1) Two types
There are two varieties of the Istrian Hound, and main difference between them is the coat length and structure. There are other slight differences as well, for example the size and slight differences in temperament, but overall, both varieties are extremely similar. The older type is the Istrian Shorthaired Hound and the second type is the Istrian Coarse-haired Hound.
2) Istrian Shorthaired Hound
It is believed that the Istrian Shorthaired Hound has a long history, dating back hundreds of years. Sadly, there is not much documentation about the history of this breed, but dogs similar to Istrian Hound are depicted on various paintings and frescoes at least since the 15th century. The ancestor of this breed is most likely an old type of the “East Adriatic white hound with markings”. One of the first written descriptions of Istrian Hound are from the beginning of the 18th century from the manuscript of the Bishop Peter Bakic, where he among other things mentions, that breeding of Istrian Hounds was already known before the 14th century, so it really is very old dog breed, which is used for centuries for hunting purposes. This breed is also known as Istarski Kratkodlaki Gonič.
3) Istrian Coarse-haired Hound
The younger of the two breed types is the Istrian Coarse-haired Hound, which was actually developed from the Shorthaired Hound, which is its main ancestor. In the mid 19th century, the Istrian Shorthaired Hound was crossed with the rough haired French Griffon Vendeen, from which it inherited the shaggy, wiry and rough coat, but it inherited most of other appearance and temperamental traits from the Istrian Shorthaired Hound.. This breed is also known as Istarski Ostrodlaki Gonič. The main difference between the Istrian Hounds lies in the type of the hair, but the Coarsehaired Hound is also slightly larger dog with more robust appearance.
So as you already know, the main utilization of the Istrian Hound is hunting. These dogs are typically hunting by scent in pack of dogs and they show amazing endurance and power on the hunt. They have high prey drive and Istrian Hounds are absolutely enthusiastic into this purpose. They just love it. They can hunt all kinds of game, for example hare, fox or even wild boar. They are also known to use their deep booming voice on the hunt to alert the hunters, so they know where they has found the prey. And even today, these dogs are still very often used and kept for hunting, rather than typical companion pets.
But that does not mean that they are not good companions! Of course they make wonderful loyal and playful companion dogs. They are generally pretty calm and balanced dogs with loyal, pretty obedient and docile temperament. These dogs are known to be pretty alert and wary of strangers and it typically take a while before they accept a stranger as a friend. They are also not good for families with other household pets, since they might chase and hunt them. The Istrian Hound is known to create extremely strong bond to its owner, which makes it truly very devoted and faithful companion dog.
As i already mentioned earlier in this video, the coarse-haired Istrian Hound is slightly larger than the shorthaired Istrian Hound. The difference is not extremely large and on average, these dogs have height around 50 cm, which is 20 inch and weight is usually around 19 or 20 kg, which is approximately 43 lbs. Females tends to be slightly smaller than males.
For a hunting dog, the exercise needs of the Istrian Hound are not extremely large, but it is still a hunting dog, which means, especially if not used for actual hunting, they need several daily longer walks accompanied with some playtime, jogs or fun training sessions to stay healthy and happy. Once they are provided with enough exercise, they tend to be pretty calm at home. So even though they do not require tons of daily exercise, they are definitely not coach potatoes and the Istrian Hound is much better suited for active owners.
Both Istrian Hound breeds has the same coloration, which is one the main distinquishing mark of this breed. The Istrian Hound comes in great looking combination of the white coat with bright orange or lemon patches and markings.
Speaking of the coat, it is important to mention the maintenance as well and of course, it slightly differs according to the coat type. While the shorthaired Istrian Hound is considered very low maintenance breed, which only needs brushing from time to time to keep the coat in excellent condition. The Istrian Coarse-haired Hound needs little bit more brushing, to keep the coat mat and tangle free. Both types do shed some deal of fur all year long, more heavily seasonally and regular brushing is also very beneficial to minimize the shedding. Just like with any other breed, you should also regularly check their eyes, ears, nails and teeth and clip them or clean them if needed.
Great fact is, that the Istrian Hound is generally very healthy dog breed with average lifespan somewhere around 13 or 14 years. There is not much information about the dogs health, but most owners say that they are not predisposed to serious health issues. Of course they can ocassionally still suffer from the same health issues as similar breeds, such as some joint problems, ear infections or bloating, but it is nothing very common in this breed.