Why Do Basset Hounds Shake



Does your dog shake after taking a bath? This is usually not a pleasant experience for pet parents that get soaked after giving their dog a bath. Dogs have a natural instinct to shake when they are wet that is embedded in their DNA. Your dog’s ancestors lived in the wild and needed to shake for various reasons related to survival. Your dog is domesticated now and doesn’t necessarily need to shake for the same reasons but it’s still a deep part of his instincts. Dogs shake for a variety of reasons including sickness, pain, cold temperatures, and stress. The following information will help you discover the cause for your dog’s shaking episodes and information about what you can do about it.

The Root of the Behavior

Dogs that lived in the wild needed to shake for survival. If it rained, their coat became saturated with water which caused it to be heavy. This heaviness caused dogs to run and move slower than usual which made it difficult for them to escape predators. Shaking the water off their coat helped remove most of the heaviness. This is why your dog shakes aggressively to remove water off his coat after a bath. In the wild, dogs slept on the ground or in den-like structures they dug underground. This often exposed dogs to a wide range of critters such as fleas and insects that would hide in their fur. After waking up from a nap, dogs would shake their fur to remove bugs that had snuggled into the coat while the dog was sleeping. Today, your dog is safe from bugs, but the instinct to shake to remove them is still part of their natural instincts. 

Grooming sessions are a common reason domesticated dogs shake afterward. Excessive touching such as brushing, combing, nail clipping, and ear cleaning causes a dog to shake off the experience after the grooming session is over. Dogs will often shake off their emotions after coming face-to-face with another dog that is aggressive towards them or even a snuggle session with their pet parents. Shaking is a way for your dog to shake off the good or bad experience and resume normal daily behavior. Sickness causes a different type of shaking. The side to side shaking to remove water from the coat is aggressive. However, Bassett Hounds that shiver similar to a reaction when it’s too cold outside can be a sign of health issues. If your dog is shivering and trembling while standing still, lying down or sitting, there’s a chance he is experiencing health issues. Dogs that feel sick or experience pain often shake due to the discomfort. If your dog is shivering or trembling, you need to visit the veterinarian or local animal hospital as quickly as possible for further assistance and diagnosis. 

Encouraging the Behavior

Shaking is a natural canine instinct that doesn’t need to be discouraged or encouraged by pet parents. It happens naturally for a variety of reasons. You can learn to communicate better with your dog and strengthen your bond by observing his behavior. If your dog is shaking after a bath, grooming session, playing outdoors, or sleeping, this is a natural harmless behavior that doesn’t require concern or immediate attention. In these scenarios your dog is just expressing his natural instincts whether it is needed or not. If your dog excessively is shaking his head and body on a continuous basis it could be a sign of illness. 

The most common health issues that cause shaking, trembling or shivering in dogs is generalized tremor syndrome, distemper, nausea, food toxicity, Addison’s disease, inflammatory brain disorders, and seizures. All of these health issues need to be treated by a licensed veterinarian. This doesn’t mean that every time you see your dog shaking or trembling it is an emergency. It’s up to you as a pet parent to determine when the shaking is natural or a sign of illness. Most dog owners become familiar with their dog’s behavior and usually can determine the difference easily. However, if you can’t decide if the shaking is due to normal behavior or possible illness, it’s best to visit the veterinarian for further assistance. 

Other Solutions and Considerations

There are times when your dog is shaking or shivering due to cold weather or feeling uncomfortable in the environment. If it’s cold outside, you should put a sweater and dog shoes on your dog to protect him and his paws from the ice cold snow or ground. Dogs also shake in fear of their environment such as chaotic social situations that involve a lot of people. Your dog might not feel comfortable around crowds or other dogs. If you notice your dog shaking or trembling in specific situations, it is most likely related to stress and fear. You can help your dog overcome his fears by working with a professional dog trainer. Professional trainers are able to pinpoint the issue and provide training techniques that will help resolve a multitude of issues. 


Shaking is a natural and common behavior in Basset Hounds that helped them survive in the wild. Domesticated dogs live a safe, healthy life free from predators and other issues their ancestors experienced in the wild. Their instincts are part of their DNA which causes them to continue the behavior even if it’s not necessary in today’s world.