The Bavarian Mountain Hound is a breed of scent hound native to Germany. The Bavarian Mountain Hound is primarily used as a blood tracker, which means that the dog is used to trail animals which have already been wounded by a hunter. The breed was originally developed in the 1870’s by the Baron Karg-Bebenburg, Reichenhall. This breed is well-established in its home country, although it remains rare outside of Germany. The Bavarian Mountain Hound is also known as the Bavarian Mountain Dog, Bavarian Mountain Scenthound, Bavarian Bloodhound, Bavarian Blood Tracking Dog, Bavarian Bracke, Bayrischer Gebirgsschweisshund, Bayerischer Gebirgsschweisshund, BBS, and the BMH.
The Bavarian Mountain Hound is a relatively recently created breed which has only been in existence since the 1870’s. However, the breed can trace its ancestry for many centuries. The earliest written records of the inhabitants of modern Bavaria mentioned that they kept hunting dogs. The Celts are known to have kept several different types of hunting dog, as are the Germans. Until very recently, such hunting dogs were exclusively owned by the nobility, to whom hunting was very important. In most places, it was actually illegal for someone not of noble blood to possess hunting dogs or to use them to hunt. Even in those places where criminal penalties were reduced, the nobility were usually the only citizens able to afford to keep large hunting dogs. Because they were so important to them, many nobles kept their own lines of hunting dog. Eventually, dozens of unique localized varieties developed across Western Europe, including in Germany. Among those regions which developed their own unique types were Hannover and Bavaria.
By the 1870’s, the German nobility had already lost a substantial amount of their traditional wealth and power. However, a substantial number still maintained sizable packs. Much like modern breeders, these 19th Century hunters continuously strove to improve the quality of their dogs. One such breeder was the Baron Karl-Bebenburg, Reichenhall, a member of the Bavarian Nobility. The Baron was an avid hunter of deer and other large game. Even an experienced hunter like the Baron is not able to kill every target on the first shot. Occasionally an animal will be able to flee despite severe injuries. In order to finish the hunt, such injured animals must be tracked down. One of the preferred methods of doing so is the use of specialized scent tracking dogs; such dogs are often referred to as blood tracking dogs. Unlike most hunting hounds which are unleashed to pursue their prey freely, blood tracking dogs are usually kept on a leash so that they can be followed closely on foot by the hunters. The Baron wanted to possess some blood tracking dogs for use on his Bavarian estate.
At first, the Baron Karl-Bebenburg, Reichenhall acquired a few Hanoverian Hounds to use as blood trackers. The Hanoverian Hound, named after its native region of Hanover, was one of the best known and popular scenthounds in Germany since the late 1700’s. Although this breed is an extremely successful and talented hunter in many environments across Germany, it was less suited to work in the mountainous regions found in much of Bavaria. The Hanoverian Hound is a relatively large and heavy breed which made it more difficult and slower for these dogs to travel in the mountains. The Baron decided to cross his Hanoverian Hounds with several breeds native to Bavaria and neighboring regions. There is apparently some confusion and dispute as to which other breeds were used in these crosses. Some claim that the Red Mountain Hound was used. Others claim that it was actually the Tiroler Bracke. Several other breeds are less commonly suggested such as the Austrian Black and Tan Hound, other Bracke breeds, and random bred scent hounds. It is also quite possible, and probably likely, that the Baron actually used several different breeds in the development of his lines. Regardless of what exact breeds were used, the resulting Bavarian Mountain Hound came to closely resemble the Hanoverian Hound, but was smaller and lighter than that breed as well as being more adapted for use mountainous terrain.
The newly created Bavarian Mountain Hound quickly stabilized in terms of appearance, temperament, and other qualities. The breed was talented enough as a hunter and so well-adapted to its preferred environment that it gained a sizable number of followers. In 1912, the Klub Bayerischer Gebirgsschweisshund (KBGS) was formed to protect and promote the breeding of pure blooded Bavarian Mountain Hounds. The KBGS has continued to be the primary breed club since that time. Unlike many other European scenthounds, the Bavarian Mountain Hound was able to survive both World Wars. This dog is also unique in that it has continued to be kept primarily as a working hunting dog while many similar breeds have been turned into companion animals.
Throughout the 20th Century, the Bavarian Mountain Hound has maintained its reputation as an excellent blood tracking dog. Until very recently, however, the breed has remained virtually unknown outside of its homeland. Over the last several decades, a few breed members have found their way to other countries. One of the nations where the Bavarian Mountain Hound has found the greatest success is in the United States. There are currently a small number of breeders in the United States that are working to increase the North American population safely and responsibly. However, due to breeding rules established by the KBGS, most of these dogs were not registered. In 1996, the United Kennel Club (UKC) granted full recognition to the Bavarian Mountain Hound as a member of the Scenthound Group. In the fall of 2008, the KBGS-GNA was formed to represent the breed in North America. Dogs registered with the KBGS-GNA will be fully registered with the KBGS. The most recent estimate places the breed’s total American population at around 250 animals, although it is still growing slowly. As is the case in Germany, the vast majority of Bavarian Mountain hounds in the United States are either active or retired hunting dogs, and it appears likely that this situation will continue for the foreseeable future.
The Bavarian Mountain Hound is very similar in appearance to a number of other German scenthound breeds, especially its close relative and ancestor the Hanoverian Hound. The Bavarian Mountain Hound is a medium-sized breed. The average male stands between 18½ and 20½ inches tall at the shoulder while the average female stands between 17 and 19 inches tall. While weight is heavily influenced by gender, build, and condition, most breed members weigh between 44 and 55 pounds. This is a dog that is significantly longer from chest to rump than it is tall from shoulder to floor, although definitely not to the extent of a breed such as a Dachshund or a Basset Hound. The Bavarian Mountain Hound is very athletic breed, and is heavily muscular. Although by no means is this a slightly built breed, it does tend to be considerably more lightly built than many other scenthounds. The tail of the Bavarian Mountain Hound is high-set, medium-in-length, and carried either horizontally or slightly downwards.
