1. Key Breed Facts
2. Breed Characteristics
3. Looking for a Basset Hound ?
8. Intelligence / Trainability
9. Children and Other Pets
11. Caring for a Basset Hound
15. Average Cost to keep/care for a Basset Hound
The Basset Hound has earned a place in the hearts and homes of many people both here in the UK and elsewhere in the world all thanks to their extraordinary looks and sweet, kind natures. Just at home by a fireside as they are outside on the moors, the Basset can chase down prey albeit at their own persistent pace over vast distances with relative ease.
The breed has been around for centuries, with some people believing these dogs were around in the Middle Ages. In more recent times, the Basset Hound has been depicted by cartoonists, their image has been used to advertise shoes which all helped bring the Basset Hound into the limelight not only here in the UK, but all over the world.
It is thought the Basset Hound was first bred by French monks during the Middle Ages. The breed is in fact, closely related to other hounds namely the French Bassets, but over the years the breed became unique to Britain. Early records show them being black and tan in colour and boasting heavy, large heads with long ears and bodies as well as short, heavy legs. These dogs were reputed to be highly skilled scenting dogs that boasted a throaty almost melodious bark.
There is some evidence of these hounds having been imported to Britain in the 15th Century by King James IV of Scotland. He used the dogs to drive game out onto open ground for huntsmen. Basset-like dogs even get a mention in Shakespeare's Midsummer Nights Dream. With this said, the dogs we know today can only be traced back to the 19th Century when a dog was brought back to the UK by Sir Everett Millias. It was at this time that breed records started to be kept all thanks to enthusiasts of the breed back in the day.
In 1883, The Basset Hound Club was officially formed with their goal being to encourage more breeding of these extraordinary dogs for both hunting and showing purposes. Bassets were very popular with the Royals with HRH Princess Alexandra being one of the eminent members of the club. However, the club was affected by WWI and closed its doors in 1921 but thanks to a few breed enthusiasts, the Basset Hound did not vanish altogether. Luckily, thanks to the great efforts of Miss Peggy Keevil during WWII, the breed survived and was to become a firm favourite both in the show ring, in the field and the home environment.
A breed standard was established during the 19th Century and was only updated in 2010. Today, Basset Hounds are among some of the most recognised dogs on the planet and have become a popular choice of pets and companions all thanks to their extraordinary looks and kind personalities.
Height at the withers: Males 30–38 cm, Females 28–36 cm
Average Weight: Males 25–34 kg, Females 20–29 kg
Basset Hounds are quite extraordinary looking dogs that are well described as being "large hounds on short legs". However, they are working dogs and as such, they are powerful looking and well balanced which, in short, means they possess a tremendous amount of stamina when out working in the field. Apart from their strong, short back legs, a Basset Hound's large and proud head is another of their striking and ultra recognisable physical traits.
A Basset's head is dome shaped with a very prominent occiput. They boast quite a wide brow and some dogs have wrinkles around their eyes and brow which is acceptable as a breed standard. Their noses are black although some lighter coloured hounds do boast liver or brown coloured noses. A Basset's eyes are a lovely lozenge shape being dark in colour, but in lighter coated dogs their eyes can be lighter which is permissable. Basset Hounds have a very calm look about their eyes which often gives the impression of them being "serious" characters.
Their ears are long and set low on their heads. They are very velvety to the touch and curl inwards adding to a Basset Hounds overall appeal. They have strong looking jaws and a perfect bite and their necks are well muscled with dogs holding them slightly arched. A Basset's forequarters are powerful and they boast strong well-laid back shoulders. Their legs are short and extremely well muscled with dogs boasting a tremendous amount of bone in their legs too. Dogs sometimes have wrinkles on their front legs which is perfectly acceptable as a breed standard.
A Basset Hound's body is long with a very prominent breast bone and they are low to the ground with just enough clearance for these dogs to travel easily without rubbing their bellies on the ground no matter what type of terrain they are asked to work on. Dogs have well sprung ribs that extend well down their bodies. Their backs are broad and level with their loins slightly arched. Their hindquarters are extremely powerful and well muscled and dogs often have wrinkles on their back legs which are acceptable as a breed standard.
A Basset Hound's feet are well padded and quite large which allows them to be very sure footed even on rougher terrain. Their tails are long and well set, tapering to the tip with a small amount of coarser hair on the underside of it. Dogs carry their tails high and slightly curved which adds to their proud look.
When it comes to their coat, this is short and smooth with no feathering at all. Their skin is very supple and acceptable coat colours include the following:
Basset Hounds are tenacious characters by nature which is a trait they need in the field when working. They boast an ancient lineage and their hunting instincts remain keen and strong even in a home environment. However, they are very calm, placid dogs by nature and they rarely show any aggression, but rather a loving and affectionate side to their character which in short, means they are a pleasure to have around.
