Meet the Basset Breeds

Frequently Asked Questions

 Thinking of having a basset breed? Here you will find answers to all those questions you might have wanted to ask about having a scenthound as a family member.

TEMPERAMENT

What is a basset breed really like?

 As scenthounds, they are pack animals and recognise their own kind.   They are outgoing, full of life, inquisitive, busy,  alert, independent and more intelligent than their reputation gives them credit for. The Basset Bleu de Gascogne can be somewhat reserved but alongside the others he is equally affectionate.  Being the larger of the basset breeds, GBGVs are stronger and need firmer handling but are known for being more laid back than the busy little PBGV.

TRAINING

Can you train them?

 Hounds are not as biddable as other breeds of dog. Despite a reputation for being obstinate, their desire to learn is a bonus and, depending on the amount of time you can devote, yours will learn simple basic commands allowing him to become a great family member. However, remember that these are scenthounds. If your scenthound gets on the trail of something, his nose takes over from his brains and he will only return when ready.

What can you train them to do?

House-training and basic obedience come naturally and, from an early age, some learn how to behave in the showring.
 
No breed is impossible to train.  The capacity to learn is inherent in all dogs. However owners of scenthounds may need to be more patient, or creative - or both - as learning does not come easily to these breeds.  That said, with special training, many compete successfully in events such as obedience, tracking, agility trials, noseweork and heelwork to music. A few are even used in search and rescue or as therapy dogs. In the UK, some also achieve high standards in events such as the Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme.
Basset Hounds are not naturally quick to learn,  With a skilful Master, their desire to hunt as a pack aids learning but, indiviudally, a good standard can only be achieved in obedience with perseverence and a love of the breed.  To succeed with a Basset can therefore be a most rewarding experience.

Do they bark or howl much?

Most only bark if they have a reason to - for instance if someone comes to the front door or if it is time for dinner. In general they do not just bark for nothing. However, being a hound, be prepared for the occasional melodious song.

Are they destructive?

As with any breed, a bored or lonely hound will find something to get up to. If you have to leave him for a short while, giving him a variety of safe toys or things to chew on and safe surroundings will lessen the chance of him becoming destructive. A crate is useful and becomes your hound's special place to rest where he feels secure for a short period of time. Leave the door open for him to get used to it and come and go as he pleases.

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Are they good with children?

The basset breeds are known for being amiable and generally warm to all, having a natural affinity with children. In the UK some children compete with them in various Young Kennel Club handling competitions at shows.
However, as with any dog, you should never leave a young child unattended with your hound and never allow teasing or hitting him, as this will provoke an undesirable reaction.

Can you let them off the lead?

Despite the shorter leg, these are hounds capable of running at a fair speed.  Even the sturdier Basset can be surprisingly agile.  Because they are fast hounds, some owners are reluctant to let theirs off the lead. It depends on the nature of the particular dog, also on early training.
If you decide to let yours run free, do it in an area well away from roads or livestock and preferably one that is enclosed. Practise recall training by encouraging him to return from short distances, rewarding with a small treat. Remember though that the hunting instinct is very strong - one small scent and your hunter may be off on the chase. If you stand your ground he will eventually return but, if you cannot wait, a flexi-lead is a good alternative.

IN THE HOME

What type of fencing will I need?

To remove any worries your garden must be securely fenced, ideally with strong, overlapping wooden panels about 6 ft (around 2 metres) high. If your hound digs, put wire netting at an L shape down the bottom of the fencing and buried into the ground. His nails will then meet the netting. Indeed, the heavier-framed Basset in more likely to go down than up!  However to deter a climber, make sure strong branches of trees or bushes are well away from your fence! Check fencing regularly for damage, also boundaries for small holes where an animal (such as a fox) may have dug in which, in turn, gives yourhound a way out.

Can a basset breed live in a flat or apartment without a garden?

This is far from ideal. A ground floor flat or aprtment with its own garden is perfectly acceptable. However anyone living higher up must consider seriously if this is fair on an active hound who needs regular access to open space and grass or even the opportunity to lay outside enjoying the sun and fresh air?
Can you give him regular exercise? A basset breed needs plenty of walking or running and just taking the dog out on a lead to relieve himself is not enough. Several good walks each day are desirable and, with no garden, putting your shoes and coat on to take the dog out in all weathers or just before before bed will soon become a chore.

 If I want more than one, are they OK together? Would a basset breed get on with my current family pet?

For enthusiasts of basset breeds, one is wonderful, two an absolute joy. They provide company and entertainment for each other. However, consider waiting to get your second one or varying their ages as, in years to come, with two oldies you will have the attendant problems and upset. Introduce a basset breed into the family by meeting any existing dog or other pet on neutral ground. He will then think he is taking his new friend back to his home.
Basset breeds also normally befriend other family pets - although take care with rabbits!

