Petkeen is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commision. Learn More

Istrian Shorthaired Hound

Nicole Cosgrove

June 18, 2021

The Istrian Shorthaired Hound is a medium sized purebred scenthound from Croatia and Slovenia with a life span of 12 to 15 years. It was bred to hunt various smaller prey and it is kept still as a hunting dog and then companion rather than just as a companion. It is not a good house dog or family pet. It is also called the Istarski Kratkodlaki Gonič. It is best with owners who are experienced and active. Its cousin is the Istrian Course-haired scenthound.

The Istrian Shorthaired Hound at a Glance
Name Istrian Shorthaired Hound
Other names Istarski Kratkodlaki Gonic
Nicknames ISHH
Origin Croatia (or Slovenia)
Average size Medium
Average weight 35 to 40 pounds
Average height 18 to 20 inches
Life span 12 to 15 years
Coat type Short, smooth, glossy, hard coat
Hypoallergenic No
Color White with random patches of red-orange
Popularity Not a registered member of the AKC
Intelligence High
Tolerance to heat Good to very good
Tolerance to cold Good to very good
Shedding Low to moderate – some hair around the home
Drooling Moderate – not especially prone
Obesity Average – measure its food and make sure it is well exercised
Grooming/brushing Low to average – brush once or twice a week
Barking Occasional to frequent – training to stop on command may be needed
Exercise needs High – needs active owners
Trainability Moderate to difficult – experience helps
Friendliness Good to very good
Good first dog Low to moderate – needs experienced owners
Good family pet Moderate to good with good socialization
Good with children Moderate with socialization – best in homes with no children or older children
Good with other dogs Good to very good – training and socialization required
Good with other pets Moderate, needs socialization as has a high prey drive
Good with strangers Good – training and socialization required, can be wary
Good apartment dog No – needs space and a yard
Handles alone time well No – does not like being alone for long periods
Health issues Somewhat healthy, issues that can come up include ear infections, field injuries and hip dysplasia
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 SOS Serbian Pointers Rescue, also check local shelters and rescues
Biting Statistics None reported

The Istrian Shorthaired Hound’s Beginnings

The Istrian Shorthaired Hound is a from the region of Europe where Croatia and Slovenia are now but then called Istria, hence its name. Its exact origin details are not known but it is known it has been around since at least the late 15th century with images depicting the hound being dated to around 1497. It is thought it was developed from mixes between different local scent and sight hounds hundreds of years ago. This makes it likely that it is the oldest Balkan hound.

It was developed to hunt various types of animal including fox and rabbit. There have been other mentions in written records, one in 1719 by a Bishop and another by a vet in 1859 for example. Called Istarski Karatkodlaki Gonic or Istarski Kratkodlaki Gonič it spread from Istria to neighbors close by and was valued by hunters for it strength, endurance, agility and ability to adapt to difficult terrain. A breed stud book was not made until 1924 though. As with a lot of breeds there was some damage done to its numbers with both World Wars.

New Lease on Life

It did survive though and received recognition from the FCI in 1940. It is also of course recognized in Croatia, Slovenia and some other Balkan countries. In the 1960s there was some dispute between Slovenia and Croatia about where it was first bred but the FCI states it is Croatia. It was not until 1973 that a breed standard was written for it though. In its home land it is still kept as hunter as well as companion. While it is recognized by the UKC it is not by the AKC and it is a rare breed today.

The Dog You See Today

The Istrian Shorthaired Hound is a medium sized dog weighing 35 to 40 pounds and standing 18 to 20 inches tall. It can vary in size as less emphasis is on looks and more is placed on hunting ability but it is noble looking and tends to be a little smaller than the Course-Haired Hound. The supple body is solid and it has a solid back that slopes slightly and a deep and broad chest. The legs are strong and muscled and are long and the tail is long too. Males are a little bigger than females. The coat is short, smooth, hard and shiny and it is white in color with either orange or yellow markings though some can be just pure white.

Its head is long and narrow and it has a medium length, broad muzzle that tapers to the nose which is black or brown and has wide open nostrils. The lips are dark and its ears hang down close to its head, they are triangular, wide at the base and thin. Its oval shaped eyes are rimmed with black or brown.

The Inner Istrian Shorthaired Hound


The ISHH was bred to be a hunting breed primarily and is still kept that way, but is also a companion too in most cases. When it is hunting it is determined, lively, hard working, has a lot of stamina and can be strong willed. It bays a lot in the field and that can happen in the home too so it should be trained to stop on command, though it may take a few commands sometimes before it decides to listen! It needs experienced owners who are firm and confident so that it knows you are the pack leader. When it respects you it is devoted to you and while it is enthusiastic and persistent outside it should then be calm and docile inside.

It can become very attached to the owner that goes out hunting with it and while it can be affectionate to them, it may not be as affectionate to others. It is not ideally suited to being just a companion or family pet. It will need attention and companionship from you, it will not be happy being left alone for long periods of time. If it is not given enough activity or attention it can become bored leading to it being destructive, and hyper active and vocal. It is alert and will bark to let you know of an intruder or if someone is approaching but it is not a guard dog.

