FUNNY, FLOPPY-EARED, FRIENDLY
History & Origin
The Basset can trace its history all the way back to the Middle-Ages, a time when hunting was extremely popular and served as an acceptable pastime for many a young nobleman. One of these noblemen, Francois Hubert, not only had a passion for hunting, but was intent on the betterment of his hunting dogs, and started a small-scale breeding program.
Even though Hubert had a religious epiphany, joined a monastery and became a priest and later, the Bishop of Liege, he still kept his dogs, and after his death was canonized as St. Hubert, the Patron Saint of Hunters by the Roman Catholic Church.
His hounds, it is believed, are the basis for most of the hound dog breeds we find today, the Basset Hound included.
After Hubert’s death, the Basset evolved into the dog we know it today because of selective breeding. The first time the word ‘Basset” was used was sometime during the sixteenth century and is derived from the French word ‘bas’, meaning, ‘low’, due to its close proximity to the ground – i.e. they had short legs.
Following the French Revolution, the breed became particularly popular with the common man who favored the slower Basset when on hunting expeditions, as they more commonly hunted on foot. The Basset’s keen sense of smell made it great at finding and flushing out the smaller game while its owner found it easier to keep up with his dog.
The breed gained popularity in Great Britain during the 1800’s, with some being kept in the Royal Kennels as well.
Talking about history, George Washington is said to have owned Bassets. They were, apparently gifted to him by Lafayette after the American Revolution. These large, short-legged dogs have quite a varied history indeed.
The Basset Hound was recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1935.
PERSONALITY AND CHARACTER
A large, low-standing dog, the Basset’s temperament fits his looks. Although an extremely intelligent breed of dog, the Basset may often be described as stubborn. In reality, this stubbornness can more accurately be described as ingenuity or downright sneakiness and manipulation, as its sad face and droopy ears while begging a morsel from the table, would most probably result in your heart melting and your puppy finally getting its way! Don’t give in, no matter how difficult you may find it not to!
This is a breed of dog that has a calm demeanor, is highly sensitive and does not do well with any form of harsh treatment whether it is perceived or otherwise, is extremely good-natured as well as affectionate, and that gets along extremely well with any other pets you may. Bassets are also extremely fond of children and love nothing more than entertaining them or having their bellies rubbed.
Because they were bred to hunt in packs, this is a breed that has a true pack mentality. As a result, it is never a good idea to have a Basset Hound as your only pet or to leave him alone for long periods of time. They can get depressed, or very destructive.
Basset Hounds are not great as guard dogs as they tend to be friendly with anyone, whether human or animal. If you are looking for a huge lap warmer, however, a Basset Hound fits the bill! They like nothing more than being cuddled, stroked and adored while snoozing the day away.
While on the topic of snoozing, Bassets are great at doing nothing, even though they are hunting dogs. Because of their inherent ‘laziness’, many tend to get obese due to limited activity. Obesity leads to all kinds of health complications, of which diabetes is only one. One should, therefore, always refrain from feeding your Basset any additional little ‘extras’, no matter how soulful his begging gaze may be. It is for its own good!
One needs to be mindful of the fact that as a hunting dog, this breed has a nose that loves finding interesting scents, and once on the ‘track’ of something, it may be difficult to get your Basset to change its mind as to the direction it wants to go! They tend to be single-minded when it comes to anything that smells interesting. When taking your puppy out for a walk, it is, therefore, always best to keep him on a leash, no matter what his age.
NUTRITION AND FEEDING
This is quite an easy dog to care for, although if you want him to get onto higher places, such as a couch or bed, he will need a ‘lift’ from you. Their short legs and large, heavy bodies make jumping an almost impossible feat for this breed. They are also terrible swimmers, due to the largeness of their upper bodies. Therefore, no swimming exercises for you Basset puppy! Let’s have a look at nutrition first.
A raw food diet is the one that is the most similar to a dog’s diet in ‘the wild’. Besides the protein it derives from meat, it also receives the nutrients and minerals from fruit and vegetables that a dog would get from eating the guts of its prey. Besides feeding your dog meat, fish and poultry, adding various fruits and vegetables to his diet such as carrots and sweet potatoes, ensures that all your new puppy’s nutritional requirements are met. Please keep in mind that certain food is not suitable for your pet, such as raw onion and garlic, avocado or chocolate. Food that is not suitable for canines can actually make them very ill.
A raw food diet, besides having the obvious positive effects, also ensures there is less stool to pick up and makes for better oral hygiene, as dry, commercial dog food tends to lead to a buildup of plaque on a dog’s teeth which, in turn, leads to tooth decay.
If you do, however, decided to feed your Basset commercial dog food, please ensure that it is designed for a large breed of dog. The Basset, while standing low to the ground, is actually considered a large breed dog. The shortness of its legs is due to a genetic mutation, and food specifically formulated for smaller dogs is not suitable for feeding Basset Hounds.
