Montenegrin Mountain Hound

Pippa Elliott
Dr Pippa Elliott (BVMS MRCVS, University of Glasgow)
 
Photo of adult Montenegrin Mountain Hound
Canarian / Wikipedia.org

Laid-back attitude meets high-energy hound in the Montenegrin Mountain dog. This active hunting dog has been around for a century or so, and was breed to hunt small game in the mountains of the former Yugoslavia. By nature, they have a reputation for being even tempered, which is equally matched with a need for lots of exercise.

Indeed, this hound’s laid-back character would make them an ideal family pet if it weren’t for their high prey drive (so other pets are not safe), a tendency to bark when bored, and a requirement to run and run and run. Not to meet these needs could see their chill factor feed into frustration and dial up the volume on that bark.

About & History

It is often said that necessity is the mother of invention, which it seems was the case with the Montenegrin Mountain Hound. This sniffer dog with endurance is most likely the result of breeding Phoenician sight hounds with traditional Slavic dogs.

The difference being that the imported sight hounds were fast and athletic, with unrivalled speed when chasing prey; whereas the Slavic dogs were superb at following a scent trail but were off a heavier, more ponderous build. This meant the latter could track, but not catch, the prey they were set to detect. But this new blend of dogs brought out the best of both breeds, making for a most excellent hunting dog.

Exactly when the Montenegrin Mountain Hound came into existence is not known. The earliest recorded reference to a dog matching their description dates back to the beginning of the 19th century. However, it seems likely the breed is older than this.

Moving forward, the first breed standard that describes the attributes of the ideal Montenegrin Mountain Hound was written in 1924. However, at that time, they were then known of the Yugoslavian Mountain Hound. For political reasons, the name was changed in 1997 to the Montenegrin Mountain Hound. An interesting dog of good character, the Montenegrin Mountain Hound however remains something of a rare breed. He has a hot-seat of popularity around his native area but is little known outside of this, which seems a shame.

Appearance

Size-wise the medium-sized Montenegrin Mountain Hound is halfway between a Beagle and a Labrador. Their back is slightly longer than they are tall, which teamed with powerful haunches and long back legs, makes for a long stride. Indeed, they could almost be described as a heavy greyhound, which is in essence is how they were created in the first place.

The head of a Montenegrin Mountain Hound is longer than it is wide. The muzzle is long, as befits a canine athlete that needs to be able to breathe down great lungful’s of air when tracking and running. They have folded ears, like a Labrador, set high on the side of the head. Their final glory is a whip-like tail, which is thick at the base but tapers to the tip. This is carried parallel to the body and may curve up slightly towards the tip.

The Montenegrin Mountain Hound traditionally has a black coat, with tan spots for eyebrows and a touch of tan on the muzzle and the underside of the brisket and belly. The coat itself is short and smooth, with the glossy darkness of a seal about it. Their coat colour is responsible for the alternative name for this breed, which is the Black Hound.

Character & Temperament

In truth, the Montenegrin Mountain Hound has the perfect personality – it’s just that their temperament isn’t necessarily suited to city living. For example, although a laid-back character that behaves well with kids, he does need lots of exercise. Fail to meet this needs and he gets bored, which results in barking – loud noisy barking that neighbours for streets around will hate! So, although you love your dog and he loves you, he will be your only friend in the neighbourhood.

A working Montenegrin Mountain Hound is a consummate tracker. He can hunt all day, is talented at following scent trails, and quick to capture his quarry. At the end of the hunting day, the Montenegrin Mountain Hound is a contented family member. He will settle down and relax in the home, being considered docile with children and generally laid-back. This is excellent news, except there’s a small glitch in his perfection, in the shape of Montenegrin Mountain Hound’s high prey drive. Should the children have other pets, such as rabbits, guinea pigs, or a cat, then they will be hunted, which will inevitably end in tears.

Another aspect of the Montenegrin Mountain Hound is that they like to get to know someone before they become friends. Whilst not exactly aloof, they are wary of strangers. Actually, this is a good thing as the dog will bark a warning, making them a good watch dog by alerting the homeowner to intruders.

