Estonian Hound (Eesti Hagijas)
The Estonian Hound is a fairly young variety of a hunting dog that currently has the status of the Official National Dog Breed of Estonia. It’s a heavy favourite of Estonian hunters who treasure its exceptionally acute sense of smell and tenacity. It’s virtually impossible to come across the breed member in other parts of the world although its huge local popularity is beyond all doubt.
The Estonian Hound was born as the result of a meticulously planned breeding program so its origin is well-documented. In 1947 the Soviet Union instructed all allied states to invent minimum one distinctive national canine variety. By that time the number of large animals shrank in Estonia to such a degree that hunting them was outlawed. That’s why Estonian breeders were forced to develop an absolutely new breed that would be considerably less large than any pre-existing sporting breeds in this country. They selected the smallest available specimens from local canine population but it’s soon became evident that the goal can’t be achieved without infusion of the blood of foreign breeds.
In particular the Beagle and Dachshund were included in the program for their diminutive size and superb hunting prowess. Various Swiss Laufhunds, like the Luzerner Laufhund and the Berner Laufhund were used to further enhance the hunting skills of this budding breed as well as to make it more resistant to cold weather. It’s also likely that several other canine varieties (for example, the Drever, the Alpine Dachsbracke, the Westphalian Dachsbracke, Norwegian and Swedish Scent Hounds) contributed to its development although it’s rather speculative.
By the 1954 the Estonian Hound was fully established and had its own officially approved standard. Its keen nose, vigorousness, colossal endurance and extremely high hunting drive quickly made it a breed of choice for most Estonian hunters. In contrast with foreign dogs, this breed was capable of effectively functioning in an extremely cold climate of this country. It also enjoyed several leads over indigenous breeds as it was relatively inexpensive to keep and had nice personality of a family pet.
The dissipation of the Soviet Union didn’t undermine the popularity of the Estonian Hound in its homeland. In the late of 1980s it formally became the Official National Dog Breed of Estonia. The most of its members still are used as Scent Hounds but the Estonian Hound has already won certain appreciation as a family dog in its native country.
The vivacious, resourceful, sturdy and disciplinable Estonian Hound usually thrives in the role of a pet in active families. Early and all-around socialisation will ensure its well manners in all types of circumstances. The dog gets attached to its masters in such a way that it hates being separated from them for any significant time interval. It’s completely fine with familiar kids and will never snap at a too curious toddler. In general, this dog can tolerate a great deal of teasing without any reciprocal aggression.
The Estonian Hound is usually courteous with strange people but it still remains reserved and somewhat standoffish in their company. Human aggressiveness is completely unacceptable for this breed since it occasionally has to work with unfamiliar hunters. It’s sensitive and vigilant enough to become a great watcher. However it’s unwise to entrust this good-natured canine with guarding tasks.
The Estonian Hound is well-adapted to hunting in the company of dozens of its counterparts so it’s very friendly with other dogs. Actually it will be thrilled to pieces to share its existence with one or several similarly vigorous canines. Other types of domestic animals are absolutely another story. The dog tends to interpret them as prey and behaves itself accordingly. But it’s usually good with a family cat if it had a chance to interact with it since a very young age.
The most common problems for the breed include:
· patellar luxation;
· chronic ear infections;
· skin allergies;
· food allergies;
· respiratory allergies;
· eye problems;
· rapid weight gain;
· spinal injury;
· hip dysplasia;
· elbow dysplasia.
The maintenance of the Estonian Hound is a simple task. Its short straight hair should be brushed only once a week to always stay in a tip top condition. Get used to vacuum-cleaning of your dwelling pretty often since this breed is a very heavy shedder.
The dog’s nails have to be trimmed every other month and its teeth require weekly brushing. Large hanging ears of the Estonian Hound catch infection very easily so it’s important to periodically examine them for such symptoms as unpleasant smell or redness. Bathe your dog occasionally, preferably three or four times per year.
The Estonian Hound is a clever but stubborn dog whose training usually requires professional approach. On the whole it learns basic tricks with reasonable amount of repetitions but lots of efforts and time should be put in in order to teach it more sophisticated commands. Remember that as soon as this dog picks up a trail it becomes virtually impossible to return its attention back to the lesson.
Reward obedience of your pet with small bits of tasty food and generous praise and its training won’t be so time-consuming. Harsh discipline should never be applied to this dog as it usually results in even more wilful behaviour.
The Estonian Hound stands out for extreme liveliness and therefore should be provided with multiple opportunities to apply its excessive energies. The vast majority of its owner attests that this dog must spend at least an hour and a half each and every day playing and exploring in a securely fenced yard.
It tends to be very yappy and needs additional training to get rid of this undesirable habit. Nonetheless it’s worth to have in mind that this dog will still bark much more frequently than a typical companion breed. The under exercised Estonian Hound usually behaves itself hyperactive and very destructive indoors.