What is the difference between a dog and a hound?
Scent Hounds are hunting dogs with a superior sense of smell. They rely on their noses to locate their prey. Today, Scent Hound breeds are not only used in hunting but also in detecting illegal substances, searching for evidence in crime scenes, and finding missing persons in search-and-rescue operations.
Scent Hounds are the counterparts of Sight Hounds. These hunting dogs are prized by their hunting companions for their incredibly sharp eyesight. They can swiftly spot subtle movement and prey from far away. They are also agile and swift on their feet.
Scent Hounds and Sight Hounds are sub-branches of the Hound Group. The Hound is a group of dog breeds that are mainly created to track down and hunt their prey.
Common Characteristics of Scent Hounds
Scent Hound breeds come in different shapes and sizes, but most of them share common attributes. Their noses are huge, and so are their nasal cavities. They also have wide nostrils that rest deep inside their noses. These aid the Scent Hound breeds to process and differentiate smells better.
The Scent Hound dogs sport long, droopy ears that dampen their ability to hear sounds from far away and at the same time prove to be quite useful in tracking. Their ears collect invisible scent particles from the trail and then sweep these particles toward their noses. This keeps the scent near their noses and allows them to hunt more efficiently.
The Scent Hounds’ loose and moist jowls also help in catching scent particles from the ground. Most Scent Hound dog breeds have loud, deep barks, which they frequently use whilst following a scent trail. It allows their hunting companions to know where they are and trail after them even if they are out of sight.
The Scent Hounds have a heavy bone structure and thick skin. It protects them from sharp or pointy objects such as thorns and branches whilst traveling in woodlands. Several Scent Hound breeds have bodies that are low to the ground, making them smell the scent trail easily.
The History of the Scent Hound Dog Breeds
The Scent Hound was linked to the Molossian dogs in ancient Greece. These canines were the progenitors of the early mastiff-type dog breeds. Molossian dogs were fierce canines with massive and intimidating size. For this reason, they became esteemed dogs of war.
These ancestors of Scent Hound dogs fought along with Britons during the Roman invasion of Britain in 55 BC. Their bravery and fearsomeness earned them the nickname Pugnaces and the Broad-mouthed dogs of Britain from the Romans.
These toughened dogs were then taken to Italy and became war dogs of the Roman legion. They also served as canine gladiators, wherein they had to face several deadly opponents ranging from men to bears and lions.
The Scent hound breed’s development started when Phoenician traders brought Molossian dogs to Britain. This happened around the 6th century BC. Aside from being fearsome fighters, the Molossian dogs possess a keen scenting ability, which the Celtics used to their advantage.
Celtic people selectively bred the Molossian dogs and were able to produce enormous Scent Hound dogs. Throughout the years, the early Scent Hound breeds were crossed with faster Sight Hounds and yielded offspring with a lighter physique and milder temperament. Thus, their descendants were more fleet-footed, sociable, and easier to manage whilst hunting.
The Creation of the Saint Hubert Hound
The Scent Hound breed named Saint Hubert Hound was made in the mid-1500s. It was made possible through the efforts of French monks living in the Abbey of Saint Hubert, which is a monastery located in Belgium.
This Scent Hound dog was named in memory of his patron, Saint Hubert, who is the patron saint of hunters. The Saint Hubert Hound specialised in hunting with the nobility. The creation of this breed also marks the beginning of selective breeding according to a dog’s type and purpose.
The Saint Hubert Hound was described as a huge dog that measures over 2 feet at the shoulders. He is fastidious in hunting animals with his great speed and superb scenting ability. His coat is dark and composed of fine thick hair. He boasts a melodic voice and has wide pendulous ears. His head has several wrinkles and folds, which is a distinctive trait of the breed.
This Scent Hound dog became popular throughout Europe and became the forefather of many Scent Hound breeds. These include the Bloodhound and the now-extinct Talbot Hound and Southern Hound.
Different Classifications of Scent Hounds
Unlike the Sight Hounds, the Scent Hound breeds do not need to be quick on their feet. However, they should have hefty levels of endurance. These dogs need it so they can track scents for long distances, may it be over rough terrain or across running water.
As there are many forms of hunting, Scent Hound dogs were selectively bred to fit each type. Long-legged Scent Hounds are more suited for hunters on horseback since they can run more swiftly. On the other hand, shorter-legged Scent Hounds are better for those who hunt on foot.
They Scent Hounds are also classified according to their tracking abilities. The breeds with ‘hot’ noses specialise in tracking fresh scent trails, whilst those with ‘cold’ noses can follow scents that are several days old. Scent Hounds often hunt in packs and would often bay to notify hunters of their location.
What is the personality of a Scent Hound dog?
Scent Hound dogs are bred to work with humans for thousands of years. Thus, generally, they are friendly dogs and quick to bond with people. They are rarely indifferent towards strangers. If you plan to get a Scent Hound dog, know that he will likely welcome guests in the doorway than stare warily at them from a distance.
Although Scent Hounds love interacting with people, they are less clingy and demanding than other dogs. They are independent dogs that can entertain themselves. However, despite their self-sufficiency, Scent Hounds still require regular care and human interaction.
