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So you want a Basset Hound?
Making the right choice.

So you've decided to purchase a dog. Owning a dog can be the beginning of years of happiness as the special bond between humans and canines exceeds even the greatest of expectations. However, to ensure the best relationship with your dog, you must be prepared for some important responsibilities. Keep the following questions in mind as we go along.

1. Have I found the right breed to fit into my lifestyle and home?
2. Will you have enough time to spend training, grooming and exercising a dog?
3. Am I willing to spend the resources to ensure the best future for a dog?

Are you sure a Basset Hound is the breed for you? Have you been to a dog show to see the dogs there? Have you visited a breeder's kennel to see how they are at home? Have you checked out AKC's web page on buying a puppy? The breeders you will talk to will tell you about all the positives of a basset from being a super breed around children to the ease of grooming, but there are other things you should be aware of in addition.

  • Are you aware that a basset hound is NOT a small dog? It's a big dog on short legs. The average male may weigh anywhere from 55-65 pounds, sometimes more. The bitches are usually 45-55 pounds or so. And they all think they're lap dogs. And if you don't understand that at the outset, they will make sure to teach you.
  • Are you aware that bassets have a hound odor? They are clean dogs and "easy keepers" in terms of grooming, but the oils in their skin give them a distinctive odor. Some have more odor than others, and yes, it can get into your carpet. If that is potentially offensive to you, then this is not your breed.
  • Are you aware that they don't usually come housebroken -- you have to train them?
  • Are you aware that bassets shed? It's short hair, granted, but it still comes out when Spring arrives. Regular brushing minimizes the problem, but don't expect to have a shed-free hound.
  • Are you aware that they drool and can flip slobber on your kitchen cabinets from a great distance? Are you aware that they want to be close to you and that when they put their massive paws on your foot to get close or when they wag their tails against your leg it may not be comfortable?
  • Are you aware that these dogs are scent hounds? That means they want their noses in everything. This can include getting your dirty socks or shorts from your laundry hamper and parading them around your living room in front of guests you're trying to impress.
  • Are you aware that by placing their paws at the edge of your kitchen counter, laying their head on the counter and extending their tongue, they can reach to the back and consume the gourmet dessert you just made for your dinner party?
  • Are you aware that bassets are not full time couch potatoes? Like all breeds, they need their exercise. Remember that these dogs were bred for hunting, and while they're not fast on their feet, they are persistent hunters and should be able to go for many miles before tiring.
  • Are you aware that like nearly every breed of dog, there are genetic diseases and disorders found in the basset hound? George Padgett, D.V.M., a well-respected canine geneticist lists 67 of them in his new book, Control of Canine Genetic Disease. Some of these are seen rarely, others are seen more frequently. The more common problems include hypothyroidism, intervertebral disk disease, glaucoma, bloat, von Willebrand's disease, and hereditary thrombopathia.

    How do I find a responsible basset hound breeder? A great place to start is our breeder referral page or you can go to the Basset Hound Club of America's Breeder Directory.

    What can I expect of a breeder? First you should understand that all responsible breeders subscribe to the expectations of the AKC at a minimum.

  • You should expect that the breeder is a member of a recognized local Basset Hound Club and/or the Basset Hound Club of America.
  • You should expect that the litter you may look at was bred to produce dogs suitable for competition in some AKC event, and that dogs not kept by the breeder for that purpose will be placed as pets.
  • You should expect that the litter should not have been produced for the sole purpose of making money.
  • You should expect the breeder to show you the dam and sire if they own both, or at least the dam. Bitches are frequently bred to studs not owned by the breeder in order to improve the line.
  • You should expect that the bitch has not been bred before her second season and that she has not been bred on every season.
  • You should expect that the kennel facilities are kept in a clean and sanitary manner and that the puppies are well cared for.
  • You should feel free to discuss the breeder's plan for improving the breed and for controlling genetic diseases. Do not hesitate to ask the breeder what testing he/she has done.
  • You should expect a written health guarantee that specifies what the breeder will do should a problem be found. Will he/she agree to replace the puppy, to refund all or a portion of the purchase price, to compensate you for veterinary bills? Typically the day to day care including veterinary expenses will be your responsibility. Avoid a problem by making sure there is mutual understanding in the purchase contract.
  • You should expect that the breeder and his/her veterinarian have established an immunization schedule for the litter and that the breeder can provide for you a list of the immunizations and dates given, and you should expect a complete medical history including any tests performed, e.g., heartworm.
  • You should expect a written contract and a pedigree of the puppy you are buying. At a minimum the contract should include the date of sale, pup's date of birth, full registered names of the sire and dam, their registration numbers, litter registration number, breed, and color. The contract should be signed by both the breeder(s) and yourself, and you should receive one of the copies.
  • You should expect the breeder to provide information on the care and feeding of the pup.
  • You should expect an AKC "blue slip" or "registration" of the animal or a specified time by which that will be provided.
  • You should expect that in most cases the puppy will come to you with a "limited registration" meaning the animal is guaranteed to be a purebred basset and the offspring of two registered basset hounds, but that if it is bred, its offspring cannot be registered with AKC. Remember, if the breeder felt the puppy was worthy of breeding he/she wouldn't be selling him to you as a pet.
  • You should expect the breeder to require you to spay or neuter the puppy and he/she may not release registration papers until you provide proof that the surgery has been performed.
  • You should expect the breeder to give you a period of time in which you can assure that the pup "fits" your family, and during which you can return the pup if it does not.
  • You should expect the breeder to answer questions and give advice for the life of the pup.

    What will the breeder expect of me? Responsible breeders typically have more buyers than puppies. They are most interested in placing puppies in homes where they will be well cared for and will become members of the family, so do not expect a breeder to sell to you just because you have offered to buy.

  • The breeder will want assurance that you have a fenced yard. As a scent hound, a basset may take off on a scent and not return.
  • The breeder will expect you to have clean, dry housing, or a specific place in the house for the dog to sleep.
  • A breeder may request a home visit before making a decision about you.
  • The breeder will want assurance that when traveling with your dog he will be safe in the vehicle.
  • The breeder may ask you to bring your children when you come to see the puppies.
  • The breeder may not want to sell you a puppy as a gift for someone else.
  • The breeder will expect you to inform them if there are any problems found during the dog's life that are genetic in origin and that are not apparent as a puppy.
  • The breeder may require you to have the puppy examined by a veterinarian within the first few days to assure you that he is in good health, and to make sure you are established with a veterinarian so that if there is a medical problem you have someone you can count on.

    There are no dumb questions. Do not hesitate to ask the breeder any question you might have. There is no such thing as a dumb question. What you want to ask has probably been heard many times before.

  • If I have to return the puppy can I expect a full refund?
  • Why am I getting a limited registration?
  • Will you show me any test results you have on the parents?
  • Why do I have to spay my puppy?
  • What should I feed him and how often?
  • How do I housebreak him?
  • When will he lose his puppy teeth?
  • How do you trim nails?
  • Why hasn't he had his rabies shot yet?
  • What can I expect to pay for a pet quality puppy? There is no set price for a pet quality puppy. The price is usually dependent on veterinary costs in the breeder's area. Typically breeders lose money on each litter they breed. A recent AKC estimate suggested a loss of $1700 or so on every litter was being seen. Remember that the breeder has many costs which may include pre-breeding testing, stud fees, shipping, costs of artificial insemination and collection, veterinary checkups, Caesarean sections and/or other assistance in whelp, puppy examinations and immunizations, puppy food, etc.