Welcoming a new puppy into your home can be a joyful experience. It is always a good idea though to know what to expect from the animal you bring home. One thing that you should be aware of is that despite the Basset Hound’s height, this is not a small dog. This is basically a large dog on short legs. Although each Basset Hound is different, they do all carry similar traits. And if your dog is planning on competing in Dog Shows, then it needs to have a few specific characteristics.
First we will talk about behavior. For the most part, the Basset Hound is quite happy laying on the couch being lazy. Many enjoy sleeping on their backs so that their human can give them tummy rubs. That is not to say that Bassets don’t enjoy a daily walk or running around the backyard. In fact, they need this exercise regularly or they will soon be dragging that tummy on the ground. It is always best to keep your Basset on a leash when he is not confined to a fenced area. Even if he is a very well behaved animal, if he catches a scent he will become focused on that and may not obey your commands. This can be tragic if the scent happens to pass through busy traffic. With patience, Bassets are very trainable, one should just take into consideration that they are on the stubborn side and may need a few reminders that you are actually in charge. Bassets aren’t considered excessive barkers, nor are they silent. They have a nice deep bark when they are on a scent, but are not the best candidates for watch dog duties.
The appearance of Basset Hounds is quite uniform. They can be any variation that includes the traditional hound colors of black, tan and white. The coat is hard, smooth and short. There is some shedding, as with just about any dog, but the grooming needs of this coat are fairly low. Shampooing needs vary, depending on the extent of “houndy” odor and the activities of the dog. The ears do need to be cleaned regularly though to prevent infection.
The average height of the Basset Hound is 14 inches. For showing, height may not exceed 15 inches at the highest point of the shoulder blades. Weight varies, depending on feeding habits and the amount of exercise received, but the usual range is between 45 and 70 pounds.
The head is large and well proportioned with a domed skull. The skin on the head is loose and wrinkles at the brow. The eyes are soft, sagging at the bottom and should be brown in color. The nose is dark, usually black. The lips also are dark, and should be pendulous, falling in loose flews in the back. This is another area that should be cleaned regularly as drool, which they have a lot of, tends to pool here and can cause very bad breath. The ears are very long, low set, and velvety to the touch. They hang in loose folds and when pulled forward should reach at least past the tip of the nose.
The body is very long and short. The chest is deep and the sternum is very prominent. The forelegs are very powerful with large heavy paws. The hindquarters should appear equal to the shoulders and are full and round. The tail, which should not be docked, has a slight curve and is carried high, but not curving over the back. Although not a requirement, most Bassets have a “flag” of white fur on the tip of the tail. One popular belief is that the “flag” was bred in so that when a Basset is following a scent in the brush, its owner would be able to keep track of him by searching for the white tip.
It is good to be aware of the various health problems that your Basset Hound may encounter. It’s important to remember that these do not occur in every Basset Hound, but only that they may be common in this breed. Due to the loose skin, they tend to have skin disorders. This can be treated with certain shampoos or, if needed, medications. With their heavy bones being carried on such a short frame, they tend to have problems with their bones and joints. This can usually be prevented, though, by keeping them at an ideal weight. As mentioned before, they are prone to ear infections, but with regular care this should not be a problem.
One of the most important things to remember is that although Basset Hounds carry very similar traits, there are some that do not fit that norm. There are some that may have more energy, or longer ears, or might be a different color than its litter mates. But sometimes individualities are what makes an animal all the more special.