Don't be fooled by that hang-dog expression; the Basset Hound is a merry soul and fun-loving friend.
In the late 1700s, French commoners needed a hunting hound that was slow enough to follow on foot since they didn't have horses. Crosses with Bloodhounds were made much later to increase size.
Bassets came to America in the late 1800s, but it was its appearance in 1928 on the cover of Time magazine that brought it to the public's attention. They've since become favorites as mascots and cartoon characters.
The name "Basset" comes from the French "bas" meaning low thing or dwarf, and was first used for any dwarf dog.
Bassets are fairly low energy dogs, but they still enjoy playing with people and toys. Don't be fooled by their short stature; they are big dogs and they need tough toys.
The Basset Hound is a big dog with short legs. This means that in many ways, they must be treated as other big dogs are treated. For example, they should eat large breed puppy food. Feeding a diet formulated for large breed puppies during the first year of life will help decrease the possibility of hip dysplasia, and probably elbow dysplasia. These diets allow the puppy to grow more slowly, while still achieving the same adult size---just a little later. Joint supplements, such as glucosamine chondroitin, are also vital for protecting joint health throughout life.
Be careful to keep your adult Basset Hound at a lean weight. Too much weight stresses the joints and back, and can worsen arthritic changes. You may need to feed a low-calorie food. When dieting a dog, you must make sure he gets enough vitamins. We suggest supplementing with a good multi-vitamin, probiotics and, if the coat is dry, a fatty-acid supplement.
Basset Hounds can develop bloat or gastric torsion, a condition in which the gases accumulate in the stomach and can't escape. The stomach may then twist, totally cutting off any ability for anything to leave the stomach. The dog's stomach enlarges as gases continue to accumulate, and the dog is restless and tries unsuccessfully to vomit. This is an extreme emergency that needs immediate veterinary attention to save the dog. Nobody knows exactly how to prevent it, but many veterinarians advocate feeding an anti-gas pill with every meal. It also helps to cut that Basset gas!
Wrinkles must be kept clean and dry. Otherwise the dark, moist warm environment they offer is an ideal place for bacteria and yeast to grow. Use a soft cloth to clean and dry the facial wrinkles daily.
Drool can make your Basset Hound have a stronger doggy odor than you'd prefer. A deodorizing shampoo, applied especially in the throat area, can help fix this. Actually, we find a deodorizing shampoo is best for all-over when it comes to Bassets! Their low stationing tends to get them dirty easily.
Some Bassets are prone to ear problems. Apply an ear cleanser any time the ears start to accumulate dark secretions. Some ear wax is healthy; a lot is not. If you must apply ear medication, use the ear cleanser first to remove thick secretions that would block the medication from reaching the surface of the canal. If your dog's ears are painful, don't put any cleansers or medications in the ear until first seeing your veterinarian, as the ear drum could be ruptured.
The Basset Hound's drooping eyelids can cause the eyes to dry out. Placing eye drops in them several times a day can soothe and moisturize them.
Brush the teeth daily.
Clip the nails every two weeks or so using a heavy-duty dog nail clipper.
Basset Hounds tend to be affected by age-related physical changes, such as arthritis, at an early age. Besides any intervention recommended by your veterinarian, a soft cushion to lie on and glucosamine chondroitin supplements added to the diet can help soothe aching joints, and keep him as young in body as he is in mind.