Scent hounds have some physical characteristics in common though the breeds may vary widely in
size. Long, drooping ears serve a useful purpose for these dogs and in some breeds has a distinctive fold or structure. As it follows
a trail the dog lowers its head and the ears catch a wider area of scent and in effect funnels the scent to the wide nostrils. The loose
lips are also thought to aid in trapping scent. Processing the scent is enhanced by large nasal cavities.
Distinctive to the Scent Hounds is the "bay" - the huge booming voice that tells the dog's master that his hound is on the scent. One very
popular hound pet is the beagle and any beagle owner will testify to the power of his dog's bark.
Hound owners learn to identify the various barks/bays of their dog and can
distinguish the sound that says "I found a scent" from the bay that says "here's the prize". The bark of these hounds is necessarily loud
and deep as they often are ranging far beyond their master and this enables the hunter to follow and locate the dog.
Scent Hounds don't need to be fast but they do need endurance as tracking may go on for hours at a time. They are the sturdiest of the
hound group. Speed is not an asset for these canines as too much speed can cause prey to head for the hills. Much better for a hunt
is a Bassett Hound that will plod along with his nose to the ground and lead the hunter to the prey's location.
When people think of hounds, they usually think of Bloodhounds. These large sad-looking dogs are famous for their ability to follow a scent
through ground cover, air and even across water. A Bloodhound is never happier than when he is following a good scent and can often find
scent trails that are days old.
Legends are built around individual Bloodhounds who have rescued hundreds of lost hikers and children and some are known to have followed scent
trails for more than 50 miles and trails up to two weeks old. An Otterhound has large ears that effectively drape its face to funnel
scent to its nose. This allows the dog to catch a scent of prey even though it is under water.
Originally used in packs for hunting, Scent Hounds are often now most useful for finding lost people, escaped prisoners, and locating contraband
or bombs. Breed sizes vary widely. Longer legged, faster hounds hunted in packs with men on horseback. Smaller bassets and
beagles were used by hunters on foot.
These dogs almost always have a gentle nature and sweet temperament and are suitable for pets with some reservations.
Instinct tells them to follow scent trails - and they will do that. When on a good trail of scent, the dog will not realize boundaries
or traffic dangers and may not even hear commands as his focus is on the smell. The big voice of these dogs can be disturbing to
neighbors as this is a noise meant to be heard. Most breeds are not inveterate barkers but the sound is not easy to ignore.
Scent Hound Breeds
Bavarian Mountain hound
Black and Tan Coonhound
Treeing Walker Coonhound
Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen
Grand Bleu de Gascogne
Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen
Sean Dewar – Smellhound