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Istrian Coarse-haired Hound

Nicole Cosgrove

June 18, 2021

The Istrian Coarse-Haired Hound is a medium sized purebred scenthound from Croatia and Slovenia that was bred in the 19th century to hunt various forms of animal including wild boar, fox, rabbit and hare. It is also called the Istrian Rough-Coated Hound. Today it is kept more as a hunting dog and then companion rather than just a companion on its own. It has a life span of 12 to 15 years and is hard working, loyal and calm but needs to be with active owners.

The Istrian Coarse-Haired Hound at a Glance
Name Istrian Coarse-Haired Hound
Other names Istrian Rough-coated Hound
Nicknames ICHH
Origin Croatia (or Slovenia)
Average size Medium
Average weight 25 to 56 pounds
Average height 17 to 23 inches
Life span 12 to 15 years
Coat type Wiry outer coat, wooly inner
Hypoallergenic No
Color White with yellow or orange markings
Popularity Not a registered member of the AKC
Intelligence Above average to high
Tolerance to heat Good
Tolerance to cold Good to very good
Shedding Average – some hair will be around the home
Drooling Moderate – not especially prone
Obesity Average – measure its food and make sure it is well exercised
Grooming/brushing Average – brush a couple of times a week
Barking Occasional – will be some barking but not constant
Exercise needs High – needs active owners
Trainability Difficult – experience helps
Friendliness Good to very good with socialization
Good first dog Moderate – best with experienced owners
Good family pet Moderate to good with socialization
Good with children Good to very good if socialized and trained at early age
Good with other dogs Good to very good if socialized and trained at early age
Good with other pets Moderate to good needs socialization, have a high prey drive
Good with strangers Good – if socialized and trained at early age but can be wary
Good apartment dog Moderate – need space and a yard
Handles alone time well No – does not like being alone for long periods
Health issues Fairly healthy but some issues include musculoskeletal issues, ear infections and field injuries
Medical expenses $485 for pet insurance and basic health care
Food expenses $260 a year for a good quality dry dog food and dog treats
Miscellaneous expenses $255 a year for a license, basic training, toys, miscellaneous items
Average annual expenses $1000 as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $900
Rescue organizations None breed specific, check your local shelters and rescues
Biting Statistics None reported

The Istrian Coarse-Haired Hound’s Beginnings

The Istrian Coarse-Haired Hound is a sent hound and was bred in Istria, Croatia, hence its name. The Istrian Short Haired Hound actually came first, it is thought it descends from scent hounds and sight hounds native to the area hundreds of years ago. The Coarse-Haired Hound was developed using the Short-Haired Hound and crossing it with the French Griffon Vendeen around the mid 19th century. Its purpose was to hunt specifically fox and rabbit but it was used on other animals too. Its hunting instincts came from the Short haired hound and its wiry coat from the Griffon Vendeen.

The rest of the world first saw it in the 1860s when it was entered into a dog conformation show but it did not become well known until B Laska put out descriptions of the breed in 1896 and in 1905. At the time it was called ‘barbini’ but then with the arrival of two world wars dog breeding suffered. World War I saw numbers of the dog drop dramatically and it was almost driven to extinction.

New Lease on Life

Luckily there were a few survivors and these dogs were gathered together to preserve and restore the breed. In 1924 the first dogs were put in the Croatian stud book and the FCI recognized the breed in 1948. It took a long time though for a standard to be written, this came finally in 1969. There has been dispute between Slovenia and Croatia since the 1960s about where the dog was first bred and in 2003 the FCI recognized that as being Croatia. It is still used in its home lands for hunting but the short-haired version is more popular and more common. It is thought this comes down to aesthetics, the coarse hair of this dog gives it a constant messy and ruffled look, the short haired looks a lot tidier!

Istrian Coarse-haired Hound Puppy

The Dog You See Today

The Istrian Coarse-Haired Hound is a medium sized dog weighing 25 to 56 pounds and standing 17 to 23 inches tall. It can vary quite a bit in size as less emphasis is on looks and more is placed on hunting ability. It has a solidly built body and a broad and level back. Its chest is also broad and depp and the legs are long and muscular giving it a strong, and smooth gait. The tail is long and tapers to the tip ending in a slight curve. Its coat is weather resistant so it can hunt in all weathers and is double. The top coat is 2 to 3 inches long that is coarse and wiry and is straight. The under coat is shorter and is thick and wooly in the winter to protect it from the cold. It is white in color with either orange or yellow markings though some can be just pure white.

The head is long with a rounded skull and it has a medium length, broad and rectangular muzzle and a black nose. It has dark lips and the nostrils are well developed. Hair their give the appearance of a mustache. It has a scissor bite and its fairly long ears hang down flat and are wide and thin with tips that are rounded. Its eyes are large with dark irises and above them longer hair gives the appearance of bushy eyebrows.

The Inner Istrian Coarse-Haired Hound


The ICHH was bred to be a hunting breed primarily and is still kept that way, but it is brought home after a hunt to be a companion too in most cases. As a working dog it is determined, hard working, has a lot of stamina and can be strong willed and stubborn. It needs experienced owners who can be firm and confident with it so that it knows you are the pack leader. With enough exercise and a strong owner this lively breed can be devoted, calm, even tempered and even gentle in the home. It can become very attached to its owner, the one that goes out hunting with it and while it can be affectionate it is perhaps not as affectionate as dogs that are meant to just be companions. It is not meant to be just a companion or family pet.