Highly Active Dogs with Enough Energy to Spare
Daily exercise is a must as these Scent Hounds have high stamina. They need at least 60–90 minutes of physical and mental stimulation every day.
Since they are very active and lively, they make great jogging and hiking partners. Long walks and nose work are something these highly energetic dogs enjoy as well.
Scent Hounds can become obsessed with tracking down a scent once it catches their attention. Hence, they should be on a lead whenever spending time outdoors. Otherwise, they are at risk of wandering off and getting lost. Back gardens should have a high and secure fence as many Scent Hound breeds have a penchant for digging and climbing.
Failure to address a Scent Hound’s regular needs can lead him to develop behavioural problems. He may become a discontented dog that destroys furniture, digs holes, and cause mayhem in your home.
Beware of a Scent Hound’s Barking Tendencies
Other things to know before owning a Scent Hound is his propensity to howl or bay. As mentioned earlier, it is a useful trait that helps Scent Hounds alert the owners of their location and a sign that they found an important scent.
The Scent Hounds’ howls are effective in hunting, but they can become a nuisance in a domestic setting. Teaching scent hounds the command ‘quiet’ or ‘shush’ can reduce the frequency of their baying. Tiring them out with fun activities such as fetch, Frisbee, fly ball, and obstacle course also helps in curbing this behaviour.
Scent Hounds and Their Love for Food
Scent Hound dogs have a big love for food too due to their sharp sense of smell. Care must be taken as they may end up scavenging in garbage bins. During walks, make sure to choose a route that has minimal trash.
Some areas may have dangerous foods or plants such as berries, wild mushrooms, and farming fields that often have been sprayed by chemicals.
Training a Scent Hound to heed the ‘leave it’ command will lessen the dangers of him indiscriminately eating whatever he finds. Scent Hounds can reach for foods that are haphazardly placed around the kitchen or house. So make sure to place these in inaccessible places such as inside the fridge or high cupboards.
Turning meals into exciting games also helps in diverting the Scent Hound’s strong need to track scents. Do this by hiding pieces of his food in different areas around the house. It will entice him to use his powerful nose and quick thinking to find his meals.
Scent Hounds may develop a habit of begging for food. Avoid indulging them as it can lead to obesity and other health problems.
Are Scent Hounds good pets?
Scent Hounds are intelligent and lively dogs that can bond well with humans and other canines. Proper socialisation and training at a young age play a big role in moulding them to be people- and animal-loving family pets.
Scent Hound dogs get along well with children so long as they are handled gently. Children, especially younger ones, should be taught to avoid treating their canine companions roughly during playtime. This keeps both children and dogs safe from unnecessary accidents.
Scent hounds love the company of other dogs as they were bred to hunt in packs. Pairing them with another dog will make them less reliant on their owners to provide entertainment.
However, be careful when Scent Hounds are around smaller animals including hamsters, cats, and gerbils. As hunting dogs, they naturally have a high prey drive and may end up relentlessly chasing these animals and nipping at their heels.
Many Scent Hounds have loose lips, so they are prone to drooling. These dogs are not the best pick for dog lovers who are particular about keeping their home drool-free. If you are willing to compromise, there are a few things you can do to manage their slobber.
These include keeping a clean towel handy at all times to wipe off the drool and tying a handkerchief around the Scent Hound’s neck to prevent saliva from dripping on the floor.
How to Train Scent Hounds
Scent Hounds are notoriously known to be difficult to train. Due to their independent nature, they do not rely much on their owners to provide directions whilst hunting. Thus, many Scent Hound breeds are extremely stubborn.
The Scent Hounds’ amazing scenting abilities can easily distract them as well, especially if training sessions are commenced outdoors. They can be a handful for novice owners to train.
Although this might be the case, there are several ways to make your Scent Hound amiable during training. Start his training in a quiet room where there are fewer distractions. If you opt to train in the backyard, make sure that he is leashed at all times. Before you begin training sessions, always check the fence to make sure that it is safe and secure.
Never incorporate harsh training methods as Scent Hounds will not take it well. Focus on positive reinforcement training instead to encourage your dog. Scent hounds are very food-motivated, so invest in high-value treats. This will keep your hound motivated to do his best and keep him from tracking other scents when training outdoors.
Monitor how much treats your Scent Hound eats to avoid excessive weight gain. Treats should be no bigger than pea-sized pieces. It is advised that you follow a strict feeding schedule throughout the day.
Train your Scent Hound before each meal, when he is at his hungriest. They tend to get bored quickly, thus limit training sessions to 5 minutes at most.
Scent Hounds are more biddable than others, whilst others can be extremely stubborn. Patience and commitment are essential for the training of your Scent Hound to work successfully.
What dogs are Scent Hounds?
List of Scent Hound breeds:
One of the Scent Hound breeds is the Alpine Dachsbracke. He is a small-size dog that originated in Austria. He is a cold-nosed Scent Hound that tracks wounded boar, hare, and fox.
The American Foxhound is one of the oldest American dog breeds. He is a favourite amongst hunters on horseback but remains one of the least known breeds in the United States.
