6 Scent Hounds and Their Traits

A scent hounds’ job is to help humans with hunting, either on horseback or on foot. Some are pack hounds who work in a group and others work individually. Scent hounds range in sizes from Dachshunds, standing 5-9 inches at the withers, to Bloodhounds, standing 2 feet at the shoulder.

Unlike Gundogs, hounds don’t retrieve fallen prey. Their hunting is much more independent than a Gundog. They chase the quarry, and the human follows the dog to the prey. Scent hounds follow scent trails when hunting for prey or objects. The chase is a fun game for them.

The Beagle is a scent hound that hunts by smell
Beagle Hound on the chase

They are specialists in locating prey. Once they stalk or chase down their prey, they either kill it or hold onto it until their human arrives. Scent Hounds have amazing stamina and can stay on the trail for miles.

Key Personality Traits of Scent Hounds

Highly Focused – When on the “hunt” they will ignore all else until they have acquired their prey, including their owner’s calls. It is very important with hounds to start obedience training young and constantly reinforce recall exercises.

Independent – Scent hounds follow their own instincts rather than obeying commands. Once they are on the hunt, they are focused on that task until completion. Due to this independence, they are fine to be left alone for periods of time. Hounds do not generally suffer from separation anxiety when away from their people.

Mostly quiet – Hounds are relatively quiet breeds. They’re more likely to greet you at the door with kisses than barking. However, some are pack animals and can bay, especially when there are more than one.

Marathon runners – Scent hounds are working dogs that will run for hours after their game and has the endurance to do so. Yet, when not working, they are happy to laze around and enjoy the comforts of home.

Specialist in scent work – Scent hounds have an excellent, over developed sense of smell and love nothing more than an opportunity to use it. Long walks on a long lead in an open space would be a wonderful excursion. Hiding treats or food around the house or yard for your dog to locate is also a good way to keep them mentally stimulated. When hiding treats in the yard be sure your dog has immediate access with a PlexiDor Dog Door.

Appearance – Scent hounds typically have pendulum ears and a short, smooth coat. There are, of course, exceptions to this. For example, there are three varieties of the Dachshund; a smooth coat, wirehaired, and longhaired variety.

6 Breeds of Scent Hounds

Beagle – Ranked 7th on the American Kennel Club’s Most Popular Dog Breeds List – There are two varieties of Beagles. One stands under 13 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs under 20 pounds. The other variety stands 13-15 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs 20-30 pounds. Both are sturdy and strong for their size. The Beagle is an exceptional hunting dog and devoted companion. Amiable and inquisitive, they make wonderful family dogs and are good with children. Beagles are pack animals and do have a tendency to bay and bark like big dogs.

This Beagle is sniffing out his quarry.

Dachshund – Ranked 10th on the AKC’s Most Popular Dog Breeds List – Doxies are the smallest of the scent hound breeds standing 5-9 inches tall and weighing 16-32 pounds for standard and 11 pounds and under for Miniature Dachshunds. Dachshunds come in the two sizes, standard and miniature, and three coat types – smooth, wirehaired, and longhaired. Originally bred in Germany to hunt badgers, these little dogs are brave and a bit stubborn. They are affectionate with their family, but not a good fit for small children. They are not built for running, jumping, or lengthy swimming but are wonderful diggers. They are custom built to flush badgers from their holes.

Dachshunds aren't great at running or jumping but they can still play Frisbee.

Basset Hound – Ranked 34th on the AKC’s Most Popular Dog Breeds List – Basset Hounds stand up to 15 inches tall at the withers and weigh 40-65 pounds. The Basset looks like a big dog on short legs with extremely long ears. Tolerant and low-key they are good around other dogs and children. Although truly a couch potato, the Basset still needs adequate time for exercise. This breed is second only to the Bloodhound in its tracking ability. They are not an overly affectionate breed but are very loyal to their people.

The Basset Hound is unmistakable with the droopy eyes and over-large drop ears.

Bloodhound – Ranked 50th on the AKC’s Most Popular Dog Breeds List – Bloodhounds are known for their tracking abilities and make excellent search and rescue animals. No other dogs’ nose is more accurate than the Bloodhounds. They are the largest of the six breeds, standing 23-27 inches at the shoulder and weighing 80-110 pounds depending on sex. They are distinguished by their droopy ears and wrinkled, droopy face. Bloodhounds tend to drool quite a bit.

Bloodhounds are among the largest of the scent hounds standing two feet at the shoulder.

Petits Basset Griffon Vendeen – Ranked 161st on the AKC’s Most Popular Dog Breeds List – Petits Basset Griffon Vendeen loosely translates to small, low, and shaggy, and from the Vendee region of France. This perfectly describes this dog. The PBGV stands 13-15 inches at the shoulder and weighs 25-40 pounds. They have a course, thick coat that should be brushed weekly. Bred in France to hunt rabbits, these happy, lively scent hounds work in packs and do well as family dogs. They are good with children.

Harrier – Ranked 188th on the AKC’s Most Popular Dog Breeds List – Harriers are sociable and friendly pack hounds. They come from medieval England and were bred to chase rabbits. Good with children and other dogs, they make a great family dog. Harriers stand 19-21 inches at the shoulder and weigh 45-60 pounds. Well-muscled, they were bred to spend hours chasing prey so they will require a lot of exercise to keep boredom and destructive tendencies at bay.

Harriers are people-oriented dogs who love their families.

Training a scent hound can be a challenge. They have a mind of their own and their greatest motivation is tracking something down, not just food or the other regular rewards. Some hounds do train well and basic obedience as a puppy is always a must. Try working on “nose-work” which can be very rewarding for both dog and owner. Your dog will need an opportunity to use their gifts – a place to use their noses. Providing this opportunity for them cuts down on headaches for you in the long run.

Providing access to an outdoor area where your scent hound can release energy is important for these breeds. A PlexiDor Dog Door will allow your hound to come and go as they please to sniff the yard as often as they like without interrupting you. Our doors come in sizes perfect for the Miniature Dachshund all the way up to the Bloodhound. Contact our Customer Service Department or call 888-PET-DOOR today with questions!

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