The basset hound is a laid-back family dog and a good fit for new and experienced dog owners alike. Basset hounds are probably one of the most recognizable dog breeds, though it's easy to underestimate their size: basset hounds can grow as tall as 14 inches at the shoulder and weigh as much as 65 pounds. If you're looking for a companion who will cozy up on the couch with you, the basset hound may just be your perfect match.
Basset hounds are a calm, mellow breed that gets along with everyone, including children and other pets. At home, they're chilled out but alert, making them great watchdogs because they pay attention but aren't overly excitable. Bassets are pack dogs and don't like to be alone. Basset hounds enjoy the company of other dogs and are even friendly with cats, especially if both pets are introduced to the household at a young age.
If left to their own devices, basset hounds would choose to lay on the couch all day, but they do like going for long, slow walks to explore. While their less-than-athletic qualities make them a great fit for apartment dwellers, their couch potato character can lead to obesity. Basset owners need to incorporate movement into their day with a walk or some playtime. Bassets are also not good jumpers, so consider a ramp or steps to help them get onto furniture and into the car.
Basset hounds are stubborn dogs with a mind of their own, which can make training difficult. However, training is not only crucial for encouraging good behavior; it also helps keep these highly intelligent hounds from getting bored by providing them with mental and physical stimulation. If treated too harshly, they aren't receptive and will ignore you. Consistency and positive reinforcement are key to successfully training your hound. Like all dogs, basset hounds need early and frequent exposure to different people, places, experiences, and sounds to grow up well-rounded.
While well-trained bassets are generally calm and even-tempered, they do bark when it's time to sound an alarm or if they're bored or lonely. They have a unique, loud voice that sounds more like a howl than a bark. This isn't an excitable dog that barks non-stop at every noise it hears or every person walking past the window, but basset hounds do make quite a bit of noise when they want to. They also tend to murmur or whine when they want attention or a bite of the food you're eating.
Basset hounds are a pretty healthy breed with a life expectancy of 10 to 12 years, but there are some issues to look out for. This breed is prone to having back problems, which may be due to falling and jumping off furniture, particularly if the dog is overweight. Ear infections are also common with bassets because their long, floppy ears don't allow for air circulation. Clean the ears every week, and take your basset hound to the vet if its ears begin to smell bad or if they become inflamed.
Active basset hounds need more food than those who are not, but a good rule of thumb is to offer 3/4 to 1 1/4 cups of high-quality dog food twice a day. Never leave a bowl of food out around the clock because bassets like to eat, and monitoring and controlling how much and when they eat is the best way to prevent obesity.
All basset hounds have loose, droopy skin with short fur that's smooth and repels water and dirt. Pure colored basset hounds are rare but possible. Generally, their coats have two to three colors with various sized markings. Common color combinations for basset hounds include lemon and white, fawn with white and black, chocolate with white and black, and red and white. The only color that is undesirable is blue; this hue is linked to a recessive trait that may also cause certain health problems.
Grooming a basset hound is easy. Their short coats repel dirt and water, so they rarely need baths unless they've gotten into something dirty or stinky. They do tend to drool a lot, and it is important to keep their facial wrinkles clean and dry. Bassets shed their short coat all year round, but regular brushing should be enough to keep shedding under control and their coat smooth and shiny.
This breed is a true hound, as it was originally bred to hunt. Many of the basset hound's most recognizable features have a practical application for hunting. The long, low ears pick up scents from the ground and direct them toward the loose wrinkles around their face so they can better find and track prey. Their short legs may seem like a hindrance when compared to hounds with longer legs, but they make it much easier for a hunter to keep up. If a hunter does lose sight of a basset, the dog's long white-tipped tail is easy to spot in the brush.
Although they are inherently lazy and enjoy being lapdogs, basset hounds can be trained to compete in tracking competitions. Their tracking ability is second only to a bloodhound, which is why a basset is likely to take off when they catch the scent of something interesting. Owners who take advantage of this instinct can train their dogs to perform particularly well in tracking events. Basset hounds may have short legs, but they are strong and build for endurance, making them a great competitor.
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