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Basset Hound – Fun Facts and Crate Size

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 Basset Hound - Fun Facts and Crate Size

Basset Hound

Quick Facts:

  • AKC recognized in 1935
  • Lifespan: 12 – 13 years
  • Size: Large
  • Energy: Medium
  • Recommended Crate Size: 36” dog crate*

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Table of Contents

Introduction

Do your ears hang low?  Do they wobble to and fro?  The popular kid’s song certainly describes the Basset Hound because...his do.  This long-eared, sad-eyed dog breed was made famous by a cartoon character named Droopy and became further adored for being the model for Hush Puppy brand shoes, this lazy long dog has stolen the hearts of all.

This pup has an unmistakable and very distinct look about him.  His legs are short and stocky, making his long body very low to the ground.  His ears are long, floppy, and as the song goes, they hang low.  In fact, his French name translates to mean “rather low”.

This hound has expressive eyes that will beg you to take him home with you but...watch out.  Before you do, there are a few things you should know about this long-fella.

Breed

A hound, through and through, the Basset hails from France where he was originally bred to hunt hare.  He is one of six types of Bassets from the country.  Bloodhounds are the only other dogs that have more ability to pick up ground scents and they win out by just a smidgeon. 

The history of the Basset descends back to the late 1800s with the breeding of their ancestors, French dogs that were in Great Britain.  But they most likely go back way further because the mummified remains of short-legged hounds have been found in Eqypt as well as engravings on stones. 

It is known that scent hounds were used as hunting dogs in Ancient Rome and in Ancient Greece.  Still, the modern version of Basset Hounds basically got his start from French dogs.

The Basset, in general, actually originated in France.  They are direct decedents from hounds that St. Hubert of Belgium owned in the 6th century.  The hounds were called “St. Hubert’s Hounds” and were shoots off hounds that existed in 1000 AD.  There were even writings about fox-hunting Basset dogs in 1585 by Jacques du Fouilloux. 

Hounds of the Basset-type were very coveted across Europe during the 1800s because they were able to sniff out fox, rabbits, and other small creatures.  Their short legs made them low to the ground so they could pick up scents even better.  Their long ears assisted them in listening for critters but also swept the scent off the ground up to their noses. 

When French Bassets came to England around the 1870s, a man named Everett Millais set about to create a version that was heavier than other Bassets.  He did so by artificial insemination and the pups were delivered via cesarean section.  The pups that survived were mixed with English and French Bassets for a refining touch.  The result was the Basset Hound we know and love today. 

Bassets made their way to America and were welcomed with open hearts.  Time magazine formally introduced then in a front cover story in 1928.  The rest...was history.

The Basset Hound Club of America was formed in 1935.  Two years later, the breed was formally welcomed into the American Kennel Club.  Immediately after the AKC membership went into effect, field-trials and shows featuring the dog breed skyrocketed in popularity.

There is also a breed of Basset Hounds that is longer legged and shorter eared.  They are used specifically for hunting rather than for show.  This version was recognized by the Masters of Basset Hounds Association in 1959.

Basset Hounds have since become celebrities of sorts. Famous singer and actor, Elvis Presley had a hit song, “Hound Dog”.   A Basset named “Flash” was a regular on the television series “The Dukes of Hazzard”. 

The legendary dog, Lassie, befriended a Basset Hound called “Pokey”.  On the television series “Columbo”, there was a Basset named “Dog”.   And who could forget that the Maytag repairman (who supposedly had no repairs to be making) had his faithful Basset to keep him company on the television commercials?

There’s no doubt about it.  Once Basset Hounds walked into our lives, he was there to stay.

Appearance

Even Basset Hound puppies look a lot like little old men.  They have wrinkly skin that tends to hang which only adds more animation to their rather comical appearance. 

But, they get it “honestly”, meaning it comes from their bloodline.  Throughout history, they’ve always had hanging skin, just like the Bloodhound does.  While it once was called “sagging”, it is now classified as “supple and elastic-like” with all due respect to the breed.

Even their faces and necks droop, giving them their characteristic “sad dog” look.  The reason for the wrinkles is that their necks are wider than their heads are.  It is adorably cute but pet parents often find it difficult to keep their Basset’s collar on.

The head of the Basset is large and his skull is long and round.  He has a wide muzzle.  His nose is dolichocephalic (unusually long) and large.  His olfactory receptor cells are outnumbered only by the Bloodhound.

Talk about ears...this pup has super-sized ones.  In fact, when extended out, they are as long (or longer) than his nose.  His ears are velvety smooth and are also quite sensitive.  It’s important for children or other pets not to pull or tug on them.  They must also be kept very clean and dry to prevent infection and irritation.

