I had never heard of a Bavarian Mountain Hound before my partner, Anton, broached the subject of getting one. We already had two black Labradors, a terrier and two cats. As far as I was concerned, our animal family was complete.
All our animals worked. The two Labradors worked with Anton during bird season for retrieving pheasants, woodcock, snipe and duck. The terrier would catch any rats around our farmhouse and the cats caught mice and left their headless bodies on our front step. Anton, however, felt there was place for one more animal in our pack; a Bavarian Mountain Hound to help him track live and wounded deer during deer season. Similar to a Beagle in size but reddish-brown in color with a black face, it has a short coat and weighs about 70 lbs when fully grown. Hunters use this breed when they are tracking deer to shoot or when they wound a deer but it is still able to run. They are bred for tracking deer across mountains in Bavaria and can track a wounded deer for miles.
I took a lot of persuading. The animals we had already were costly and very hard, albeit rewarding, work. Bavarian Mountain Hounds are relatively new to Ireland, so it was difficult to find other people to ask questions about the breed. I researched as much as I could online and while I didn’t find anything objectionable about them, I still wasn’t sold. Due to them being a rare breed in Ireland, we knew that if we wanted one, we would have to go on a waiting list. Anton made some preliminary calls and to his disappointment, found there was only a handful of breeders in Ireland and their puppies were all booked for that year. I was relieved because it meant I had more time to make sure that this was the breed for us. I had a few specific concerns about the breed. Firstly, we live in a rural community and I had read that they were unreliable off lead if they caught a scent. We let our dogs run freely around our home often and I was afraid a Bavarian Mountain Hound would run too far afield, or worse, chase neighboring sheep.
We went about our lives and put the dog out of our minds. A few weeks passed when a breeder from Northern Ireland got in contact with Anton. He had been let down by someone who had booked a male puppy and wanted to know if we would be interested. We talked it over for a few days and Anton had some long conversations with the breeder and eventually we decided to go for it. The puppy was eight weeks old when we decided we wanted him. The breeder recommended we name him now and collect him when he was sixteen weeks, that way he could do some preliminary training with him. He also invited Anton up for a day to do some hunting so he could see the mother and father work. We were both happy with this arrangement and decided to call our new addition Riley.
A few weeks later, Anton made the long trek to Northern Ireland to collect Riley. He met his mother Heidi and his father Alfie and spent some time with the breeder learning about our new pet. When they arrived home, I met Riley at the door and fell in love instantly. Gangly and shy at first, he followed me into the living room and crawled up into my lap.
Riley definitely was not what I expected the breed to be. All the research I did before we brought him home was useful, but I had so much more to learn. He was adorable, as all puppies are, with his big dark face and long clumsy legs. We kept him by our sides for the first few days as we had done with all our puppies. Unlike our other puppies, Riley was very calm and not prone to the random bursts of excitement we had experienced with the Labradors and terriers. He loved our company and contrary to the mad Beagle type dog I was expecting, he was lazy and loved to lounge by the fire. At night, he went to his pen in our shed beside the other dogs and didn’t cry or bark. It was a far cry from the separation anxiety all our other dogs had experienced and in short, I couldn’t believe our luck.
Our first insight into the negative traits of the breed was a few days after we brought Riley home. He was so calm and didn’t seem to suffer from anxiety at being in the pen at night, so we thought nothing of leaving him alone in our living room while we went to do our shopping. We pulled our curtains so the cats couldn’t tease him at the window and left on our short trip. This was a big mistake. When we returned home, I noticed straight away that the curtains were now open. On closer inspection, they weren’t open. They had been ripped in half. Yes, our wonderful, calm, placid, puppy was in fact a normal puppy after all.
Riley is nearly a year old now and the Bavarian Mountain Hound is my favorite breed of dog. He is loyal, smart and a fantastic hunting companion to Anton. They tracked many deer together this season and while he is lazy and loves to lounge by the fire at home, when hunting, he is dedicated and engaged and can go for miles. As he demonstrated by destroying my beautiful curtains, he hates being on his own and is very destructive when left inside alone for any length of time. As I write this he is curled up beside me with his head on my shoulder. He is fiercely loyal and loving to his owners, as is typical of the breed. He gets along with the other dogs but he definitely sees himself as more of a human than a dog and seeks out human companionship above canine. His hunting instinct means the poor cats get chased if they cross his path, but he is gentle and loving with children. He’s no guard dog, where the Labradors and terrier will bark the house down if they hear someone outside, he will barely lift his head from the bed.
If you are considering adding a Bavarian Mountain Hound to your family, there are a few things you should seriously consider. Do you have an interest in hunting? These dogs are scent driven and it is in their nature to hunt. They enjoy tracking above all other forms of play and exercise. Do you have plenty of time to spend with the dog on a daily basis? This breed adore their owners and get very upset when they can’t be with them. Can you commit to loving and caring for a dog for approximately fourteen years? If you can answer yes to these questions and decide to adopt a Bavarian Mountain Hound, you will find yourself a loyal and loving companion for years to come. Adding Riley to our family was one of the best decisions we have ever made, I hope this article helps you to make the right decision for your animal family.