It is generally accepted that they are descendants of hounds from Eastern Europe, which were brought to Sweden by soldiers returning home in the 17th or 18th century.
We know for certain that dogs similar to the Gotlandsstövare were present on the Gotland island in the 19th century. In the 1920s, the Gotlandsstövare was officially recognized by the Swedish Kennel Club. However, only 10 years later, it was decided to classify the Gotlandsstövare as a yellowish-brown variety of the Smalandsstovare. Then, in 1934, the kennel club changed its mind once again and declared that the Gotlandsstövare would be part of the Hamiltonstovare breed.
Although Hamiltonstovare dogs were not typically born with yellowish coats, the majority of these dogs were born on the Swedish island of Gotland, which led people to refer to them as Gotlandsstövare. Unfortunately, due to the dwindling number of Gotlandsstövare breeders, the breed's population declined significantly, nearly leading to its extinction.
Finally, in the 1990s, the breed regained its recognition as a distinct breed. However, the population remains very small, and the Gotlandsstövare is still considered very rare and even endangered.
Because of this confused history of the breed and because of the fact, that it was always bred more for its function and utilization rather than for appearance, the appearance of Gotlandsstövare can vary quite a bit. But in general this is medium sized dog breed with rectangular body and noble and elegant appearance.
On average, their height ranges from 44 to 56 cm (17 to 22 inches), and they typically weigh around 20 kg (44 lbs). Females are naturally slightly smaller than males.
Other typical appearance characteristics include beautiful dark brown, almond-shaped eyes, a flat and strong back, sturdy legs, and triangular drop ears.
The coat is short, dense and close lying. The coat color is something between yellowish red or yellowish brown and they have symmetrical white spots on the chest, paws, legs and nose.
The Gotlandsstövare is primarily a hunting dog breed, having been bred for generations for this purpose. They excel in hunting with their superb nose and tracking ability. They are vocal, loyal to their hunter, highly enduring, and agile. And most importantly, they just love the hunt, they are absolutely passionate about it.
However, they are not just hunters; they also make loving companion dogs. They adore their families and have a gentle temperament, which makes them suitable for living with kids. Nonetheless, it is important to never leave a young child unsupervised with any dog breed. They can easily socialize with other dogs, but other household pets might pose a problem due to the Gotlandsstövare's high prey drive.
This breed is energetic and thrives on long outdoor walks, hikes, vigorous playtime, and enjoyable training sessions. They require a sufficient amount of exercise; otherwise, they may develop problematic behavior, such as excessive barking.
Health and grooming
The Gotlandsstövare is a relatively low-maintenance dog breed. Occasional brushing is enough to keep their coat in good condition, removing loose hair and redistributing natural oils. No additional grooming is necessary. As with any dog breed, it is important to regularly check their eyes, ears, nails, and teeth, and clip them or clean them as needed.
While there are no official health studies on this breed, it is generally considered to be healthy and hardy, with an average lifespan of around 14 years. They may occasionally experience hip dysplasia, and other far less uncommon health issues such as epilepsy, allergies, or eye problems may arise.