The Basset Hound has become a popular family pet. He is inclined to be overweight due to his love of food. This leads to a somewhat lazy lifestyle because being short and chubby does not help a dog be active and trim. Their cute wrinkly faces became very well-known when they were the face that told the Hush Puppy story. Hush Puppy slippers became popular in the fifties and Bassets were their brand emblem. The Basset Hound, although he is short, is still a noble hound and hunting dog. The Basset‘s name comes from the French, meaning low.
The Basset is very short due to a form of dwarfism known as achondroplasia. Bassets have very compact legs, but their bodies are comparable to a medium-sized dog. They can weigh up to sixty pounds and are inclined to think of themselves as lap dogs. Bassets love food and are prone to obesity and this contributes to their feelings of laziness. They have heavy bones, are muscular and usually about 14” tall. They are not built for athletic activities and yet they do enjoy going out for walks with their family.
The Root of the Behavior
The Basset is a remarkable scent hound and rated second in line to the Bloodhound. Bassets are equipped with long ears that sweep the ground and brush up all the interesting smells on the way. The Basset Hound was used for hunting by the French commoners who did not have horses for hunting. The Basset was easy to follow as his white tipped tail was held high and helped to show the way through the hunt. Bassets are unfortunately prone to obesity because they love food. It is important to keep a careful watch on the Basset Hound's eating habits and monitor his diet strictly. He will turn on the puppy-dog eyes and have you giving extra treats, then being overweight, he will not be ready for some regular exercise. The Basset Hound loves to share the couch with you, but it is important not to allow your Basset to jump on and off furniture. Their heavy bone structure and short legs will cause injuries and slow your Basset down even further.
Bassets have placid personalities and like to see themselves resting on the couch, but they are quite large and heavy. Their front paws turn outwards to support their heavy bodies and do not make them look very athletic. At home, Bassets are calm, loyal and lazy as they like to lie around the house. It is imperative to make sure they get a good exercise program. It takes patience to train a Basset, because they are stubborn. A Basset is intelligent, but likes his own way. They respond well to food rewards. The Basset Hound needs positive, sensitive training and will not be interested in harsh methods to try and lift him out of his perceived inertia. Bassets make wonderful family dogs, but their short legs and heavy bodies do limit their levels of activity. Going on family walks is a favorite form of exercise but don’t try to get your Basset to swim or enter fast action agility competitions. The Basset is a tracker of note, but he will have to decide if hunting is on the menu that day.
Encouraging the Behavior
Basset Hounds are delightful family dogs and love children, but their tendency to overeat leads them to become overweight and lazy. When your legs are very short, it is difficult to carry a heavy body around and look energetic. The overweight Basset often has spine and joint problems so regular exercise is vital for these low carriage dogs but it is important to discourage jumping off furniture. Houses with lots of stairs are not recommended for Basset Hounds as climbing stairs are a strain on their backs. When Basset Hounds climb in and out of cars they need support to make sure they don’t put stress on their backs or short, stubby legs. Bassets are big dogs with short legs. There are several hereditary diseases that can contribute to the Basset’s lazy nature.
Panosteitis or 'wandering lameness' is a condition seen in young Bassets, but they do outgrow this disease. Glaucoma can damage their vision and if the Basset is squinting or rubbing his eyes it could be a sign of this eye condition. Their legs and spine are very susceptible to hereditary diseases like luxating patella or slipped stifles which affects the knee cap. They are also prone to Intervertebral disc disease that causes back problems. Dogs with these conditions will not be overactive pets and will need to rest so as not to put added strain on their bones and joints. A vet will be able to prescribe specially prepared food to ensure the Basset is fed a balanced diet suited to his needs.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Basset Hounds love to be indoors with their families. They do not do well as outdoor dogs and will howl to be part of the pack and inside with everyone. Their food obsession is cause for concern and even though they are short, they can stand on their hind legs and with their long bodies will reach the top of a table. The Basset will help himself to the evening meal. Obesity is a problem for Bassets and this affects their ability to take part in exercise. The need for regular walks to counteract this problem should be part of the Basset’s daily routine. A lazy, but homely family dog, is what makes the Basset a good choice as a canine companion.
The Basset Hound is quite a character and his endearing puppy eyes and droopy ears will always be a winning feature. He is a loving dog with a predisposition to be lazy. Perhaps you can train him to fetch your slippers and then the two of you can relax together. However, don’t be surprised if his attitude is really one of ‘mutt you hound me’ as he ambles off to obey your commands.
Written by a Rhodesian Ridgeback lover Christina Wither
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 04/05/2018, edited: 01/30/2020