Polish Hound

Pippa Elliott
Dr Pippa Elliott (BVMS MRCVS, University of Glasgow)
 
Photo of adult Polish Hound
Joanna Zembrzuska / Wikipedia.org

If you’re a sucker for dogs with large, velvety ears then you’re going to love the Polish Hound, also known as the Ogar Polksi. This ancient hunting breed was created by mixing local Polish hounds with Bloodhounds (having long heavy ears). The result is a lighter-boned, more athletic version of a Bloodhound.

The Polish Hound is a rarity outside his native country, which is a shame as he has a sterling reputation. Considered clever and eager to please, energetic but not overly so, and gentle with a drive to protect his family, the Polish Hound has the potential to be an excellent family pet.

But before we get carried away, know that if the Polish Hound has a fault it’s his voice. Described by some as 'deep and mellow', his persistent bark would certainly annoy the neighbours. And, given that the Polish Hound likes the sound of his own voice, there’s every chance close neighbours would hear it plenty!

About & History

The story of the Polish Hound goes back centuries where their distant ancestors hunted wildlife as they roamed Poland’s forests. As a working dog, back then, there was no specific breed standard but more a 'type' of dog that had a good nose and was sturdily built.

In the Middle Ages, Bloodhounds were bred with those native Polish Hounds to create dogs known as the Polish Scent Hound. These sturdy dogs continued unchanged through into the 20th century. But after the First World War, people became more interested in showing dogs, as opposed to having them purely as working animals.

With the show-ring in mind, Colonel Jozef Pawuslewicz revitalised the breed and set up a new breed standard. These dogs are slightly lighter boned than the original Polish Scent Hound, and represent the breed as we know it today. This new standard was formerly adopted in 1983 as the guide for the ideal Polish Hound.

Appearance

Polish Hound Large Photo
Joanna Zembrzuska / Wikipedia.org

How to sum up the appearance of the Polish Hound? Think of a Bloodhound cross Labrador or Bloodhound cross Beagle and you can’t go far wrong. These, large but athletic looking dogs have the wide, slightly crumpled but honest face of the Bloodhound, along with heavy ears that are just asking to be stroked. The slight wrinkled appearance to the face gives the dog a gentle expression, halfway between surprise and curiosity.

The Polish Hound stands tall with a deep chest, tucked up waist, and long low tail carriage. They have a short, smooth double coat that is waterproof. Typically, the coat is bicoloured with combinations of brown and tan, black and tan, or brown and red being acceptable.

Character & Temperament

What are the ideal qualities for a family dog’s temperament? At the top of the list is reliability around children, gentleness, and an eagerness to please. The dog would also be physically robust (so as to withstand the attentions of over-enthusiastic children) and slow to anger. Well, as it so happens, the Polish Hounds traits tick all of those boxes.

These dogs have a reputation for being friendly, gentle, and affectionate to family members. They are rarely aggressive although they may be defensive around people they don’t recognise. However, they’re more likely to raise the alarm with enthusiastic barking than outward aggression. Indeed, it’s arguable that a Polish Hound has the same aptitude (or lack of) for guarding as Scooby Doo!

His qualities also include having an excellent nose for scents and are capable of following a trail come rain or shine. As you would expect from a dog with working roots, they do need plenty of exercise. However, they aren’t an over-exuberant breed in the same way some high energy breeds are. This has the advantage that an enthusiastic game of fetch will often settle them down.

In summary, the Polish Hound is gentle and energetic. He does need a certain amount of space, so isn’t ideal for apartment life, but he does make a great companion to partake in active family life.

Trainability

Photo of Polish Hound puppy

The Polish Hound is a clever dog who likes to think he came up with the idea. Thus, reward-based training fits nicely into his learning vocabulary and will quickly have him doing as he is told.

It’s said that the Polish Hound can be slow to develop mentally, and may retain his puppyish attitude for longer than other breeds. With this in mind, it’s especially important to be patient with a Polish Hound, and never become angry when his concentration waivers.

Of crucial importance is early socialisation of a Polish Hound puppy. This helps the puppy become familiar with a variety of sights, sounds, and smells and grow into a confident adult dog. A lack of early life experience, as with any dog, can lead to him being anxious and fearful in novel situations.

Again, like any dog the Polish Hound values consistency during training. Make sure all family members understand the rules and what the dog is and isn’t permitted to do. Provide clear boundaries and this breed will do their best to obey.

Health

Another good thing about the Polish Hound is their reputation for good health. Unlike other breeds, there are no hereditary conditions specifically linked to the genetics of Polish Hounds. Good news, indeed. However, inherited disease is only one aspect (albeit an important one) of good health. An active outdoor breed, such as the Polish Hound, is bound to come into contact with parasites and infectious disease.

Good preventative healthcare is essential with monthly treatments against fleas and ticks in particular. In the UK, monthly treatment against lungworm is strongly advised, whilst in the US, heartworm poses a major threat. In addition, deworming is required, especially if the Polish Hound is hunting and eating prey. Chat to your vet about your dog’s exposure to worms and be sure to use a product that is effective against that group.

Vaccination is vital to protect against highly contagious diseases, such as parvovirus, distemper, and canine adenovirus. In addition, leptospirosis is spread in standing water infected by rat urine, which places an active outdoor dog at greater risk. It’s important to realise that vaccination against leptospirosis only lasts 12 months, so yearly booster injections are essential.

Be aware that the deep-chest of the Polish Hound places them at risk of gastric-dilation and volvulus (GDV), also known as bloat. This condition occurs when the stomach flips over on itself, sealing shut the valves that allow gas in and out of the gut. A build-up of gas stretches the stomach to the point where the circulation is impaired, organ’s shut down, and the dog collapses. Untreated, bloat can kill a dog within a few hours.

To prevent bloat always feed a high quality dog food that is low in fermentable carbohydrates, such as beans or soy. In addition, never exercise the dog within 90-minutes of eating, but allow them to rest.

Exercise and Activity Levels

The Polish Hound is the four-wheel-drive of the doggy world. Originally a working dog, he’s happy to be on the go all day long and in all weathers. He can cope with all kinds of terrain without batting an eye, and that waterproof coat protects against bad weather.

As a family pet, the Polish Hound would thrive in an active household in a location where there’s plenty of space to roam and play. He loves nothing better than a good game of fetch, and would make an ideal jogging partner. When not given sufficient exercise the Polish Hound will become bored, which will undoubtedly result in his favourite pastime of singing!

Grooming

That thick double coat is largely self-cleaning and requires little by way of care. However the wise owner brushes their dog at least once a week in order to capture shed hair. The breed is a moderate shedder, so whilst you should be knee-deep in dog fur, do expect a generous coating on the soft furnishings.

Avoid bathing a Polish Hound unless they get particularly dirty, as this will strip the natural protective oils from the coat. However, after each walk, the dog should be checked over for ticks and burrs to help keep them fit and healthy.

An active dog should rarely need their nails trimming, but do pay close attention to the dog’s teeth. Daily tooth brushing, just as we brush our own, is key to good long term dental health.

Famous Polish Hounds

From puppies to adult dogs, individuals to packs, check out all things Polish Hound on Instagram.

Cross-Breeds

The Polish Hound is a rare breed outside of his native country. As such, he is rarely used for cross-breeding with other dogs and so hybrids are a rarity (and usually the result of an 'accident').

User comments

There are no user comments for this listing.