Scenthounds – General Description
Scenthounds are a type of hound that primarily hunt by scent rather than sight. The Scenthound breeds are generally regarded as having some of the most sensitive noses among canines.
Scenthounds specialize in following a smell or scent. Most of these breeds have long, drooping ears. One theory says that this trait helps to collect scent from the air and keep it near the dog’s face and nose. They also have large nasal cavities, the better to process scent. Their typically loose, moist lips are said to assist in trapping scent particles.
Most of these breeds have deep, booming voices and use them actively when running, and especially when following a scent trail. Although this can be a nuisance in settled areas, it is a valuable trait that allows the dog’s handler to follow the dog or pack of dogs during a hunt even when they are out of sight, such as when following a fox or raccoon through woodland.
Scenthounds do not need to be as fast as sighthounds because they do not need to keep prey in sight, but they need endurance so that they can stick with a scent and follow it for long distances over rough terrain. The best scent hounds can follow a scent trail even across running water and even when it is several days old, which is a considerable amount more than a sighthound Most scenthounds are used for hunting in packs, sometimes with multiple dogs in a single pack. Longer-legged hounds run more quickly and usually required that the hunters follow on horseback; shorter-legged hounds allowed hunters to follow on foot. Hunting with some breeds, such as German bracke, American Foxhounds, or coonhounds, involves allowing the pack of dogs to run freely while the hunters wait in a fixed spot until the dogs’ baying announces that the game has been “treed”. The hunters then go to the spot on foot, following the sound of the dogs’ baying.
The Fédération Cynologique Internationale places scenthounds into Group 6, and includes a Section 2 for Leash Hounds. These are a category of scenthound, including the Bavarian Mountain Scenthound (Bayrischer Gebirgsschweisshund, no. 217), the Hanoverian Scenthound (Hannover’scher Schweisshund, no. 213), and the Alpine Dachsbracke (Alpenländische Dachsbracke, no. 254). In addition, the Dalmatian and the Rhodesian Ridgeback are placed in Group 6 as “Related breeds”.
The United Kennel Club divides its Scenthound Group into two categories. The first includes the American hunting dogs known as coonhounds and the European hounds from which they were developed. These are referred to as Tree Hounds. The second category is referred to as Trailing Scenthounds, and includes dogs used for tracking of both game and humans, reputedly descended from a type of bloodhound kept by monks in Belgium.
Scenthounds As Pets
Scent hounds are often kept as pets, especially the Beagle, Basset Hound and Petite Basset Griffon Vendéen. As pets, most scent hounds are good with children, good with dogs, and many are good with other pets. However, scent hounds are often stubborn, distracted, difficult to train, and some breeds will chase cats or other small mammals that resemble the prey they were bred to hunt. Many breeds are bred as show/pet dogs verses hunting/field dogs.
Scenthound Breed List
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