People in the area of todays Lithuania were breeding and using various hounds since the Middle Ages. These native Lithuanian scent hounds definitely played a role in developing the Lithuanian Hound, which is most likely a result of crossing these native dogs with hunting dogs from the neighboring countries, such as Polish Hunting dogs, but also with other imported European hunting breeds, such as Bloodhounds. It is believed, that the Lithuanian Hound was shaped into the breed we know today since the 16th century and the breed was mentioned in the Statues of Lithuania from 1588.
For centuries, the Lithuanian Hound was unreplaceable hunting companion for Lithuanian people. They were highly valued for their relentlesness, bravery, strength and stamina, persistance and high prey drive. It is very hardy breed, capable of hunting in harsh climate and terrain and also very versatile breed, capable of hunting both small, but also large and dangerous prey in large open areas.
3) Almost extinct
Back in the days, hunting was a necessity for survival in Lithuania and logically, Lithuanian Hounds were very popular and widespread even in the 19th century. But with the urbanisation and lifestyle changes, hunting was not necessity anymore, but rather a hobby, and the numbers of Lithuanian Hounds started to decline. The two World Wars decimated the Lithuanian Hound numbers even more and it is estimated that after the Second World War there was only 78 pure Lithuanian Hounds alive. Enthusiasts rallied to save the breed, and through their efforts, the hound was revived and standardized by the 1960s. Today, the breed is still extremely rare and almost unknown outside Lithuania, but it is not on the verge of extinction anymore.
The Lithuanian Hound is not only a hunter, but also gentle, kind and loyal companion dog. They do have strong prey drive, so they might not be the best fit for household with other pets, but they can live with other dogs or kids in the family. And there are even some Lithuanian Hounds that were socialized with cats, but this is vastly influenced by early socialization. The Lithuanian Hound is very smart and kind of trainable dog, but you will need a lot of patience for the training, it is not a pushover to train. These dogs are beloved for their enthusiastic, playful and energetic nature.
5) Proud Lithuanians
Lithuanians are very proud for having the Lithuanian Hound. There are sculptures of Lithuanian Hound in several Lithuanian cities, such as Vilnius, Klaipėda and Telšiai, which is an evidence of growing popularity of this breed. The Lithuanian Hound was also depicted together with Lithuanian native horse breed (Žemaitukas) on commemorative coins issued by the Bank of Lithuania.
This is a sturdy and heavy boned dog breed with athletic, but still very muscular body. The average height is between 48-60 cm (19-24 in) and weight is usually between 24-30 kg (53-66 lb). Females are naturally slightly smaller than males.
As you can probably expect from a dog breed used for centuries for physically demanding hunting, the Lithuanian Hound is very energetic dog breed with high exercise needs. These dogs need plenty and plenty of rigorous exercise, both physical and mental, to stay healthy and happy. It can be long walks, jogs, hikes, vigorous playtime or fun training sessions, just anything, that will occupy them. These dogs are naturally curious and they will love to go on any outdoor adventure with you. It is important to say, that these dogs are only suited for active people and active families!
8) Coat and color
The coat of Lithuanian Hound is short, thick, sleek and glossy. According to the official breed standard, it must be a black coat with tan marking on chest, ears, snout and forehead. White spot on the chest is allowed as well.
The coat of Lithuanian Hound is very easy for maintenance. It does shed, so regular brushing will help to minimize the shedding by removing all the dead and loose hair and it will also redistribute natural oils all over the coat. But no other grooming, other than brushing, is required. Of course, just like with any other dog breed, you should regularly check their eyes, ears, nails and teeth and clip them or clean them if needed.
The average lifespan of the Lithuanian Hound is between 12-14 years and it is generally hardy and healthy dog breed. The main health issues are associated with joint and bones like hip dysplasia and gastric dilatation, but these problems are associated with all the larger and deep chested dogs. Due to small population of Lithuanian Hounds, there are worries about inbreeding and study from 2008 calculated that the coefficient of inbreeding at 2.09% and relatedness at 6.74%. But overall this is rather healthy dog breed.