With a somewhat heavy, very solid bone structure, the Basset sports short, squatty legs.  His walk is slow, cautious, and deliberate unless he’s after something (or is called for dinner).  Then, he definitely picks up the pace.

The Basset has a long back and is, in fact, the longest breed in existence which was created for a reason - so they could follow the critters they were hunting into burrows. 

They have a curved saber tail that is held high atop their back. Their tail sometimes has a noticeable white tip on it which was intentionally created in the breed to help hunters locate their dogs when they were out in the underbrush tracking and hunting.

Adult Bassets usually weigh between 45 to 75 pounds.  Females run on the lower end while males usually are at least 50 pounds.  Females stand 11 to 14 inches, on average, and males are generally around 12 to 15 inches. 

This dog is heavier in bone weight for his size than any other breed.  He also takes up to two full years to mature because he grows slow...and long...really, really long.  Pet parents are often quite surprised when they try to lift their Basset.  They are hefty indeed!

The coat of a Basset Hound is short, silky-smooth, and water-resistant.  It lays flat to his body and sheds lightly to moderately all year round.  The coat is oily and gives way to the distinctive “hound dog smell”. 

Bassets are bicolor or tricolor with tricolor being the most common.  Tan, white, and black are the most popular colorings for tricolored hounds with combinations of red and white, black and white, white and brown being the most common bicolors.  White with lemon also exists but is rare. 

Blue (gray) Bassets are quite rare too.  Blue Bassets possess a recessive gene which is known to lead to medical conditions like extreme food allergies, intestinal problems, and skin issues.  Any “hound coloring” is considered acceptable but gray is not desirable.

To complete the picture, Basset Hounds have unusually large feet which are sometimes endearingly referred to as “walrus feet” or “Fred Flintstone feet”.  Don’t judge him though.  It takes some good sized feet to support his stumpy little body.

Nutrition

It is recommended to provide feed formulated to intermediate-sized breeds and preferably dog food that caters to a Basset Hound in particular if possible.  Speaking to his veterinarian or breeder is highly recommended.

The professional you speak with can advise you on the quantity and frequency of his meals.  It’s imperative to feed him only top quality food and to limit treats and in between snacking of any kind because he is apt to become obese which is as bad for dogs as it is for humans.

Your vet may advise that you feed him small meals more often as a puppy and then change it up after he matures a bit.

As with dogs of all dog breeds, you want to keep plenty of fresh, clean water available to him at all times.  Bassets love to drink water, usually. Sometimes they may actually gulp so much down at once, they spit some back up so be sure to help him pace his water drinking if he is a guzzler.

Grooming

The Basset Hound has a short coat but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t shed.  In fact, he does...year round.  A good brushing two to three times per week will help that issue a lot though.

You will want to bathe your Basset Hound regularly too to get rid of that tell-tale hound smell and to get out whatever he’s gotten into because they usually do get into something in between baths.

Be sure to brush his teeth to keep his teeth and gums healthy and to ward off dental plaque and tartar that can lead to decay and also prevent gum disease.  It will also help keep his breath fresh.  You can use a doggie toothbrush and if you use a flavored toothpaste, your Hound will be begging for more, no doubt.

Those ears!  They can be quite sensitive because they’re so floppy.  Be sure to check his ear fold because they can easily accumulate dirt and debris that can lead to irritations and infections.  Ear infections left untreated may require surgical repair or can even lead to deafness.

The toenails of a Basset require attention too although they usually don’t care for their pedis too much.  They are diggers and often get split, cracked, or chipped nails so keep them as short as possible and file any jagged edges.

Exercise

You’ll likely need to be the leader when it comes to exercise for this breed.  He teeters on being lazy and will require all the encouragement you can give him.  Being sure he gets exercised will keep him happy, healthy, and will also help reduce the chance of him getting into mischief. 

This breed doesn’t need an abundance of exercise but he does require at least 30 to 40 minutes of walking per day to keep fit.  He borders on being overweight so any lax in the routine can pack the pounds on him. 

Playtime in between walks is excellent for him.  He will like games that mimic his “call of the wild” like chasing balls.  He’s not much into running for very long but if you catch his interest with a game, he’ll stick with it a good while.

Brain game exercises are good for the Basset.  He’s smart so don’t let him fool you.  If you let him sniff something and then hide it, he’ll be using his scent mentality which gives him physical and mental exercise at the same time.

Some time at the dog park is great for this guy since he gets along with everybody. 

Field trials are also fabulous for the Basset.  Remember, if you meet him in the middle with things that are within his nature to love, you’ll have a fun playmate on your hands.

Pet Crate Size

Pet Crates Direct recommends 36" dog crates* for most adult Basset Hounds.

* Links for crate sizes will bring you to the most appropriate Amazon page.