In short, as a working dog, the Montenegrin Mountain Hound is a near perfect companion. As a pet, he needs space and exercise. Perfect if you want a running companion or work outdoors, but not so great for coach potatoes.

Trainability

It is a trait of many dogs with working origins that they are able to think for themselves and make independent decisions. Although the Montenegrin Mountain Hound is not as strong-willed as some working breeds, they can be a touch stubborn if they happen to think recall is not a great idea at that moment in time.

The ideal owner would have some experience training dogs and uses reward-based training methods. The Montenegrin Mountain Hound's bond with a sympathetic owner makes him eager to please, so with the right motivation, all is not lost.

Just be prepared to put in the hours and train this hound every day. Be sure to be lavish with praise when he does well, and he’ll strain every sinew to repeat the action and lap up that lovely attention.

Health

As a rare breed, it’s difficult to spot the trends that indicate a health weakness. However, if the Montenegrin Mountain Hound is going to have a problem it tends to be one of those listed below.

Ectropion

Ectropion is a condition affecting the eyelids. Instead of the eyelashes pointing away from the delicate cornea, the lid scrolls inward and presses the lashes against the surface of the eye. This is like living with grit in the eye. Each time the dog blinks, prickly lashes dig into the cornea, causing discomfort.

Surgical correction is required. The operation involves carefully removing a small segment of skin, which has the effect of pulling the leading edge of the eyelid out and away from the cornea.

Hip Dysplasia

The shape of the hips is inherited from the parent dogs. Unfortunately, some dogs have poor hip anatomy, which is then passed onto the pups. Block-shaped hips clunk and knock in the cup of the pelvis, causing inflammation. Over time, that inflammation causes early arthritis, which can be extremely disabling. Mildly affected dogs may do fine with pain-relieving medications, but the severest cases can need a total hip replacement.

Ear infections

The drop ears of the Montenegrin Mountain Hound reduce the amount of air circulating in the ear canal. A warm moist environment, such as the ear canal, makes a perfect breeding ground for yeasts and bacteria, setting up infection.

An ear infection caught early is eminently treatable. Daily ear checks go a long way to spotting a problem brewing and trigger a vet check-up.

Bloat

The deep chest of the Montenegrin Mountain Hound predisposes them to a serious condition called bloat (or gastric dilation and volvulus or GDV). This life-threatening problem requires emergency surgical correction if the dog is to survive.

Prevention is the better option, so with this in mind, a Montenegrin Mountain Hound should never be exercised within 90-minutes of eating.

Exercise and Activity Levels

These guys love to be active. Bred for endurance and speed (remember how the athletic sight hound blood was introduced to make them more fleet of paw), being on the move is part of their make-up.

This has implications for the would-be owner of a Montenegrin Mountain Hound. You’re going to need a good sized yard, preferably one that’s safely fenced. You also need to commit to around 2-hours of exercise per day (minimum) preferably with the dog off lead and able to run free. So, not only do you need the time to honour this commitment, but you need to live in an area with a reasonable amount of open space nearby.

However, if you are an aspiring marathon runner who wishes to have a four-legged running buddy, then you’ve just lucked out with the Montenegrin Mountain Hound.

Grooming

The ultimate ‘brush and go’ dog, the Montenegrin Mountain Hound’s coat needs little by way of attention. This doesn’t mean you should never groom him. Indeed, a daily brush not only picks up shed hairs but helps to spread natural conditioning oils over his coat.

As he is an active dog, take care to check him over at the end of every walk. Be alert for grass seeds between his toes or in his ears, along with unpleasant parasites, such as ticks. A good habit to get into is a daily check before bed, to make sure he’s good to go in the morning.

Famous Montenegrin Mountain Hounds

Have you heard of the Montenegrin Mountain Hound before? Well, Conan O’Brien from Late Night with Conan O’Brien had. He chose a Montenegrin Mountain Hound as the dog breed of a hand-puppet called Triumph, who appears in part of his act as the ‘Insult Comic Dog’. Who knew!

Cross-Breeds

The Montenegrin Mountain Hound is a rare breed. Owners are more concerned with preserving the purity of the current bloodlines, than outcrossing to create a new hybrid.

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