Lifespan: 10-12 years
Allergies: Not Hypoallergenic
Temperament: Friendly, Gentle, Affectionate, Good-natured, Loyal
The Basset Hound was originally developed in sixteenth century France by friars of the Abbey of St. Hubert. St. Hubert was the patron saint of the hunt, and was trying to breed a dog that would move more slowly. This would mean that he could be followed on foot, so that you wouldn’t necessarily have to be an aristocrat with a horse in order to hunt.
With the Basset Hound’s short legs and low body, they were ideal to hunt small game such as rabbits and hares. They were also crossed with Bloodhounds to make them larger. In French, the word ‘basset’ meant ‘of low stature’, which is where the hound got its name.
Basset Hounds were developed further in England, by Sir Everett Millais. When he entered the breed in dog shows it became more widely known, and Queen Alexandra even took interest and acquired some of her own. After the revolution in America, George Washington was said to have been given a Basset Hound, and they then started to become more popular in the USA.
Basset Hounds are known for their amiable easy-going nature, and they are very good around children. Since they are pack animals, they love company and often act as a lap dog and sit contentedly on the couch with their owner.
Famous for their sad droopy eyes and funny face, Basset Hounds are surprisingly intelligent. They have a smooth weatherproof coat with lots of folds in their skin and a body that is low to the ground, with short legs. Bred for hunting game, these hounds have an incredibly good sense of smell, helped by their long ears, and will usually move with their nose to the ground. They like to track a scent and take a good look around as they go, so they are best kept on a leash or in an area that is fenced off.
Basset Hounds might not be the best choice for a first time dog owner as they can be tricky to train. They can adapt to apartment living if taken out for a good walk every day – as they are also happy lounging around. But don’t leave them on their own for too long, because they love company and will start barking if they’re bored. If you do need to leave one by himself, first exercise him so that he’s ready for a nap, and give him lots of toys and activities.
These are very child-friendly dogs and get along with pets and people because they’re used to being in a pack with other dogs. They can play around but also be happy to lie down and relax. They will usually bark at a visitor when they first come, but once they’ve met them they’ll calm down.
The coat of a Basset Hound is short and water-resistant and sheds lightly all the year around. It will need regular brushing with a soft brush once a week, which will also help his skin. A bath is only needed occasionally or when he is dirty, but he will need his nails trimmed regularly.
Their skin has many folds, so attention will be needed to make sure nothing gets infected. It is best to clean their ears once a week, as otherwise they may get infected, and their eyes should be cleaned as well. They do have a tendency to drool.
Basset Hounds are rather difficult to train because they are intelligent and independent. They were bred to think for themselves and follow a scent - so they may not follow commands too easily. However if you are consistent, take your time, and reward them with treats they can be trained well. You will need to be confident so that they don’t take the lead. They do tend to start barking if they think something is wrong, or if there is a thunder storm. They will also often bark if someone is coming to visit.
Daily walks or a yard to run in are ideal for Basset Hounds, as they need regular exercise, but not as much as some breeds. They are also prone to becoming overweight and obese, which makes exercise particularly important for them. They enjoy having another dog along for company when they go out for a walk and they are happy to play. But they should generally be kept on a leash or they might find a scent and track it.
Basset Hounds need high quality dog food, and will thrive on dry kibble as long as it contains a balanced diet of carbohydrate, fat, protein and nutrients. It is possible to feed them the BARF diet, which consists of natural food. However if you do this you will want to make sure that you add a vitamin supplement so they are getting all the nutrients they need.
They love food more than average dog breeds, so they will often keep eating even though they’ve had enough. This means you really need to watch their portion sizes and avoid giving them too many scraps of food and treats. Also be aware of how big their belly is, as it can drag on the ground and cause sores, or put too much stress on their back and hips.
Small basset hounds should be fed small amounts little and often. Once they are over 6 months they can be moved to two meals a day.
You will need to watch out for bloat, or gastric dilation volvulus (GDV), if you have a Basset Hound. They are a dwarf large breed, so still have a big chest area. If they eat too quickly or too much in one sitting, their stomach can fill with air and twist, cutting off blood flow and causing a lot of pain. If this happens, get help right away, as it can be fatal.
Basset Hounds do tend to get allergies to some foods, but it varies depending on the dog. If you suspect an allergy it is best to feed him a Limited Ingredient Diet (LID) for 12 weeks or till there are no more allergic symptoms. Then you can gradually introduce foods one at a time until you find what is causing the problem.
Some people recommend using a large breed dog food for Basset Hounds since they are on the heavy side, and the protein and fat content will help develop lean muscle. But if you do this, just make sure you use the low end of the portion size. And of course watch his weight and cut down if necessary.
Recommended daily feeding amount: 2-4 cups of food
Make sure you don’t feed your Basset Hound only one meal a day as this can lead to bloat, which is a dangerous condition. It’s best to give them at least two meals a day, and don’t exercise them for about an hour after they’ve eaten. A good rule of thumb is to give them 1 to 1 ½ cups in the morning and 1 to 1 ½ cups in the evening. You can also add in a little canned food to moisten the dry food.
Basset Hounds love to eat, but tend to not be that active. So use the lower portion size that is recommended for the weight of your dog to avoid them gaining weight.
Allergies and Bloat are common to Basset Hounds. Also because of their folded and droopy skin they can be prone to skin conditions, eyelid problems and ear infections. Check their ears regularly because the air doesn’t circulate too much, so it can be easy for them to get an ear infection if it’s not clean. Their eyes should also be wiped every day so that they will be less likely to get an eye infection.
Other health conditions can include hip and elbow dysplasia, glaucoma, bleeding disorders, luxating patella (dislocated kneecap) and hypothyroidism. Breeders should check for these in the parents to make sure they are less likely to be passed on. You can also get an eye and hip exam to check for some of these.
Back problems can be an issue, especially if they are overweight or obese. Basset Hounds have a long body, so a distended stomach will put a lot of weight on the back. You will also need to be careful that children don’t ride on the dog and cause extra strain and stress on its back.
As puppies, they shouldn’t be allowed to jump on high pieces of furniture, or go up and down long flights of stairs. Stress on their joints while they are still growing can cause them to be injured for life. After a year old you can ease these restrictions.
Basset Hounds are often purchased without any clear understanding of what goes into owning one. There are many Basset Hounds in need of adoption and or fostering. There are a number of rescues that we have not listed. If you don't see a rescue listed for your area, contact the national breed club or a local breed club and they can point you toward a Basset Hound rescue.
Breed Organizations: The Basset Hound Club of America, Inc.
Above are breed clubs, organizations, and associations where you can find additional information about Basset Hounds.
Stock Photos from Marry Kolesnik & EveryDogHasaStory / Shutterstock
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