Bassett hound – the canine low-rider with a nose for tracking

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Photo by Lori Fusaro

My next-door neighbor had a Bassett Hound when we were growing up. Her name was Daisy and she was adorable. I fell in love with that long-eared, droopy, drooling, sad-eyed face the minute I met her. She was so mild-mannered and obedient. I wasn’t surprised to learn that most basset hounds are excellent family pets and a whole lot of fun.

The basset hound dogs originated in France several centuries ago. Throughout Europe they were used as hunting dogs because of their powerful noses. I was fascinated to learn that monks designed this dog. They wanted a slower dog that could be followed on foot. The basset has proved to be an amazing slow tracker of rabbit and deer. Their next stop was England in the 1860s, and then on to America, where the breed appeared in the 1884 Westminster dog show.

Bassets are known to be mellow, but not shy, and love to hang out in the house or romp outside. They have a high pack-drive and want to be part of the action, even if that means just hanging out with family. They aren’t rambunctious, except possibly when new people come to visit.

Bassets are absolutely lovable and endearing, but can be very hard to train. Worse, it can be a challenge to housebreak these pups. These hound dogs are very food-motivated and a little bit stubborn – sounds a little like me, so, I can’t fault them for having a selective memory when it comes to commands – it’s something to keep in mind when choosing a family pet. Because bassets are part of the hound group, they can be very vocal. Howling is something they tend to do when they don’t get what they want. They even “talk” in a low murmuring sound until their needs are met.

Laura Merchant said of her basset, Mongoose, “I love Mongoose’s soft, silky ears. He has an endlessly optimistic attitude. Bassets just want to chill, although they love a good walk and playtime. Mongoose is great with my kids. I adore bassets and encourage you to check the many basset rescue groups to see if you can offer a forever home to some hound.”

Another trait of the basset is its sense of smell – second only to the bloodhound. What does that mean for an owner? If you’re out on a walk or a hiking trail and it picks up a scent, it can get a little distracted. If allowed to roam, it is relentless and will track scents until it finds what it is sniffing out. Always walk a basset hound on a leash. They are also good at escaping from yards and slipping out of their collars, so take precautions.

Marcus Wallace loves his pup Scout. “Scout loves to track things,” he said. I’ve made a game of hiding a treat or his favorite toy, and he’ll use his nose to find it. He never ceases to amaze me with his powerful nose.”

Bassets may look ungainly and sluggish, but are physically powerful and robust dogs that need daily exercise. Keep them moving. They love food and are master food thieves, so be sure to ration their intake to prevent obesity and bloat. A healthy basset hound can live as long as 12 years. Common health issues include ear infections, skin allergies and tumors.

Merchant sums up this adorable low-rider dog perfectly, “Basset hounds are delightfully whimsically creatures with a sweet, gentle disposition. Living with them will fill your days with love and laughter.”