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With an acute sense of smell and passion for trailing prey, the Small Swiss Hound is an outstanding hunting dog. This affectionate, lively breed also makes a great companion for people who can provide consistent training and plenty of exercise.
As the name suggests, the Small Swiss Hound is a smaller version of the original Swiss Hound. Hunters developed the breed at the beginning of the 20th century by crossing Swiss Hounds with Basset Hounds. This new shorter breed was better able to hunt in enclosed grounds called shoots.
Like the original Swiss Hound, the Small Swiss Hound comes in four color varieties and has the same melodious howl. The first breed club formed in 1905, and United Kennel Club recognized the breed in 2006.
The Small Swiss Hound is a small, rectangular-shaped dog with a noble head and alert expression.
Small Swiss Hounds have a short, dense coat that is usually smooth—though the Bernese variety can have a rough coat. Though all varieties have very fine hair on the head and ears, they differ in coat color.
The Bernese variety is white with black patches and tan markings around the face. Jura Small Swiss Hounds are tan with a black blanket and black or tan markings on the face. Lucernes are "blue," with a combination of black and white hairs and heavy speckling, black patches or saddle, and tan markings on the face. And Schwyz Small Swiss Hounds are white with orange patches or saddle.
Small Swiss Hounds have long, narrow heads that widen around the eyes—which are oval-shaped and friendly. Like many hounds, these dogs have long, low-set pendulous ears. And their medium-length tails curve slightly upward.
When hunting, Small Swiss Hounds are energetic working dogs. But at home, these little pups make affectionate companions.
Despite their size, Small Swiss Hounds have big personalities and lively dispositions. Usually friendly with people, these calm and playful dogs are a good fit for active families that can put in the time to exercise them adequately. However, if they get bored, they may become destructive or engage in other undesirable behaviors.
Because of their hunting and tracking instincts, Small Swiss Hounds aren't typically good with small animals. When they see a little animal, their desire to chase takes over. Small Swiss Hounds can also be very vocal. Their melodious singing can be entertaining, but may not make them an ideal fit for apartment living.
Small Swiss Hounds do best on a diet formulated for their activity level, breed size, and life stage (e.g., puppy, adult, senior).
Monitor their food intake to keep them from eating too many calories. And don't forget to account for treats. Even a couple of extra snacks can cause a little dog like the Small Swiss Hound to gain weight. As a rule, treats should make up no more than 10% of their calories.
Small Swiss Hounds have short hair that is relatively easy to maintain. Regularly brushing to remove loose hair and dirt is typically all that's needed to keep their coats looking and feeling their best.
Because of their long ears, Small Swiss Hounds may be more prone to ear infections. Check their ears regularly for dirt or wax build-up, and clean them as needed. Nail trims and dental care—including at-home teeth brushing and professional dental cleanings—should also be part of their routine care.
Small Swiss Hounds are active working dogs that require daily physical and mental exercise. These happy dogs love playtime with their humans, as well as long walks and hikes. They also enjoy tracking and nose work competitions that allow them to show off their excellent sense of smell.
Hardworking and intelligent, Small Swiss Hounds are typically easy to train. They respond best to positive reinforcement. So, try using treats or a favorite toy to reward desired behaviors.
Because Small Swiss Hounds have a strong prey drive, early socialization is critical. Introducing your puppy to different people, places, and pets will help them develop into a well-adjusted adult dog.