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Hip Dysplasia in Basset Hounds

People usually never think about the problem of hip dysplasia in Basset Hounds because a common misconception is that smaller dogs never suffer from hip dysplasia. Unfortunately, this is not true.

Basset Hounds

Basset Hounds are as mild-mannered as Clark Kent. They are known as an obedient breed, although sometimes they can be as stubborn as a mule.

They make great family pets because they’re cute and adorable with those big, droopy ears, and they love being part of whatever’s going on in your house, even if it only means sitting on the couch and watching a movie with the family. They’re not noted for being boisterous or excitable, but they do love to romp through fields when given the chance. So unless you live in a safe rural area, you need to keep them on a leash whenever you take them outside.

Bassets can be difficult to train and housebreak. They are well-known for their “selective memories” when it comes to training, and they seem to relish ignoring or “forgetting” spoken commands unless a treat is offered as a reward for “remembering”. They can be very forceful when they want something, howling until you give in and give them what they are demanding. But that doesn’t hinder them from being cuddly and endearing little pets.

Basset Hounds have an excellent sense of smell—surpassed only by Bloodhounds. When they pick up the scent of another animal they often become distracted, and if you allow them to roam, they will track those scents unrelentingly.

Bassets may act like they’re clumsy and lazy oafs, but they are strong, sturdy dogs and they require daily exercise to stay healthy. They also need to be watched whenever they venture into your kitchen as they are clever little food thieves. It’s important to portion out their food in the correct amounts to prevent obesity.

Basset Hounds originated in France several centuries ago and were used in Europe as hunting dogs by monks who needed a slower dog they could follow on foot. The name “Basset” is French for “low-set”, owing to their short, sturdy legs.

Their medium-sized heads have rounded skulls, long , deep muzzles, and black noses. They have deep chests with narrow shoulders and their backs are straight with tapered tails that stand up. They are short-haired with dense, weather-resistant coats that are typically white with brown patterns. Their dark, slightly sunken eyes always have a sad expression, a trait that endears them to dog owners.

A healthy Basset Hound can live as long as 12 years. Unfortunately, Bassets are prone to develop hip dysplasia and arthritis as they grow older.

Hip dysplasia in Basset Hounds

Hip dysplasia is a genetic disease that primarily affects large and giant breeds of dogs but can also affect medium-sized breeds like the Basset, and occasionally small breeds. It is primarily a disease of purebreds, although it can also occur in mixed breeds.

To understand how hip dysplasia affects a dog’s hip joint, you’ll need a basic understanding of how the dog’s hip joint is constructed. The hip joint is comprised of a ball and socket that forms the attachment of the hind leg to the body.

The ball portion is the head of the femur and the socket is located on the pelvis. In a normal hip joint the ball rotates freely within the socket. The bones are shaped to perfectly match each other with the socket surrounding the ball. To strengthen the joint, the two bones are held together by a strong ligament. The joint capsule, a strong band of connective tissue, circles the two bones to provide added stability.

This is a normal hip joint:

Hip dysplasia is linked to a laxity of the muscles, ligaments, and connective tissue that normally supports a dog’s hip joints. As hip dysplasia progressively worsens, the articular surfaces of the two bones lose contact with each other. This separation of the two bones within the joint causes a drastic change in the size and shape of the articular surfaces.

Most dogs who eventually develop hip dysplasia are born with normal hips, but due to their genetic make-up the soft tissues surrounding the joint develop abnormally. This leads to the symptoms associated with hip dysplasia. The disease may affect both hips, or only the right or left hip.

This is a hip joint affected by hip dysplasia:

The symptoms of hip dysplasia in Basset Hounds cause afflicted dogs to walk or run with an altered gait, similar to a bunny-hop. They begin to resist any movement that requires full extension or flexion of the rear legs. They will experience stiffness and pain in their rear legs after exercising and on first rising in the morning. Climbing stairs becomes difficult if not impossible. Some dogs will limp and are less willing to participate in normal daily activities, including walks they formerly enjoyed.

It appears that the amount of calories a dog consumes, especially during its fast-growth period from three to ten months, has the biggest impact on whether or not a dog genetically prone to hip dysplasia will develop the disease.

Obesity can increase the severity of the disease in dogs that are genetically susceptible and the extra weight will intensify the degeneration of a dog’s joints and hips. Dogs who are genetically prone to hip dysplasia and also are overweight, are at a much higher risk of developing hip dysplasia and eventually osteoarthritis.

Exercise can be another risk factor. Dogs genetically susceptible to hip dysplasia may have an increased incidence of the disease if they are over-exercised at a young age. Moderate exercise like running and swimming is best for exercising young dogs.


Hip dysplasia is usually an inherited condition and there are no products that can prevent its development.

Through proper diet, exercise, and a daily regimen of Winston’s Joint System, you can slow, and sometimes halt, the progression of these degenerative joint diseases while providing your dog with relief from its pain. Winston’s provides many of the raw materials essential for the synthesis of the joint-lubricating synovial fluid as well as the repair of articular cartilage and connective tissue.

You might also want to consider providing your dog with an orthopedic bed which distributes the dog’s weight evenly and reduces pressure on its joints. It’s perfect for dogs with hip dysplasia or arthritis.

If owners insisted on only purchasing an animal whose parents and grandparents were certified to have good or excellent hips, and if breeders only bred these first-rate animals, then the majority of the problems caused by hip dysplasia would be eliminated.

If you are looking to purchase a Basset now or in the future, the best way to lessen the possibility of getting a dog that will develop hip dysplasia is to examine the incidence of hip dysplasia in the dog’s lineage. If at all possible, try to examine the parents and grandparents as far back as three or four generations.

There are different assumptions on how to prevent the progression of hip dysplasia. Poor nutrition, inadequate or improper exercise, and increased body weight may all contribute to the severity of osteoarthritis after the hip dysplasia has developed. Watching the calories your puppy or young dog consumes, and preventing obesity in your dog, and allowing only non-stressful types of exercise, are the best things you can do for your dog.

Since 1990, Winston’s Joint System and Winston’s Pain Formula have helped heal over twenty thousand dogs from all over the world. Our staff specializes in hip dysplasia, arthritis and all joint, pain and mobility issues.

There is an excellent chance we can help your dog, so please contact us at: or call our toll free number at 888-901-5557.


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