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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone! I just joined this forum so I could see if maybe a basset would be a good choice for my family. I am looking to add another dog to our house in a year or so- when we buy our first house!

I have ALWAYS loved the look of bassets, with their long droopy ears and melancholy expression.

I have a 1.5 year old sheltie and a 6 month old Italian greyhound- both of whom I love to death. The sheltie is in agility and the IG is going to be in lure coursing next year- she was too young for this season. We go on an hour long walk most days but in the winter when it's -40 outside it's not always possible. Usually for a week in the winter I can't really go outside but in those days we do a LOT of indoor play! The sheltie is a medium to low energy dog and the IG is quite high.

I want a dog who is pretty snuggly, my IG is very cuddly, the sheltie not, but I am looking to get a bigger dog this time around (I so never knew bassets can be over 50lb just by looking at them!!). The main hesitation about them is both health issues- my other two breeds are healthy ones- and trainability. The sheltie was a snap to train, the IG was supposed to be a lot slower but she was just as easy, maybe a bit slower in housetraining.

Ummm I think that's enough info, I really do want to make the best decision and it's still in the early stages of breed searching. I am looking at a few other breeds still. I want to hear the good and bad!
Thanks in advance


17 Posts
Hey there! :) I love Basset Hounds. I have a 9 month old female-Millie. This is the first basset I have had as an adult. I had one growing up as well. I have a 2 year old toddler and overall they are great together. We have had Millie since she was 9 weeks old.

I think bassets are great family dogs. They love to be around people. If you like a dog that follows you everywhere than the basset is for you. You should know they are also much stronger than people expect. My friends are shocked when they walk Millie by how strong she is. Be prepared for a bit of smelliness. Millie gets regular baths. You must always watch out for the garbage can and counters as well. They are much quicker than you think! :)

Mine is good with other dogs and cats. The cat actually is aggressive towards the dog which is the only reason I have to keep them separate. My basset is also great with my toddler. She has such a good temperament.

Good luck with your search for a new dog!

1,271 Posts
It sounds like you are up to the task. Bassets are usually higher energy than people expect, and require a good amount of mental and physical exercise. And trainability? I've found that you can train a basset to do anything--if you can find the dog's motivation. Luckily, Lightning will do anything for food. However, that being said, bassets usually obey only when it suits them. I'm not sure where you live, but from the description you gave of your life, I would recommend you not get the heavier, more ponderous bassets that seem to be preferred in Europe. The lighter-boned bassets you see more in America would be better for someone who likes to go on hour-long walks and do agility training. Bassets are the best snugglers in the world, and weighing over 60 lbs. does not stop them from trying to fit entirely in your lap. And Lightning does not smell. Some bassets do have a distinctive odor that smells very much like corn chips. I think you would like a basset. Let us know what you decide.

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5,042 Posts
Actually, the basset is a pretty healthy breed, but you do want to select your breeder carefully. Poorly-bred specimens are more prone to orthopedic and other issues. As for trainability, if you found the Iggy to be an easy train then you should be able to manage a Basset. They are quite intelligent and can learn quicky *when properly motivated*. However, their performance is not generally as reliable - just because they know what to doesn't mean they will actually do it! Despite that, many of us enjoy competing in obedience and agility with Bassets.
For more breed-specific issues:
They shed more than you think
They do often have a houndy odor
They fling spit. It sticks to walls and furniture and is industrial strength and hard to remove.
They will leave a trail of dribble from the water bowl
They believe they are lap dogs - no matter how big they are.
They can reach farther back on counters and tables than you think. And putting stuff out of reach is much easier and less stressful than attempting to break them of counter surfing.
They are more agile than you think
They do require a secure fence. They are not the sort of dog to hang around the yard, even if you are out there doing stuff (like gardening). They will get bored and wander off.
They do tend to be more difficult to housebreak than most breeds. Consistency and supervision are essential to make the process go more smoothly.
Due to their thick pads, their nails tend to be higher off the ground than other breeds, meaning they can get much longer before hitting the ground. Regular nail maintenance is important, I recommend weekly from the time you get him.
Ears should also be at least checked weekly or morean depending on the dog. A good weekly brushing is healthy for skin and coat and will help reduce the shedding a bit.

13,205 Posts
They will leave a trail of dribble from the water bowl
Crick to river is more appropriate definition I alway recommend to someone new to breeding a dog first read
Boasset Owners Survival Guide by Diane Morgan and then decide if it still a breed that suites them.

