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Breed Profile: Basset Hound

There are several dog breeds that have made it big in print media and movies, and the Basset Hound is certainly one of them. From famous Fred of cartoon fame to the droopy eyed romeo in Pets, Bassets' floppy ears and short legs have made them an instantly endearing and recognizable part of many pop culture favourites. The good news is, the real deal is just as lovable and memorable! Here's what you need to know about the Basset Hound.

History of the Basset Hound

Bassets have been around a long time. So long, in fact, that it's hard to tell exactly when the breed officially started. As early as the 16th century, Bassets were being mentioned, and they were popular for hunters on foot, since they have the great sense of smell of other hounds, but short legs that make them slower, and easier for a hunter to keep up with!

The name Basset is derived from the French bas, which means dwarf or low thing, and it's believed that there were many Bassets (or a dog very similar to the Basset we know today) living in France around the time of the French revolution.

A few times in their history, Bassets were bred with Bloodhounds to increase their size, and in 1885, the breed was formally recognized by the AKC. The rest, as they say is history, as the droopy features of this beloved breed made their way into popular culture forever.

General Physical Characteristics of Basset Hounds

Basset hounds are neither light nor tall, tipping the scales at between 40 to 60 lbs, but just 14" tall!

Like many hounds, they have floppy jowels, and equally floppy ears, and while their eyes might not be as droopy as those of the Bloodhound, they are definitely in the same neighborhood.

Bassets have a fair amount of loose skin. Not enough to form deep crevices like an English Bulldog, but enough to give them a furrowed brow.

They have a straight topline and a tail that curves jauntily over their back, and while their legs are definitely short, they are also powerful and strong.

Bassets come in all the colours of the hound rainbow, including black, variations of brown and white, as well as many combinations thereof. They have a short, smooth, bristly coat, and are easy to maintain as far as grooming is concerned.

Temperament and Character of the Basset Hound

Bassets look slow, laid back and relaxed - and they are! They're typically good natured, get along well with other pets and children, and are calm and collected under most circumstances.

Their short stature and longer body does mean that they are prone to back trouble, and their laid back nature means that they do tend to get portly if not exercised regularly, but also that they won't be sprinting along on your morning run. Think long, leisurely walks with your furry bestie, but be warned - they are still hunting dogs, and they will take every opportunity to follow an interesting sniff. Even into less than forgiving terrain!

Lifespan of the Basset Hound

Basset Hounds tend to live between 8 and 12 years.

Common Health and Personality Issues in Basset Hounds

Basset Hounds tend to be relatively healthy dogs, being, as they were, bred to hunt game in tricky terrain. However, while they are perfectly adapted to their historical role, they are, like all dog breeds, prone to a few medical conditions. These include:

  1. Osteochondritis diseecans, or OCD, which is a degenerative bone condition affecting the joints of (usually) larger breed dogs.
  2. Elbow dysplasia and patellar luxation affecting their legs, as well as occasionally hip dysplasia.
  3. Entropian and ectropian, which are both conditions affecting the eyelids.
  4. A blood platelet abnormality known as thrombopathy, as well as the better known von Willebrandt's disease.
  5. The breed is sometimes prone to glaucoma.
  6. Like many deep chested, larger breeds, they are known to experience gastric torsion or bloat, which can be fatal if not treated.
  7. Finally, as mentioned before, obesity is both common and a serious health concern, so a healthy lifestyle is a must!

Most breeds have a list of conditions that they are more prone to, but being aware of what they are, buying from a reputable breeder and having diagnostic testing for eye, platelet and hip issues done before problems arise.

If you like bigger dogs that are easy going and relaxed, and you don't want a dog that can run a marathon with you, a Basset is a great choice, and since they fit in with nearly any family, they're perfect if you have kids and other animals to consider. A warm, cosy corner, regular walks and a family that loves them is all the Basset needs to thrive.

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