With his short legs, large-boned body, loose skin and very long ears, the basset hound is an easily recognized dog breed that originated in France for trailing small game. The basset possesses a highly tuned sense of smell and moves with athleticism despite the short legs. Bassets possess a gentle and mild-mannered disposition, and they get along well with children and other pets. Like some other hounds, they drool profusely. They are intelligent and occasionally stubborn, and typically respond well to training. Caring for a basset hound requires some specific precautions due to their physical and mental traits, but otherwise is very similar to caring for any other dog breed.
Keep your basset contained. The basset is a great hunter. He will follow his nose when on an interesting scent, but he is not adept at finding his way home. Keep your basset on leash or inside a fenced area when you take him outside, and keep all doors leading outside closed. Be aware of nearby pools, ponds or other water features your basset hound could fall into, as his short legs make him an ineffective swimmer.
Create a safe spot for your basset hound. All dogs need a retreat to call their own, where they can go to rest quietly or to find calm in times of stress. Find a place in your home, whether in a bedroom or closet or some other quiet place, where you can set up a dog crate or dog bed to serve as your basset's own comfortable resting spot. Avoid places where he would need to climb or jump, as his joints and spine may not be able to handle the strain as he ages.
Let your basset hound play. Unlike many other breeds, bassets need only moderate exercise to stay healthy. Walk him daily, and make sure he has plenty of safe toys to play with, whether alone or with you. Let him use his nose. Hide a few treats in a room and let him find them.
Keep your basset hound healthy. Bassets suffer from various breed-specific health conditions, including glaucoma, disc problems and elbow dysplasia. Visit your veterinarian regularly for his regular immunizations and to watch for signs of disorders common to the breed. Some young basset hounds, like a number of large-boned breeds, may develop panosteitis, a disease of the fatty bone marrow in the long leg bones, during rapid growth. Panosteitis causes lameness for no apparent reason. The lameness often moves from leg to leg. The condition is self-limiting. It usually resolves itself even if untreated, and tends not to recur after age 2.
Feed your pet carefully. The basset's moderately low activity level makes him prone to obesity, so feed him only high-quality dog food at regularly scheduled feeding times. Puppies require more food more often than adults, as they are growing rapidly and use the energy quickly. Adults receive between one and three cups of food twice a day, depending on their lifestyle. Do not feed your basset hound table scraps or offer too many treats during the day. Look at him every day when you feed him to make sure his portion of food is still correct.
Groom your basset hound regularly. Bred as hunting dogs, bassets have an oily film to their coat to keep them warm as they hunt and to lubricate the skin. This oil creates a musky odor, making baths necessary. Wash your basset as often as needed or desired, using a dog shampoo. Brush his coat between baths. Trim his toenails, or have them trimmed, as often as necessary, typically once every week or two. To prevent ear infections, clean his ears weekly with a commercial dog ear cleanser or a solution of equal parts white vinegar and isopropyl alcohol. Brush his teeth with dog toothpaste at least once a week to prevent tartar build-up.