Double-Nosed Andean Tiger Hound

Pippa Elliott
Dr Pippa Elliott (BVMS MRCVS, University of Glasgow)
 
Photo of adult Double-Nosed Andean Tiger Hound
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Rarely is a breed so well summed-up by their name as the Double-Nosed Andean Tiger Hound. As it says on the label, this hound dog has not one, but two noses – or at least the outward appearance of two noses. The Andean part of their name refers to their native location within the Bolivian Andes.

So, now you're probably wondering about the tiger reference within their name. Is this a striped dog? Are they stealthy as a cat? No. This moniker comes from their job, which was to track jaguars, referred to by the locals in their native land as tigres. In the same way a Nova Scotian Duck Tolling Retriever is described by their name, so is the Double-Nosed Andean Tiger Hound.

About & History

This dog is considered exceedingly rare. So rare that for centuries, outside of Bolivia, they were considered mythical creatures or the result of folklore and an over active imagination. Indeed, an explorer in the early 20th century, Lt-Col Percy Fawcett, was laughed at when he returned home. He claimed on his travels he saw a pointer-like dog with two noses and his reports were not taken seriously.

It took until the early 21st century for the error of such mockery to be revealed. Another explorer, Col John Blashford-Snell, met and took photos of a dog called Bella, who had two noses. His reports were dismissed as being a dog with a genetic mutation linked to a cleft palate and split lip. Determined to prove this theory wrong, Snell revisited but took a veterinary expert with him. This time they found some of Bella’s offspring and examined them. These pups were free from a cleft palate, and so it these double-nosed dogs became a genuine breed.

With tales of these dogs extending back centuries, it's hard to know exactly how the breed came about. It’s most likely their ancestors are another double-nosed breed though – the Pachón Navarro. The latter hails from Spain and may well have accompanied the 16th century conquistadors on their travels.

Appearance

Although the Double-Nosed Andean Tiger Hound is a distinct breed, there is no official breed standard. This means if you’re in Bolivia and see a dog that is roughly the right size and shape that has two- noses, then it’s a brave person who disputes that it’s a Double-Nosed Andean Tiger Hound.

In terms of size and shape, the consensus is the dog should be medium-sized with a stout blocky body. They have medium length legs, neither particular long and athletic, nor short and stumpy. Their head is pointer-esque with a strong forehead, and long, tapering muzzle. Of course the most distinctive feature is their noses. More correctly, they are said to have a bifid nose, which is where the nose divides into two like a fork in the road. Outwardly, they have two nostrils that are completely separate from one another as if “cleaved by a knife”, so described by the early explorer, Lt-Col Fawcett.

The degree of separation of the external nose does vary. For some dogs, it is less noticeable and more of a deep crease than a total separation. However, for others, it is quite dramatic with the external nose nasal being split completely in two, each side with a single nostril. The coat of the Double-Nosed Andean Tiger Hound is short. They are commonly white with patches of black, brown, or liver… or, indeed, they can be tricoloured.

Character & Temperament

It seems reasonable that a dog that hunts jaguars is going to be fierce. The Double-Nosed Andean Tiger Hound doesn’t disappoint in this department. Apparently explorers were impressed by the aggression of these medium-sized dogs.

Aggression is a complex topic and it may be these village dogs are the canine equivalent of feral cats and unused to close human companionship. So, it seems unfair to label the breed as ‘aggressive’, but kinder perhaps to say they are brave, bold, courageous, and self-willed.

Trainability

Presumably the Double-nosed Andean Tiger Hound is trainable, since they worked as a team with jaguar hunters. But given the rarity of the breed, there is little recorded by way of how responsive they are to instruction.

Health

As a rare breed living in remote areas, there is no information about the health problems to which these dogs are prone, but we can make some educated assumptions.

Cleft Palate

When a Double-Nosed Andean Tiger hound has pups, half her litter may be born with a double nose and half with a normal one. There is also a slightly higher risk of her puppies being born with a cleft palate.

This is a condition where there is a gap in the hard or soft palate (or both) in the roof of the mouth. When the pup suckles, milk can pass up into the nasal cavity and then be inhaled down into the lungs. There is a high risk of aspirational pneumonia, which is a serious condition that without treatment is often fatal.

Exercise and Activity Levels

The Double-Nosed Andean Tiger Hound is a dog used to living outdoors and hunting. They do best when given vigorous exercise and have plenty of mental stimulation. They also have a high prey drive, which makes them ill-suited to life with family pets, such as cats or small mammals.

Grooming

That short coat is low maintenance with regards to grooming. In a wild setting, natural oils help waterproof the coat and protect the dog from the hot moist climate of the Andes. In a domestic setting, the dog is liable to shed moderately all the time.

Famous Double-Nosed Andean Tiger Hounds

The best known examples of the Double-nosed Andean Tiger Hound are Bella and Xingu. These are the mother and pup that were identified in the early 2000s by Col Blashford-Snell.

Cross-Breeds

As a rare breed the Double-Nosed Andean Tiger Hound is not used for deliberate out-crossing to produce hybrids.

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