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11 Common Health Problems in Basset Hounds to Be Aware Of

Written by: Melissa Gunter

Last Updated on July 9, 2024 by Dogster Team

Common Health Problems in Basset Hounds

11 Common Health Problems in Basset Hounds to Be Aware Of


Dr. Ashley Darby Photo


Dr. Ashley Darby

BVSc (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Basset Hounds are one of the most adorable dog breeds around. With their long ears, sad eyes, and baying howls, it’s easy to see how they can wiggle their way into our hearts. Unfortunately, however, as with any pet, Basset Hounds do face certain health problems due to their breed. Let’s take a look at 11 of the most common of these health problems so you can better understand what your Basset Hound may face. This will help you watch for signs of issues and have a better understanding of what’s happening with your faithful companion.

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The 11 Common Health Problems in Basset Hounds

1. Hip and Elbow Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia occurs when a dog’s hip joint is formed abnormally, making the ball and joint not fit together correctly. Elbow dysplasia stems from the elbow joint being abnormally formed. Both of these issues can cause difficulty walking and a lot of pain for a dog. In time, affected dogs develop arthritis in the abnormal joints. Usually, hip and elbow dysplasia is hereditary but nutrition and other environmental factors come into play.

Signs of hip and elbow dysplasia include:
  • Limping
  • Pain when walking
  • Difficulty jumping
  • Difficulties when lying down or getting back up
dog elbow dysplasia
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2. Glaucoma

Glaucoma, specifically Primary Open-Angle glaucoma, is a type of eye condition inherited by Basset Hounds. The genetic defect prevents fluid from draining from the eye at a normal rate. Since fluid is constantly produced in the eye, this leads to pressure build-up. Pups are born with the genetics for this disorder but only show signs in adulthood. Genetic testing is available to help breeders avoid passing on this disease.

Signs of Glaucoma:
  • Pain
  • Eye enlargement
  • Tearing
  • Redness
  • Blindness

3. Mucopolysaccharidosis

Mucopolysaccharidosis is another inherited condition in Bassets. The disease causes the cell lysosomes to malfunction. These lysosomes are cell organs responsible for breaking down and clearing out waste products in the cell. With mucopolysaccharidosis, the waste products build up to the point that cells cannot function, and dogs become unwell. Only some dogs with this condition survive to adulthood, and about 1% of the Basset population carry the disease, which is why parents should be screened to avoid passing it on.

Signs of mucopolysaccharidosis:
  • Joint problems
  • Heart disease
  • Weakness
  • Cataracts
Image By: Daniel Myjones, Shutterstock

4. Thrombopathia

Thrombopathia is a bleeding disorder that affects Basset Hounds. When suffering from thrombopathia, Basset Hound’s platelets do not work to clot blood properly. This means small injuries or even bleeding gums can become a severe issue. Often, thrombopathia isn’t found until a trauma occurs or surgery is needed. However, it is considered one of the most dangerous issues a Basset Hound can suffer. Thrombopathia is also a genetic disease that can be tested for.

Signs of thrombopathia:
  • Excessive and abnormal bleeding
  • Bruising
  • Hematomas
  • Tarry feces from intestinal bleeding
  • Signs related to internal bleeding

5. Wobbler Syndrome

This condition is a neurological disorder that combines chronic degenerative disorders that affect the neck and spinal cord in this region. Wobbler’s syndrome is suspected to have a genetic basis. It causes excessive compression to the spinal cord, which leads to signs of nerve dysfunction or even paralysis. It is named Wobbler Syndrome due to the wobbly gait it causes in dogs.

Signs of wobbler syndrome:
  • Strange or wobbly gait
  • Neck stiffness and pain
  • Paralysis
  • Abnormal reflexes
Basset Hound
Image By: Maria Symchych, Shutterstock

6. Ear Infections

Due to their long, floppy ears, the ear canals of Bassett hounds don’t get much airflow and can trap debris and moisture. This predisposes them to getting ear infections, especially if they have allergies that cause ear inflammation. Regular ear cleaning and treating infections promptly will help keep your Basset healthy.

Signs of ear infections:
  • Smelly ears
  • Inflamed ear canals
  • Discharge
  • Head shaking
  • Ear scratching

7. Seborrhea

Seborrhea is an inherited disease in Basset Hounds that can affect the skin. This disorder causes the body to produce too much sebum, which is used to create a protective coat of oil for the skin. This excess leads to thick, flakey, dry, smelly skin. Seborrhea can also be a secondary symptom to other issues your Basset Hound may suffer from such as allergies, infections, poor diet, or hormonal imbalances.

Signs of seborrhea:
  • Scabs or crusts on the skin
  • Oily skin
  • Pungent odor

Image By: Ernest_Roy, Pixabay

8. Intervertebral Disc Disease

Intervertebral disc disease, or IVDD, is one of the most common health issues in Basset Hounds. This is due to the breed’s shape. This spinal disorder is caused by the rupture or herniating of the cartilage discs found between the spine’s vertebrae. Compression on the spinal cord is the result. The discomfort and severity of signs suffered by a Basset Hound will be determined by how severe the compression is on the spinal cord. The location of the disc rupture will also affect the signs a dog shows.

Signs of intervertebral disc disease:
  • Back or neck pain
  • Problems walking
  • Lethargy
  • Paralysis
  • Incontinence
One Basset hound puppy and adult dog
Image Credit: illustrissima, Shutterstock

9. Gastric Torsion

Gastric torsion, also known as gastric dilatation-volvulus or bloat, is a dangerous, potentially deadly condition many deep-chested dog breeds, like the Basset Hound, are prone to experience. Bloat occurs when the stomach fills with food, fluid, or gas and then twists, causing even more expansion. Dogs with gastric torsion go into shock because the blood supply to organs is disrupted, and there is not enough blood returning to the heart. Untreated, it proves deadly within hours. One way you can help prevent this is by making sure your Basset eats slowly and offering two or three smaller meals a day rather than one large one.

Signs of gastric torsion:
  • Abdominal pain
  • Retching
  • Bloated abdomen
  • Panting
  • Restlessless

10. Ectropion

Ectropion is when the eyelids fold outward, which is why some Bassets have droopy eyes. This increases a Basset Hound’s chances of eye infections and irritations as the eye is more exposed. Often, ectropion is caused by loose skin around a dog’s face.

Signs of ectropion:
  • Sagging of the eyelid
  • Discharge
  • Redness
  • Staining of the fur beneath the eye
basset hound sitting in grass
Image By: Sebastian Molina Bullrich, Pixabay

11. Obesity

Obesity in Basset Hounds is fairly common. Unfortunately, it can also be very dangerous. Basset Hounds love food, but too much weight on their frames can increase their risk of joint and spinal issues, as well as cancer and pancreatitis. To avoid having too much weight on a Basset Hound it is best to not overfeed them, follow the diet recommended by their veterinarian, and ensure they get the proper amount of exercise.

Signs of obesity:
  • Physical changes (weighted appearance)
  • Decreased activity

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While there are several health issues your Basset Hound could face throughout their lifetime, these are the most common ones. Some health issues are inherited. But to help keep your Basset Hound happy and healthy throughout their lives, take them for their annual veterinarian checkups. Routine health visits are the best way to keep track of your Basset’s health and any problems they may be developing. If you see any signs of issues, immediately contact your veterinarian for assistance.

Featured Image Credit: Billion Photos, Shutterstock

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