Sabueso Español

Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)

A hound dog of medium build, the white and orange Sabueso Español has long ears, solemn eyes and drooping lips. Their body is rectangular in its shape and their back is notably long. Despite this conformation, their powerful limbs ensure that they have retained their athletic ability, which is put to good use when out on the hunt. Throughout the years, they have been used to track a large variety of game, most notably wild boar and rabbits.

It must be said that the Sabueso Español is not really kept as a family pet in Spain, rather being seen as an exclusively working dog. In spite of this, they have a loving and loyal nature, which means they have the ability to adapt to life in a family home if given the opportunity. Owners should prepare themselves for an active and noisy dog that will need a substantial amount of exercise.

About & History

The Sabueso Español is also frequently called the Spanish Scenthound and is indigenous to the north of mainland Spain. This breed was created for the sole purpose of being a hunting dog, and even today the Sabueso Español is not really kept as a pet.

While it would be impossible to say when the Sabueso Español came into existence, Spanish hunters have been using the Sabueso Español and its predecessors for centuries. Some sources even claim that this breed was developed as long ago as the middle ages, possibly from the Bloodhound.

A melodious scent hound, this dog uses its various barks to communicate with the other dogs on the hunt, as well as with its master. Typically, they will hunt alone or in pairs, and while commonly thought of as hare and wild boar hunters, they can be used to pursue a wide variety or prey, including rabbits, foxes and small deer. Versatile by nature, while they will often work alongside gunmen, the Sabueso Español has also been used to track wounded prey; a job known as ‘blood tracking’. Interestingly, this all-round dog has also been used in bomb detection and in search and rescue missions in the modern day.

Outside of Spain, the Sabueso Español is incredibly uncommon and thanks to the importation of European dogs over the years, it has remained a relatively obscure breed even within its native country. Currently, this dog is recognised by the UKC within their Scent Hound group.


Built in a rectangular shape, this medium-sized hound has a remarkably long body. Their domed skull is as wide as it is long, ending in a tall muzzle that tapers toward the nose. Their slack upper lips hang over their mandible and should be the same colour as their large, black nose. Their dark, almond-shaped eyes have a glum, ‘hang-dog’ expression, typical of the hound. Their silky, long ears hang long and loose in a ‘corkscrew’ formation. They have a prominent dewlap at their neck. There back is extensive and their wide loin that is slightly arched. It is vital that their long back is not weak, and judges will be on the look-out for the tell-tale ‘sway’ that this would cause. Despite their body shape, the powerful hind limbs of the Sabueso Español ensure it remains an agile and strong hunting dog. Their tapering tail ends in a brush of fur.

The coat of the Sabueso Español is thick though short and must be white and orange. The shade of orange is unimportant and can be as light as yellow or as dark as brown. Their underlying skin is loose and may wrinkle in places.

There is a sexual dimorphism within the breed, meaning that females are significantly smaller than males, frequently measuring a couple of inches shorter, and possessing a daintier head. Male dogs reach heights of 20.5 to 22.5 inches at the withers, while females measure 19 to 21 inches.

Character & Temperament

Calm and noble, the Sabueso Español is a sweet dog that can be affectionate with those it knows. Not often kept as a family pet, this dog is more suited to a rural, outdoor lifestyle where it can roam freely and sniff til his heart is content. Having said this, they will gladly devote themselves to their owner and their need for human company should not be overlooked. While they will happily play around with younger family members, they will only tolerate small children to a certain extent. This tolerance can be improved by introducing the dog to the children when it is young. When it comes to their acceptance of other dogs, dog to dog aggression is rarely an issue.

When out on the hunt, there is little that would stop the Sabueso Español from completing its task. Incredibly courageous, they will not hesitate when confronting even the largest and angriest of prey.

If purchasing the Sabueso Español for the purpose of being either a watch dog or a guard dog, you should probably look elsewhere. While they may well alert their owner to the presence of an intruder, they may not do so on every occasion, and are certainly not territorial enough to defend their property.


Strong leadership is essential to teach the Sabueso Español to respect the household rules. They can be wilful and require consistent instruction. If an owner is considering owning this breed as a companion animal, they should be aware of the dedication and time that will be required to adapt them to this lifestyle, which is currently quite unfamiliar to them. If, however, an owner is considering adopting a Sabueso Español for the purpose of hunting, little to no training will be required for this task to which it is so well-adapted.

Simple, obedience training poses more of an issue in this dog than in other breeds, as it is not something that comes naturally to it. Plenty of positive reinforcement and tasty rewards will work in the trainer’s favour. Trainers should do their best to avoid distractions, particularly strong scents, during training sessions as the attention span of the Sabueso Español can be short.


The most frequently seen health problems in the Sabueso Español include:

Hip Dysplasia

When the femur bone does not align well within the hip socket, the malformed joint results in lifelong mobility issues. Affected dogs will initially have trouble walking normally and will eventually go on to develop painful osteoarthritis. Strict breeding programmes should be in place to reduce the incidence of this inherited condition within the population.

Ear Infections

Hound dog ears are notorious for developing ear infections as their inherent shape leads to poor air circulation and the accumulation of wax and foreign material. The incidence of ear infections can be reduced by keeping ears clean and dry at all times.


Obesity becomes an issue when a dog with a very high exercise requirement, such as the Sabueso Español, is allowed to over-eat and is under-exercised. While being obese is not a disease, the consequences of obesity (such as joint disease and heart disease) can shorten a dog’s life.

Exercise and Activity Levels

Unless kept as a working dog who gets a large amount of exercise, it is highly likely that the Sabueso Español will develop unwanted behaviours. They have been bred for their stamina and energy and are not meant to live the life of a couch potato.

Expansive, open environments are necessary for the Sabueso Español, who would likely feel ‘trapped’ if kept in a small home. It is certainly not recommended that they be kept in an apartment. Used to country living, they are not well adapted to the city. They enjoy long and vigorous hikes and feel a need to be kept active and occupied.


The short coat of the Sabueso Español does not attract dirt or grease and will generally stay clean with minimal intervention. A brush down every now and then can remove dead fur and maintain its shine. Bathing should be carried out infrequently as over-bathing will strip away the coat’s natural oils.

The most important part of the Sabueso Español’s body when it comes to grooming is its ears. Ears should be checked every few days to ensure they are free of excess wax or malodour. Ear cleaners should be employed every week or two to remove wax.

Famous Sabuesos Españoles

A rare breed indeed, there are no famous Sabueso Español dogs.


The Sabueso Español is not commonly crossed with any other dog breed.

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