The Swiss Hound is a natural-born hunter. These energetic, intelligent dogs possess a keen sense of smell. Though known to be lively when hunting, they make docile, loyal companions when home with their people.
Swiss Hound Traits
The Swiss Hound is a medium-sized dog with great strength and endurance. The breed's overall appearance suggests an air of nobility.
Coat and Coloring
Swiss Hounds have a short, smooth, and dense coat with very fine hair on the head and ears. Their coats come in four color varieties.
The Bernese variety is white with black patches and tan markings around the face. Jura Swiss Hounds are tan with a black blanket and black or tan markings on the face. Lucernes are "blue," with a combination of black and white hairs and heavy speckling, black patches or saddle, and tan markings on the face. And Schwyz Swiss Hounds are white with orange patches or saddle.
Distinctive Physical Traits
The Swiss Hound's head shape is long, lean, and slightly rounded. Like most hounds, this breed's ears are set low and narrow, often reaching the top of the nose. Swiss Hounds have medium-length tails that curve slightly upward.
Swiss Hound Temperament
Swiss Hounds are passionate, confident, agile hunting companions. But when not engaged in a hunt, they make loving, even-tempered pets. These sensitive dogs grow very attached to their humans. They're usually friendly and easy to train—a great fit for many families.
The hunting and tracking instinct is powerful in Swiss Hounds. For this reason, they may be unpredictable around small animals. (They often can't help chasing any little critter that crosses their paths.)
Swiss Hounds can be very vocal. Some people consider their musical baying a source of entertainment. But in an apartment with shared walls, noise-sensitive neighbors may be less fond of their singing skills.
Swiss Hound History
The Swiss Hound's origin can be traced back to Roman times—when depictions of the breed appeared in mosaics from Avenches, Switzerland. In the 15th century, Italian dog lovers commonly sought after the breed.
In the 18th century, Swiss Hounds made their way into French hunters' hearts, thanks to their talented noses and exceptional aptitude for hunting hare.
Mercenaries brought French scent hounds to Switzerland, and these dogs influenced the Swiss Hound's breed lines. The United Kennel Club recognized the Swiss Hound in 2006. Today, the breed remains a talented hunting companion in Switzerland (though it's uncommon outside of Europe).
Swiss Hound Care
Swiss Hounds do best on a diet formulated for their activity level, medium breed size, and life stage (e.g., puppy, adult, senior).
All dogs are at risk for obesity if they overeat. So, keep a careful eye on your pup's food intake, including treats. As a rule, treats should make up no more than 10% of their calories.
Thanks to their short coats, the Swiss Hound's grooming needs are relatively minimal. Still, these dogs do require regular brushing to keep their coats free of loose hair and dirt.
With long ears, Swiss Hounds may be more prone to ear infections. Check your dog's ears regularly for dirt or wax build-up, and clean them as needed. Nail trims and dental care—including at-home teeth brushing and professional dental cleanings—should also be part of their routine care.
Swiss Hounds have a lot of energy and stamina. When hunting, they can follow a scent for hours. So, if they're not serving as hunting companions, these dogs need plenty of daily exercise and mental stimulation.
They seem to enjoy hiking, jogging, and long walks. True to their hound dog heritage, they also appreciate canine sports that allow them to use their powerful sense of smell—such as tracking and nose work.
Swiss Hounds are intelligent, eager-to-please pups. These qualities make them very trainable. They respond best to positive reinforcement techniques and short training sessions that keep them from becoming bored.
Early socialization is also essential for Swiss Hounds. Introducing them to many different people, places, and pets from a young age will help them develop into well-mannered adult dogs.
Swiss Hound Genetic Health Conditions
Chondrodystrophy (CDDY) is a skeletal disorder characterized by shortened limbs and abnormal early degeneration of the spinal discs, or intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), which predisposes to disc herniation.
Knowing if your Swiss Hound is a carrier or at-risk for these conditions can help you and your veterinarian plan for your pup’s lifelong care. With Wisdom Panel™ Premium, you can get results for over 200 genetic health tests.
The most common ancestral trait of this group is being used for hunting. Some use acute powers of scent to follow a trail while others demonstrate the gift of stamina as they run down a quarry. Beyond these two common traits, however, generalizations about hounds are hard to come by as the group is comprised of a very diverse lot of breeds.