More Information

Personality

Overly sensitive yet willing to get into trouble if it is worth it, like say...for food or a good chase, this hound is a mess, for sure.  He is extremely needy and usually suffers from separation anxiety.  That is the reason he gets into the trash when you’re gone or sneaks a snack you left on the counter when you go outside without him. 

Or, at least that’s the story he’ll tell you with those sad ole eyes.  And by the way, he can get to places you’d never dream he could reach when he has a good mind to.  His body is loooong!  So, pet parent, beware.  He’s a got a nose that won’t quit and an appetite like a pig so...nothing is safe.

The Basset is a lover of people.  He is excellent with humans of any age.  He’s great with other pets in the household.  He is gentle with children and even with babies and will even tolerate rambunctious youngsters who tug on his ears.  That is one thing that should never be allowed though nor should pets or children be allowed to jump on his back.  The only thing he won’t tolerate is being left alone. 

This dog is a pack dog from the top of his head to his fat little feet.  You’ll do well to establish your place as the pack leader early on.  He loves being with a full house of humans and pets and if any of them leave, even to go to the restroom, he will usually cry.  He fully believes a pack is to be together at all times.

Loyal and loving, he is quite the social guy, even with strangers.  Oh, he’ll bark to let you know that someone is arriving but then, he’ll probably walk over to them to be petted or hoping for a treat.  He’s not much in the way of a guard dog unless a short barking signal is all you are looking for.

Speaking of barking, this dog can (and will) bay.  He’ll howl and howl, usually if you leave or if he is sad about something.  He also howls when he is bored.  It is adorable but...only for a minute. 

Many come unglued during thunderstorms, howling at the top of their lungs throughout the entire storm.  It can get old quick, especially for neighbors.  While the Basset is certainly docile enough for small space living, his baying and howling may not go over well with those who live nearby.

Bassets aren’t very active at all unless they are on a mission, like on a hunt for a small animal.  They would rather be sleeping next to you on the sofa. 

A strong characteristic the Hush Puppy Dog carries over from his heritage is stubbornness.  Imagine hunting down a rabbit.  The rabbit jumps in and out of the brush and runs in holes. 

You’d have to be pretty determined to end up catching him.  And so the story goes...this dog is very bull-headed but that’s because he had to be.  He got one thing in his mind and that was what he was going to do...catch a rabbit.  Not much has changed. 

Refer back to the need to establish your role as the alpha leader and that is much of the reason why.  You’ll need to break his will without breaking his spirit and since he has strong pack instincts. That will be your saving grace.

Being a hound means he is easily distracted by scents.  To him, his nose and his pack are everything.  It is imperative to be aware of the fact that if he picks up on a scent, he may take off after it. 

It is good to keep him on a leash for this reason.  He’s a digger too so be sure he doesn’t dig under the fence to go off after something.  If he does, even if you call him, he is likely not to even hear you.  He’s got a one-track mind.

Not only do Basset Hounds look a little silly, but they also act silly too a lot of the time.  They love to clown around, especially when it gets them the attention they crave and...they definitely do crave attention, ALL the time. 

In some ways, Bassets can be a handful.  They are sweet though and because they love so deeply, with patience and persistence, there is nothing that cannot be worked through.

Training

Training a Basset Hound is not for the weak of heart nor is it for wimps.  If you are not the type of person who can stand your ground, forget about it because this dog can!

Although Bassets are a challenge to train, they are, contrary to popular belief, quite smart.  When given a command, a Basset Hound may just look at you. 

Some take that for a sign that this dog is not intelligent but nothing could be further from the truth.  He’s smart enough to make you think he’s not...smart, that is.  He’s sneaky at times too.

Due to his instinctive nature, this hound is independent.  That’s how he succeeded in the days of old on the hunting grounds.  Now that he’s not usually hunting, he’s just flat out independent and a little stubborn too.

Although the Basset loves his people with all his heart, he’s really not too into pleasing them just for the sake of pleasing them.  Thus, disciplining him does little to benefit a given situation.  He’s sensitive, to a fault, but that only makes him dig his heels in even harder.

With that all in mind, as stated before, he is a pack animal.  Your hope is being an assertive pack leader.  Your other hope is in...food!

Bassets love to eat.  They are apt to get flat out fat so you will have to be careful but at least initially in training classes, the temptation of treats is something he cannot resist.  You are likely to have him potty trained in a day with a pocket full of treats as his incentive.

Socializing this pup is important although there’s not much to it.  He warms up to strangers, humans, and animals, quite easily.  You would do well to acquaint him to loud, scary noises...like storms though.  Socializing at an early age is important for all dogs.

Obedience training is where the rubber hits the road.  That is when he very well may balk.  He does respond to praise but mostly when he wants to.  Treats are the sure bet but once he learns something, like to sit or shake, then begin to back off on the treats. 

