Basset Hound Dog Breed Guide

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Introduction Of Basset Hound Dog

The Basset Hound, also known as the Badger Dog or simply as the Basset, is an old, aristocratic scentdog that has become one of the most well-known of all canine breeds. Gentle, kind and distinctive in appearance, the Basset is a loyal and affectionate pet and an easy keeper. The American Kennel Club registered its first Basset Hounds in 1885. The breed is a member of the Hound Group and is most well-known for its stubby but sturdy little legs, long low body, drooping ears and liquid brown eyes. The word basset is derived from the French adjective bas, which means “low thing,” “short” or “dwarf.” Basset Hounds have one of the best noses in the Hound Group, being second only to the Bloodhound. They are friendly, solemn and polite dogs, not prone to dramatic displays of either affection or excitement. Bassets are one of the most popular breeds in the United States and world wide.

The ideal Basset Hound should not exceed 14 inches at the withers; heights over 15 inches are considered a disqualification under the American breed standard. Bassets typically weigh between 50 and 70 pounds. Their short coat sheds frequently, but regular brushing can keep shedding under control. The many folds in their skin, if unattended, can become infected and irritated. Their pendulous ears require special attention.

Basset Hound Dog Breed Quick Facts

Adaptability3/5
Affection Level4/5
Apartment Friendly 3/5
Barking Tendencies 4/5
Cat Friendly 3/5
Child Friendly 4/5
Dog Friendly4/5
Exercise Need3/5
Grooming Needs 2/5
Health Issues 2/5
Intelligence 4/5
Playfulness 4/5

Basset Hound – Appearance & Grooming

Appearance

Bassets Hounds give the appearance of a Bloodhound that has been squished towards the ground. They have short legs, long bodies and heavy bones. Bassets have large heads with round skulls and long, wide muzzles. Their ears are long and velvet to the touch, and when extended outward toward the face, should actually be long enough to touch beyond the dog’s nose. Basset Hounds sport a long tail that should always be carried high. They have very large feet which almost appear disproportionate to the body, and their skin is loose and lays in folds around the head and face. Bassets are famous for their sad looking brown eyes and deliberate (but not clumsy) movement.

Size and Weight

Bassets are short, they only stand from 11 to 14 inches at the shoulder, but they are long and meaty, weighing anywhere from 45 pounds to 65 pounds at maturity. Their stature is deceiving. Bassets can make a lot of mischief around the house as they reach table and counter tops when they stand on their hind legs.

Coat and Color

Bassets have a droopy appearance due to the elasticity of their skin. Their hair is short, lays flat against the body and is weather-resistant. The coat sheds lightly year-round, but can be kept under control with regular brushing.

AKC Standards allow for all hound colors, but the most common Basset colors are tri-color (tan, black, and white), black and white, brown and white, or red and white. Lemon and white is a very rare ocuurance, but is accepted. Blue Bassets (which are actually gray) are sometimes seen, but this coloring is an indication of the presence of a recessive gene that leads to several problems with intestines, skin problems and food allergies.

Grooming Needs

Basset Hounds have short, water-resistant coats that require very little grooming. Weekly brushing will keep their year-round shedding under control, and the natural oils of the coat keep them from getting too dirty or smelly. Their ears are long and hang low, which makes Bassets prone to ear inflections. Weekly cleaning will help keep harmful bacteria at bay. They also have wrinkled faces which require regular wiping.

Basset Hound – History and Health

History

The Basset Hound was developed in the late 1500’s by the Friars of the Abbey of St. Hubert in northern France, as part of a selective breeding program to produce a low-set, slow-moving and highly intelligent hound that could be followed on foot rather than only on horseback. Bloodhounds were no doubt prominent in its ancestry. These dogs were bred to track rabbits, fox, squirrels, pheasants and deer, and eventually raccoons and badgers, using their keen sense of smell. They apparently even hunted wild boar and wolf. Their short legs and tight coat made them especially useful in thick brush, and they hunted equally well in packs or alone. Hunting was popular among French royalty during the 16th through 19th centuries, and Basset Hounds were favored in the kennels of aristocrats and other nobility. However, even commoners who did not own horses favored the Basset, which developed a special niche among hunting hounds.

