A "Sad-Eyed" Dog That Steals Your Heart
Nearly anyone who is at all familiar with dogs knows what a Basset Hound is. Those long, floppy ears, short legs, long heavy bodies, and sad eyes easily give them away. It's hard not to love a dog with so many strange physical attributes! If you're looking to buy a pet that is calm, affectionate, loving and gentle, there is no better choice than the adorable Basset Hound.
While there existed several short-legged hunting dogs prior to the Basset Hound, it is believed that the Basset Hound originated in France as a mutation in Norman Staghound’s litters, which were descendants of the St. Hubert's Hound. A document on badger hunting written by Fouilloux that was published in 1585 is where the word "basset" was first mentioned. Basset Hounds were highly valued for hunting purposes for those who were not wealthy, as their short legs made them ideal for hunting on foot. Commoners could not afford to hunt on horseback, as kings, country squires, and large aristocratic families preferred to do.
"Basset" is taken from the French word bas, which means "low structure" or "dwarf." It is believed that friars of the French Abbey of St. Hubert played a vital role in selective breeding from various strains of French hounds to produce a dog that would set lower to the ground and could be easily followed on foot.
During the time period ranging from 1852 to 1870, when Emperor Napoleon III reigned, Basset Hounds experienced a rise in popularity in the public culture. The breed achieved international attention in 1863 in Paris at the first exhibition of dogs.
As early as the 1870s, French Bassets were being imported into England. In England, Sir Everett Millais bred a heavier type of Basset to a Bloodhound via in-vitro fertilization to create a heavier Basset; thus, Millais is considered to be the "father of the breed." In the late 19th century, interest was stirred greatly when Basset Hounds were kept in the royal kennels by Queen Alexandra.
Color and Appearance
Most Basset Hounds are bi-colored, which means that there are typically two coat colors. The most common colors found in these dogs are tan, black, white, mahogany, red and lemon. Bassets that are a solid color are not purebreds.
Some Bassets are tri-colored, and may be a combination of black, white and red, black, white and brown, or black, white and tan.
Typically, this breed of dog has brown or black eyes. While the eyes offer a sad appearance, Basset Hounds are one of the happiest, most playful of all the breeds. Folds, wrinkles, and loose skin are characteristic of the Basset's head.
An adult Basset typically weighs between 44 and 77 pounds, and is short, solid, and long. The tail is usually curved and held high over the back. The loose facial skin and long, droopy ears are what many pet owners find so charming about the Basset. This breed has "super smell" capabilities, due to its large “Dolichocephalic” nose, which is second only to the Bloodhound for its ability to track scents.
General Health Facts
Overall, Basset Hounds are healthy dogs that suffer from few diseases or illnesses. In some cases, hip dysplasia, which is a condition in which the hip joint does not properly connect to the hip socket, is seen in growing puppies.
Bloat is a problem that can usually be resolved by spreading out daily feedings into smaller meals over the course of the day rather than one big meal. Cherry eye is another disorder the breed is prone to. This condition occurs when the eyelid is prolapsed or pops out. The irritation created by the condition will cause a red bump that is similar in appearance to a cherry, located next to the eye.
Grooming and Shedding
Although the Basset Hound has a short coat, it usually will shed. Whether your pet sheds minimally or a great deal may be determined by genetics and the bloodline.
The only grooming necessary to keep your pet neat and clean are baths and brushing. Bathing every five to six weeks with a shampoo that is hypo-allergenic and designed for canines is recommended. Other than that, brush once per week to keep the coat healthy and remove loose hair. Additionally, it is important to clean the inner ears, and folds and wrinkles of the head area to prevent yeast infection and other skin conditions. This can be done using an absorbent cloth.
Behavior and Temperament
Because Bassets are gentle, calm, and affectionate, they make excellent pets. Unlike some other breeds, this dog gets along well with children and other pets. It is important to take care if introducing your new pet into a household with a cat, due to the hunting instincts of the Basset Hound.
The breed can live indoors or out, although they can be a bit difficult when it comes to house-training. When outdoors, Bassets should be kept within a fenced-in area or on a leash, due to their hunting nature and love of following scents. They have a strong desire to follow any scent they pick up, and may wander too far if not restricted.
A Basset can be house-trained, but it is important that you are patient and consistent. Designate an area where your pet can potty that is not too far from the home. When it is time to go outside, leash the dog and stand near the center of the area you have chosen, allowing your pet to choose the spot he or she wants.
Unless you live on a farm or large tract of land where your Basset can roam safely and get plenty of exercise on his own, it is recommended that you walk him for at least twenty minutes each day. Because of the Basset’s build, it is important that you do not over-exercise your pet. However, this breed is prone to weight problems if not given some exercise, so make a daily walk part of your routine.
Basset Hounds as Pets
This breed of dog is an exceptional choice as a pet, particularly for people who prefer a dog that is calm and relaxed in nature. Bassets are typically friendly with people, even strangers. They are not hyper or aggressive, making them an ideal choice for young couples with children as well as older adults seeking companionship.