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The Latvian Hound is a medium sized Russian or Latvian hunting hound developed to find various types of game including wild boar, elk, deer and smaller game like rabbits. As well as being an exceptional hunter highly valued by hunters in Latvia it is also a great companion dog or family pet. It is sweet, friendly and cordial and was bred to be both a partner to a hunter as well as a friend. It has a life span of 12 to 14 years and is also called Latvijas Dzinejsuns.
|The Latvian Hound at a Glance|
|Other names||Latvijas Dzinejsuns|
|Origin||Latvia (at the time part of Russia)|
|Average weight||35 to 45 pounds|
|Average height||16 to19 inches|
|Life span||12 to 14 years|
|Coat type||Shiny, dense, short|
|Color||Black, tan, brown|
|Popularity||Not a registered member of the AKC|
|Tolerance to heat||Good|
|Tolerance to cold||Very good|
|Shedding||Average – some hair around the home|
|Drooling||Average – some drool but not huge amounts|
|Obesity||Average – measure its food and make sure it gets enough exercise|
|Grooming/brushing||Average – brush twice a week|
|Barking||Occasional to frequent, may need training to stop on command|
|Exercise needs||Very active – needs an active owner|
|Trainability||Moderately easy for those with experience|
|Good first dog||Good|
|Good family pet||Very good to excellent with socialization|
|Good with children||Very good with socialization|
|Good with other dogs||Moderate to good needs socialization as can be dominance issues|
|Good with other pets||Good but needs socialization has high prey drive|
|Good with strangers||Good with socialization but wary|
|Good apartment dog||Moderate – needs space and a yard|
|Handles alone time well||Moderate – does not like being alone for long periods|
|Health issues||No major issues reported but common dog health concerns can be hip dysplasia, ear infections and eye problems|
|Medical expenses||$460 a year for basic health care and pet insurance|
|Food expenses||$145 a year for a good quality dry dog food and dog treats|
|Miscellaneous expenses||$215 a year for toys, basic training, miscellaneous items and license|
|Average annual expenses||$820 a year as a starting figure|
|Cost to purchase||$700|
|Rescue organizations||None breed specific, check local rescues and shelters|
|Biting Statistics||None reported|
The Latvian Hound’s Beginnings
The Latvian Hound was bred in Russia in the territory of Latvia and was developed using a mix of different English and Polish dogs along with Lucernese breeds. It can be found back in the 1600s where it was developed for hunters under the rule of Duke Jacob Ketler of Courland (who dates to 1642 – 1682). At that time hunting with hounds was a common thing and a valued past time but the Duke was ambitious and wanted his own breed to hunt with. The hound that was developed was therefore known for many years as the Courland Hound. It was used to hunt a variety of type and different sizes of game, elk, wild boar, deer and then smaller like rabbits.
For 400 years the dog has been an important part of tradition and hunting for Latvian hunters. It would help the beaters and was also developed to have a great personality too. The first hunters associations were founded in the early 20th century and in 1922 the Latvian Association of Hunters’ Associations was formed. One year later the first Latvian hunting dog show happened but the breed was then negatively impacted by both world wars. Little to no breeding happened during this time and many purebreds were lost, and much accidental cross breeding occurred.
New Lease on Life
Thankfully breeders started the work of reviving the breed after the war and they started by finding 40 dogs that came as close as possible to the Latvian Hound of pre-war days. Then using careful breeding practices they worked at re-establishing the breed. In 1969 Latvian breeders showed their efforts in the All Union Breed Dog Show and in 1970 they were presented to the Cynological Council Commission of the USSR. In 1971 the breed was approved with a new name, the Latvian Hound. A new standard was developed and approved and has only been amended once since then, in 1981. It is not though recognized by the AKC or the FCI.
The Dog You See Today
The Latvian Hound is a medium sized dog weighing 35 to 45 pounds and standing 16 to 19 inches tall. It has a short and muscled neck with no skin wrinkles and a deep and broad chest. Its back is straight and flat and strong and the tail is either held in a saber shape or straight and is thick then tapers to the tip. Its legs are strong and the feet are round and compact.
The coat is double but the inner coat is poor and the outer coat is short, shiny and dense. Common colors are black with brown or tan markings. There are brown spots above the eyes and the brown markings are on the legs, under the chin, and on the chest too. The skull of the Latvian Hound should be moderately broad and the head is wedge shaped. The muzzle is straight and the lips are close. It has a black nose and long oval shaped low set silky ears that hang down close to its head. Its eyes are medium sized, round and dark brown and very expressive.
The Inner Latvian Hound
This dog can appear to be very noble and dignified at one moment but then be outgoing and having fun the next depending on where they are, who they are with and what is happening around them. As a working dog it is focused, committed, hard working and tenacious. As a companion and family dog it is sweet, affectionate, and craved your love and attention. It does not like being left alone and can suffer from separation anxiety. It wants to be close to you, to please you and will not be happy if they are not getting enough feedback and attention from you.
This is a generally friendly dog though can be wary with strangers at first. It has a feisty and spirited side to it, it loves to play and will bring a certain energy to the home. It is a very kind hearted dog that loves its family and owner completely. It is cheerful and intelligent, loyal and when raised well mindful too. Early socialization is important but these are not usually aggressive dogs. It is alert and will bark to let you know of any intruder, it has also been known to be protective when needed.
