The Basset Hound

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A brown, white, and black Bassett Hound runs with its tongue out on green grass

Claudia Bensimoun author of The Bassett Hound

The dog that you choose will become part of your family for the next 12 to 14 years, so it’s important to make the right decision! With over 400 dog breeds to choose from with a variety of exercise, grooming, health and training needs, you’ll do best to find a breed that fits in with your lifestyle and activity level.

If you’re like us, you’ll probably adore all these breeds, but understanding a breed’s history will help you make the right choice in finding the perfect match for your home!

The Bassett Hound

The Basset Hound originated from France and was bred during the 16th century from a smaller version of the Saint Huberthound. This breed was developed to hunt small game while the hunter was on foot. The nobility favored this breed, though it became hugely popular among commoners after the French Revolution.

The Bassett has one of the sharpest noses with a keen sense of smell. Their substantial muzzles are packed with odor-detecting sensors, and they’re bred for their staying power when out in the field.

They also have moist lips that help with hunting and aid in scent detection; and those incredibly long ears that are silky soft. The Bassett Hound became one of the first breeds that were recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC).


History

Today, the Basset Hound is still used for hunting purposes and is popular as a companion breed. These dogs were bred in France and Belgium. It is believed that the friars wanted a small scenting dog that could hunt over rough terrain. The Basset Hound’s persistence and accuracy have made this dog breed a popular and noteworthy hunting companion.


Physical Description

TheBasset Hound is a medium-sized, short-legged, and heavy-boned dog breed. With a large, wide head that is covered with loosely wrinkled skin, the Bassett Hound has long, broad ears that are set low. This breed has dark, intelligent eyes with drooping lower eyelids, giving it an almost sleepy demeanor. The muzzle is deep, and the nose is dark with large nostrils. The coat is smooth, short, and shiny, and can be in any hound coloring. 

Although the Bassett’s movement is deliberate, this breed is by no means a clumsy dog. The Basset has plenty of endurance when out in the field and has an excellent temperament that is focused, keen, yet even-tempered.

Height

  • Up to 15 inches

Weight  

  • 40 - 65 pounds

Life Expectancy

  • 8 -12 years

Temperament

There is no breed like the Bassett Hound. This breed is gentle, affectionate, and friendly. With such an easygoing disposition, there’s no guessing why this delightful dog breed is so popular today.

Although the Basset has a strong hunting instinct and may roam or try to escape, the Bassett gets along with all animals and people. This is a very vocal dog breed that enjoys being around people. Early socialization during puppyhood, along withpositive dog training is beneficial to such a smart breed.


Activity Level

  • Low to moderate

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Special Needs

The Basset Hound needs a special ear and eye cleaning because the ears are long and droopy. This makes the Basset prone to ear infections due to trapped moisture within the ear. 

This wonderfully laid back dog breed does well with plenty of off-leash exercises to prevent obesity. Early socialization with other dogs, people, and animals is a fun addition throughout puppyhood and the adolescent canine years. 

The Basset has a strong hunting instinct and is very vocal. That said, allowing him to exercise freely with long hikes in the woods and some canine sports will allow for this breed to be mentally stimulated.


Possible Health Concerns

The Bassett has a heavier bone with a long, heavy body and short legs. Obesity can become a problem, most especially if it affects the back.

TheBasset Hound is a friendly dog breed that may be susceptible to the following:

  • Hip Dysplasia: Thisis an abnormal development of thehip joint in heavy dog breeds like the Basset. It is generally characterized by a loose joint, and then degenerative joint disease. Basset’s should be fed a high-quality diet that is geared towards their life stage. Puppies should only be fed high-quality puppy dog food. Excessive growth and types of exercise should be geared towards the age and health of the Basset.
  • Elbow Dysplasiais an abnormal development of the elbow joint in young, large, fast-growing dog breeds. It involves abnormal bone growth, cartilage development, or joint stresses. Treatment involves nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and surgery before the degenerative changes of osteoarthritis take place.
  • Hypothyroidism: is a condition where there is a deficiency of the thyroid hormone. This causes weight gain, constipation, and cold sensitivity.
  • Bleeding Disorders:Von Willebrand’s disease and Canine Thrombopathia are inherited bleeding disorders in the Basset. Consult with your veterinarian if you notice any changes in your Basset’s health.
  • Luxating Patella:This is when the kneecap moves out of its normal position. Consult with your veterinarian.
  • Bloat:This breed is deep-chested, and thus more prone to bloat. Bloat or gastric torsion is a life-threatening emergency. It is caused by the twisting of the stomach, together with the accumulation of gas, with or without fluid. It is best to never elevate your Bassett’s water and food bowls. Stress is also a major factor in causing bloat. Never feed your Bassett a large meal, followed by vigorous exercise. At the first signs of dry vomiting, restlessness, and discomfort, contact your emergency veterinarian. Never wait for a few hours. This is a true emergency, and your dog could die from this.
  • Glaucoma:Like humans, this dog breed is prone to glaucoma, an eye disorder marked by increased pressure within the eye. This can damage the interior of the eye, and lead to blindness. Consult with your vet right away for any eye issues.

Exercise

TheBasset needs “mild” regular exercise. Daily brisk walks with frequent trips to the dog park for off-leash runs. The Basset does not do well living in an apartment, even though they’re sluggish and friendly. They can also hurt their backs going up apartment stairs. Being very vocal, they’re not a good match for apartment living.

