Slovenský Kopov

Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
 
Photo of adult Slovenský Kopov

A small to medium-sized, black and tan dog that has been used for many years as a hunting dog, the Slovenský Kopov is popular within its native Slovakia, though rarely spotted elsewhere. Often confused with the American Black and Tan Coonhound, while bearing close resemblance, the Slovenský Kopov is in fact smaller and more solidly built.

Dedicated to its job, the Slovenský Kopov relishes the opportunity to be outside and working. The breed has quite a high demand for exercise and would certainly not be suited to an inactive, suburban household. As these dogs can be wary of those they don’t know, a big effort should be made when they are maturing to ensure that they are adequately socialised and exposed to a variety of situations, people and other animals.

About & History

The Slovenský Kopov, also known as the Slovakian Hound, is a scent hound that has mainly been used for boar hunting within its native country. While historical records are lacking, it is widely believed that the Slovenský Kopov has been in existence within central Europe for many hundreds of years and has descended from other local breeds, including the Brandlbracke (Austrian Black and Tan Coonhound) and the Ogar Polski (Polish Hound).

Not widely kept for any purpose other than hunting, the Slovenský Kopov has honed its hunting skills over the centuries and is respected within Slovakia for its tracking abilities and endurance. Despite their proven track record on the field, the breed is rarely spotted internationally. Oddly enough, when it is seen internationally, this breed is sometimes referred to as the ‘Black Forest Dog’, a complete misnomer, as the Slovenský Kopov is not now, and has never been, native to the Black Forest region.

As with many other breeds of dogs at the time, the population of the Slovenský Kopov dramatically declined during the period of the World Wars. A Slovakian man named Koloman Slimák is credited with bringing the breed back from the brink of extinction at this time, as he set up successful breeding programmes nationally.

Accepted officially as a breed in the 1870s, the first Slovenský Kopov breed club was only recently formed in 1988, in the capital of Bratislava. The breed is also now recognised as a scent hound by the FCI. The Slovenský Kopov is so popular within its birthplace that it has been named the national breed of Slovakia.

Appearance

Slovenský Kopov Large Photo

A long-bodied and well-muscled dog, the Slovenský Kopov could be mistaken for the Black and Tan Coonhound to the untrained eye, though is shorter and more robust. They are athletically built, with sturdy limbs, a long tail and floppy ears. Their black coat is short and coarse with tan markings on the face, chest and limbs. Their dark nose should have wide nostrils to allow for good scenting abilities, while their dark brown eyes are soulful and almond-shaped. Dogs reach heights of around 40-50cm, typically weighing between 15 and 20kg.

Character & Temperament

This determined hunter should be tenacious when on the trail and courageous when faced with the animals its hunting, such as wild boar and deer. They have superb scenting abilities and will thoroughly track a scent to the source. An independent animal that is happy to work with minimal human interaction, the Slovenský Kopov needs little direction. Despite this, they are obedient, and will happily go along with the plans of their master when required.

The Slovenský Kopov makes a good watch dog, as they are continually alert and observant. This, along with the fact that they become devoted to their owners, means that they are often protective, and can be used successfully as guard dogs, becoming potentially aggressive if the situation calls for it. Barking can be an issue and is a common complaint of many owners. Excessive barking can be prevented by ensuring the Slovenský Kopov is not under-exercised and has plenty of activities and jobs to fill its day.

Trainability

Photo of Slovenský Kopov puppy

Firm and consistent training from an early age is essential in this breed as they have the potential to be strong-willed and independent. It is also vitally important that the Slovenský Kopov is socialised as soon as possible, with both other animals and humans, to avoid them having trust issues and becoming defensive, as they can have a real tendency to do so.

Owing to their intellect (a trait common to most scent hounds), the Slovenský Kopov is known to be a quick and adaptable learner, and an experienced trainer shouldn’t experience any real difficulty with them.

Health

Unfortunately, relevant health studies are lacking, and there is little reported data on the overall health of the Slovenský Kopov. The prudent owner should be on the lookout for the following conditions, to which the Slovenský Kopov may be predisposed:

Ear Infections

While ears that stand erect will have good airflow and should not hold water inside the canal, floppy ears, such as those of the Slovenský Kopov, are poorly designed in many ways. Their ear canals tend to become moist and humid, which leads to the proliferation of yeast and bacteria.

Ear infections will cause dogs discomfort and can potentially lead to more serious health issues, such as head tilts and, in rare cases, Meningoencephalitis. The sooner an infection is cleared, the better the prognosis for the dog.

Wounds and Injuries

As the Slovenský Kopov is used mainly as a working dog, they are more likely to become injured when outside. Lacerations to the skin and penetrating injuries are commonly seen in hunting animals.

Elbow & Hip Dysplasia

All too common nowadays, particularly in purebred dogs, dysplasia of the hips and elbows are prevalent. These are orthopaedic conditions thatg every canine owner should be aware of. Before acquiring a dog, a prudent owner will ensure that the breeder has hip scored the puppy’s parents, and that there is no history of Hip or Elbow Dysplasia reported.

As the Slovenský Kopov is a working dog, any health condition that affects their ability to move comfortably and quickly will have far-reaching implications and will likely lead to early retirement.

Patellar Luxation

A condition more commonly seen in small to medium purebred dogs, a luxating patella is not a good diagnosis for a hunting dog. This is when the kneecap pops in and out of place, causing varying degrees of lameness, pain and eventual osteoarthritis. Corrective surgery is often recommended in working dogs.

Exercise and Activity Levels

The Slovenský Kopov is best suited to an outdoor, rural lifestyle where they have the opportunity to hunt and scent trail often. They thrive when working and are likely to become depressed and destructive if kept indoors with little outlet for their energy. Anecdotally, this dog copes well in apartments and small homes, as long as they are adequately exercised. They should also have access to a large, fenced-in outdoor area.

Exercise alone is not sufficient for this bright dog, as they also need the opportunity to use their brain. Puzzle toys, scenting games and canine activities, such as agility and obedience, are a great means of keeping the mind of the Slovenský Kopov occupied.

Grooming

The short coat of the Slovenský Kopov makes for a low maintenance dog when it comes to grooming, though a good brush each week is still advisable. Their undercoat can be thick, and will shed seasonally, so brushing frequency may need to increase during these periods. Additionally, those dogs used for hunting should have their fur, paws and ears thoroughly checked for debris or sticky brambles after a hunt.

The main area of concern when it comes to the upkeep and grooming of the Slovenský Kopov is their ears. As their ears flop forward and have minimal airflow, they are prone to developing ear infections. Owners should be comfortable checking ears regularly and cleaning any waxy build ups. At the first sign of an infection (owners may notice excessive debris build up within the ear, redness of the canal, a foul smell or ear shaking and scratching) a vet should be consulted, as medication will likely be necessary.

Famous Slovakian Hounds

Dex is a young and handsome Slovenský Kopov who lives in Slovakia and is well-loved on Instagram with a sizeable following.

Cross-Breeds

No known cross-breeds of the Slovenský Kopov exist at this moment in time.

User comments

There are no user comments for this listing.