roots which can be easily traced, the Basset Hound can be traced all the way back to the 1500s in France. The word ‘basset’ translates to low, which refers to how close they get to the floor – particularly if they have caught a scent that interests them! In all likelihood, they descend from the St. Hubert Hound, which is also the ancestor of the popular Bloodhound dog. But the Basset Hound that we know and love today was developed in England.
The Basset Hound was traditionally used to hunt rabbits, which was made easy by their excellent sense of smell and relatively slow-moving nature, which made it easy for hunters to keep up. As well as rabbits and hares, they were also used to track larger wounded game animals. It was in the US that the Basset Hound made the transition from hunter to beloved household pet. In 1928, Time magazine featured a Basset on the front cover, and the breed got further airtime during the 1960s with the famous advertising campaign for Hush Puppy shoes and the development of the popular Fred Basset comic strip.
Today, Basset Hounds are still a widely owned and loved household pet all over the world.
Quick Facts About the Basset Hound
- Basset Hounds are known for their distinctive appearance, which includes a long face, floppy ears, lots of wrinkles, and short bowed legs. They have sturdy feet and long nails – and often love digging if they are given half a chance!
- Their coats are short and flat, which means that grooming is made relatively easy. Both males and females tend to weigh between 40 and 60 lbs.
- Bassets are heavy-boned dogs which are relatively slow to mature. With their long body and short legs, they seem to have the appearance of a rectangle!
- Basset Hounds are not known for being quiet, so expect some noisy barking if you bring one home! Also, they are known for their stubbornness, which means that they are not the easiest dogs to train in the world.
- As they used to hunt in packs, Basset Hounds tend to get along well with other dogs. But as their hunting instinct still remains, you can expect them to go after smaller animals if given half a chance. And you also need to make a special effort to stop your Basset from darting off.
- They are also known for their friendly nature, which makes them ideal pets for families with young children. However, they need to be socialized from a young age to ensure that they are used to being around kids and other pets.
Things You Should Know
Now we come onto the section of the blog post which tells you more about the individual aspects of owning and caring for your very own Basset Hound. We have divided up the post into several clear categories starting with health and taking you through health, training, exercise, nutrition, grooming, and temperament. By the time that you have finished reading, you should have a more complete picture of exactly what it takes to have one of these dogs at home.
While Basset Hounds are relatively healthy dogs, all breeds are susceptible to some conditions which are worth being aware of before adoption. If you are going to buy a puppy from a breeder, you should ask to see health clearances which prove that your dog’s parents have been tested for certain conditions, so that you can rule these out. If you are going down the path of adoption, the center should provide a full health check, so you know if there are any issues with the dog that you are going to be bringing home.
One of the more serious issues that can affect Basset Hounds is Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV), which is also known as bloat or gastric torsion. It affects deep-chested dogs and occurs when the stomach is full of gas and then twists as they are unable to remove it through vomiting. The dog can go into a state of shock which could lead to death if immediate medical attention is not sought. Look out for excessive retching and drooling, as well as lethargy and restlessness.
Glaucoma is another condition which is common in Basset Hounds. In this situation, pressure will build up behind the eye of your dog, which can lead to blindness if it is not detected and treated early enough. Look out for your pooch rubbing at their eyes or a rub and bulging appearance. It is a serious condition which you need to get looked at as soon as possible.
As you may expect from the big and droopy nature of your hound’s ears, these are prone to getting infected as they don’t allow enough air to circulate. You need to make the effort to clean out your dog’s ears on a weekly basis to prevent this from occurring. Look out for inflammation or bad smells.
Obesity is a condition which is prevalent amongst many domestic dogs, but it can particularly affect long-backed breeds such as Basset Hounds. And the problem is that Bassets love to eat, so you may well find your dog pestering you for food a lot. So, you need to have extra strong willpower to resist their puppy dog eyes!
One of the biggest challenges of owning a Basset Hound is training them as they are known to be stubborn creatures despite the fact that they are also intelligent ones You need to be patient, stay consistent in your methods, and approach the job with kindness. If you get frustrated and yell, this is only likely to make the whole process even longer. Positive reinforcement such as food and praise will help you in your task. And you also need to make your training sessions interesting. Otherwise, you may quickly discover that there is all manner of things out there that are more interesting than listening to you! If you have a puppy, you should start training them straight away to embed good habits at the earliest possible opportunity.
Basset Hounds rank fairly low in terms of how much exercise they require, but it is important that your pooch gets enough as this a breed that is prone to obesity. Your sessions don’t need to be hugely long or intense, and Bassets are not as playful as some other breeds. While you are not likely to find your pooch bounding around all over the place, you should still take them out for a good, long walk at least once a day. Regular exercise also plays the role of tiring your dog out and keeping them away from other trouble. Otherwise, they can become a pain with nuisance barking and digging being a couple of their favorite annoyances. After they have been out for a good exercise session, you are likely to find them drifting comfortably off to sleep.
