The Bavarian Mountain Dog is specialized in tracking injured big game following the trace of blood they lose after being shot. This hunting discipline comes from the Middle Age. The weapons used than were imprecise and the animals were frequently wounded and not killed so the dogs were necessary to track them. Gaston Phébus wrote in 1387:
“It is a great amusement and a really nice hunt when you have a tracking dog and a good dog for the blood…”
The Germans were really meticulous in order not to lose any preys and developed a technique for which they bred resistant dogs with a great sense of smell, a strong bone structure, dropping ears and a steady temperament. This dogs were medium sized and reliable. The Bavarian Mountain Dog was developed in the 19th century crossbreeding specimens of the Hannoversche Schweißhund breed and hunting dogs from the Montes Alpes. The result was a hunting dog ideal for the work in the mountains. In 1912 the “Klub für Bayrische Gebirgsschweißhunde” was founded in Munich. Afterwards this breed started gaining popularity in Austria and Hungary.
The Bavarian Mountain Hound’s head is strong and elongated. The skull is relatively broad and slightly domed. It has a pronounced stop and a slightly curved nosebridge. The muzzle should be broad with solid jaws, and its lips fully covering mouth. Its nose is black or dark red with wide nostrils. Its ears are high set and medium in length. They are broader at the base and rounded at the tips, hanging heavily against the head. Its body is slightly longer than it is tall and slightly raised at the rump. The neck medium in length, strong, with a slight dewlap. Topline sloping slightly upward from withers to hindquarters. Chest well-developed, long, moderately wide and well let-down with a slight tuck-up. It has a long, fairly straight croup and solid back. While its tail is set on high, medium in length and hanging to the hock, carried level to the ground or hanging down.
Bavarian Mountain Hounds weigh between 20 to 25 kg, males are 47 to 52 cm (18.5 – 20.5 in) high, while females are 44 to 48 cm (17-19 in).
The coat is short, thick and shiny, lying very flat against the body and moderately harsh. It is finer on the head and ears, harsher and longer on the abdomen, legs and tail. Its coat can come in all shades of black-masked fawn or brindle.
Bavarian Mountain hounds are neither reserved nor aggressive but can appear distant. They are keen, intelligent, calm (although they can be quite vocal!) and absolutely devoted to their masters, sometimes to the point where they may appear shy with strangers. However, be warned – when hunting you may be confronted with a different dog.
On the trail they become determined, fast, agile and very brave and because of their strong hunting instinct they require an experienced handler. Care should be taken when in open spaces; any off-lead work should be considered very carefully as, like other scent hound, the Bavarian will forget all about you if there’s a tasty trail to follow.
The Bavarian Mountain is not suited for city life. It is in regular need of space and exercise and also requires regular brushing. They are not dogs for the casual hunter. Most are owned and used by foresters and game wardens.