It is important that no matter how difficult the task, you do train him in obedience.  It will help keep him safe.  If you find it is a dead end journey, hire a trainer or take him to a formal class where you participate along with him.

Crate training may be vital for your Basset when you leave him alone.  This dog is pretty smart and can be vindictive too.  It is not unusual for him to pee in your favorite spot on the sofa or chew up the shoe of the person who left last. 

He’s really not trying to be a bad dog, he just wants to get his point across and...he does.  In his mind, he’s been betrayed in the worst way like a man flushing his girlfriend’s jewelry down the toilet because she broke up with him.  What does it even matter when she’s long gone already? 

That is the mentality of this hound.  Five minutes alone is more than he can possibly bear.  He is sure that each and every time you walk out the door it’s good-bye forever.  So, a crate not only helps protect your belongings, it gives him comfort too although he’ll never admit it.

As far as tricks, this dog will do darn near anything for a treat and he does like to get a good laugh so you might try your hand at it and see how far it goes.

Health

The Basset Hound does usually enjoy a long life in dog years but he can certainly be subject to a good number of health conditions, some minor and others major.  Being susceptible to issues doesn’t mean he will ever get any of them.  But, they are medical woes you should keep a watchful eye out for.

Obesity is a huge health problem for this breed.  Obesity in dogs, just as in humans, can give way to heart disease, diabetes, back trauma, and a number of other medical problems.  Your vet can work with you on his feeding and exercise needs if your dog is overweight. This extra weight can lead to elbow dysplasia, as well as hip dysplasia.

Osteochondrosis Dissecans is a disorder of the joint which causes it cracks to form in the articular cartilage and also in the bone that lays under it.  Pain and swelling result when the joint actually locks during motion.  If you suspect your dog has this condition, contact his vet immediately.

Back problems are all too common in Bassets, in part due to their short legs and extremely long bodies.  Their backs have quite a job to do, supporting their stout elongated physiques. 

Intervertebral Disc Disease is one wearing and tearing issue they are apt to get which is aggravated by jumping from heights that put undue stress on their discs and vertebras. 

It is wise not to allow your Basset to jump much lest he develops this issue.  If you think he already has it because he is limping, is in pain or just is not walking quite right, be sure to have him seen by his vet.

Ear infections are seen a lot in Bassets because their ears are so floppy, they invite bacteria and lock it in to breed into an infection.  Keep his ears clean and dry and if he paws at them a lot, have him checked for infection or irritation.  Your vet may recommend an ear wash as a preventative measure.

Gastric Torsion, also known as Gastric Dilation is not uncommon in this breed.  It is a very dangerous condition where his stomach twists uncontrollably.  It is severely painful and must be treated immediately or it can be fatal.

Glaucoma is an eye condition which is a disease of the optic nerve which prevents adequate drainage of eye fluid.  Unfortunately, Bassets are prone to get it.

This ailment is a build-up of pressure within the eye and requires immediate attention and treatment.  If left untreated, it can cause painful and permanent damage to the eye’s optic nerve and can also result in blindness.

Going through a reputable, responsible breeder is wise, especially for this breed.  It will help ensure that you end up with a Hound that has the best chance for a long and happy life. 

You might also consider a Basset Hound rescue or shelter where you can give a second chance to a pooch in need.  Many people are suckers for his sad eyes but once they get him home, the first time he helps himself to the scraps in the garbage can, he’s out the door. 

Many wonderful, forlorn Bassets are waiting to be adopted by pet parents that can meet their unique needs.

Is a Basset Right for Me?

Bassets steal the hearts of all with their sad eyes and their droopy old man appearance.  But, they aren’t for everyone.

This gentle, loving, and non-confrontational, docile breed is a pet parent’s dream, in many ways.  He is great with children and with other pets in the family and loves to just chill with his pack.

But, if you plan to be gone a lot and no one will be home with him, leave a sleeping dog lay, as they say.  He is better off not even entering your life if you will be exiting his, even just to go to work eight hours a day.  That would be an eternity to him.  He is best where someone is home most of the time. 

Do you have a short fuse?  If you do, definitely don’t test yourself with this stubborn breed.  It won’t be conducive for either or you. 

Neither should you consider a Basset Hound if you are a pushover because he’ll walk right over you with his fat little paws.  This dog needs an assertive leader in order to be happy and well-behaved.

Another question to ask yourself when trying to determine if a Basset Hound is a good fit for you is, “How much patience do I have and how much patience am I willing to have?”  This dog requires all you have... and then some.  But, he’ll definitely make it worthwhile.

All the negative things about the Basset Hound could never outweigh the good.  He is a one-of-a-kind, affectionate, loyal dog that is so much more than “just a hound dog”.



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