The Basset Hound is an ancient noble Scent Hound that presently enjoys world-wide popularity as a companion animal. Initially this affectionate and good-natured dog became famous for its unique appearance and excellent nose. Despite of its repute for being laid-back and somewhat lazy this breed absolutely loves long unhurried strolls with its masters.
The Basset Hound came into existence as the result of the breeding work of the Friars of the Abbey of St. Hubert in northern France. In the late XVI century they set themselves the task of developing a stubby, sluggish and smart hound that could be used by hunters who didn’t have a horse. It’s said that this dog primarily descends from the St.Hubert Hound and inherited its superb hunting prowess from this ancient canine variety. It demonstrated special talents in tracking fox, rabbits, squirrels, deer, racoons and badgers. Packs of these hounds even participated in hunting such ferocious animals as a wild boar and wolf.
For several centuries the Basset Hound took its place in the kennels of French affluent people. Moreover, ordinary Frenchmen who were keen on hunting but couldn’t afford a horse valued this breed for its slow gate and keen sense of smell.
In the middle of the XIX century there were two prominent breeders of the Basset that created two separate bloodlines of this dog. M. Lane produced hounds with wider skulls, more compact ears and larger, more bulging eyes. The Basset of the Count Le Counteulx possessed more miniature head, cupola-shaped top of skull, and a less prominent eye. Because of its more refined physique and pretty tri-colour coloration the count’s dogs earned general approval and were finally imported to England in 1866.
The merit of the breed’s popularisation in this country belongs to Sir Everett Millais who deserved the status of the «father of the Basset Hound breed». Thanks to his efforts it entered the show ring as early as in 1875 but it drew overall attention of the English canine lovers only in 1880. After several years the popularity of the Basset in this country soars when Queen Alexandra acquired one of its specimens for her regal kennel.
The American hunters got to know and love the Basset in the late XIX century. The American Kennel Club (AKC) gave its full recognition to this dog in 1885. Presently it still plays the role of a wonderful hunting companion although most of its members were re-qualified to the role of a family pet. This dog also produces great results in field trials, obedience and tracking contests.
The Basset Hound is frequently seen as a calm and kind dog that is content to laze around all day long. Nonetheless this first impression is truthful only partially because this breed thrives on interaction with its masters. The lack of attention and physical stimulation will most likely result into hyper activity and immoderate barking indoors. In general, this breed treats familiar kids very gently and carefully although it prefers to avoid their too energetic games.
Friendliness of the Basset Hound seems to extend to all strangers. This dog will cordially greet every guest in your house including an unwelcomed one and therefore it won’t make a decent guardian. Moreover it doesn’t show enough interest in warning its favourite people about any suspicious actions near the dwelling and should never be entrusted with the duties of a watcher.
For the most part of its history the Basset Hound was kept in kennels so it got accustomed to live in the pack and usually demonstrates tolerance towards other dogs. This breed usually wants to have as many canine companions as possible. Although this dog loves chasing stray cats more than anything else in the world it commonly recognises a household cat or other small pet as a family member and treats it with due respect. But always remember that early socialisation is a key to peaceful co-existence of your Basset Hound with any non-canine domestic animal.
The most common problems for the breed include:
· back and joint problems;
· cardiac disease;
· skin conditions;
· ear infections;
· eye problems;
· intervertebral disk disease;
· von Willebrand disease.
The grooming of the Basset Hound requires insignificant investment of time and efforts. This dog possesses short water-proof coat that will always look splendid only with a weekly brushing. It’s a seasonal shedder and systematic brushing will allow reduce the amount of the dog’s hair in the house.
The owner should pay regular attention to the cleaning of the Basset’s ears and wrinkles because they are prone to catch nasty infections. It’s also obligatory to trim its nails monthly and brush its teeth at least ones a week.
The Basset Hound stands out for an average trainability. This dog is both bright and independent so in most cases it chooses to do its own thing rather than follow your orders. In general it will demonstrate reasonable obedience only if trained by a confident person with strong character. Besides it has weak desire to oblige the trainer and therefore praise-based techniques don’t work well for this canine.
Nonetheless this dog tends to be an insatiable eater so it’s better to stimulate its interest with its favourite food. Remember that the Basset Hound remains an excellent sporting dog that can be easily distracted from training by some attractive smell and it will be virtually impossible to call it back.
The Basset Hound likes long walks with its masters but it needs fairly trivial amount of physical outlets. This dog fits in well an urban environment since it can be quite satisfied with its life without a regular playtime in a safely enclosed area. Be mindful though that this breed is predisposed to fast weight gain if it’s deprived of an hour-long daily physical activity.
The Basset Hound is also an intelligent dog and requires some kind of stimulation for its busy brain. Otherwise boredom will cause such behavioural problems as destructiveness and excessive barking.