a Basset Hound sitting outside in the grass

Basset Hounds

Basset Hounds are often called “clowns in the cloak of a philosopher,” and it is easy to see why. Pounding their short legs along at a slower speed than just about any other breed, these dogs are known for their friendly, sweet disposition and silly antics, which can sometimes even include chasing their own tails. Basset Hounds also have dark brown eyes and hanging, droopy lips, giving them an expression of permanent sorrow. Unfortunately that is the look they have but they’re really sweet and friendly dogs.

Basset hounds are a favorite of many families, and for good reason. They have a beautiful, friendly face, and make great companions for both children and adults. But what else makes this breed so great? Let’s take a quick look at some of the many reasons why family pets are so popular with the Basset Hound breed.

Basset Hound Information

  • Average Height: 16 to 21 inches
  • Average Weight: 40 to 65 pounds
  • Average Length: up to 15 inches 
  • Coat Type: Short
  • Coat Appearance: Smooth and hard-textured
  • Coat Colors: Tri-color (white, red and tan); Tan and Red with spots.
  • Grooming Needs: Low
  • Shedding: Low
  • Brushing Requirements: Once a week
  • Sensitive to Touch: No
  • Excessive Barking: Moderate
  • Good tolerance to Heat and Cold: No
  • Good Pet: With early socialization and training, yes!
  • Safe with Children: Totally
  • Good with Other Dogs: Yes
  • Good with Other Pets: Yes
  • Suitable to live in an Apartment: Yes
  • Suitable for First-Time Dog Owners: Depends
  • Training: They are stubborn and difficult to train
  • Exercise Needs: Moderate
  • Weight Gain: High
  • Health Concerns: Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus, Hip Dysplasia, Patellar luxation, Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), Wobble Syndrome and eye-related diseases
  • Allergies: None
  • Average Life Span: 10 to 12 years

Physical Appearance of Basset Hounds

Basset Hounds are medium-sized dogs with short legs. Their body is low to the ground which is the result of a dwarfism condition called achondroplasia. Though they tend to have a height of around 21 inches, these dogs can weigh between 50 to 60 pounds. This is because they have heavy bones and a muscular body.

Bassets have a large head with a long snout. The skin on their face is loose and heavily wrinkled above the brow. Their ears are long and set low on the head. The ears have a velvet texture with the end of the ears slightly turned inwards. The tail is long, points up and has a white spot at the tip. 

Basset Hounds have a short coat that is hard and smooth. The skin on their body is loose and elastic. Their coat comes in several colors, the most common being a tri-color pattern of white, tan and black. Other colors include a white coat with red spots; a solid red coat with white feet and tail; and a lemon and white coat. 

Temperament of Basset Hounds

Basset Hounds have a friendly and pleasant temperament. They have been raised as pack members, so they love to be around their family members and can get along with other pets. Bassets are social and tend to get along with strangers as well. This is why they do not make good watchdogs.

a Basset Hound walking on a sandy beach

These dogs tend to be lazy which is a major reason why they often become obese.

They are curious and love to follow a scent. They were raised to stay focused on following a scent, which often prevents them from following commands. If you take them out for walks, keep them on a leash. Without a leash, you may find them blindly following the scent far away.

Bassets are calm but sometimes can be loud. They produce a howling rather than a barking sound. The dog mostly barks when they want your attention.

Training a Basset Hound

Like most hounds, the Bassets are stubborn and independent which can make it difficult for you to train them. For centuries these dogs have been hunting on their own which has made them somewhat independent. This may make it difficult to follow your commands but patience and commitment will be needed to train them.

Their stubborn behavior can be dealt with by using positive reinforcement techniques. Give them treats and praise while training them. House-training Bassets will also require a lot of patience.  

Avoid getting angry with them as it will make them act more stubborn. 

Early socialization training is also important for Basset Hounds. Introduce them to different people, sounds and experiences when they are young as it will help the Bassets to become more adaptable.

Their Compatibility with Children

Bassets are pack members which makes them a great pet for families with children. They enjoy playing and spending time with children. They are gentle around children and will also get along with other pets. Bassets are also not very active and aggressive which means you don’t need to worry about them hurting your children. 

Children should be shown how to interact with the Bassets. Make sure all children know not to pull their fur or tail, as this can make the dogs aggressive. To prevent accidents from happening, always have an adult supervise the interaction between Bassets and children.

Best Climate for Basset Hounds

Basset Hounds do not have a long and thick coat to provide them protection from harsh weather conditions. Moderate climate is best for them as they cannot tolerate extreme hot or cold temperatures. 

They mostly like to stay indoors but homes with access to a backyard can be great for them. 

If you stay in a location that experiences extreme temperatures, keep your dogs inside to prevent them from being miserable outside. Keep a watch on the Bassets to see if they are shivering or panting.

The Attention a Basset Hound Needs

Since Basset Hounds love to live in packs, they need a lot of attention from their family members. Avoid leaving them alone for long hours as it can make them feel lonely and become destructive or start barking. Keeping them with other pets like other dogs or cats can also help to take care of their attention needs.

They are not as active as other breeds but need regular exercise. Staying indoors will make them couch potatoes which will result in the Bassets becoming obese. Daily exercise is important to keep them healthy. Bassets love to go out for walks, so talking them to the park will make them very happy.

a Basset Hound sitting outside in the grass

Health Issues

The most common health issues that Bassets have are related to joint problems and digestive disorders.

Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV) or bloat is a life-threatening disease that deep chested dogs like Bassets can have. Feeding them large meals or the dogs drinking a large volume of water generally results in the disease. This causes their stomach to swell with gas or air. Without immediate attention it can affect the flow of blood to the heart, resulting in the dog getting into a shock. Excessive drooling, swollen abdomen, lethargy and increased heart rate can be common signs of your dog having GDV.

a Basset Hound walking in the ocean

DCM or dilated cardiomyopathy is a life-threatening heart condition that Bassets Hounds can have. DCM results in the heart becoming large, thin and weak which prevents the heart from pumping blood efficiently. Labored breathing, weakness, cough or fainting can be symptoms of the disease. DCM is generally treated with medication and dietary supplementation.

Some Bassets can also have Hip Dysplasia. The disease can be caused by several factors, including eating habits, genetics or the climate. Hip dysplasia is a hereditary disease that prevents the thigh bone from attaching to the hip-joint, which causes severe pain. In most cases, the dogs will be able to live healthily but sometimes surgery may be needed. If you see your dog having difficulty walking, take them to a vet to have them diagnosed with the disease.

Patellar luxation is another joint problem that the Bassets may get. The condition happens when the thigh bone, knee cap and calf are not lined properly which causes lameness or abnormal walking behavior. You may see your dog hopping or skip a few steps while walking. The disease can often result in arthritis. Depending upon the severity of the disease, surgery may be required to treat patellar luxation.

Basset Hounds can have eye diseases like Glaucoma. The disease is painful and can lead to blindness if not treated early on. Symptoms include watery or red eyes, squinting and blue coloration of the cornea. Pet owners might not notice the pain but the disease can be extremely painful. If you see your Basset having the above symptoms or having swollen eyes, take them to a vet. 

Another common eye condition is Cataracts which generally affects older Bassets. The disease results in partial loss of vision and surgery is required to treat the cataract.

Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) is a common disease found in dogs with flat backs like Bassets. This happens when the jelly-like cushion between vertebrae slips, resulting in the disc to press the spinal cord. If you find the dog suddenly having difficulty in jumping or moving around, it could be because of IVDD. Sometimes the dog may also develop an arched back, cry or refuse to eat due to pain. If that is the case, you should call your vet. Feeding them moderately and keeping their weight in control can help to prevent your dog from having the disease.

Wobbler syndrome is a neurological disease that can be a problem with some Bassets. The disease occurs when the vertebrae in the neck region become narrow, which causes the vertebrae to pinch the spinal cord and adjoining nerves. This condition can prevent the nerves from sending signals to the dog’s brain, resulting in difficulty in moving or the dog suddenly falling. Medications, exercise programs or surgery can help to deal with the disease.

Bathing, Coat, and Cleaning

Bassets have low grooming needs. They have a short coat that can repel dirt and water, so you do not have to bathe them often. Bathe them only when their fur gets dirty or they start to smell. 

They shed moderately throughout the year and should be brushed every week. Use a bristle brush to groom their short coat. You can also use a hound glove to groom their coat. 

Bassets have long ears which often tend to drag on the ground, causing the ears to get dirty. Their ears should be cleaned once a week, especially the insides with a cleaning solution recommended by your vet. Use a cotton cloth to clean the dirt from the outside area of the ears.

The facial wrinkles should be cleaned with a damp cloth. Check their teeth for tartar build-up every week. Take them to a vet to get their teeth cleaned every six months. This will prevent them from having dental diseases. 

Trim their nails once a month. Avoid trimming too much as you may accidentally cut the blood vessels on their nails.

a Basset Hound walking through grass
a pile of multi colored dog food

Bassets tend to be stubborn, so grooming should be accompanied by food rewards and treats to make it a positive experience for them.

Feeding A Basset Hound

Bassets tend to gain weight, so they should be fed moderately. The amount of food your dog needs will depend upon the size and age of the dog. Large adult Bassets will need 1.5 to 2.5 cups which should be divided into two meals. Try to get high-quality commercial dog food that is low in calories.

If you find your Basset becoming overweight, reduce the amount of food you give them. The food should not be left out for them, as this can cause them to become overweight. Anything they don’t finish at feeding time should be put away until their next feeding time.

Some Bassets may try to gulp a large amount of food at once, which can potentially cause bloating. To keep this from happening you can get a slow feed bowl for your Basset. The special bowl has multiple domes with partitions that help to slow down how fast they can eat their food.

Bassets also need to be given treats, especially during training. Feed them treats in moderation to prevent them from gaining weight. 

Avoid feeding them human food and table scraps as these foods are high in calories that can result in weight gain or digestive disorders.

Related Questions:

Are blue Basset Hounds recognized by AKC?

Yes, American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes all colors of Basset Hounds but the blue color variation is undesirable as a pet. The reason for this is that blue coloration is associated with genetic problems that can result in the hounds having intestinal diseases, skin or food allergies.

Do Bassets drool a lot?

Yes, Bassets tend to drool all the time. Drooling is common when they are eating or drinking water. They release saliva to digest the food which accumulates in the flaps of the skin around their mouth. Bassets often shake their heads to get rid of the drool which can create a lot of mess. If this is a problem, you may not want to get Basset Hound as a pet.

Do Bassets have a strong sense of smell?

Basset Hounds have the second strongest sense of smell amongst dog breeds, second only to Bloodhounds. They also have droopy skin on the face which further helps to hold the smell close to their nose.

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