GROOMING

Whatever type of basset breed you own, that little puppy that you brought home won't stay looking tidy.
 
His coat will get grubby, dead hairs will need removing and, in the case of the longer-coated breeds, it will grow and get matted.  Nails will get longer and need clipping and ears need cleaning.
 
In short, your basset will need regular attention!

How do I care for my BGV's or Fauve's coat?

His coat should be thick and harsh,  casual for BGVs and dense for Fauves.
 
For simple grooming, give a weekly brushing to remove loose or dead hair. A pin brush, comb and possibly a matt breaker, which will help remove any little knots, are the only necessary tools. Bathe him as necessary.
 
To get more tips and help you help you learn how to groom
your own basset breed with confidence, have a look at the Grooming page on this website.
Whatever breed you have, your efforts will be rewarded and help ensure good ear and eye hygiene, keep nails nice and short and prevent undue matting in the coated breed.

HEALTH & NUTRITION

Are the basset breeds healthy?


As with any breed of dog, the basset breeds suffer from the usual 'doggy' health problems, most of which can be prevented by prompt veterinary attention, such as antibiotics. However insurance should be seriously considered in case of unexpected illnesses or accidents which can prove costly.
For more information about specific health issues.
go to the Health page on this website

Are there any specific health problems that I should be concerned about?

 Sadly any breed can be subject to genetic and/or birth defects. In general the basset breeds are healthy, though a few conditions have been reported in BGVs such as neck pain syndrome, heart murmurs, epilepsy and some eye conditions.  A type of glaucoma can be found in Bassets, also in PBGVs. These problems are monitored very carefully in most countries where Bassets and PBGVs live. This includes regular eye testing and, now, DNA testing to identify whether the hound carries the recessive gene responsible.  In this way, breeders can take great care when mating a dog and bitch and avoid producing hounds that will go on to suffer from glaucoma.
 
Talk to the breeder if you have any concerns about health issues. Ask for evidence of eye testing of sire and dam and, when buying, get certification of the puppy's current good health. Ask your own vet to examine your puppy to confirm its health status, including that it has no heart, eye, ear or other abnormalities.

What is the life expectancy?

Many of the basset breeds lead active lives up to and exceeding 14-15yrs.

What do they eat?

The basset breeds are easy to feed. Giving the recommended amount of a good quality dog food (either complete or canned) and a small quantity of dog treats will normally satisfy nutritional needs. 
 
Natural food is extremely popular, such as raw chicken.  Other specialised diets are also tolerated extremely well. Supplements or special foods should be used only on the recommendation of your vet.

OBTAINING A PUPPY

Where can I find a puppy?

Always go to a reputable breeder - either one that is assured by the Kennel Club or listed on the breed club website.
 
Any of the following will help you:

The Kennel Club, tel 01296 318540 or go to their website 
 
The Basset Hound Club
 
The Basset Griffon Vendéen Club
 
The Basset Fauve de Bretagne Club
 
For Bassets Bleu de Gascogne in the UK contact Mrs Tina Parker
 
Kennel Club - find a puppy
Basset Hound Club
BGV Club
Basset Fauve de Bretagne Club
kantilou@hotmail.com

Is it possible to get an older, already
trained dog?

Sometimes breeders have older dogs to re-home. These are usually ones that are no longer being shown or who they now want to spend their later years in a comfortable home, or even a younger one they decide is not suitable for showing. Most breeders stay in touch with the new owners, who become good friends, and they still occasionally see the hound who was a part of their lives.
 
Another source is via a recognised breed rescue organisation.  Details of these are given on the Kennel Club website or on the each breed's own website.
Kennel Club - breed rescue

Where can I see the basset breeds?

You can see the basset breeds at some small, local, "open" shows or larger "championship" shows and, except for the Basset Bleu de Gascogne, the UK breed clubs hold two shows a year. If you are thinking of getting a puppy, visiting shows is a good way to se and get a feel for the breed.  Venues and dates are listed on various websites where you can enter a show on-line in weekly dog papers, or on the breed websites.
You can also the various bassets at organised pet shows throughout the UK or at the  Kennel Club's Discover Dogs.  This is held twice a year - at Crufts in March at the NEC Birmingham and at London's ExCel in the autumn.  This gives the opportunity to talk to breeders, who will be only too keen to help and advise you.
Discover Dogs

Reputable breeders will be only too  pleased to help you.  As long as you do your homework and ensure this is the right type of dog for you, welcoming a
basset breed into your home can be a wonderful experience!