Even those individuals that are not familiar with different breeds of dogs are typically able to identify the Basset Hound. These heavy set, low backed dogs are really often considered to be the mascot of the hound group by many people. Although the Basset Hound is a very popular hound it also has some characteristics that differ significantly from the other hounds in the group, particularly the long legged, light framed and incredibly fast sight hounds in the group.
Typically the Basset Hound is a moderately active hound that can be a determined tracker but also a great house dog and all round companion pet. They are typically a friendly and non-aggressive dog, almost to the point of some being very ineffective as watchdogs. Most Bassets will bark to let you know that someone has arrived, but it is not an aggressive bark, more of a welcome to the individual. Like most hounds they are typically very dog friendly and are not a highly dominant breed, although they are not submissive either.
The general attitude of a Basset towards other dogs is that all dogs are friendly until they prove otherwise. This makes the Basset a great dog to take to off leash parks and dog events since they simply don't become possessive or territorial and are not likely to have any issues with other dogs. Males are more likely to be dominant when females in heat are present, but spaying and neutering prevents this from becoming an issue.
The Basset is not just friendly towards strangers and other dogs, they absolutely love everyone and everything in their household. They are an outstanding dog with children of all ages and will tolerate the attentions of even very small children without becoming snappish or irritated. The Basset is heavy enough but also not too large to be intimidating to kids, plus they are gentle dogs that will happily share their toys and possessions with children without any display of possessiveness. Early training and socialization of the Basset is encouraged and highly recommended to reinforce this natural tendency.
Older children will enjoy walking and even jogging with the Basset since they do listen to children once obedience trained. Some Basset Hounds may be slightly more independent and stubborn and will require patience and repetitive types of training programs to ensure the dog has mastered the command. They will learn who they can ignore and who in the family they have to pay attention too. Firm, consistent training that also allows for praise, attention, small food treats and play time for a job well done is the most effective way to work with the breed. Bassets love to play and are incredibly goofy and clownish all through their lives.
Cats and other pets are not a problem with a Basset Hound, especially when raised together. While they will bark at stray cats and even birds and squirrels they are not a breed that has a high prey drive. Surprisingly the Basset is capable of short bursts of speed, however they typically are a slower moving dog that was bred to track long distances over any type of terrain, similar to the larger Bloodhound.
The Basset Hound was actually bred from the French Bloodhound, also known as the St. Hubert Hound, as has an amazing ability to track using only scent. They are a cold nosed dog which means they can be taught to track even very old trails that have gone cold. Once on a trail they are highly focused and very determined and will not typically return even when called. Keeping the Basset on a leash or lead or ensuring they are completely trained in recall is essential with the bred when outside of the yard.
Activity wise the Basset needs routine, regular exercise to stay in shape. They love to run and play with the family and need to be the center of activity. Two or more long, fairly intensive walks are required on a daily basis combined with time outside in a securely fenced yard. The Basset can adjust to apartment living but will be extremely inactive indoors, often leading to problems with weight gain. Excessive weight and lack of exercise stresses the long spine and can lead to mobility problems and paralysis of the hind quarters if the spine is damaged.
A Basset Hound is naturally a people dog and will love to be as close to you as possible. Although they can reach mature weights of up to 65 pounds, they seem to think they are a lap dog and will snuggle with you on the couch or bed if given the opportunity. Avoid encouraging these long backed dogs to jump up or down as it can lead to spinal problems. Doggy stairs can be used to allow the Basset easy access to furniture and the bed. Beware, however, Bassets will take up a lot of space and may be prone to snoring.
Caring for the short, dense and slightly coarse coat of the Basset is easy. Once a week grooming with a stiff bristle brush or a pin brush is all that is required to keep the coat looking great. They do shed an average amount year round and they can occasionally have a slight doggy odor. Bathe this breed only as necessary to avoid stripping the natural oils from the coat. The ears need routine cleaning to prevent infections and the eyes should be wiped with a damp cloth to avoid debris collecting in the somewhat droopy lower eyelids.
Generally most Basset Hounds are clean in the house but they can be difficult to housetrain. Crate training is recommended for puppies if direct supervision is not available at all times. Puppies will chew anything they find so having a good selection of balls, chew toys and appropriate play items is important. They will bark with a typically deep, baying bark which may not be appreciated in urban settings. Some Bassets will drool and slobber slightly but it is not highly problematic in the breed.