The Estonian Hound: Everything You Need to Know

The Estonian Hound is a very recent addition to the dogdom. The breed has a medium-sized muscular body, a friendly disposition, and an active personality.  

In this article, we will explain everything you need to know about the Estonian Hound, from its history and origin to its temperament and health issues.

History and Origin of the Estonian Hound

The Estonian Hound, also known as the Eesti Hagijas, is a relatively new breed that originated in Estonia in the 20th century. The breed was developed through a combination of local and foreign hounds.

The Soviet Influence on the Breed’s Development

The Estonian Hound was developed in 1947 when the Soviet Union’s Ministry of Agriculture and Economy gave every Soviet Republic an ultimatum – to develop a locate hunting dog breed. 

The goal was to replace the existing large hunting dogs that were blamed for the rapid decline of the local wildlife population. The Ministry ordered that dogs used for hunting should be less than 17 inches tall. 

Breeders in Estonia crossed local hunting dogs with imported hounds and created the Estonian Hound. When Estonia became an independent country, it names the breed its national dog. 

The Estonian Hound’s Role in Estonian Culture

The Estonian Hound is deeply ingrained in Estonian culture and is considered a national treasure. The breed is highly prized for its hunting and tracking abilities, and it is often featured in art, literature, and music.

Many Estonians view the breed as a symbol of national pride and identity. The Estonian Hound is a testament to the resilience and determination of the Estonian people, who have overcome many challenges throughout their history.

Physical Characteristics and Appearance

Size and Weight

The Estonian Hound is a medium-sized dog. Males typically stand 18 to 20 inches tall at the shoulder, while females are slightly smaller and stand 17 to 19 inches tall at the shoulder. Both genders weigh around 33 to 40 pounds. 

Despite the medium size, Estonian Hounds are impressively strong and agile. They have a muscular build and powerful legs, which give them the ability to traverse difficult terrains with ease.

Coat and Colors

The Estonian Hound has a short but dense coat that is protective and easy to groom. The coat comes in two accepted color options, including:  

  • Tricolor: white with black and red markings
  • Bicolor: white and yellow or white and red

The Estonian Hound’s coat is relatively low-maintenance, but it requires regular brushing to stay healthy. Additionally, occasional bathing is essential to remove dirt from the coat. 

Distinctive Features

One of the most distinctive features of the Estonian Hound is its long, floppy ears, which help to trap scents and aid in tracking. In fact, the breed has an exceptional sense of smell.

In addition to their ears, Estonian Hounds are also known for their expressive eyes, which are typically dark brown or hazel in color. Their eyes are set wide apart and give the breed an intelligent and curious expression.

Temperament and Personality Traits

The Estonian Hound has a friendly and social personality. It is affectionate and loyal to its families and enjoys spending time with them. This breed is also very energetic and suitable for active individuals and families.

Energy Levels and Exercise Needs

The Estonian Hound requires plenty of exercise and mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy. Daily walks and playtime are essential to prevent boredom and destructiveness. 

The Estonian Hound is also known for its love of outdoor activities such as hiking, running, and swimming. They provide not only physical exercise but also mental stimulation, which is important for overall well-being.

Socialization and Friendliness

The Estonian Hound is a friendly and social breed that enjoys spending time with its family and other dogs. Proper socialization is essential, however, as the breed is prone to shyness if not exposed to different people and situations.

Early socialization helps Estonian Hounds develop into confident and well-adjusted dogs. Without socialization, the breed is not suitable for households with small pets because it has a strong prey drive. 

Intelligence and Trainability

The Estonian Hound is an intelligent breed that responds well to positive reinforcement training methods. They are quick learners and can be trained with praise and treats.

However, breed members can also be independent and stubborn at times, so it’s essential to establish firm leadership during training. Basic obedience training, leash training, and recall commands are vital. 

Health and Lifespan

The Estonian Hound is a relatively healthy breed, but like all breeds, they are prone to certain health issues. Proper preventative care and regular checkups with a veterinarian can help ensure a long and healthy life for your furry friend.

Common Health Issues

The Estonian Hound is prone to several health conditions, such as:

  • Hip and Elbow Dysplasia: Genetic conditions that affect the joints and can cause pain, early onset arthritis, and mobility issues
  • Ear Infections: The breed is prone to infections of the ears, usually caused by the ear canal’s tendency to trap dirt and moisture 
  • Dental Issues: Breed members are susceptible to plaque and tartar buildup, which eventually results in periodontal (gum) disease

Preventative Care and Regular Checkups

Veterinary care is essential for keeping your Estonian Hound healthy. This includes regular vaccinations, parasite prevention, and bi-annual wellness exams.

During a wellness exam, the vet will perform a thorough physical examination, check for any signs of illness or disease, and provide recommendations for maintaining your dog’s health.

Expected Lifespan

The average lifespan of the Estonian Hound is 12 to 15 years. However, with proper care, they can live well into their late teens.

Providing your dog with a healthy diet, regular exercise, and plenty of love and attention can help ensure a long and happy life for your furry friend.


The Estonian Hound is a loyal and beloved breed with great significance for the Estonian people. With its friendly personality and impressive hunting skills, it makes an excellent companion.

By understanding the breed’s history, physical traits, temperament, and health concerns, you’ll be better equipped to care for and appreciate the unique and remarkable Estonian Hound.

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