The Basset Hound are renowned for their extremely good sense of smell and for following a sent with persistence.
The Basset Hound is one of the most easily recognizable dog breeds in the world – a short-legged hound with a long body, large long ears and a fairly large head and feet. It is one of six Basset breeds that originated n France. Most dogs with long, pendant ears are scent hounds and the Basset is one of them. Its original purpose was to hunt hares. It has an impeccable sense of smell second only to the Bloodhound. A Basset has a solid and long body, short legs, strong, active and can endure countless hours of hunting in the field. It hunts by scent and usually works in a pack and lets out a deep melodious voice when on a track. It has a domed head with a slight stop and slight wrinkles at the eyebrows and beside the eyes. There is a substantial overlap of the skin on the upper lips (flews) to the lower lips. Nose colour is either black, brown or liver, depending on the colour of the coat. The lozenge-shaped eyes display calm and serious expression and are usually dark to mid-brown in colour. The long velvety ears reach slightly beyond the end of the muzzle when pulled forward. The long body is supported by short forelegs and hind legs, all muscular with great bones with large well-knuckled up feet and strong thick padding. The coat of the Basset Hound is short, smooth and lay tightly on the skin, free from any feathering. The dog’s colour is generally black, white and tan and lemon and white. It has an average height of 33 - 38 cm from withers.
Short-legged hunting dogs have been existing for millennia and were first recorded on engravings found in Egypt dating back to as early as 2050 BC. Scent hounds were also used as hunting dogs for thousands of years in ancient Greece and Rome. In France, the earliest known mention of a basset breed was in a hunting manual written by Jacques du Fouilloux in the late 16th century. These dogs were used to hunt foxes and badgers and were great at what they do because of their short clearance to the ground. During the late 18th century, short-legged hounds became valued breeds of the country squires when they hunt on foot. In the 1870s when controlled breeding became the norm, breeders were able to create the Basset Artesien Norman. These short-haired basset hounds were imported into England and bred with the Bloodhound which created a heavier basset breed which became the modern Basset Hound.
Bassets are your typical pack animals, who are often good-tempered, loyal and affectionate. This breed is very sociable, loving the company of both animals and humans. The Basset regards its owners as members of the packed its known for the Basset to want to work his way up in the pecking order, hoping to become the leader. This is tried out in various ways, and part of their charm for many is in their convenient deafness - or stubborn disobedience! They usually don't take 'NO' for an answer the first time - or even the tenth! A Basset is very good at pretending to be fast asleep - but open the oven door when the joint is cooking and he will be there!
It is quite a sensitive dog that does not tolerate harsh training. A puppy Basset Hound should always be trained by a firm but gentle handler who is familiar with the hound temperament. It should be socialised at a very early age to as many experiences as possible, (i.e. meeting a lot of people and other animals) in order to have a well-behaved adult Basset Hound. Playing with the puppy on a regular basis establishes your position as the pack leader which will gradually diminish the dog’s dominant behaviour in due time. Hard rubber toys and good sized balls are wonderful materials to give to a puppy as outlets of boredom especially during times that he is alone. House training can also be quite a challenge so be ready to have a lot of patience.
The short, velvety coat of the Basset Hound is a breeze to maintain. Quick daily brushing is sufficient grooming to keep the coat shiny. The long ears should be inspected regularly and cleaned for wax when necessary. Check for foreign debris to avoid infection. The ears should always be kept dry.
Basset Hounds are a pretty healthy breed, but there a few things that may crop up. Malassezia Pachydermatis - this is a yeast problem which we have learnt a great deal about and seems to be lessening. There is a good shampoo which keeps it under control.
The Basset Hound has long, pendulous ears which are prone to infection and ear mites. They are also susceptible to ear diseases because of their proximity to the ground when the dog is sniffing around. Eye problems include occasional problems with entropion (where the eyelids turn in), Dry Eye and Closed Angle Glaucoma (Gonioscopy can give a good idea if a hound is pre-disposed to this). Slipping Patellas (kneecaps) and growth plate damage on front legs (mainly due to Basset puppies being allowed to jump on and off furniture and up & down stairs while their joints are still growing). Also disc problems can occur if a Basset Hound is obese and not exercised.
Like the Dachshund and the Bulldog, the Basset Hound is an achondroplastic breed (it has an abnormal bone and cartilage growth) which can lead to the development of elbow dysplasia and/or spinal injuries. The droopy eyes of the Basset Hound are also prone to infection. As a breed that sometimes drools, the folds around the mouth can also become a breeding ground for yeast infection so make sure to always keep that area clean and dry every time. The typical lifespan of the Basset Hound is 10 to 11 years. Leading causes of death are cancer, old age, gastric bloating and heart disease.
Exercise requirement should be at least one hour per day. It is a highly adaptable breed. It will do well in an apartment home, in a suburban home with a small or medium garden or in a country house with a large open area for the breed to play and run until it gets tired. However, the Basset Hound is heavily built and should not be exercised in a way as to put strain on its joints to prevent injuries, especially during the growing periods. During puppyhood or until about 8 months, a short amount of play in the yard or a few minutes of walking is sufficient for the breed. However, a fully-grown Basset Hound can be exercised as long as it wants to on a daily basis.
The Basset Hound is a friendly, playful and very loving dog and has a high tolerance for children which makes it a good companion of kids in the house. Being a pack dog means that it also gets quite along well with other dogs and pets in the house.