They are, however, known to be stubborn at times which is especially true when they have their noses to the ground following a scent they've picked up. As previously mentioned, their hunting instinct remains strong which can result in a dog choosing to ignore a command. As such, they are not the best choice for first time owners because Basset Hounds need to be well trained and socialised from a young age and then gently yet firmly handled so they understand who is the alpha dog in a household.
They are extremely loyal dogs and they generally enjoy being around people and other animals. It's important to remember that Basset Hounds are pack animals which means if they are not handled and trained correctly, they will start displaying a more dominant side to their character which is another reason why they are not the best choice for first time owners.
Basset Hounds are not known to be destructive as long as they have been given enough daily exercise and stimulation. They are quite unique by nature, but one thing they are not is lazy, even though they may give the impression of being so. Another thing about a Basset is their melodious voice and their tendency to bark when they want attention which although charming, can become a nuisance at times.
It would be fair to say that Basset Hounds boast having a mind of their own when it comes to training. They are intelligent, but this independent thinking side of their nature can make it hard to train a Basset Hound. With this said, their socialisation and training has to start as early as possible paying particular attention to the "recall" command. The reason being that the hound in these dogs will see them wandering off if they get the whiff of something they find more interesting. The key to successfully training a Basset Hound is to be consistent and to show patience because rushing their training will not bring good results.
Basset Hounds are renowned for being really tolerant when around children which makes them a great choice as a family pet. However, because of their large size, a Basset Hound might accidentally knock a toddler over which could result in frightening the child. As such any interaction between children and a Basset Hound should be supervised by an adult at all times.
When it comes to other pets, if a Basset Hound has been well socialised and introduced to an animal from a young age, they generally get on very well with them. However, when introducing a new pet or animal to a dog, it's always best to do this slowly and carefully to make sure things go smoothly.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of a Basset Hound is between 11 to 12 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
However, like many other pedigree dogs they are known to suffer from quite specific health issues some of which are hereditary whereas other conditions are acquired. The health problems more commonly associated with Basset Hounds include the following:
Another condition that affects the breed is Osteochondrodysplasia which is a type of Dwarfism. Puppies should not be allowed to jump in and out of cars or run up and down stairs as this would put too much pressure on their joints and bones which could lead to problems later in their lives.
As with any other breed, Basset Hounds need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in tip-top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, Bassets need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
Basset Hounds are quite easy maintenance in the grooming department because they boast short coats. A weekly brush will keep things tidy and any loose hair off the furniture. Like other breeds, Bassets shed more during the Spring and Summer when more frequent brushing is necessary.
It's also important to keep an eye on a Basset Hound's ears to make sure they are clean and dry. Any moisture in a dog's ears provides the perfect environment for a yeast infection to take hold and these can be really hard to clear up.
When it comes to bathing a Basset Hound, this should only really need to be done when necessary because over-bathing a dog could result in upsetting the natural oils found in a dog's coat and skin. It's also really important to use a dog-specific shampoo which contains the right pH balance for the same reason.
Basset Hound puppies need to be taught that having their nails and paws touched in not a bad experience and they need to be introduced to any grooming tools from a young age too. Like this, dogs will look forward to a grooming session and enjoy the one-to-one attention they are given.
Although Basset Hounds might look like couch potatoes, quite the opposite is true. They need regular daily exercise and they enjoy spending as much time in a garden as possible, but fencing has to be a very secure because if a Basset Hound picks up a scent and they can escape out of a garden, they will.
However, puppies only need a little daily exercise to begin with because long walks would put too much pressure on their growing joints and bones which could lead to serious problems later in their lives. Twenty minutes play in the garden when the weather is fine is all that puppies really need, but as soon as they have had all their vaccinations, they can be taken out for short walks so they get to meet new people, other dogs and new situations which would help them grow into well-rounded, confident adult dogs.
Basset Hounds generally have very healthy appetites which means if they are not given the right amount of exercise on a daily basis, these dogs are prone for putting on too much weight. Both puppies and adult Basset Hounds need to be fed a good quality, well-balanced diet throughout their lives making sure it suits the different stages of their lives.
If you get a Basset Hound puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same type of food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upset and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change their diet again.
Basset Hounds are not known to be fussy or finicky eaters, but this does not mean they can be fed a lower quality diet. The reason being that it would not contain the right levels of nutrients that dogs need to remain healthy.
If you are looking to buy a Basset Hound, you would need to pay anything from £500 to over £800 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a 3 year old Basset in northern England would be £24.76 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £61.11 a month (quote as of March 2016). When insurance companies calculate pet insurance, they factor in a few things and this includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age and breed.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry, to feed your dog throughout their lives making sure it suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £40 - £60 a month. On top of all of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Basset and this includes their initial vaccinations, their boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and then their annual health check visits, all of which could quickly add up to over a £1000 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Basset would be between £80 to £120 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree Basset Hound puppy.
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