One issue that I have not seen adressed is trainability. In going down this aisle is frought with dangers because individual differences are greater than the breed averages so it not uncommon at all to find a dog that falls way outside the breed norms. I can not speak for IG's have seen on a couple in agility I don't know enough about there learning style, intellegence or trainability to offer a relative comparison but between shelties and bassets on the other hand I think I can and offer some insight and further article that may help.

One needs to keep in mind all other things from a ease of training stand point being equal intellgence, willingness to work etc there are some striking personality difference that I thinK are very much selective breeding induced that effects learning style and to that extent trainability and how the dogs approach things in general/

All the hearding breed where selective breed to work hand in hand with humans at human direction and through audio comand /cues ie whistles voice etc. So I find theese breeds along with many in the sporting groupm are much easier to teach verbal only cues to. For instance in agility if you want the dog to turn left even though all your body language is saying differently it is possible to teach a herd dog that verbal commands take presidence over all other cues.

Basset and scent hunting breed are bred to work independant and often out of sight of humans and certainly not at there direction. The tend to be incredible good problem solvers. learning to open refigerators. move chairs to get to the counter etc. They are incredibly resourceful but verbal cue do not hold much of a meaning for them. There is speculation that floppy ear may impair hearing as well. It is a very rare basset that you can train that verbal cue take presidence over physical ones. Give there independence and resourcefullness do not tend to look toward humans for guidance or help unless engage in manipulation. Whereas hearding breeds often look toward humans for help guidance and direction.

many years back in studies on trying to assess dogs intellgence and the diffences between dog breed on study involve shelties and beagle and the ability to solve a maze. When presented random Mazes the beagle were much faster at reaching the end ie solving the maze the shelties. It was reaked in the study that the sheties would often look toward the human(s) in the roon for direction itto solving it, However if the presented the same maze over and over again the Sheties got progressivvely faster learning the patern of the maize by rote. The beagles on the other hand never got faster the used the sam genetical programed random search program and if they got faster is was only marginally., It is not that one dog more intellegient than the other but selective breed has cause difference in how the process thing and look at the world.

Herding breed when they are full stop eating scent hounds not so much. Think of it this way Which is going to be the better hunting dog the one more willing to work. The dog that is still hungry after eating breakfast or the one that is full. IMHO selctive breeding for hunting persistent has the consequence of eleliminating the full button. this is not just true of basset but scent hound in general they are only sated when there feet no longer touch the ground. because their belly si so big. That mean that food in general is a poorfull motivatior and therfore an important training tool.

In training term basset are soft/sensitive the general do not respond well to hars correction even words. A basset natural reaction to stress is to shut down and do nothing. Hence the vission go the stubborn basset not moving being draged by the collar and leash, This is nothing more than a basset that has shut down to harsh treatment, Basset tent to resonded even more so than dogs on average to postive reinforcement and reack even more poorly to positive punishment.

Part of the independance and problem solving of a basset is they are excellent manipulatiors there have been dogs know to feign injury for months coerce treat with "the look" etc consistence in appying rules is critical any inconsitency in the rules will cause the average basset to test the boundries rigourously to determine when the rule applies and doesn't While this is true with any breed it seem even more pronounced in bassets. If you give them an an inch the will slowly and consiently push for a mile.

Personnally I find them one of the most highly intellegent breeds and one of the easier ones to train, IMHO the stuborn basset is a myth there are only stuborn owners that are unwilling or incapable of changing there training methods to suit the dog.

maybe a bit slower in housetraining
Basset hounds are natorious slow on house training. This is often reffered to as hard to train. Again I dount thing they are hard per se to house train but they are rather slow to develop the physical skill to be house trained effectively. that is they are slow to develop the requiste sphincter control to hold it. I have never seen a basset housetraned before 6 month of age and 1 year is more typical. A lack of accidents is not an indication of housetraing but simply a reflection of the schedule and management practices in place to prevent accidents.

