Istrian Wire-haired Hound

Other names: Istarski Ostrodlaki Gonic, Istrian Coarse-haired Hound, Istrian Rough-coated Hound

Istrian Wire-haired Hound
Istrian Wire-haired Hound

The Istrian Coarse-haired Hound originates from the Croatian peninsula of Istria. This breed has been used for hunting game, rabbits and hares over many terrains. He is a medium sized dog, a scent hound, who is thought to be a rare breed. 


Key facts about the Istrian Wire-haired Hound

  • Life expectancy : Between 12 and 14 years
  • Temperament : Affectionate, Playful, Intelligent, Hunter
  • Size : Medium
  • Type of coat : Short, Hard

FCI Group

FCI Group

Group 6 - Scent hounds and related breeds


Section 1 : Scent hounds

Physical characteristics of the Istrian Wire-haired Hound

Adult size

Female dog Between 17 and 22 in
Male dog Between 17 and 22 in


Female dog Between 40 and 44 lb
Male dog Between 40 and 44 lb

Coat colour

The Istrian Coarse-haired Hound should have a “snow-white” coat, with orange-lemon markings on his body and ears. No other coat colour is recognised.

Type of coat

The coat of the Istrian Coarse-haired Hound should be dull and wiry, straight but with a dense undercoat.

Eye colour



This breed can be recognised by its rectangular body shape. His head is rounded with a dark, wide nose and his very muscular legs end in “cat like” feet. The Istrian Coarse-haired Hound has a fur moustache over the bridge of his nose and thin ears that hang close to his cheeks. 



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The Istrian Coarse-haired Hound will form strong attachments with the main person that looks after him, yet over time will show some affection and respect to other family members. 


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As this breed was never intended to be a family companion, he needs plenty of one to one attention with his master. Not really a playful dog. 


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Well-mannered and docile when in the home.


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This dog is of average to high intelligence.


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The Istrian Coarse-haired Hound has a well-developed sense of smell that permits him to track and hunt down game, including foxes, rabbits and hares.

Fearful / wary of strangers

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This dog will certainly try to avoid a meeting with strangers if possible. He tends to be wary around them. 


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This dog can be stubborn and strong-willed.

Behaviour of the Istrian Wire-haired Hound

Tolerates solitude

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The Istrian Coarse-haired Hound does not like to be alone for long periods of time.

Easy to train / obedience

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Obedience and good manners don’t come quite as easily to the Istrian Coarse-haired Hound. Certainly quite stubborn at times, he needs an experienced owner who is able to dedicate time to his training, exercise needs, and socialisation.


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There will be some barking, but not consistent.

Tendency to run away

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As a scent hound, when given the chance, he will give chase after an attractive scent. Recall training is crucial from an early age. 


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This hound doesn’t like to be left alone for long periods of time. If he gets bored, he can become hyperactive and destructive. 

Greedy / Gluttony

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This is a medium sized dog with great stamina. Provided he is fed sufficiently to meet his dietary requirements, he will not be a gluttonous dog. 

Guard dog

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The Istrian Coarse-haired Hound will bark and alert you to someone trying to access your home, but he is not an aggressive guard dog. 

First dog

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Initially bred as a hunting dog, even today he is still mainly kept for this task. He can be quite wilful and stubborn, so may be a challenge for a first-time dog owner.


Istrian Wire-haired Hound in a flat

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It is ill-advised to confine this medium sized dog to a flat or small garden. 

Need for exercise / Sporty

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This dog breed needs a minimum of 60 minutes of vigorous daily exercise. He also needs mentally stimulating tasks to prevent behaviour issues. Hiking and jogging exercises are recommended. 

Travelling / easy to transport

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The Istrian Coarse-haired Hound can travel in a vehicle.


Istrian Wire-haired Hound and cats

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If this dog is going to be kept in a home with other small pets, such as cats, early socialisation is needed, otherwise he will chase them.

Istrian Wire-haired Hound and dogs

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Supervision is required when the Istrian Coarse-haired Hound is around other dogs, unless they have been socialised together from a young age. 

Istrian Wire-haired Hound and children

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This breed makes a poor companion for and tends not to get along well with children. 

Istrian Wire-haired Hound and the elderly

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The Istrian Coarse-haired Hound is a very smart dog, who needs the opportunity to use his brain, with mentally challenging activities and exercises. Not advised for an elderly owner. 


The purchase price of the Istrian Coarse-haired Hound is around £600. In addition, monthly costs for food, vet appointments and pet insurance will be in the region of £80 to £100.


While weekly brushing is advised, this dog’s coat is not prone to becoming matted. The ears can be susceptible to infections, so care must be taken to keep them clean.


The Istrian Coarse-haired Hound does shed seasonally, and quite profusely.

Nutrition of the Istrian Wire-haired Hound

This very active scent hound should be given a high quality, dry feed especially formulated for medium-sized working dogs.

Health of the Istrian Wire-haired Hound

Life expectancy

On the whole, the Istrian Coarse-haired hound has good health. As a hunting dog, bred for skill rather than looks, in-breeding has been kept to a minimum, so genetic health problems are few. He is, however, predisposed to hip dysplasia and ear infections. The average life expectancy for this breed is 12-14 years.

Strong / robust

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When hunting, this hound shows great power and endurance. 

Withstand heat

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The Istrian Coarse-haired Hound can tolerate all temperatures, including warm weather.

Withstand cold

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As an energetic hunting dog, with great stamina, he is used to covering all terrains and in all weather conditions, without issues. 

Tendency to put on weight

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Care must be taken with feeding routines, to ensure that the Istrian Coarse-haired Hound doesn’t become obese.

Common illnesses

Good to know

As is true with many intelligent dog breeds, early training and socialisation is very important. If the dog is to be used for hunting purposes, training routines need to be commenced when the dog is at the puppy stage. Likewise early socialisation is necessary if he is to mix and work with other dogs, or in a home with children or other pets. 

Origins and history

The French Griffon Vendeen scent hound and the Istrian Short-haired Hound were bred together around the middle of the 19th century. This resulting offspring, a longer haired hunting hound, is one of the oldest Balkan hounds. The Istrian Coarse-haired Hound is not an internationally well-known breed and numbers have dwindled in recent years. It is now considered to be a rare breed with the UK Kennel Club.


Azra, Cersei, Vuk, Jak

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