How To Breed Basset Hounds

How To Breed Basset Hounds

When you think about how to breed Basset Hounds, you need to be aware of their main physical problems: the long floppy ears, and the dwarfism. These two are the main causes of medical conditions and even birthing problems.

Breeding Basset Hounds is relatively smooth thanks to the breed’s overall good health but you still need to pay attention to your Basset’s ears, body, and diet. The breed is not small, it is dwarfed (or squished).

We will give you more on this later in this article, as well as covering the best breeding practices for this amazing breed.

Background of Basset Hound Breeding

With its European origins, the Basset Hound breed has conquered the entire world thanks to its droopy eyes and fantastic temperament.

Here is a breakdown on how the breed came about, why, and who is responsible for its amazing end-result!

Origin

Basset Hounds are known to have originated in both France and Britain. Initial Basset Hounds breeding was recorded in France, after which they were sent to Britain. There, they were further improved upon and the final variety of the breed was then created and fixated.

The Basset Hound is a third generation breed that directly descends from a large scent hound breed called St. Hubert’s Hound. These hounds were found in Belgium and were also called Bloodhounds for their ability to hunt big animals. The Bloodhounds, in turn, have descended from an ancient hound breed called Laconian or Spartan hounds. These bloodthirsty and dangerous hounds were known to not give up on their prey until they found it.

To imagine that something that wild and aggressive could eventually encourage a sweet-tempered, friendly and adorable Basset Hound is amusing.

First Mentions

Basset Hounds have found a mention in a French illustrated hunting text, La Venerie, written in 1585 by Jacques du Fouilloux. The breed was mentioned as being good hunters of small animals such as rabbits, fox, deer, squirrels, and pheasants. This is the first ever mention of the Basset Hounds in history.

Then in 1870, there is another mention of how controlled mating of shorthaired, short-legged, Basset Hound breeding started being carried out. In the years that passed, there are mentions of how the Basset Hound was a muse of Emperor Napoleon III.

Basset Hound breeding received a lot of attention during and after 1870 in France, which is when Count Le Couteulx of Canteleu created a breed from the existing hounds, which had straight legs and called it Chien d’Arteois. Another gentleman, Louis Lane took a fascination to Basset Hound breeding and developed a breed with crooked legs, calling it Basset Normand.

Eventually, these two were mated internally and a new breed called Basset Artesien Normand was brought into being.

Sir Everett Millais

Once the controlled breeding of Basset Hounds began in France, they had started being imported to England. Here, a man called Sir Everett Millais, the father of the modern Basset Hound as we know it today, fine-tuned the breed and made it heavier by breeding it with a Bloodhound. He put the stamp of finality on the creation. Since then, the standards set by Millais have been the yardstick for Basset Hound breeding.

Popularity

The Basset Hound is fairly popular with the masses – mostly families with children. Basset Hounds started picking up popularity after 1870, mostly in France and England. Today they make it to the list of dogs that most families in the USA or Britain would like to adopt.

Basset Hounds are gentle and family-friendly, yet have a great knack of guarding and protecting. Their hound instincts are intact, even when they cuddle with their owners and play with the kids.

Their popularity was further encouraged by the advent of Disney movies that featured Basset Hounds (e.g. Toby of The Great Mouse Detective). And later, by the footwear brand Hush Puppies that made a Basset Hound their poster boy all across the world.

Dwarfism (achondroplasia)

Those short stubby legs on the Basset Hound that add an extra oomph to its cuteness quotient is actually a bone deformity (or achondroplasia), in which the bones do not grow to their normal size.

A genetic condition called osteochondrodysplasia, which causes abnormal bone growth results in dwarfism or achondroplasia. This is probably due to the interbreeding of the hounds in France and England. Read our article on closed gene pools and inbreeding for a better understanding.

Since this has become a defining factor for a Basset Hound’s breed quality, the accepted height for Basset Hounds is 14 inches. Dogs larger or taller than 14 inches may find it hard to get registered with popular kennel clubs. Check out the standard on the breed’s American club website.

Other dogs affected by this problem include Bulldogs and Dachshunds.

Appearance

Honestly, Basset Hounds are undeniably super cute and irresistible. Big floppy ears, short stubbly legs, big round eyes that speak volumes and a tiny but sturdy body that allows the Basset to be agile yet strong. Basset Hounds are the ultimate cuddle-bums.