The sheltie is in agility
I have trained multiple basset in the sport.
Mariah at age 2 1/2
She was aguired from a rescue at the age of one and was successfully competing in agility 8 months later. In my admitted biased opinion borrowing a line from Charilie Daniel she's "the best that's ever been" Which is a relextion on her and not my ability to train or handle

Media Hound Front and Finish: July 1994
a review of stanely Coren Intelligence of Dogs , Heather Nadelman former owner of this site composed an excelent treatis on the falicy of MR coren Ranking of Obedience intelligence (trainability) it is best to reat the eniter review.
Coren's analysis of working or obedience intelligence is by far the weakest link in his book. In attempting to rank the various breeds in terms of working intelligence, Coren found no laboratory research at all. He quickly realized how expensive a scientific study of canine intelligence would be: by his conservative estimate, a grant of at least $14 million would be necessary to acquire, house, train, and test enough individuals of the various breeds to make the study useful. Coren also attempted several sophisticated means of analyzing AKC obedience trial results before abandoning this line entirely. Ultimately, he decided to send out a survey to all obedience judges in the United States and Canada. 208 (about half of those who received the survey) responded, and he followed up about two dozen of these with a more detailed telephone interview.

...Unfortunately, the methodology underlying Coren's conclusions is extremely faulty. All Coren has managed to do is to obtain a rough list of the success of various breeds in the sport of dog obedience in North America; jumping from that to the number of repetitions it took the various dogs to learn commands is impossible

...The most striking difference between the two dogs is a personality issue, not a matter of anything that can be labeled "intelligence." Although Coren devotes a full chapter to what he terms the "personality factor," he does not seem to realize how critical a role it plays in the obedience ring. Connie is like many bassets: she's bright and happy to learn if you can convince her that the learning was her idea in the first place (i.e., if you train with food). But she doesn't have a strong sense of duty; if she's under stress or a bit distracted, she'd as soon not obey a command as obey it. Let's indulge in speculation and generalization for a moment, dangerous though it might be. Bassets are perfectly capable of shutting down entirely under stress; more than anything else, their tendency toward negative stress management is the reason why judges see so many slow-moving, tail-drooping, lagging bassets in the ring. Border collies are an entirely different story. Once a behavior is learned, most border collies seem to perform regardless of stress; indeed, many respond to stress by getting sharper and sharper. Dream is not such a successful obedience dog because of her learning ability. She has excelled because, quite simply, she loves to perform in the ring in front of a crowd of spectators. It is this showy sparkle--a je ne sais quoi which would never appear on a personality or intelligence test--that makes Dream unusually good; her learning pattern is all but irrelevant. My basset loves to learn new things and loves to practice but gets a bit overwhelmed in stressful situations, freezing and refusing to work at all. Again, her learning pattern would be impossible to predict in an assessment of her ring performance.

...I think that the book would have been far stronger if this chapter were deleted entirely. In a review in the Wall Street Journal, Manuela Hoelterhoff writes that we can all spare ourselves the trouble of assessing our dogs' intelligence and "just accept Mr. Coren's ranking of breeds in descending order of dimness. After years of observation and interrogating hundreds of vets and trainers, he has fearlessly rated 79 breeds, and the news is not good for proud owners of Afghans, basenjis and bulldogs. They are the Igors of dogdom, occupying the bottom of the list, far away from the genius-level border collies, poodles, German shepherds, and golden retrievers" (Wall Street Journal May 11, 1994: A18). It is such reasoning, however lighthearted, that makes Coren's conclusions extremely dangerous. The inherent problems in the consultation of obedience judges as "experts" are far too deep, and the influence of his conclusions in the minds of the general public is far too profound, to have allowed the rankings to stand as even a rough approximation of reality.

The Intelligence of Dogs
More on the Maze study
A study of genetics and dog behavior in the 1950's took a more scientific look at this phenomenon. Drs. John Scott and John Fuller examined five breeds of purebred dogs and how they behave. Beagles, Cocker Spaniels, Basenjiis, Shelties, Fox Terriers and their hybrid offspring, took part in the experiment over a 12 year period. The findings of this study pointed to some obvious conclusions. Each of these breeds showed differing abilities at almost any given behavior. In a test using a large maze, Fox Terriers and Shelties had very slow scores initially, while Beagles and Basenjiis excelled. The primary reason for the Beagles' superiority was that they were highly likely to offer rapid and variable investigation of their environment - a trait that is of major importance when hunting small game. Basenjiis did almost as well as Beagles in the maze test for a completely different reason. The researchers concluded that the Basenjiis were slower to investigate by moving around, but more likley to use visual clues to solve the puzzle. The common sense conclusion would be that beagles and basenjiis are somehow smarter than Fox Terriers or Shelties - an assumption that would be premature. The researchers discovered over a series of tests that the Fox Terriers and Shelties improved their performance by being able to easily learn repetitive sequences. The Beagles had trouble because they have difficulty performing consistent routines. It is not that Beagles solved the maze faster because they are smarter, it is that their behavior is more variable. When consistency is needed, Beagles fall far below other breeds in "intelligence". The more accurate conclusion is that these breeds are not more or less intelligent than each other, but genetically programmed to learn different tasks with greater or lesser ease.

