Q. Why don't you list puppies for sale on your website?

A. The main purpose for producing litters is to ensure that the future of the breed is represented by sound and healthy animals that conform to the breed standard. Conscientious breeders do not view puppies as a business and do not market their puppies. Puppies who are not being retained for the show ring and breeding programs are occasionally available as pets, but no reputable breeder has puppies available on a continual basis, nor does a reputable breeder hawk puppies through websites, internet classifieds, newspaper or magazine classifieds or pet stores.

Q. I don't want a fancy show dog. All I want is a pet. Why shouldn't I buy a dog from a pet store or a newspaper ad?

A. Puppy mills and backyard breeders are interested only in the money that can be made from selling puppies and couldn't care less what happens to those puppies once your check is cashed. Their puppies are not bred with any thought to structural quality or freedom from genetic disorders, so when the puppies grow up, they may develop serious health and mobility problems. And while all puppies are cute, these puppy mill and backyard-bred animals may end up not looking all that much like basset hounds. You may also want to consider a rescue dog. Rescue dogs are in need of homes through no fault of their own, and rescue groups have all dogs evaluated and treated by a veterinarian before the dogs are placed into their new homes.

Q. Are bassets a healthy breed?

A. If acquired from a conscientious breeder, generally yes. Because of their anatomy, bassets can be prone to back and joint problems, particularly if they climb stairs on a regular basis or do extensive walking on hard surfaces like concrete. Bassets, like other large-chested breeds, can be affected by bloat, a twisting of the stomach that may be connected to the gulping of air while taking food or water and which must be treated immediately or else the dog will die. Genetic diseases in bassets are few but are serious, the main ones being glaucoma (build-up of pressure in the eye, leading to blindness and possibly removal of the eye); mucopolysaccharidosis (also known as MPS1, a metabolic disorder that causes deformities as puppies develop and leads to their death before age 2); von Willebrand disease (where the blood does not properly clot, putting animals who scrape themselves or get cut at risk of bleeding to death); and thrombopathia (another disease in which the blood does not properly clot). Reputable breeders work hard to keep their bloodlines free of these genetic disorders by testing their breeding stock and being personally familiar with each and every dog in their pedigrees for at least four generations. Without this personal knowledge, no one could be sure the dogs the person is breeding are free from these disorders. Merely having the parents of puppies or a copy of the pedigree is not enough. Anyone looking for a puppy should ask about health issues in the line and whether the breeder tests for genetic diseases.

Q. Do basssets require a lot of grooming?

A. Not really, since the short coat needs only occasional brushing to get out loose hair (and there will be loose hair). There are, however, two areas of critical importance: ears and nails. Because of their length and shape, a basset's ears can easily become filty and infected if they are not cleaned at least once a week. Several canine ear-cleaning products are available, and bassets generally don't mind having the inside of their ears cleaned. Trimming nails is also very important. Bassets do not wear down their nails, so the nails must be trimmed at least every two weeks, either with clippers designed to cut dog nails, or by sanding the nails down with a Dremel. If the nails become too long, the dog splays his toes to keep the nails out of the way when walking, and this leads to longterm mobility problems. It is also crucial to feed a basset a high-quality dog food that does not contain corn as bassets do not metabolize corn efficiently. It has been my experience that poor diet often leads to skin problems and odor, causing owners to bathe their hounds far too frequently, which may compound the skin problems. Bassets should not be washed too often, and feeding a high-quality dog food makes it necessary to wash a basset only when the dog is genuinely dirty or rolls in something smelly.

Q. I keep my home neat. Is a basset a messy dog?

A. A basset is not an appropriate dog for fastidious housekeepers. Although bassets do not shed as much as some other breeds, they do shed. However, the amount of shedding is nothing that a good vacuum cleaner cannot handle. And there is drool.

Q. Can I walk a basset without a leash?

A. No. Although bassets can be trained as hunting dogs to walk in a pack through rural fields, under no circumstances should a pet basset ever be off a leash outdoors in an area that is not fenced in. A basset's keen sense of smell may cause the dog to follow its nose wherever the scent leads. A basset may wander off on the trail of something and quickly become lost. Furthermore, in most cities it is illegal to walk a dog off a leash.

Q. Can bassets swim?

A. If your home has a pool, a basset should never be allowed unsupervised access to the pool area, and it's probably a better idea not to allow the basset near the pool at all.

Q. How much exercise does a basset need?

A. Bassets do not require extensive activity, and puppies in particular need to be watched to ensure they don't harm developing bones and joints through excessive jumping and running on hard surfaces. The bigger problem with adult bassets, however, is that — like their owners — most don't get enough exercise. Two moderate walks a day, plus opportunities to play in a fenced-in yard, should provide adequate exercise. Regrettably, obesity in bassets is all too common, and the excess weight can lead to serious health problems in even well-bred dogs and shorten their lifespan. So don't exercise them as much they might want as puppies, but give them more exercise than they probably want as adults.

Q. What should a basset eat?

A. Bassets should be a fed a high-quality, corn-free kibble that contains protein and fat levels adequate for a large breed. You will most likely find a high-quality kibble at pet supply stores rather than at your local grocery store. Most grocery-store brands of dog food contain corn as a primary ingredient. You should avoid feeding a basset these brands. Bassets do not seem to metabolize corn-based dog food well, thereby not receiving the intended nutritional value. Additionally, corn-based dog foods seem to increase the incidents of skin problems and yeast infections in bassets. If you have questions about a particular brand, feel free to contact me. Finally, bassets should never be fed processed people food as most of it contains far too much salt and other additives they don't tolerate well.

Q. Are there any books about bassets you would recommend?

A. I recommend two: Margaret Walton's The New Basset Hound is a general overview of the breed written by one of the real pioneers in bassets. Peg Walton began breeding bassets in the 1940s, and her Lyn Mar Acres kennel provided the foundation for many of the top basset bloodlines today, including Renaissance. The book contains many great photos of wonderful bassets from the past, and if the information is not in Peg's book, you don't need to know it. Peg was revered in our breed and has been sorely missed since she passed away in 2008. Col. Robert Booth's The Official Book of the Basset Hound is a great reference. The book is very helpful if you are researching a basset pedigree as it is richly illustrated with hundreds of photos of dogs from all of the top bloodlines. Although the book's tracking of bassets and bloodlines ends in 1996, many of the dogs in the book show up in the best pedigrees, and I'm happy to say there is a very large section on Stoneybluff bassets, from which Renaissance descends. My pedigrees are full of the dogs shown in this book, and it's easy to see how the quality has continued through the years.