The head and face of the Bavarian Mountain Hound are proportional to the size of the dog’s body but are relatively small in comparison to those of most scenthounds. In general, the head and facial features are relatively fine for a scenthound, and are in some ways reminiscent of those present on sighthounds. The Bavarian Mountain Hound’s head is somewhat broad and very slightly arched. The head and muzzle of this breed are only somewhat distinct as they blend in so smoothly. The muzzle itself is slightly shorter than the length of the head, broad enough that it never appears pointed, and either slight or slightly convex. The lips of this breed are slightly pendulous, but nowhere near the extent that would be considered jowly. The nose of the Bavarian Mountain Hound is wide, open-nostriled, and either black or dark red in color. The ears of the Bavarian Mountain Hound are relatively long, rounded at the tips, set high on the head, and relatively broad. The ears droop down close to the sides of the heads, preferably without any twists. The eyes of the Bavarian Mountain Hound are not too large, not to round, and found in varying shades of color. The overall expression of most breed members is clear and alert.
The coat of the Bavarian Mountain Hound is dense, close-fitting, harsh, and exhibits little gloss. The coat is finest on the head and ears and longest and harshest on the belly, legs, and tail. The Bavarian Mountain Hound is found in a number of colors including biscuit, fawn, clear tan through deep red, and reddish grey. Any of these colors may be interspersed with black hair or fully brindled, and all breed members should exhibit black ears and muzzles. The basic color is generally richest on the back. Occasionally, Bavarian Mountain Hounds will be born with differently colored coats such as solid black. Such dogs are penalized in the show ring and should not be bred, but make just as excellent pets or hunting dogs as any other breed member.
The Bavarian Mountain Hound is almost exclusively bred as a working blood tracking dog and has a temperament very similar to most working scenthounds. This breed is known to form extremely close attachments to its family, to whom it is intensely devoted. The Bavarian Mountain Hound wants to be in the constant company of its family, and this breed is known to suffer from severe separation anxiety. Most breed members are extremely affectionate with those they know best, and this is definitely a licker and a tail-wagger. Because this breed is almost never kept as a family dog, there is not much information available on how they are with children. However, it seems likely that this breed would do alright with children if properly trained and socialized with them. The Bavarian Mountain Hound is considered a non-aggressive breed that makes a poor guard dog. However, this breed is often very shy and reserved with strangers. This makes careful socialization extremely important for this breed.
Most Bavarian Mountain Hounds do very well with other dogs when properly trained and socialized. However, this breed is not nearly as dog oriented as many other scenthound breeds, and some individuals can develop aggression issues. Bavarian Mountain Hounds were bred to hunt other animals. As a result, this breed has a strong drive to chase, and potentially attack or kill, other creatures. While most breed members will be trustworthy with other animals that they have been socialized with, some never are.
Like most scenthounds, the Bavarian Mountain Hound presents significant training difficulties. Although this breed is an intelligent problem solver, it is also quite stubborn. This breed often exhibits selective listening, and many are very hard-headed. Most who have worked with these dogs say that they require an experienced and dedicated trainer. In particular, this breed is very difficult to call back when on a trail. This dog was bred to follow a trail to its conclusion regardless of distractions, and should always be kept on a leash when outside of a safely enclosed area.
This is a very athletic breed that is capable of many hours of vigorous physical activity. The Bavarian Mountain Hound will not be satisfied unless it receives a substantial amount of vigorous daily exercise, at least an hour a day. Breed members who are not provided sufficient activity will almost certainly develop behavioral issues such as destructiveness, over excitability, hyperactivity, and excessive barking. The Bavarian Mountain Hound makes an excellent jogging partner, but truly craves an opportunity to run freely in a safely enclosed area. This breed is so driven to work that it is happiest when provided a regular opportunity to hunt or engage in other tasks that exercise the mind as well as the body. All that being said, breed members that have been sufficiently exercised tend to be very calm and relaxed indoors.
The Bavarian Mountain Hound has very low grooming requirements. This breed should never require professional grooming, only an occasional brushing. Owners of these dogs do have to regularly and thoroughly clean their Bavarian Mountain Hound’s ears. Otherwise, their drooping ears will trap dirt, water, food, and other particles which can lead to irritations and infections. There do not seem to be any reports on the shedding of the Bavarian Mountain Hound. It is probably safe to assume that the Bavarian Mountain Hound does shed, and possibly quite heavily.
It does not appear that any comprehensive health studies have been conducted on the Bavarian Mountain Hound which makes it impossible to make any definitive statements about the breed’s health. However, most fanciers seem to believe that the Bavarian Mountain Hound is in good to average health. There is substantial concern among breeders of this dog by recent test results from Slovakia. These results indicate that more than 25% of Bavarian Mountain Hounds in the country are affected by hip dysplasia. Partially because of this, many breeders are now conducted hip and skeletal test on all breed members that are intended to be used for breeding.
Because skeletal and visual problems have been known to occur in this breed, it is highly advisable for owners to have their pets tested by both the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF). The OFA and CERF perform genetic and other tests to identify potential health defects before they show up. This is especially valuable in the detection of conditions that do not show up until the dog has reached an advanced age, making it especially important for anyone considering breeding their dog to have them tested to prevent the spread of potential genetic conditions to its offspring.
Based on what is known about the Bavarian Mountain Hound and related breeds, the following health conditions may be of concern to this breed: