Basset dog breed is familiar to one and all as the hush puppies dog. With long floppy ears and a melancholic and philosophic expression, these dwarf dogs can charm any one. They are as gentle as they are charming, and make ideal house pets. Even households with kids and babies can safely keep Basset Hounds. Basset Hounds may look lethargic indoors, but they are very good hunters of hare, pheasant and even fox. What they lack in speed, they make up with their superior scent-tracking ability.
The exact origins of Basset hounds cannot be determined, but there is a mention of short-legged dogs in the 16th century. They were supposedly used for hunting badgers. But it is quite possible that they were around from a much earlier point in history. Bloodhounds are the ancestors of these dogs.
The name “Basset” comes from the short stature of this dog, and is derived from the French word ‘bas’ which means ‘dwarf’. This indicates their use in France for hunting, especially during the French revolution.
The development of the modern Basset Hound dog breed is credited to Everett Millais. First entering the dog show circles in 1863, they became popular not only in France but in England and eventually America. The AKC recognized it in 1885.
Basset hounds are large dogs with solid bodies that are much longer than their height. Its short stature comes from a genetic condition called Achondroplasia.
Weighing up to 77 pounds, these dogs rarely measure more than 15 inches at the withers. In fact, this kind of measuring a dog can be misleading when it comes to Basset Hounds. With their long bodies, they can reach quite high up while standing on their hind legs.
The endearingly sad look in its large eyes is complimented by the hanging ears and the fold of skin called dewlap around the neck. The hanging skin folds are supple and elastic, a trait inherited from its bloodhound ancestors.
The color combination and patterns vary with black, red, and tan colors occurring in combination with white. The ears are always solid colored while the tail usually has a white tip.
Basset hounds are known for their laidback attitude and melancholic looks. They are very gentle dogs with an affectionate disposition. They become friends with every member of the family and make excellent companions for small children as they are very tolerant dogs. Even tiny babies are safe with these gentle creatures.
These dogs are not as stubborn as they are made out to be. But they are very resistant to the old techniques of dog training which employed punishments and negative reinforcements. These dogs love food and eating, so they should be trained with the offer of special treats.
Basset hounds are good watchdogs, and they are known for their hunting skills. The Basset dog was exceptionally good in detecting scents and tracking them down. Their long nose can help them with this, but a hunting version with shorter ears is preferred for this sport.
Grooming and exercise
Grooming the short coat of Basset Hounds is not much of a problem, but maintaining good hygiene is necessary to ward off several health issues these dogs are prone to. Regular cleaning of the eyes and ears as well as the skin folds around the face and neck should help keep away many bacterial and fungal infections.
Basset Hound dog breed is not one for excessive physical activity; most adult dogs would be content sleeping the whole day. But a minimum amount of daily exercise is essential to keep these dogs fit and in good shape. They have a tendency for obesity. Daily walks are sufficient exercise, but spending some time outdoors every day, playing games or just walking around is also beneficial.
Common health issues of Basset Hound dog breed
Basset Hounds have a medium life span, the average life expectancy being 10-11 yeas even though longer-lived dogs are known. Their short legs, long body, massive, trailing ears and skin folds make them susceptible to many minor health issues such as ear infections, fungal infections in the skin folds, an eye condition called ectropion, and elbow dysplasia. Some of these can be avoided to a great extent with good care. Lack of physical exercise and overfeeding can result in obesity and related health risks. These dogs are known to develop certain obsessive compulsive behaviors too.