Food & Exercise
Bassets have a reputation for being overweight and lazy dogs. This is one of those situations where there are too many heavy basset hounds which are couch potatoes, plod along at a snail's pace and look totally out of breath on even a short walk, which does help to reinforce this view of the breed. This doesn't have to be the case though. With some sensible research into good foods and regular walks, your hound should be healthy and happy.
Food, Feeding & Snacks
Food is very high on the list of important things for most bassets. This means that they will eat a lot of the dog foods out there without hesitation. That doesn't mean they're all as good as each other though.
We feed our hounds a combination of dry kibble (Eden) and wet food (Nature's Menu), usually stirred in with something to add moisture and taste - like an Oxo cube or coconut oil with hot water. They are fed twice a day, once in the morning around 9am, and then again in the evening around 5pm. They get about half a cup of the kibble and they share a can between of the wet food, for each meal. For us, this is a good amount that means they maintain their weight along with a few snacks during the day.
In terms of snacks, we give them little cocktail sausages (one or two each), dry duck or a small pork pie. They'll usually get snacks three or four times a day, including on their walk as a mid-point snack.
Both our boys, Sonny and Samson, are good eaters and will waste no time in getting to their food. Delilah is more of a game player, enjoying being in the position of having her food after everyone else has finished - and has come over to watch her eat. About 20% of the time though, she'll not have her breakfast and just spend half an hour guarding it until we pick it up off the floor.
Some hounds can be anxious or even aggressive around feeding time. This is often true for rescue dogs where they may not have had regular meals. We usually keep the dogs out of the kitchen when we're preparing their food which reduces the stress when feeding three or more dogs at the same time. Also look at getting a bowl which slow your hound if they choke down their food when eating - sometimes called 'slow eat bowls'.
Also, we've noticed that in our house at least, fairness is very important. If you give Samson a treat, Delilah and Sonny will fix you with an expectant gaze - rightly so!
This is a very useful site for anyone considering their options with regards to finding the right food for their hound(s) and budget: All About Dog Food
Exercise - body and mind
Healthy bassets enjoy going for walks and have good endurance, able to walk for upwards of 45 minutes at a time. However, many hounds have problems with their hips and longer walks (anything more than 20 minutes) can leave them uncomfortable and sore. It is important to make sure that even hounds with hip problems are getting exercise, as building these muscles slowly and maintaining their strength is key to a good quality of life for them.
Many bassets will be happy to spend long hours on a comfy sofa or in a sunstop on the floor. That doesn't mean that they would prefer to do that over having a walk - it shouldn't be 'one or the other' for them.
As important as exercising their bodies is exercising their minds. On a walk a lot of this will come from smells, whether this is other dogs, local park scents or hunting out some rabbit or squirrel. Bassets are scent hounds, so giving them the opportunity to smell when on walks is important.
In the house you can play games with soft toys, balls or a laser pointer. You can also hide small treats, rolled up in a blanket, which is great for getting the scent part working with a fun reward at the end.
We try walk our hounds at least 20 to 30 minutes a day, either at our local park or around the neighbourhood. On days when it's raining, or Samson needs to burn off some more energy, we'll play one of the indoor games.