However, some of their physical traits pose potential threats to their well being and health. For example, those ears are long and droop on either side of their faces. This makes it impossible for air to circulate inside the ears, increasing the chances of an ear infection. Therefore, regular ear cleaning is required.

A lot of people think that Basset Hounds look like Bloodhounds that were squished to the ground. And there’s a lot of truth in that – they do have a squishy appearance! Basset Hounds grow up to 14 inches in height and have a meaty, fleshy body with loose skin. The skin around their body almost always seems to be hanging lazily, as if draped around them.

Their super long tail is disproportionate but is always carried high up to avoid lagging behind. Basset Hounds also have very large feet, larger than what suits their body. Thus, they look like squished up Bloodhounds.

The coat of the Basset Hound is short but they are not hypoallergenic. Accepted coat colors of the Basset Hound are:

  • black,
  • white, and
  • tan.

A notable thing about the coat of a Basset Hound is that it is waterproof, making them excellent companions for long rainy day walks.

While Bassets Hounds may look little and funny, but they have an excellent sense of smell and are very agile as well. Their droopy appearance may make them seem lazy, but they’re quite the opposite.

Health Concerns in Basset Hounds

Basset Hounds are medium-sized dogs that have a lifespan of about 8 to 12 years. Usually, smaller dogs are known to live longer, but that is not the case with this breed. This could be because of the fact that Basset Hounds aren’t small dogs, they simply suffer from genetic dwarfism.

There are a few other health issues associated with Basset Hound breeding. Make sure to use as many health screenings as possible to breed a healthy bloodline!

Osteochondrodysplasia

When breeding Basset Hounds, as owners or as breeders, you must be aware of the fact that the cute stubby legs on the largish bodies aren’t simply an adorable feature. It is a genetic health issue called osteochondrodysplasia. Basset Hounds descend directly from Bloodhounds, which are larger in size. They’re a squished up version of their descendants. The “squish” is actually the inability of the cartilage in the bones to grow normally, causing dwarfism of the limbs, a condition called achondroplasia.

This isn’t just a dog-specific problem, osteochondrodysplasia is seen in humans as well. It is a hereditary musculoskeletal disorder which makes Basset Hounds the way they are. Their torso is normal sized as is their tail and ears. The only problem lies in the short limbs.

While this is not a fatal disorder on its own, there are other health complications that arise from osteochondrodysplasia that affect the dog’s health in a bad way. It could lead to obesity or incapacitating arthritis even. Every Basset Hound is affected by this disorder, so you must be cautious about their nutrition and their movement. Give them adequate exercise each day to curb the complications arising from it.

Ear Infections & Ear Mites

Basset Hounds are more susceptible to ear mites and recurring ear infections than most other dogs are. This is because of the long floppy ears they have, which restrict airflow inside the ear canal. The warm, moist space between the ears causes an environment that ear mites thrive in. Dogs, like us, naturally produce earwax, which these mites feed on. Since they eat the wax, it causes itching, discomfort, and pain to the dog, which in turn gives them stress. The stress results in the production of more earwax, starting a vicious cycle.

Ear mites are minuscule white parasites, visible to the naked eye if looked at properly. If you check out your dog’s ears, you will see specks of black – that is just wax. But if you notice little white spots amidst the black, those are ear mites. On closer look, you will see that these creatures are moving too!

A sure shot way to know if your dog has ear mites is to check for symptoms. If they are uncomfortable or scratch their ears, shake their head too often then you must take them to the vet. The treatment is inexpensive and quick.

The same goes for ear infections, the ear canals being shut off from airflow make bacteria thrive inside the ears. You may even notice a foul smell emanating from the ears. Save your Basset Hounds all the trouble by cleaning the ears every week. They don’t need a lot of grooming and their coats are low maintenance, it’s just the ears that need attention. If not looked after or treated on time, these can cause the eardrums to get infected and stop working. Deafness is the most serious outcome of negligence here.

list of dog parasites
Illustration of the most common dog parasites: fleas, ticks, ear mites, harvest mites, louse, and fur mites.

Cardiac Diseases

Basset Hounds are prone to a disease called Dilated Cardiomyopathy (or DCM, see study). This makes the heart of the dog so inflated that the walls around the heart start thinning. Over a period of time, they weaken to such an extent that pumping blood becomes difficult. Your dog may start wheezing or have trouble breathing. If they get tired too soon or cough in a strange way before bedtime or after a bout of exercising, you must get your pet checked immediately.

In case cardiomyopathy is suspected, a thorough checkup along with an ECG is performed to analyze the rhythm of the Basset Hound’s heart. If the heart rhythm is found abnormal, your vet may put your dog on medication to relieve the symptoms and may also offer dietary suggestions amongst other things. Basset Hounds are also amongst those dog breeds that suffer from heart failures as well. A regular checkup with your vet and caution while exercising them is all it takes to save your pet pooch. Also pay attention to their diet, since more often than not, it is obesity that leads to heart failures in them.

Eye Issues

A common problem that Basset Hounds specifically seem to face as a breed is glaucoma. A condition so painful it may feel like the eye is being pricked by a sharp and cold object! Read this explanation by the Glaucoma Cell Biology Laboratory. For glaucoma, in particular, signs like bluing of the corners of the eye or reddening of the eye overall are seen. For best measure, it is always a great idea to get your Basset Hound an annual glaucoma checkup.

The breed’s big droopy eyes are susceptible to a lot of eye issues that may eventually cause blindness. Frequent watering of the eyes, squinting, swollen eyes or bulging eyeballs are just some of the signs and symptoms you should always look out for. In Basset Hounds, these eye conditions are mostly genetic too.

Older Basset Hounds might also fall prey to cataracts but the solution to that is simple and fairly pain-free.

Other Health Issues

Basset Hounds, just like other dog breeds, have certain predisposed health issues like hip and elbow dysplasia. The severity of these in Basset Hounds is slightly more, because of their earlier susceptibility to suffering from osteochondrodysplasia. They also suffer from a highly discomfiting disorder called Gastric Dilation and Volvulus (GDV) which causes them to bloat. This is a highly fatal health problem and needs to be treated as an emergency.

Basset Hounds also suffer from a series of back problems, that affect their vertebrae and may render them invalid and in pain for life. Because of their odd shape and size, a lot of stress falls upon their back right from a very young age. This can be avoided with a little caution while taking them on walks. A stressed out vertebrae in Basset Hounds can also lead to neurological disorders such as wobbler’s disease. Pinching of the nerve may lead to the blood supply from the legs being cut off resulting in a wobbly, unsteady gait in the dogs.

Knee, joint and bone disorders are also quite common among Basset Hounds, due to their dwarfism.

dwarfism in dogs
Dwarfism is often genetic and takes generations to be reversed, or attenuated.

How To Breed Basset Hounds

Breeding Basset Hounds is fairly popular because of the growing demand for these adorable, short-legged beauties. They are smart, playful, active, and protective and family oriented. Their short stature and exercise restrictions make them good to live in an apartment also.

Apart from a few things that Basset Hound breeders need to be cautious of, it is a fairly easy dog to breed and own as well. Their grooming needs are also pretty limited and pregnancies tend to go smoothly.

Here’s everything you need to know before you breed these little fellows.

Litter Size

Breeding Basset Hounds will get you a litter of about 6-8 puppies on average. Larger litters of up to 14 puppies are not uncommon either though.

Mortality rate

The mortality rate of newborn Basset Hound puppies is also pretty high. Be careful of miscarriages, too. However, sometimes, a clumsy Basset Hound mother may roll over and smother the babies unknowingly (they have been known to do that). This causes a lot of pain not only to the puppies but also to the mother and to the breeder.

Breeders of Basset Hounds must be extremely careful with the puppies. Stay around the mother and keep an eye 24×7 on the progress of the puppies.

Lactation in Large Litters

In larger litters, the mother may not have enough milk for them all and so breeders might have to be prepared to hand raise the puppies (feeding them formula, and so on).

Basset Hound mothers also tend to lose interest in cleaning the pups after a while and that responsibility may also fall upon you. Remember, the bigger the litter size, the higher your responsibilities are as a Basset Hound breeder.

Cesarean Sections

Basset Hounds can have certain birthing issues owing to their oddly shaped morphological structure. They can also have up to 15 babies in a single litter, which might become fatal to their own health if complications arise.

Due to the breed’s dwarfism, the birthing canal, while properly developed, is of an odd size. This creates issues, especially when the litter is large. Sometimes, females may also find it difficult to naturally birth the puppies and a c-section becomes crucial. Always have a vet by your side when your Basset Hound goes into labor. If 45-60 minutes pass between the births of each puppy, a C-section must be carried out on an emergency basis!

breeding basset hounds (poster)
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