About the Basset Hound Breed
The Basset Hound is a natural tracking dog whose sense of smell ability is second only to the Bloodhound. His short stature enables him to closely follow the trail of scent kicked up by his long, floppy ears. He was bred to allow hunters to locate animals, primarily rabbits, but he can follow the scent of anything.
The breed originated in France as early as the 6th century. The Basset Hound is believed to be related to the Bloodhound through a common ancestor, the St. Hubert Hound. The breed’s mutation of small legs proved valuable to hunters on foot, and hunters would often take packs of Basset Hounds out to the field to track rabbits and flush them into the open for the hunter to kill.
The breed serves more as a happy companion now but can be roused to follow a scent quite easily and still be good for hunting purposes.
The Basset Hound is both low to the ground and long in the body. He weighs a surprising amount of about 40-60 pounds but can weigh more if allowed to be overweight. He is only about 12-15 inches tall.
He has an expressive face with droopy eyelids and long ears that extend downward. When the dog follows scent with his nose to the ground, it is not uncommon for the dog to accidentally step on his ears, and owners have to be careful to avoid stepping on them too when walking the dog.
He comes in two main colour variations: tri-coloured (black, tan, and white) or red and white. Some people refer to very light-coloured red and white dogs as lemon and white. There is no particular pattern to the colour distribution of his coat, which may appear in various ways. His coat is short and close to the body.
Who doesn’t love a Basset Hound and the baying sound he makes? He is a talkative fellow who likes to bark, howl, and bay to express himself. He is a very amiable personality and gets on well with just about everyone. His even-tempered, gentle demeanour makes him an excellent companion for all ages.
He does well with other animals and dogs. As the dog was originally bred to work in packs, he does very well with another dog’s company while his owner is at work.
The Basset Hound makes an excellent house dog as he has a low to moderate exercise requirement. While on the daily walk, he loves it and scents it continuously, but back at home, he is comfortable lounging around and hanging out.
He is viewed as clever and sometimes clownish by those that love him, and he has a ‘smell the roses’ kind of attitude and is rarely in a hurry.
As with many other scent hounds, the breed is not known as a traditional obedience dog breed. He can be trained best through positive reinforcement techniques and consistency, but it is important to know that at times an owner may find him stubborn or ‘hard of hearing.’
Basset Hounds need fenced yards or need to be on a leash when out of the home. They will quickly hook onto a scent and be gone. They will easily lose themselves in the smell, not noticing dangers to their safety, such as oncoming cars, and can go for miles and be lost. Additionally, although he doesn’t appear fast at first glance, he can move surprisingly fast if on the heels of an interesting trail.
Shedding & Grooming
Although the breed has a short coat, it can shed a good deal. This requires regular weekly brushing to cut down on loose hairs. A grooming glove or light brush works well.
The breed is considered pretty wash and wear due to his coat, but more frequent baths may be necessary if he develops an odour, although once a month should be enough. You need to take special care of his eyes and ears.
His ears need to be routinely cleaned out with ear cleaner and inspected. Look for excessive wax, debris, reddening, or odour, as these are all signs of infection. The Basset Hound has the perfect ears for infections.
His eyes need to be routinely wiped clean with a warm moist cloth. His droopy lids can accumulate dirt, foreign matter, or discharge from the eyes themselves. Wiping helps to keep the area cleaner.
Lastly, regular nail trims and tooth brushing are all that need to be done.
Health & Life Expectancy
The average lifespan of a Basset Hound is about 10-12 years. There are several health-related issues to be aware of with the breed:
- Basset Hound Thrombopathia
- Von Willebrand’s Disease
- Luxating patellas
- Hip dysplasia
- Elbow dysplasia
- Degenerative disk disease
- Gastric dilatation-volvulus
- Joint issues (worse if allowed to be obese)