Posavac Hound

Pippa Elliott
Dr Pippa Elliott (BVMS MRCVS, University of Glasgow)
 
Photo of adult Posavac Hound
Strojovdjazg / Wikipedia.org

Every now and again you stumble across a gem of a dog breed, which is new to you and yet worthy of being better known. The Posavac hound is just such a dog. In appearance, the Posavac is undeniably hound-like, with a look of a ‘stretched Beagle’ about him. In character, he has a natural zest and enthusiasm for life, which means he likes to be busy, but he is also loving, gentle, and loyal. Indeed, for the active family who can provide plenty of exercise, the Posavac could be an ideal dog.

Whilst the Posavac may be news to you, it is actually an old breed hailing from Croatia. He earned his chips as a working dog, hunting out small game. However, unlike some more independent working dogs, he does keep an ear on his owner and responds well to empathetic training. The news gets even better because the breed is linked to relatively few genetic health disorders, with the main worries being those of bloat or ear infections.

About & History

Images of hounds bearing a striking resemblance to the Posavac can be found in frescoes dating back to the 16th century. The breed originates from the region of the former Yugoslavia and was thought to have descended from those impressive ancient hounds, the now extinct Molossian, to which so many other dog breeds are descended.

By the 1800s, a dog of the Posavac type was known and sold as Boskini. Although his looks remain largely the same, the breed underwent a name change in the 20th century, when the term “Posavac Houndare” or Posavac Hound came into wider usage. This name was officially recognised in 1969 by the Federation Cynologquie Internationale in the Scent hound category. However, to the present day, the breed is unrecognised by the UK or US Kennel Clubs, and remains something of an undiscovered gem.

Appearance

Posavac Hound Large Photo
Strojovdjazg / Wikipedia.org

The Posavac hound is a medium-sized breed with the unmistakable look of a hound about him. Indeed, nothing says ‘hound’ quite like large floppy ears covered in velvet, which is exactly what the Posavac has. Indeed, he has a sensible face with a longish muzzle, broad forehead and large intelligent eyes.

The Posavac is quietly sturdy and yet built for movement. With a round, deep-chest for plenty of lung-room and a neatly tucked up waist (but not too exaggerated), he’s a sensible sort who you can imagine running for hours nose down to the ground.

The breed has a short, flat coat that is most typically red and white in colour. His markings are usually symmetrical with a white blaze down his nose, with red ears and mask over the rest of his face. Other acceptable colours err toward the red, sandy, or cream end of the spectrum, with dark brown or chocolate frowned upon as not typical of the breed. Last but not least is the Posavac’s tail, which is long and whip-like, often with a white tip that is blurred due to habitual wagging.

Character & Temperament

It is arguable that his character and temperament are the outstanding feature of the Posavac breed. Due to his origins as a working dog, he’s self-assured and loves a good scent trial, but without the self-willed, self-determined nature of some other scent hounds. His natural instinct is to be part of a pack, and, as such, the Posavac looks for leadership. Again this makes him a great fit for a family where the parents are aware of how to set boundaries for the dog (and children).

The other side of this coin is that in the hands of an inexperienced dog owner who ‘spoils’ the dog and doesn’t set house rules, the Posavac might develop bad habits, such as digging, barking, or chewing. This isn’t out of malice, but out of frustration because he needs to know what’s acceptable and what isn’t… and is bored so making his own fun.

So, if you’re looking for a lively, vital dog that needs a good amount of exercise but loves being part of a family group, then give serious thought to the Posavac hound.

Trainability

The Posavac Hound was originally a working dog that co-operated with his owner to hunt small game. Unlike some terriers or even other hounds that have a strong sense of self-determination and like to make their own decisions, the Posavac is more malleable. This means the Posavac takes well to training, especially when this is done in a sympathetic manner with reward-based training. The trick is to guide a Posavac hound and teach him by incentivisation – although this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tell him off for misbehaving. A short sharp “No!” or “Stop!” will instruct a Posavac and steer him away from such behaviour in the future.

As with all dogs, early socialisation and exposure to strange sights, sounds, and smells in a positive way is highly desirable. The broader the range of experiences the pup has as a youngster, the more chilled he’ll be as an adult. This is also important when the dog is part of a family, to reduce the chances of misunderstandings and friction between the two species.

Health

As a working dog, the Posavac happily has a good reputation when it comes to health. His issues are not so much breed inherited disorders, as the injuries, knocks, and scrapes that go with being an active dog.

Ear Infections

Those gorgeous dangly ears tend to reduce the amount of air circulating in the ear canals. This means the middle ear can become a warm, humid place where bacteria or yeasts will flourish. In addition, the long ears may sweep up grass awns, which migrate down the ear canal and cause pain, distress, and infection.

The answer is to check the ears daily for signs of redness, malodour, or a discharge. Use a good ear cleaner and, if the problem doesn’t settle within 24 to 48 hours, then a visit to the vet is necessary.

Bloat or Gastric Dilation & Volvulus GDV

The deep chest and abdomen of the Posavac is linked to an increased risk of gastric torsion. This occurs when the stomach flips over on itself, sealing off the entrance and exit. In turn, this cause gas build-up, which stretches the stomach, compressing vital blood vessels in the abdomen.

Untreated GDV can be fatal within a matter of hours, therefore prevention is vital. Feed from the floor and use puzzle feeders to slow up the dog’s eating. Always rest him for at least 90-minutes after eating, and never exercise during this period.

Obesity

Bred to be active, the Posavac has a healthy appetite. However, a pet fed a high calorie working dog diet is going to gain weight, and the Posavac is no exception. The owner who fails to balance their dog’s calorie intake against calories burnt, will end up with an obese dog.

The answer is simply to feed a diet appropriate to the dog’s lifestyle and to give measured quantities. Regularly check to ensure the dog’s ribs can be felt, and if they can’t, then reduce the amount fed so as to promote weight loss.

Exercise and Activity Levels

There is no doubt that the Posavac hound needs a good amount of exercise each day; however, this doesn’t have to be excessive. Typically two 30 to 60 minutes opportunities a day to play, run, and walk will satisfy his needs for physical exertion. Great activities to consider with a Posavac hound include jogging or cycling alongside you. And, agility or Flyball are also great outlets for his need for activity and a sense of purpose in life.

Indeed, whilst a Posavac hound isn’t ideal for apartment living, if you are prepared to put the time and effort into getting him out and about on a daily basis, then it might just work. But be warned: The Posavac is a hound and so when bored he’s highly likely to give voice to his disappointment. This means baying, howling, or barking in a hair-raising manner, which will definitely make you unpopular with the neighbours.

Grooming

The Posavac Hound has a flat smooth coat that requires very little by way of fussy maintenance. Not for him are regular trips to the parlour, because the coat doesn’t need trimming. Ideally, bathe him only when necessary, such as when he rolls in something unmentionable or gets especially muddy.

However, a daily brush over with a rubber-grooming tool or a chamois cloth will help to collect up his shed hair and put a lovely gleam on his coat. The Posavac is an average shedder, so a daily brush will keep most of the hair off the oft furnishings and under control.

In addition, be sure to check your Posavac’s ear after each walk, being especially alert for grass awns that he might have swept into his ears when running nose to the ground. Brush his teeth daily for fresh breath doggy kisses, and keep his nails worn down with plenty of pavement walking.

Famous Posavac Hounds

For a flavour of the breed, check out this Posavac Hound board on Pinterest.

Cross-Breeds

The Posavac has a great character and excels at what he does; therefore there seems little point in deliberately out-crossing the breed. This, along with the Posavac being rare and relatively unknown, means there are no (deliberate) hybrids linked to the breed.

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