The Transylvanian Hound is an ancient dog breed of Hungary, historically primarily used for hunting. It is a strong, medium-sized scent hound, characterized by a black body, with tan and sometimes white markings on the muzzle, chest and extremities, and distinctive tan eyebrow spots. It has a high-pitched bark for a dog of its size. The breed was rescued from extinction by focused breeding efforts in the late 20th century. There were formerly two varieties, the long-legged and short-legged, developed for different kinds of hunting in the Middle Ages. Only the long-legged strain survives.
The ancestors of the Transylvanian Hound came with the invading Magyar tribes in the ninth century, who brought in hounds and crossed them with local varieties and with Polish hounds.
The dog was the favourite of the Hungarian aristocracy during the breed’s peak in the Middle Ages, for hunting various game animals Two height varieties developed to hunt different game in different types of terrain, and both varieties were kept together. The long-legged variety was used for hunting woodland and grassland big game, such as European bison, bear, boar, and lynx. The short-legged variety was used for hunting fox, hare, and chamois is overgrown or rocky terrain.
The breed declined, and was marginalised to the Carpathian woodlands, shrinking with the growth of agriculture and forestry. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the breed was nearly extinct, and not recognised and standardised by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) until 1963. In 1968, efforts began to save it. Today, a substantial number of the long-legged variety of the dogs may be found in both Hungary and neighboring Romania. However, only the long-legged variety remains.
The Transylvanian Hound is, naturally, recognised by the national dog breeding and fancier group, the Hungarian Kennel Club (using the FCI breed standard). The breed was recognised with a breed standard by one US-based group, the United Kennel Club (UKC), in 2006. The more prominent American Kennel Club publishes no standard for it, though the organisation at least provisionally recognises its existence, announcing its acceptance in 2015 into the AKC Foundation Stock Service Program, for breeders hoping to establishing it in the United States.
The body is slightly longer than tall in proportion. The chest is wide, long and not too deep. The tip of the sternum does not extend. The withers are pronounced and the top line is straight. The croup is slightly sloping and there is a stick-up light. The coat is short, smooth, dense and flat. It is rough to the touch and shiny and may have ridges or strands. There is a lower layer.
Intelligent, curious and protective, the Transylvanian Hound also serves as an admirable watchdog. It has very keen instincts, however, and knows the difference between real danger and a letter carrier, for example. Once a friend or stranger is welcomed into the house, the Transylvanian Hound relaxes and becomes more social.