The noble if rather comical looking Basset Hound originally hails from France, where it was bred for the hunting of hares and rabbits. The Basset is famous not only for its superior hunting ability, having a sense of smell and scent tracking ability second only to that of the Bloodhound, but because the Basset Hound has also been the subject of several popular culture references, such as being the face of Hush Puppy shoes, and being linked in caricature to Sherlock Holmes.
The Basset Hound has a very distinctive appearance, with its long, low body, short legs, long ears, drooping expression and heavy, wrinkled skin. Some of the signature traits of the Basset Hound may potentially come associated with health complications or issues that the prospective owner should be aware of, and it is important to do your homework before considering a purchase.
Some of the main specialist health and wellness considerations of the Basset Hound are outlined below.
The Basset Hound’s ears (which are sometimes referred to as “leathers”) are long and pendulous, and not able to stand up unsupported. This means that the ear canal itself is closed off to fresh air, and air is unable to circulate within the ears. The owner of the Basset Hound must ensure that the ears are kept scrupulously clean and dry at all times, to avoid potential infections or ear mite infestations.
The extreme length of the Basset Hound’s ears means that they are likely to drag on the ground when the dog is walking with its nose down, or hang into their food dishes when eating. Steps should be taken to prevent this from happening, as again this can lead to chronic infections and diseases of the ear.
Basset Hound owners must be prepared to commit to regularly cleaning and drying their dog’s ears, dealing with any wax build up and keeping a close eye on the dog to ensure that no ear problems or infections develop.
Dwarfism in people is known as “achondroplasia” and Basset Hounds are one of the few breeds that are considered to have the canine strain of the condition. The Basset Hound’s unusual build, with short legs and a long body, comes about due to the abnormal development of the cartilage and bone that occurs in Basset Hounds, a condition known as osteochondroplasia. Because Basset Hounds are so low to the ground, jumping from too great a height can lead to serious injuries to the hips, spine and legs, as the legs are too short to absorb the impact of the landing correctly. This can cause serious injuries and damage to the health of the dog, and is particularly likely to occur in young puppies and elderly dogs, of which special care should be taken to prevent injury.
The large, soulful eyes of the Basset Hound can be prone to infections and irritations, as so much of the surface of the eye is prominent and exposed. The bottom of the eye can collect grit and mucous, and the eyes should be wiped daily with a clean, damp cloth to prevent this. Basset owners should keep a watch on their dog’s eyes and be on the lookout for any inflammation, irritations or discharges that may indicate that something is amiss.
The loose skin folds of the Basset Hound can make the dogs particularly susceptible to skin conditions such as dermatitis and sores, and it is important to ensure that the skin folds across the body are kept clean and dry, and regularly checked over. This is particularly true for the skin folds of the face, as the Basset Hound is a serious drooler! This can lead to yeast infections developing around the mouth, and wiping the skin folds around the mouth with a clean cloth before applying a canine-safe absorbent powder can help to prevent this.
While the low stature and heavy build of the Basset Hound may give the impression of a sedentary dog that does not need much exercise, the Basset does in fact need plenty of activity to keep healthy. Bred for endurance rather than sudden turns of speed, the Basset Hound may not be front of the pack in any rough and tumble races, but they will probably be able to keep going long after most of the other dogs have conked out! The Basset Hound does require a reasonable amount of exercise in order to maintain their weight and general health, and particularly enjoys long walks and adventures.
The Basset Hound’s average lifespan is around 11 years, which is firmly in the middle of the “normal” range for dogs of the Basset’s size and breed history.
The leading causes of death in maturity for Basset Hounds are considered to be cancer and old age, with heart problems and bloat (GDV) also being mentioned. Obesity can be a problem for Basset Hounds in their later years, which can exacerbate or contribute to any other health conditions present. Feeding a complete balanced diet and keeping your dog active into old age can help to ensure that they stay fit and healthy for life.