Basset Hound Temperament
What's Good About 'Em,
What's Bad About 'Em
Basset Hound Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2013
Basset Hounds are among the most pleasant-natured and easygoing of all breeds.
Some are dignified, but most are clownish. Almost all are reliably good-natured, sociable, and peaceful with everyone -- strangers, children, and other pets, too. At a dog show, one can count on seeing cheerfully wagging tails in the Basset Hound ring.
However, this is not necessarily the easiest breed to live with or train! Many people are very surprised, when encountering a Basset Hound up close, at how bulky and heavy this breed really is. They may be short-legged, but Bassets weigh 50 or 60 pounds and need a moderate amount of daily exercise to stay fit, even if they appear to be content snoring in front of the fireplace. Lazy owners have fat Bassets with concurrent health problems.
When you do take your Basset Hound outdoors, you need to keep him in a fenced area or on-leash. This is a hunting hound with a powerful nose and a yen for the chase, and if he picks up an interesting scent and launches himself, your shouting and arm waving will fall on totally deaf ears. "Come" is not a command that Basset Hounds are eager to obey.
Indeed, Bassets are not eager to obey many commands. Stubborn and slow to obey (you should expect thoughtful, deliberate responses), the Basset Hound can exhibit an amusing sense of humor while doing his own thing. Yet he responds amiably to patient, consistent obedience training that includes praise and especially food rewards.
Did I mention the food rewards? Basset Hounds live for food, are champion beggers, and will steal any tidbit within reach - and be forewarned that their reach includes countertops when they stand up on their hind legs.
Finally, Basset Hounds bay and howl (especially when bored), and they are notoriously slow to housebreak.
If you want a dog who...
- Is a strong and sturdy medium-large breed with very short legs
- Is one of the most good-natured of all breeds
- Is sociable with people and with other dogs and cats
A Basset Hound may be right for you.
If you don't want to deal with...
- Slowness to learn and an independent "what's in it for me?" attitude toward training
- Running away, oblivious to your calls, when an interesting scent catches his attention
- Slowness to housebreak
- Baying and howling
- Slobbering and drooling
- Heavy shedding (yes, even though he's shorthaired!)
- A distinctive houndy odor
- Gassiness (flatulence)
- Chronic health problems
A Basset Hound may not be right for you.
- choosing the RIGHT breeder and the RIGHT puppy
- or choosing an ADULT dog from your animal shelter or rescue group – a dog who has already proven that he doesn't have negative traits
- training your dog to respect you
- avoiding health problems by following my daily care program in 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy
More traits and characteristics of the Basset Hound
If I was considering a Basset Hound, I would be most concerned about...
- Stubbornness. Basset Hounds are independent thinkers who don't particularly care about pleasing you. Most Basset Hounds are stubborn and can be manipulative. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say.
To teach your Basset Hound to listen to you, "Respect Training" is mandatory. My Basset Hound Training Page discusses the program you need.
- Providing enough exercise. Basset Hounds don't need to run for miles, but they do need more exercise than the typical slow walk around the block that many owners give them. Basset Hounds who don't get enough exercise become obese, which puts stress on their bones and joints and causes more health problems. Basset Hounds MUST have regular opportunities to stretch their legs and vent their energy, if you want them to remain healthy and fit.
Basset Hounds cannot be trusted off-leash. They will take off -- oblivious to your frantic shouts -- after anything that emits an odor or runs.
- Housebreaking. Basset Hounds tend to resist being told what to do, and housebreaking is no exception. Expect four to six months of consistent crate training.
- Noise. Basset Hounds should never be left outside in your yard, unsupervised. Their deep voice carries a LONG way and the mournful baying and howling will have your neighbors calling the cops to report the nuisance -- or quietly letting your Basset Hound out of his yard so he'll wander away.
- Slobbering. Many Basset Hounds slobber and drool, especially after eating and drinking.
- Shedding and houndy odor. For such a shorthaired dog, Basset Hounds shed much more than you might think. Their short coarse hairs come off on your hands when you pet them, and stick tenaciously to your clothing, upholstery, and carpeting. Also note that Basset Hounds have a distinctive "doggy" odor to their skin and coat that some people find offensive.
- Gassiness (flatulence) that can send you running for cover. Fortunately, Basset Hounds who are fed a natural diet of real meat and other fresh foods have much less trouble with gassiness. See my Basset Hound Health Page for more information.
- Chronic health problems. Because of poor breeding practices, along with their unnaturally long body, long ears, and loose skin, Basset Hounds suffer more than their share of bone and joint problems, ear problems, and skin diseases.
To learn more about training Basset Hounds to be calm and well-behaved, consider my dog training book,
Teach Your Dog 100 English Words.
It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will make your Basset Hound the smartest, most well-behaved companion you've ever had.
Teaches your dog to listen to you, to pay attention to you, and to do whatever you ask him to do.
My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a healthy Basset Hound puppy. Health problems have become so widespread in dogs today that this book is required reading for ANYONE who is thinking of getting a purebred, crossbred, or mixed breed dog.
If you'd like to consult with me personally about whether the Basset Hound might be a good dog breed for your family, I offer a Dog Breed Consulting Service.
Once you have your Basset Hound home, you need to KEEP him healthy -- or if he's having any current health problems, you need to get him back on the road to good health.
My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy is the book you need.
Raise your dog the right way and you will be helping him live a longer, healthier life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.
Please consider adopting an ADULT Basset Hound...
When you're acquiring a Basset Hound PUPPY, you're acquiring potential -- what he one day will be. So "typical breed characteristics" are very important.
But when you acquire an adult dog, you're acquiring what he already IS and you can decide whether he is the right dog for you based on that reality. There are plenty of adult Basset Hounds who have already proven themselves NOT to have negative characteristics that are "typical" for their breed. If you find such an adult dog, don't let "typical breed negatives" worry you. Just be happy that you found an atypical individual -- and enjoy!
Save a life. Adopt a dog.
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Copyright © 2000-2013 by Michele Welton. All rights reserved.
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