Basset Hounds

Description: The basset hounds are those funny dogs who step on their ears. They are short-legged, long-bodied hounds, that originated in France in the year 1520. They were the hounds of the peasants, who didn’t have the right to hunt from horseback, as noblemen did, and so, of course, they needed slower hunting dogs than noblemen. The basset hound was the perfect choice: short legged, long eared, perfect in shape for sneaking everywhere.

Being a scenting dog with short legs, it holds its nose low to the ground. The basset's long ears were developed to stir up and hold the scent for their strong nose to smell. The folds of skin under the chin, called the dewlap, help trap and hold the scent. Wrinkles about the head and face also aid in holding the scent.

Physical characteristics: Height: the dogs are 12-15 inches tall (30-38cm), the bitches 11-14 inches (28-36cm).

Weight: the dogs are 50-65 pounds (23-29kg), the bitches 45-60 pounds (20-27kg).

Temperament: The basset hounds are funny, sweet, and well-behaved dogs, suitable for family pets. Even if they are hunting dogs, they do fine in an apartment, even full of pets.

He is extremely loyal, needs only moderate exercise, and is relatively easy to train (although he can be stubborn at times).

The greatest care must be taken when jumping from furniture: his short legs do not help him too much for landing, this is why he has problems. The biggest problem as a home companion is his voice (they howl when left home alone) and his curiosity: he can follow a track not noticing that he is long gone out of the householding. Besides, this very developed sense of smell doesn’t help him too much to find his way back home.

Maintenance/Grooming: The basset is easy to care for. His short coat repels dirt and water and needs minimal brushing to remove loose hair and dirt. They should be brushed weekly to remove any loose hair. Basset hounds do not shed very much if brushed regularly. They need a bath only four to six times a year.

But… (there is a “but”). Everybody says that this dog drools too much. This is one of the major reasons that bassets are given up for rescue or adoption.

The Basset’s long ears do not allow sufficient circulation of air. Ear infections often develop because owners are not diligent about cleaning their dog’s ears every week.

Except for ears and drool, it is an easy care pet.

Training: The basset hounds do fine in obedience, tracking, and junior handling, but not in conformation classes. They should have a daily walk and a moderate diet to avoid the problems that can come with overweight.

Health: Looking at a basset hound, you may easily imagine what his health problems might be: back aches, obesity and ear infections.

Although he is generally healthy, the basset is susceptible to several genetic conditions (sort of haemophylia) and to glaucoma, panosteitis, allergies and eyelash problems (entropion or ectropion).

Like other deep-chested breeds, they should be fed twice a day throughout their lives to minimize chances of bloat and torsion.

Breeding, puppies: The average size of a litter is 6 to 8, though 10-12 also occurs. Pet population is a serious problem in all breeds today, and the basset hounds do have a sum of genetical problems (bleeding disorders, glaucoma) and others to which they may be predisposed (bloat and immune deficiencies), this is why it is not recomended to breed your pet. Basset hounds with serious deviation in appearance, structure, movement and temperament should never be bred. They do not breed by themselves, this is why breeding must be closely supervised by humans.

Famous basset hounds: Napoleon, the basset from The Aristocats.

French General Lafayette reportedly gave a pair of basset hounds to George Washington.

For pictures of basset hounds, click here.

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