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It is hard for anyone not to have a soft spot for this loving, gentle and comically mournful looking dog. Well known as a breed as 'Fred' the cartoon strip and as the face of a well known brand of footwear, the Bassett Hound, this dog has made a successful transition from hunter to family pet very well indeed. It is also frequently used as a mascot for various purposes.
Bassett Hounds were first recorded in literature in the 1500s and were used as scent hounds to locate quarry during hunting in areas of Europe. The exact origins of the Bassett Hound are unsure, however, it is likely that Bloodhounds are distant ancestors.
After the French Revolution, commoners were forced to take up hunting to survive and used these dogs to help them. A very successful relationship followed in this field as the Bassett has great ability for scenting and are built to be sturdy and have excellent stamina, so they were good for using for extended period in the field.
Bassett's were exported into England in the late 1800's with the first breed standard being created at the end of the 19th century. This was recently updated in 2010.
Average height to withers: Males between 12-15 inches and females between 11-14 inches.
Average weight: 25-35 kg for males and between 20-29 kg for females.
Bassett's are large bonded but short, solid and long dogs, with curved tails held over the length of their backs. This breed, like its ancestor the Bloodhound, is known for its hanging folds of skin, which causes the face to look charmingly sad. There is loose, elastic skin around the neck, and the trailing ears which along with the ears of a Bloodhound, are the longest ears of any breed. It is thought that they help trap the scent of what they are tracking. The looseness of the skin results in the Basset's characteristic facial wrinkles.
The Bassett's nose is its most powerful tool, which is second only to the Bloodhound in scenting ability and number of olfactory receptor cells in its nose.
It has exceptionally short legs but due to its overall long length, the Bassett can easily reach things it should not (such as items on counter tops and tables).
The coat it short and sheds quite frequently and has a tendency to stick into furniture and upholstery. The usual colour of a Bassett is tri coloured black, tan and white but other colours are permitted such as lemon and orange. The tip of the tail is almost always white.
The Bassett Hound is a friendly dog, to people and other pets, and makes an excellent companion for children.
Although they are thought of as lazy, they do have a tendency to run after a scent on walks when off the lead so a good, reliable recall is necessary or failing that a lead. They do have a tendency to sleep for much of the day given the chance, but they will still need walks to ensure that they do not gain too much excess weight.
Owners of Bassetts know them to be a vocal breed. They might howl or bark when they want something and they also use a low grumble to get attention, which sounds, to many owners, as though their Bassetts are talking to them.
Bassett Hounds are extremely loyal to and very much attached to their owners and family. This breed hates to be left alone and can suffer separation anxiety. Bassetts can be stubborn and so consistent, firm but not negative, training should be provided. Bassets are highly social and are best situated as a family dog with a large, fenced and safe garden.
The average age of a Bassett is between 12-15 years. There are some quite specific conditions which affect Bassett's, one of which is a genetic condition known as Osteochondrodysplasia (meaning abnormal growth of both bone and cartilage). This is a type of Dwarfism and in dogs is known as Achondroplasia. Basset Hounds one of the few of the dog breeds classified as Achondroplastic.
Basset Hound puppies, or very old dogs, should not be allowed to jump down from a height (for example in and out of cars, off furniture, down stairs). Because of a basset's body build with short legs, longer body and being close to the ground, if they fall too far, they can hurt their hips, injure their spine or break a leg.
This breed has a tendency to gain weight if the owners allow it as it can be quite inactive if left alone. The short hair does not require too much grooming. The owner must take care if the dog is allowed into water as, due to its short legs, it is not a very good swimmer and can easily get into trouble while swimming.