This article from When Pigs Fly is a follow up to DeeJays thread .
Here is what Scott and
Fuller found:
In general, the four hunting breeds (beagles, basenjis, terriers, and cockers) performed
best on the tests. This is probably because most of the tests were deliberately
designed to test independent capacities motivated by food rewards...By
contrast, the Shetland sheep dogs, whose ancestors have been selected for their
ability to perform complex tasks under close direction from their human masters,
performed rather badly. Indeed, in many of the tests, the shelties gave the subjective
impression of waiting around for someone to tell them what to do, (Emphasis
The Basenji learned faster than the Sheltie. The Sheltie was waiting to be told
what to do, and the Basenji was out there figuring it out on his own. So, if the
Basenji is just as capable, if not more capable, than the Sheltie of learning, why is
it so devilishly hard to get a Basenji to actually do what we want them to do? The
answer is that traditional training models were designed with the biddable dog
(like the Sheltie) in mind. Those methods rely heavily on "showing" or "telling"
the dog what to do. If you have a dog who is pre-programmed through hundreds
or thousands of years of breeding to be receptive to being told what to do, those
methods might get you somewhere. If you have a dog who has only ever been bred
to think for himself, you will find yourself beating your head against a wall. The
problem is not the dog, but the method used to teach him. Instead of compelling or
showing the dog what you want him to do, you need to learn a system of training
that will tap into your dog's ability to excel at independently motivated problem
solving, just like the dogs in Fuller and Scott's study.
That is the bottom line If you find the basset hard to train look to the methodology used in training first rather than assume the dog is simply stuborn or hard to train.

2,780 Posts

Don't overlook this recent thread above. that will give u the 'other side' of the perspective on bassets. as Mikey says, there are breed generalizations but then also individual differences within them. in our situation, Worm as a puppy was more mellow than we expected & easier to deal with. (comparison is a wiener dog puppy for us)

he is totally food motivated (we limit the food he has access to, tho, he does not have access all day to kibble) and easy to train. for me, he was as easy to train as the wiener dog (tho can't remember if wiener dogs are supposed to have a stubborn streak too) in our training class, he learned as fast as the golden retriever & german shepherd in our class.

sounds like you have a lot of experience w/dogs & already have 2 dogs in the household. if u get a basset, that's a great thing. bassets really like the company & like to be part of things.

good luck with the search & keep us posted!

972 Posts
lol I have learned soundtracks list the hardway. But the rewards are great as well...i have never been as loved by an animal, i think. And I have never loved an animal more! They are very social, and don't like to be alone...but i love it. He wants to be with his mama (me) all the time, no matter what, and i think it's adorable.

Bowser was in all reality a pretty low-key puppy as well, and thank goodness he doesn't care one whit about food (Our beagle never stops thinking about it).

1,862 Posts
Every evening, Boomer and dad have a little routine. Dad sits down in his recliner to read the paper, gets his feet up and all comfy. Boomer comes along, hops up throws himself against dads's chest for a scritch, then turns around lies across his lap for a snooze. They will sit this way for upwards of an hour.

1,169 Posts
Hi Caty, welcome to the forum, I think I know you from another forum. Of course I think I told you before when you were getting the IG that I'm hooked on a Basset. I also love other breeds and think I will never live long enough to get them all. But I can not see myself without a basset. They are just so funny and do put a smile on my face.

As for exercise when young they can be about as hard as anything else to keep happy about going going going. At least I had one very much that way. I have had a basset in my life since 1984 and have taken them in the Mountains above timber line more than once. It's not that they can bolder hoop great big bolders but they seem to know there limitations and will let you help them when you need to. Unlike my Bullmastiff and Pitbull they just freak out if they can't get to us and are not good at letting us help them.

As for the health I think if you get one from a good breeder, and I know you will you will be ok and I also know you feed good quality food.
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