It does not like to be left alone for long periods and can become destructive and hyper active and vocal if that happens, or if it gets bored. It will demand a certain amount of attention from you so it needs owners who can commit time to it on a daily basis. It is alert and will bark to let you know if someone is trying to get in to the home but it is not a guard dog.

Living with an Istrian Coarse-Haired Hound

What will training look like?

It is intelligent but it is also stubborn and that can slow things down. For people with a lot of experience it is likely this will be a fairly easy to train breed, but if you have less than that be prepared to remain patient with it. It is important though that you do not let it get its own way, set rules and be consistent about them. Stay firm, confident and strong but be fair and use positive training methods. Start basic obedience training from a young age and also give equal attention to its socialization. Introduce it to different people, sounds, places, situations and animals for example so that it learns what responses are acceptable. Keep training sessions engaging, short and frequent and motivate and encourage it. It can be trained to do well at different dog sports such as competitive obedience or agility.

How active is the Istrian Coarse-Haired Hound?

The Istrian Coarse-Haired Hound is a very active dog that should be kept by hunters wanting a good hunting dog that they then can bring home at the end of the day. It needs to be busy and have work to do, so if not hunting then at least get it into doggy sports. As well as making sure it is physical active it also needs mental challenges too. It is not an apartment dog, it need space and a large yard to play in. It has a lot of stamina and strength and can be active for hours. If it is not doing anything else that day it should be taken out for two long and brisk walks, play time with you and let it have some off leash time somewhere safe.

Caring for the Istrian Coarse-Haired Hound

Grooming needs

The dogs coat is designed to offer it protection from various elements and it will not need a lot of brushing, twice a week should be enough. It sheds a moderate to average amount so expect some hair around the home to be cleaned up. Avoid bathing too frequently you will damage the natural oils that it needs and affect the weather proofing of its coat. Only use a canine shampoo when it is bath time though. Remember this dog had a natural scruffy look and brushing is not going to change that!

It should have its ears checked once a week to make sure there is no infection. Signs will include a bad odor, redness, sensitivity and such. If they are fine you can then give them a clean with a damp cloth and a wipe at the areas that are easy to reach, or there are also dog solutions for ear cleaning you could use. Do not put anything into the ears though, it can cause damage and pain. Brush its teeth every other day or so using a toothbrush for dogs and and canine toothpaste. This will not just keep the gum disease and tooth decay away, it helps with bad breath. Its nails should be trimmed when they get too long using dog clippers or scissors and taking care not to cut too far down into the section with blood nerves and vessels.

Feeding Time

It will eat between 1¾ to 3½ cups of a good quality dry dog food a day split into at least two meals a day. The amount varies depending on its size, metabolism, health, age and level of activity. Always make sure it has access to water that us freshened as much as possible.

How is the Istrian Coarse-Haired Hound with children and other animals?

The Istrian Coarse-Haired Hound is not the best with children or other pets and if these are going to be around early and complete socialization is going to be needed. You may need to supervise too. Teach children how to touch and play in a kind and careful way. Its high prey drive means it will want to chase cats and other small animals. It can get along with other dogs especially if it has been raised with another canine companion.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

This dog has a life span of 12 to 15 years and is generally healthy but some issues to be aware of include field injuries, obesity, ear infections and musculoskeletal problems.

Biting Statistics

The reports about dogs attacking people where bodily harm has been done do not mention the Istrian Coarse-Haired Hound as being involved. These cover the North American statistics though, where there are not that many of this dog type! It is a dog that needs good socialization and training but it is not a people aggressive dog. Make sure it is well exercised and stimulated and that it gets the kind of attention it needs and you can lessen the chances of an incident happening.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

The Istrian Coarse-Haired Hound puppy will cost you around $900 from a decent breeder with a good reputation. Make sure you take the time to do some research on the breeders you are considering so you know you are dealing with someone with experience. Avoid places like pet stores, puppy mills and backyard breeders. If you are looking for a show dog or want to use a top breeder the price is likely to be a lot more. If you are buying from a breeder in its home country there will also of course be transportation issues and costs. Adoption is another option if you are more flexible about the age and type of dog you want. Fees tends to be from $50 to $400 and with so many dogs desperate for new homes and loving owners this is really a great way to go about it.

When you have found the dog you are happy with there are some items it will need such as a crate, carrier, collar and leash, bowls and such and these will cost another $240. Then initial health concerns like shots, micro chipping, deworming, blood tests, a physical exam and spaying or neutering will cost around $290.

There are also costs that are ongoing to consider and prepare for. $485 a year will get you basic health care such as shots, flea and tick prevention and check ups, along with pet insurance. $260 a year for dog treats and a good quality dry dog food. $255 a year for miscellaneous items, license, basic training and toys. This gives a total yearly starting figure of $1000.


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The Istrian Coarse-Haired Hound is not a regular companion dog for regular people who want to take it for a walk a couple of times and maybe play sometimes. It is a hunter and it needs that, or to be kept busy some other way, and it needs experienced and active owners. It is not naturally good with children and other pets so socialization, training and supervision would be needed. It can be devoted and loyal but not all of them are as affectionate as some dogs can be.

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.

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