Living with a Latvian Hound
What will training look like?
Latvian Hounds are moderately easy to train especially for those with some experience already. It is important though that it is done with consistency and patience, and that owners and trainers are firm and assertive but avoid being harsh. Stay positive and use gentle training methods and you will get better results and a happier dog. Start training and socialization from a young age so they avoid developing bad habits that are hard to break them of. Use encouragement, rewards, treats and praised and introduce it to different people, places, sounds, animals, situations and so on.
How active is the Latvian Hound?
This is a very active dog and it will need lots of daily activity when it is not being used to hunt with to keep it happy and healthy and well behaved. It also needs lots of mental stimulation otherwise it will get bored easily and get up to mischief. It is an athletic and energetic dog so take out for a couple of good paced moderate to long walks a day. Also make sure it has physical daily play time with you and that it gets chance to go somewhere safe off leash like a dog park where it can run free. It is not best suited to apartment living because it really does need a yard, and being a hunting and working dog it would thrive best in a rural setting rather than an urban one.
Caring for the Latvian Hound
The Latvian Hound has a short coat that is easy to groom and is not super high in maintenance. It sheds a moderate amount so some hair will be left around the home but brushing once or twice a week will help keep up with the loose hair. Avoid giving it bath too often though, just give it one when it really is needing it. A proper dog shampoo should be used when washing it, nothing else otherwise its natural oils can be damaged.
Other maintenance needs are the things all good owners need to do. Its ears should be checked examined routinely for infection, look for an unusual discharge, redness, irritation or a build up of wax. There should be no pushing anything into them for cleaning, just use a warm damp cloth or cotton balls with a canine ear cleanser liquid. Its nails have to be clipped when too long if they are not worn down naturally from its outside activity. If you do this yourself take care to use dog nail clippers and do not cut to far down where there are blood vessels and nerves. It will hurt your Latvian Hound and lead to a fair amount of bleeding. Do not forget its oral hygiene either. Its teeth and gums need brushing at least two to three times a week and use a dog toothbrush and toothpaste.
Feed your Latvian Hound between 1¾ to 2¼ cups of a good quality dry dog food a day, divided into at least two meals. How much it eats can change depending on various factors like its metabolism, level of activity, health, age and build. Then also make sure it gets access to water all day and that it is changed when possible.
How is the Latvian Hound with children and other animals?
Around children the Latvian Hound can be excellent when socialized and it does help to be raised with them. It is happy to play and it is sweet and affectionate towards them. Make sure that you take the time to teach your children how to approach, touch. Pet and play with dogs in a kind way. It has a strong prey instinct so socialization is also essential around small pets and even then some may deal with them less well than others. With other dogs in general it can get along fine with them but some can be nervous and some can be more territorial especially if dealing with males that are not neutered.
What Might Go Wrong?
The life span of the Latvian Hound is 12 to 14 years and there are no reported major health issues but all dogs face come kind of medical issues during their lives. This one may face things like hip dysplasia, eye problems, bloat and ear infections.
In reports that list dogs that have attacked people and caused bodily harm in the US and Canada over the last 3 or more decades, there is no mention of the Latvian Hound. While this is a hunting dog it is not an aggressive one and it is true that all dogs have the potential to become aggressive. There is no completely safe breed of dog and size only impacts on damage that can be done. It is important that owners see to it the dog suits their lifestyle, gets enough mental and physical stimulation, a healthy diet, lots of love and attention and good basic training and socialization.
Your Pup’s Price Tag
Puppy prices for Latvian hounds are about $700 for a pet quality dog from a breeder that has a good reputation. From a top breeder prices of dogs are even higher though. You are likely to be placed on a waiting list and be prepared that this is a rare breed. While a good owner would avoid using places like puppy mills, pet stores or backyard breeders you might want to look into rescues and shelters. While finding a Latvian Hound purebred is unlikely other dogs may catch your heart and you may find a great companion dog you are happy to bring home. Rescue and shelters dogs can cost between $50 to $400.
All dogs needs some items in the home and some medical concerns dealt with when it is settled. Items for your Latvian Hound like a crate, bowls, bedding, leash and collar and carrier will be about $210. Those medical concerns like an examination, being micro chipped, spayed or neutered, blood tests, dewormed, shots and such will start at around $270.
Annual costs are another consideration when choosing a new dog. It will need to be fed a decent quality or better dry dog food and dog treats which will cost an estimated $145 a year. For basic health care like flea and tick prevention, check ups, shots, pet insurance, a cost of $460 a year can be estimated. Then there are other things to prepare for like basic training costs, miscellaneous items needed, toys and licensing for example for an estimated $215 a year. This gives a starting figure cost of $820 a year.
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The Latvian Hound can be more curious and mischievous when they are puppies so be prepared for some puppy antics. It is not that they are bad they just want to explore everything and have fun. They do grow out of that stage thankfully and can be great companions and family dogs as long as you can be active with them. They also need owners who are consistent with rules and can be around often to give them the human companionship and affection they really need.
Featured image credit: Jagodka, Shutterstock
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.
- The Latvian Hound’s Beginnings
- New Lease on Life
- The Dog You See Today
- The Inner Latvian Hound
- Living with a Latvian Hound
- Caring for the Latvian Hound
- How is the Latvian Hound with children and other animals?
- What Might Go Wrong?
- Your Pup’s Price Tag