By the mid-19th century, the two preeminent breeders of Bassets in France were producing dogs of slightly different types. M. Lane was breeding hounds with broader skulls, shorter ears and rounder, more prominent eyes. His dogs typically were lemon and white in color and tended to knuckle-over in front. Count Le Couteulx was breeding hounds with narrower heads, domed top-skulls and a softer, more sunken eye. His hounds also had a more prominent jaw and a down-faced look with more exaggerated facial expression. The Le Couteulx hounds also were tri-colored, making them more recognizable and more highly sought-after. In 1866, Lord Galway brought the first pair of Le Couteulx Basset Hounds to England. This pair produced a litter of five puppies in 1867, but they were not widely promoted. In 1874, Sir Everett Millais imported another French Basset Hound, named Model, to England. Using Model in a selective breeding program and with the help of Lord Onslow and George Krehl, Millais became known as the “father of the Basset Hound breed” in England. He exhibited the first Basset in England in 1875. However, it was not until 1880, when Millais coordinated a large Basset Hound entry for the Wolverhampton dog show, that public attention finally focused on the breed. Several years later, the Basset’s popularity in England grew when Queen Alexandra brought the breed into her royal kennels.

George Washington reportedly owned one of the first Basset Hounds in the United States, which was given to him by the Marquis de Lafayette after the American Revolution. Starting in 1883, imports of Bassets contributed to the bourgeoning popularity of the breed in America, particularly among sportsmen who valued their talents for hunting rabbits. The Westminster Kennel Club first recognized and held a class for the Basset Hound in 1884. The English import, Nemours, made his debut at that show and completed his AKC championship in Boston two years later. The American Kennel Club first recognized the Basset Hound in 1885. The breed continued its popularity into the 20th century, with a Basset puppy being prominently displayed on the cover of Time Magazine in 1928. The Basset Hound Club of America was founded in 1935 and became the national parent club for the breed in the United States. This breed remains a capable companion to hunters and an ideal family pet. It also excels in field trials, pack hunting, obedience and tracking. The Basset Hound retains its reserved nature and resonant voice.

Health

The average lifespan of the Basset is 10 to 12 years. Breed health concerns may include allergies, back and joint problems, bloat/torsion, cardiac disease, skin conditions, ear infections, eyelid and eyelash problems, glaucoma, intervertebral disk disease and von Willebrand disease. While they are generally a healthy breed, Basset’s ears need to be cleaned and cared for or they can develop ear infections. Their droopy eyes also need to be wiped daily to keep dirt and dust from accumulating in the fold and predisposing them to developing eye infections.

Basset Hound – Temperament & Personality

Personality

With their droopy eyes, long ears and short stature, basset hounds can sometimes look like sad, old men. In truth, they are active, affectionate and loyal, and because of their pack nature, get along well with people and other pets, making them an ideal family companion. Bassets will welcome rumpus playing with children, but will sit quietly on the lap of an adult when it’s time to relax for the evening. Basset Hounds may bark to sound an alert that someone is nearing the home, but once they greet a guest, will quietly return to their favorite sun-bathing spot on the floor.

Activity Requirements

Basset hounds need exercise. Not as much as a larger-breed dog, but they are prone to weight problems if they do not get enough outside activity. Their short stature is misleading – a basset hound can weigh as much as 60 pounds, so they do need plenty of time to stretch their legs every day. A family home with a yard to run and play in is ideal for a this breed, but apartment dwellers who are committed to walking their dog regularly and visiting a dog park for play ,can raise a healthy, happy Basset as well.

Trainability

Training a Basset can be a challenge. Some consider this a sign of low intelligence, but the truth is they are highly intelligent and independent, making them resistant to obedience. This independent nature can make them immune to discipline, and their lack of a desire to please people makes positive reinforcement training difficult. Basset hounds love to eat, so training with treats and a lot of patience will yield the best results. They will walk all over a meek trainer, so a confident nature is important when training a basset hound.

Bassets are hunting dogs with a keen sense of smell. If a basset picks up a scent, he will tune everything else out while he tracks the smell and will not respond to his owner’s desperate attempts to call him home. For this reason, it is best to keep basset hounds on a leash or in a fenced-in area.

Behavioral Traits

Basset Hounds are often referred to as “clown” dogs. They do their own thing, in their own time, and this can often lead to humorous interactions. They are not aggressive to people or other dogs, and despite their desire for independence, are truly pack animals who love the company of others.

Bassets bark and howl when they are bored. Before leaving a Basset Hound for a long period of time, owners should be sure to exercise their dog to tire him out, and leave him with plenty of chew toys and activities while gone. Bassets will also bark and howl when they sense something is wrong, and often during thunder storms.

Despite the challenges of training a Basset Hound, with a gentle hand and a little bit of patience this breed makes an ideal pet for families of all sizes and ages.

Photo Library of Basset Hound Dog

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