With regards to a Basset puppy, you should not feed him puppy food longer than is necessary. Like all larger breeds of dogs, a Basset matures slower than a smaller dog, both physically and mentally. As puppy food is extremely high in certain elements that promote growth, it will allow your Basset to grow quicker than what it is supposed to. This has a negative effect in the long-term on his bone structure and strength of his ligaments. He should grow at a much slower rate than dogs that are smaller in stature.
Your new puppy should also, for the first six months of his life, eat three to four smaller meals per day. By the time he is six months old, however, feeding him two meals per day is the norm.
Never allow your Basset to get overweight, and if you notice your puppy is becoming chubbier by the day, it is recommended that you feed him less or decide on a different diet. Obesity in dogs, as previously mentioned, leads to health complications.
Also, if you are intent on feeding your dog commercial dog food, consider mixing up his diet. This means combining a natural diet with a commercial one. To this end, try substituting certain dry food meals with homemade ones. At the end of the day, this ensures his diet is on track and you have a healthier, happier dog.
COAT AND GROOMING
This is a breed with a reasonable lifespan of between 10 to 12 years. Males tend to be slightly larger than their female counterparts, standing at a (short) height of between thirty to thirty-eight centimeters and weighing in at between 23kg – 29 kg. Not so small by any standard, considering the body length and weight! Females, however, stand at between 28cm and 36 cm and can weigh between 20kg and 27 kg. These are recommended weights. Anything more and your dog may be getting ‘fat’.
A Basset Hound’s coat is smooth, short, dense, and excellent at repelling water, while its skin has an elastic-like quality, resulting in the ‘droopy’ look around its face that gives it its sad expression. Their coats also come in a variety of colors: black and white, tri-color (black, white, and tan), red and white, and brown and white. There are other variations as well, but they are very seldom seen.
With regards to grooming your new puppy, a Basset Hounds needs are extremely simple and can easily be done at home.
An occasional bath (usually when he has either gotten himself dirty or starts developing a doggy odor) is more than sufficient for this breed’s needs. Besides bathing, his large ears need to be checked quite regularly and cleaned. Cleaning them with a damp cotton wool ball is more than enough, although any discoloration with regards to color or if you notice a discharge could indicate an ear infection. In this instance, a speedy visit to your veterinarian is advised.
Their nails may also need to be clipped occasionally – if you hear them clicking while your dog walks, it is an indication that it is ‘such time’. Many dog owners are wary of clipping their dog’s nails. In this instance, most veterinarians and doggy parlors offer this service at a minimal charge.
EXERCISE AND TRAINING
Although they have short legs and are low energy dogs, a leisurely walk is not enough exercise for a Basset! They are a breed that tends to become obese, so their exercise needs to be something that gets them past a mere stroll. Up the pace and let them ‘sweat’ a little!
Training, with this breed, could be a long, drawn-out affair as they like to do as they please while suddenly becoming ‘deaf’ as soon as they are told to do something they do not want to. Do not, under any circumstances, however, think your Basset stood at the back of the row when intelligence was meted out! They are, in fact, extremely intelligent!
Socialization should begin the moment your new puppy comes home with you. This is very easy, as they are a breed that adores humans and other animals. Potty training, however, could be a bit of a problem and would require a lot of patience from your side.
It is advised that you take him to his potty area every two to three hours, as well as after every meal. Typically, with regards to meals, taking him outside approximately fifteen minutes after a meal is a great idea as this is more or less the time it takes your puppy to digest and then defecate.
With a Basset, consistency and patience reap the best rewards.
With regards to sleeping, your basset puppy will be doing a lot of that, especially the first six months to a year. Even as an adult, though, you would, more often than not, find him snoozing in a sun spot or even on the couch. Be prepared for this!
Two things to keep in mind when considering a Basset puppy is that they tend to drool, and they tend to let off the odd ‘sneaker’, so if you get a bad smelling whiff, look no further, it is probably your puppy.
Purchase your puppy from a reputable breeder that can give you a clear indication of all its needs, give you information on the breed as a whole, and who can supply you with a history of both its parents, as these are deciding factors when deciding whether this is the breed or dog for you!
All breeds are prone to certain health problems, and the Basset is not exempt. Most prevalent are problems associated with its joints, i.e. either hip- or elbow dysplasia. This is common with most large dogs, and in the Basset, with its short legs, even more so. This is why they need to grow slowly but steadily while still a puppy, and over-exercise and jumping is never recommended.
Another consideration is back problems due to its long back in relation to its height. This is common in most ‘long’ dog breeds.
Gastric torsion or ‘bloat’, whereby the stomach fills with air and twists around, is also not uncommon for this breed as it has a large, deep chest. Feeding him smaller meals more often is thus preferable to one large meal a day. Also do not allow your Basset to exercise before or after eating, as these are contributing factors.
A large dog on short legs tends to sum up a Basset Hound quite well. Great with people and animals, he can be kept in an apartment due to his limited exercise needs – although he does need his brisk walks!
If you are looking for a fun dog that is a loving companion and you do not expect him to be great on the watchdog/protection side, the Basset Hound is most certainly a breed to consider.
watch a video of the