Anglo-Français de Petite Vénerie
The Scent Hound called Anglo-Français de Petite Vénerie is an Anglo-French hound that usually hunts in packs. He was produced by crossing a Harrier and Poitevin.
The Scent Hound named Ariegeois is a French dog hailing from the Midi-Pyrenees region of southern France. He can hunt down deer and boar by working with other dogs.
The Artois Hound is used to be a popular hunting dog from 1500s to 1600s. However, the breed was nearly wiped out after the World Wars, making him a rare breed dog.
Austrian Black and Tan Hound
The Austrian Black and Tan Hound is primarily used to hunt wounded game in high altitudes. He is also a rare dog breed that is prone to wanderlust.
Basset Artésien Normand
The Basset Artésien Normand is one of the more trainable Scent Hounds. His main purpose is to work alongside hunters on foot and track down small game.
Basset Bleu de Gascogne
Another Scent Hound breed is the Basset Blue De Gascogne. He is a rare dog breed that originated in France. He was an exclusive hunting dog of the nobility until the French Revolution.
Basset Fauve de Bretagne
The Basset Fauve De Bretagne is a popular Scent Hound that hunts small prey such as rabbits.
Basset Griffon Vendeen
The Scent Hound called Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen may be a small-size dog, but he can bring down large prey including boars and deer.
The Basset Hound existed as early as 1500s and possesses nearly the same appearance as the Saint Hubert Hound. He is a slow-paced Scent Hound that’s more suitable for hunters on foot.
Bavarian Mountain Scenthound
The Bavarian Mountain Hound was first developed in southern Germany. Although the breed is primarily a hunting dog, he is now slowly gaining popularity as a family pet.
The Beagle is one of the most familiar Scent Hounds in the world. Aside from hunting, he is used to searching for illegal foods, drugs, and weapons, as his friendly demeanour is less likely to scare passengers.
The Berner Laufhund belongs to the 4 small Swiss Hounds. His primary purpose is to track small game across valleys.
Another Scent Hound is the Blackmouth Cur. He is a versatile breed that can herd, hunt, and work on other tasks such as search and rescue and protecting people.
The Bloodhound, also known as the Saint Hubert Hound, has been a favourite of various European royalty. Today, he serves as a hunting dog and also aids law enforcement during search-and-rescue operations.
The Billy dog’s name is inspired by a place in France called Chateau de Billy. French hunters and the aristocrats used this Scent Hound for hunting boar and deer.
The Blue Lacy is also called Lacy dog and was named after the Lacy brother who developed the breed in Texas. This Scent Hound is commonly used in herding and hunting than as a companion dog.
Bosnian Broken-haired Hound
The Bosnian Broken-haired Hound came from the region of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He was mainly used to track and hunt hares, foxes, and wild boars.
Catahoula Leopard Dog
The Catahoula Leopard Dog is thought to have originated in Louisiana and became his official state dog.
Chien Français Blanc et Noir
The Chien Français Blanc et Noir is a part of the French Scent Hounds. Since the breed hunts in packs, he developed a sociable personality.
Chien Français Blanc et Orange
The Chien Français Blanc et Orange is a part of the French Scent Hounds as well. The breed is rarely found in places other than his native country, France.
Chien Français Tricolore
The Chien Français Tricolore is a rare French Scent Hound that’s fewer in numbers even in France. He is a boar and deer hunting dog descended from French and English dogs.
There are different breeds of Coonhounds, but as a whole, they are used to track raccoons by their scent.
The Dachshund also called the Badger dog, hails from Germany. This small dog’s long body and small legs allow him to go inside burrows and dig out prey. They are the only scent hound bread that is certified to hunt both below and above ground.
The Drever is known as the Swedish Dachsbracke. He is a hunting dog that specialises in tracking hares and roe deer.
The English Foxhound a medium-sized Scent Hound that was originally bred to chase and capture foxes in the English countryside.
The Finnish Spitz is adept at hunting birds and small prey. This Scent Hound is dubbed the ‘barking bird dog’ as he alerts hunters to the prey by barking.
Grand Bleu De Gascogne
The Grand Bleu De Gascogne is another pack hound-type of hunting dog. He originated from France and sports a distinctive blue-coloured coat.
Griffon Fauve De Bretagne
The Griffon Fauve De Bretagne is a popular hunting dog in France but a rare breed outside Europe. This Scent Hound hunts in packs to bring down predators such as bears and wolves.
The Hamilton is a Swedish hunting dog bred for hunting foxes and hares. This Scent Hound has a very stubborn personality and requires firm training if kept as a family dog.
The Harrier is another rare Scent Hound breed. He hunts in packs and is used to find hares and foxes.
The Kerry Beagle is one of the most ancient Irish Hound breeds. The breed’s existence can be traced back to the late 18th century.
The Norwegian Elkhound is a medium-sized dog that is used by hunters to bring down big game such as elks, mountain lions, and lynxes.
The Norwegian Lundehund is a dog with an extremely flexible body. His joints can rotate at a 90-degree angle, allowing him to squeeze into small spaces whilst hunting.
The Otterhound is a rare large hunting dog that was developed in England. He is designed to work on water and hunt otters before it became illegal.