The Russian Hound, also known as the Russkaja Gončaja, is a breed of scent hound from Russia with a history that goes back centuries. They were the smellers used to track and flush out game, often paired with the Borzoi sighthounds which would then take up the chase. The Russian Hound was developed in Russia, possibly from a mix of imported hounds from the Central Asian countries and local dogs. The breed was refined over the centuries to be excellent hunting dogs, able to withstand the harsh Russian weather and terrain. The Russian Hound was initially bred to hunt a variety of game, from hares to foxes, and even larger game like boar and deer. Its ability to track scent over vast distances, along with its incredible stamina, made it a highly valued breed for hunters.
Russian Hounds are known to be generally healthy dogs, but as a larger breed they are at risk for developing orthopedic problems, such as hip and elbow dysplasia. Genetic testing is recommended, including for the following specific conditions: hyperuricosoria, degenerative myelopathy, and progressive rod-cone degeneration.
Russian Hounds are known for their intelligence, courage, and determination, traits which made them excellent hunting dogs. They are also known to be calm and even-tempered, making them potentially good family pets. However, due to their hunting origins, they may have a high prey drive, and therefore require a good amount of exercise and mental stimulation. They can be reserved with strangers but are usually loyal and affectionate with their families.
Russian Hounds are well-respected in their homeland, and have even been featured on Russian postage stamps.
Despite their robust nature and adaptability to harsh weather, Russian Hounds have a surprisingly soft, musical bark, which they use to alert their handler to the presence of game.
The Russian Hound is one of the few breeds that have "double dewclaws" – an extra claw on the rear legs.