Living with an Istrian Shorthaired Hound

What will training look like?

The Istrian Shorthaired Hound is intelligent but it is also stubborn and that can slow things down. For people with experience it is a fairly easy breed to train, but be prepared to remain patient. This is not a dog suited best to new owners. It is important to set rules and be consistent, firm, confident and strong but be fair and use positive training methods. Offer it encouragement, praise, use treats to motivate it and avoid scolding or physically punishing. Start basic obedience training early and also give equal attention to its socialization. This means bringing in different people, sounds, places, situations and animals for example so that it learns what responses are acceptable. Keep the training engaging, the sessions short and frequent so it does not get too repetitive and boring. It can be trained to do well at different dog sports such as competitive obedience or agility.

How active is the Istrian Shorthaired Hound?

The Istrian Shorthaired Hound is a very active breed that should be very active people and by hunters who then bring it home at the end of the day. It needs to be busy and active so if you do not hunt then at least get it into canine sports. As well as making sure it is physically active it also needs mental challenge. It is not an apartment dog, it needs space and a large yard to explore and play in. It has a lot of stamina and strength and can be active for hours even over difficult terrain. If there are days where no training or hunting is planned it should be taken out for two long and vigorous walks, canine games with you and let it have some safe off leash time.

Caring for the Istrian Shorthaired Hound

Grooming needs

As its coat is short and smooth brushing is easy to do. It does shed a moderate amount so expect some loose hair around the home and give it a brush once or twice a week. This will not only take care of some of that loose hair it will move the natural oils around keeping it shiny and remove some debris. Avoid bathing too frequently you will damage the natural oils that it needs and use a canine shampoo when it is bath time.

Its ears need to be checked once a week for infection. Signs to look for are bad odor, swelling, redness, sensitivity and such. If they are clear this is also a good time to give them a clean with a damp cloth and a wipe at the parts that are easy to reach. There are also dog solutions for ear cleaning you could use. Do not put anything into the ears though like cotton buds as it can cause damage and pain. It also needs its teeth brushed at least a couple of times a week making sure to use a proper dog toothpaste and toothbrush. Then its nails should be clipped if they get too long but be careful. If you cut too far down you might cut into the part where there are vessels and nerves which would cause pain and bleeding.

Feeding Time

It will eat between 1½ to 2½ 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 is changed for fresh when possible.

How is the Istrian Shorthaired Hound with children and other animals?

The Istrian Shorthaired Hound does not get on well with children or other pets. It will chase animals like cats and sees small animals as prey due to its high prey drive. In some cases socialization can help, but supervision will likely still be needed. It tends to be better with other canines though and enjoys having a dog as a companion. With children if raised with them and with socialization some can be more accepting of them, but children need to be taught what is acceptable and what is not in terms of play and touching.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

The ISSH has a life span of about 12 to 15 years and some health issues that it can be prone to include field injuries, ear infections and hip dysplasia.

Biting Statistics

When studying reports about dogs attacking people where bodily harm has been done in North America, there is no mention of the Istrian Shorthaired Hound being an aggressor. These statistics though cover North America where there are not that many of this breed. It is a dog that needs good socialization and training but it should not be aggressive towards people. 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 something unwanted happening.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

The Istrian Shorthaired Hound puppy will cost you around $900 from a trustworthy breeder with experience. Make sure you take the time to do some homework on who you want to deal with and avoid places like pet stores, puppy mills and backyard breeders. If you are looking at breeders of top show dogs any price will always be a lot more whatever the breed. There may also be other costs such as transportation if the breeder is not in the country you live in. Adoption should be something all prospective dog owners consider if you are more flexible about the age and type of dog you want. For between $50 to $400 you can bring home a dog desperate for someone to love it.

When you have the dog or puppy you are going to need to get it some things and have some health needs taken care of. The former includes a crate, carrier, collar and leash, bowls and these will cost another $220. The medical needs includes things like shots, micro chipping, deworming, blood tests, a physical exam and spaying or neutering which will cost about $270.

There are also costs to prepare for that will be ongoing for as long as you have the dog. $485 a year will get you basic health care such as shots, flea and tick prevention and check ups, along with pet insurance. To feed your dog a good quality dry dog food and give it some yummy canine treats expect to spend about $260 a year. Then $255 a year should cover miscellaneous items, license, basic training and toys. This gives a total yearly starting figure of $1000.


Looking for a Istrian Shorthaired Hound Name? Let select one from our list!

The Istrian Shorthaired Hound is not a companion dog for just anybody. It is a hunter and in an ideal home it gets to do that often, or at least compete in canine sports that challenge it and it should have owners that are very active too and have experience. It is not naturally a good family dog in general, though some do better than others. To be good with children and other pets it would need very good socialization, training and supervision. It can be devoted and loyal to its owner who takes it out in the field but not all of them are as affectionate as some dogs can be.

Featured Image Credit: f8grapher, Shutterstock

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.

Did you know: an average of 18 dog foods are recalled every year?

Get FREE Dog Food Recall Alerts by email whenever there's a recall.