The Basset hound is one of the most distinctive looking dog breeds in the UK and one that most of us recognise instantly, although they’re not hugely common on the streets and in the dog parks – but are quite often used in media adverts and on historical TV dramas playing specific roles!
Sometimes known as the “Hush Puppy” dog (thanks to their long-term starring role within advertisements for the shoe brand of the same name), the Basset’s unique looks tend to polarise dog lovers between those that find it highly appealing and those that find them disproportionate and a little odd, but virtually everyone knows a Basset when they see one.
If you find Basset hounds interesting and wonder how they came by their unusual looks, if you’re trying to find out more about the breed with a view to buying a Basset of your own, or if you’re wondering if the Basset hound has any specific care requirements, this article is for you.
Read on to learn ten things you need to know about the Basset hound, before you buy a dog of the breed.
The Basset hound has a relatively long and rotund body and disproportionately short legs, and this is in fact a manifestation of canine achondroplasia – or dwarfism. Other dog breeds to display this trait include the Dachshund and the Corgi, but it is very uncommon in the canine species as a whole.
Because the Basset hound has abnormally short legs and is low to the ground, many people who haven’t seen a dog of the breed up close in the flesh before are often surprised by their size, and they are larger than many people expect. The breed’s head and body are regular-sized and their legs, whilst short, are quite sturdy, and the Basset hound is classed as a medium sized breed, standing up to around 38cm tall and weighing up to around 34kg at the top end.
The Basset hound is one of the most adept of scenthound breeds, and even given the fact that dogs as a species have an excellent sense of smell, the Basset hound has a better scenting ability than most.
They can track by both ground scenting and air scenting, and can identify the most minute scent particles that even other dogs might miss. This has led to the breed being used historically for search and tracking purposes, although they’re rarely worked today.
Basset hounds have incredibly long ears, which often touch the ground. Those ears actually help dogs of the breed to smell things! This is because the ears pick up tiny scent particles from the ground itself when the dog moves, and as the ears swing, bring them up closer to the dog’s nose.
However, the length of the Basset’s ears mean they tend to pick up a lot of dirt and muck that can work its way inside the ear and cause problems, and the droop of the ears themselves closes off the ear canal, making Bassets more prone than most to excessive wax build up and also, ear infections.
Basset hounds have drooping lips and they tend to be very slobbery dogs as a whole. This means that they might not be the right breed for you if you are very house proud and looking for a dog that doesn’t tend to make much mess, and they will sometimes have long strings of spit hanging from their mouths, which many people find off-putting.
According to our own Pets4Homes statistics, the average asking price of Basset hounds for sale in the UK as of September 2019 is £841 for Kennel Club registered pedigree dogs of the breed, and £701 for non-pedigrees. The breed is also moderately expensive to insure, and they tend to have fairly big appetites and need a lot of food too!
One thing that the Basset hound cannot claim to be is particularly smart. The breed is ranked in 129th place out of a total number of 138 different dog breeds in the Coren ranking of canine intelligence, and so they can only learn a limited number of commands, and may need to be told them a few times before they follow them.
Basset hounds may pick up an interesting scent when out on a walk and decide to follow it, and they can be very one track minded and obsessive about this when they do.
This makes them hard to recall or divert, and needs to be factored into their supervision and management when out on walks.
The Basset hound breed has wrinkled skin and distinct skin folds, which need care and attention to keep them clean and dry. They tend to be a little more prone to suffering from skin problems than most other dog breeds, and they also tend to develop a fairly distinctive “doggy” smell too, if not bathed frequently enough.
The Basset hound is not hugely high energy although they can be tenacious about scenting, they’re loving and affectionate, not overly demanding in the home, and tend to be good with children.
This makes them a viable choice of pet for many different types of owners, but the breed does have some challenges and they’re not for everyone, so plenty of research is required before you commit to purchasing a Basset hound of your own.