In terms of games that you can play with your dog, anything involving tracking or hunting will work well with their natural instincts and impulses. Bassets are also used to traveling in packs, so they may enjoy socializing with other hounds on their trips out.
As we have mentioned a couple of times now, obesity is a problem in Basset Hounds as they just love to eat, so you need to be the one staying strong in controlling their mighty appetite. It is best to give your dog a couple of meals a day. Around 1.5 to 2.5 cups of high-quality dog food should be enough – depending on the size of your pooch. Of course, there are other factors here which are going to play a role in how much you feed your dog including their age, activity levels, and metabolism. Don’t forget that quality also plays a role in how healthy your dog is – not just quantity. As well as food, your dog should have constant access to a supply of clean, fresh water.
There are a couple of ways that you can tell whether or not your dog is overweight. First, you can give them a quick visual inspection. Look down on them from above and you should be able to see their waist quite clearly. If you are still unsure, you can feel your dog. Put your hands on your dog’s back with your hands spread out widely and you should be able to feel your dog’s ribs without pressing too hard. Less food and more exercise are needed if you can’t. While we mentioned earlier that treats can be an important part of training your dog, you need to be careful not to overdo it.
With their short, smooth coats, grooming shouldn’t take up too much of your time when it comes to the Basset Hound. Their coats also have the natural advantage of naturally repelling dirt and water. However, this doesn’t mean that you should leave your dog entirely to their own devices. Regular grooming sessions will keep your dog both happy and healthy. The short hair of Basset Hounds is well known for shedding quite often, but this can be controlled by using a soft brush or shedding tool on your dog at least once a week. Getting rid of this dead skin, fur, and debris early is good for your dog’s skin, so it is an activity worth undertaking.
Other tasks include cleaning out their ears and facial wrinkles. As you may already expect with ears which are so long that drag close to the ground, they can get very dirty, very quickly. You should clean out the inside of your dog’s ears at least once a week using a pre-approved solution. Also, you can use a damp cloth to clean out facial wrinkles. Make sure you properly dry your dog when you are done.
Another way that you can keep your Basset’s coat looking its very best is by giving them the occasional bath. You should also make a point of trimming their nails on a regular basis. If you can hear your dog going across your hardwood flooring, this is an obvious sign that their nails are too long! While you are doing this, you can inspect their paws for any sores in the middle. You should also get into the habit of brushing your dog’s teeth around two or three times a week. However, daily brushing is best if you are really serious about preventing periodontal disease further down the line. Also, this will help to keep gum disease and bad breath and bay, which is bound to be a relief the next time your dog goes for a big, wet, slobbery kiss!
Whether you adopt a new puppy or an adult dog who is not used to being groomed, you may find the process challenging to begin with. This is why it is so important that you offer plenty of praise and rewards during the process. And this will also help with veterinary examinations in the future too.
Basset Hounds are well known for their friendly and laid-back nature, which makes them the ideal dog for families. Most of these dogs will get along with everyone including kids and other animals, so it should be easy to integrate your new canine companion into the household. But socialization is best in young age, so your dog can get used to being in the company of people and other animals, as well as becoming accustomed to all sorts of sights, sounds, and experiences. If you have young children at home, you need to remember that it is a two-way street.
You need to teach them from early on what is acceptable and what isn’t. This means preventing your dog from being ridden, their ears being pulled, or anything else which is going to cause distress to your pooch.
While they are usually calm indoors, some Bassets are known for their tendency to bark a lot. But this also has the positive flipside of making them a great watchdog. Bassets love a busy household and will not be too happy if they are left alone to their own devices all day. If you have a busy job that keeps you out of the house for hours on end, this is worth bearing in mind.
If your dog gets the scent of a trail, you are going to find it very hard to shake them off it, which is why you need to be especially careful when you are outdoors together. You don’t want to risk the disaster of your pooch running off.
If you are expecting a dog that is going to shower you with love and affection the moment you step through the front door, you may end up being disappointed. However, Basset Hounds are known for their loyalty, and it is a pleasure to build up this strong relationship between the two of you. Take the effort to treat your dog right. Avoid suddenly approaching while they are sleeping or eating as these are the times when your dog feels at their most vulnerable.
There is every reason why Basset Hounds have retained their enduring popularity in the canine world. They are easy to take care of, fun to be around, and steadfastly loyal. Plus, they get on in busy households with kids and other pets. However, you need to take the effort to socialize your dog from a young age, feed them a proper diet, and ensure they get plenty of exercise to prevent the obesity that they are prone to developing.
Unlike some of the other rarer breeds out there, plenty of Basset Hounds are waiting for a good home in a rescue shelter, so this is a route which is more than worthwhile going down. If you do decide to buy your dog, always ensure that you go to a reputable breeder who can answer all the questions that you put to them and will give you the correct documentation that you are looking for.
If you have been inspired to get a Basset Hound of your own, hopefully this guide provides a good starting point in understanding exactly what it takes to properly care for your four-legged friend.