With the Basset’s mellow disposition, pet parents are quick to think that this breed does not need as much exercise. The Basset is sometimes not as easygoing, and they do need structure and exercise.

Despite the Basset’s small stature, these dwarf hounds possess hunting traits. They can be very vocal and stubborn and tend to be feisty adolescents. Many hounds enjoy doingsearch and rescue, as well astherapy work.


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Nutrition

All dogs have different dietary needs. When looking for high-quality dog food for your Basset, look out for the following:

  • no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives such as propylene glycol.
  • whole foods –no processed foods.
  • meat instead of meat meal.
  • organ meats are good.
  • by-products such as organ meats are fine, but no non-meat parts.
  • a good source of calcium
  • vegetables for fiber and nutrients such as flavonoids
  • diets need to be tested using AAFCO feeding trials, or by formulation to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles
  • specific quality control measures to assure consistency and quality of all ingredients used, as well as for the end product.
  • The diet should be complete and balanced.
  • the food should indicate what life stage it is intended for.
  • AAFCO provides nutrient profiles for all different life stages, all but for one, the senior geriatric dog.
  • dog food must meet the AAFCO profiles for all life stages and must meet the minimum nutrient levels for growth and adult maintenance in dogs.
  • the dog food must be made by a reputable and knowledgeable dog food company that has the highest quality control measures.
  • it should not be made in China, nor should any of the ingredients come from China.
  • puppies should eat only puppy food so there should be a puppy formula.

General ingredients that include whole meats, fruits, or vegetables in their top 5 ingredients are considered good dog foods. Those that also incorporate antioxidants like blueberries, cranberries, pomegranates, and pumpkin are also becoming popular. With that said, organic, natural, and preservative-free with no artificial ingredients, are also key to a well- balanced, and high-quality dog food.

Consult with your veterinarian for the best dog food options for your Basset Hound. Basset’s can become obese. It’s important to feed healthy low fat treats and to combine a healthy diet with plenty of regular exercises.


Grooming

Routine daily grooming will keep your Basset’s coat in excellent condition. The Basset is one of the easiest breeds to groom, although this breed does shed a lot. Short- bristled brushes or mitts should be used every day to maintain a shiny and healthy coat. 

The Bassett enjoys frequent baths, and having his teeth done daily. Twice yearly visits to the veterinarian for dental hygiene maintenance are a must. Ears need to be regularly wiped out, and nails trimmed. Doggie wipes can be used to keep your Basset clean in-between bathing.


Adopting a Basset Hound

Bringing a Basset into your household is a life-changing decision. It’s always best to research the dog breed that you’re about to adopt. When adopting a Basset, keep in mind that this wonderful dog breed will bring new responsibilities. You’ll also need to prepare your home and family for your new furry best friend and to make sure that the adoption transition is smooth and relaxed. 

Keep in mind that when it comes to children, it’s up to you to adequately socialize your dog and that young children always need to be supervised around dogs so as not to interact harshly with the dog. Every dog breed can be awesome with children if raised correctly with them. If you have issues, combining virtual and in-person positive training viaSkype or Zoom for consults is beneficial.  

According to Animal Wellness, via Claudia Bensimoun, “Virtual training can be a tricky proposition,” says renowned trainerVictoria Stilwell. “In certain cases with certain dogs, while trying to address very particular lessons or issues, it can be an effective tool, but it can also quickly morph into a problem scenario. For example, often a client will hire a dog trainer to ‘fix’ a given issue, only to find out from the trainer that there are far different (and sometimes more complicated) issues at play than the person was previously aware of. Virtual training generally doesn’t allow for the flexibility to address those types of issues.

“It also makes the dangerous assumption that the dog owner and ‘virtual teacher’ are on the same page in terms of what they’re trying to address and how the dog responds to the training,” Victoria continues. “All too often, positive dog trainers see clients who miss important signals in their dogs, and virtual training creates a situation where there’s not a qualified dog behavior expert on hand to oversee the process. 

Virtual training can only be considered for the most basic cues and language-building dog training – not any kind of behavioral issue.”As with virtual training classes, video consults and conferences shouldn’t take the place of hands-on training. “Video consults are much better as a continuing backup and refresher, rather than for starting the actual training process or for behavioral issues,” says Victoria viaAnimal Wellness.

“They are a better tool if the trainer has been working with the client in person for a while. However, there is no substitute for having a trainer do an in-home visit where she can physically work with the dog and identify factors in the environment that might affect behavior. That is impossible to do via a video or phone consultation.”

Basset’s like any dog breed bring plenty of joy and happiness! Your new furry best friend deserves the best! Make sure that you have the time, finances and a safe environment to raise this awesome dog breed, and that if you have other dogs and pets, that they will be accepting of your new rescue!


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Meet The Author 

Claudia Bensimoun - Author of The Bassett Hound

Claudia Bensimoun

Claudia Bensimoun is a freelance journalist and author, and specializes in veterinary content, and eBooks. She's a long-time feature writer for Animal Wellness magazine, Fido Friendly magazine, and the United States Dog Agility Association. In addition, Bensimoun has written for numerous pet websites, magazines, newspapers and online publications. Her interests include wildlife conservation, animal welfare, disaster/ humanitarian relief, veterinary research, and veganism.