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The Basset Hound: A Companion for Life

History says very little about the Bassett Hound until around the 1500s, and it was during this time that it was referred to as a badger hunter. What documentation we have during those early days shows they originated from the old St. Hubert hounds that were the hunting hounds of the abbey of St. Hubert in the Ardennes, the capital of the forests of the High Ardennes and hunting.

Once the Basset began to gain popularity, they gathered many admirers from King Edwards VII to Shakespeare. But before then, from the earliest time of its origin until the French Revolution, information about the breed is very sketchy and pretty much undocumented. Dogs were used prior to the war that were shorter-legged and slower paced, but because of the war the dogs became extinct or dispersed.

After the Revolution, the common man took up hunting with guns, using dogs they could follow while on foot. They needed a dog they could keep up with who also had a great scenting ability, and heavy bone for long endurance. With a clearer picture of history and more documentation, it was recognized that the Basset Hound was the dog to answer this need. Due to the dog’s slow speed when chasing the prey, it was discovered that the prey was easier to shoot at as it provided an easier target for the hunters on foot.

The Basset Hound has a long, heavy body with short stout legs. Bassets have been developed over centuries for its owners to follow the dog on foot with the dog leading, as they hunt through dense cover for badgers, rabbits, and hares, allowing the hound to hunt with its famous sense of smell.

Bassets have a rounded skull and loose-fitting skin, falling in folds around the head. Long soft ears should meet beyond the top of the nose when extended, having the ability to fold, and not look “flat.” But it’s the sad brown eyes, which reach the hearts of people, as they are kind with softness. Round hindquarters and large paws add to the look of gentleness and make one wonder how such a beautifully powered dog could ever hunt live game, looking like it should be on the lap of its owner as a fluffy lap pet whose only mission in life is to be petted.

Physical characteristics of the breed allow the thick coat to protect the dog from being torn or hurt from bramble bushes during the hunt. The long ears are said by old-timers to stir up the ground scent for the dog to follow, while the wrinkles in the loose skin around the face trap the scent that has risen in the air. All of these features, working together as one, make the Bassett Hound an excellent tracker in its slow and easy meandering way, while it sniffs scent and then trails the find. Stubborn and slow moving, once this dog gets on a trail, it refuses to give up until the trail has disappeared with or without its owners or trainers.

A calm dog, they love food and can easily be trained to do tricks for it. They respond well to gentle and patient training with lots of love and kindness, with positive reinforcement as they learn their commands. Unfortunately, they are known to combine stubbornness with their training program, so choosing a training program needs to be an excellent one. Once the Basset Hound acquires the scent coming from their age-old instincts as a cat crosses the street or field, or a rabbit takes off across the nearby field it will be very hard to keep the attention of this eager student unless he has been taught with high obedience training.

A major concern with the Bassett Hound is obesity; not only with the weight issue but also because of the strain it puts on the intervertebral disks, forming a condition.

Coat Description
The coat of a Basset Hound is short, heavy, and smooth, with low grooming requirements. A brushing once or twice a week removes any dead dander hair, while keeping the skin circulated. But during heavy shedding cycles, the hair will need to be removed by brushing and bathing.

The coat of a Basset Hound is short, heavy, and smooth, with low grooming requirements. A brushing once or twice a week removes any dead dander hair, while keeping the skin circulated. But during heavy shedding cycles, the hair will need to be removed by brushing and bathing.

The hair around and inside the ears needs to be carefully wiped and cleaned, as when the dog is hunting, drinking, or eating, debris or food matter has a tendency to become entangled in this area, causing fungus or bacteria to grow if the area is left unattended for lengthy periods of time.

This is a breed that requires exercise on a regular basis due to their ability to gain weight and be on the rather “lazy side.” In fact, it is a mandatory requirement, other than not being able to let the dog off the leash under any circumstances while they are being walked as the Basset will never respond to you while on a dead run after a scent or chasing something that runs. Walking them around the block just is not enough. Lack of exercise causes obesity, stress on the joints and bones, with many health problems developing. Regular exercise regimes are important to keep the health of the Bassett Hound both physically and mentally. This is a very important area to research if the Basset Hound is a breed being considered.

The Basset is naturally a pack animal, along with being a “team member” as long as it is fun. Desiring of fun, along with being lazy enough to want do nothing but sleep, is where the challenge will come in. The effort to get this breed off the floor or couch, while recognizing it will be fun to do what you want, not what the dog wants. To do this you must become the alpha dog, the leader, the boss, the one who does the commanding and will not quit. Once the dog recognizes you as alpha, the training will begin in a successful direction. You may well develop one of the most wonderful companions known on earth, and one of the most trusting breeds alive.

Interested in being a loving guardian to a Basset Hound?  Visit this link for more information on adopting one of these wonderful companions.

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