The Spanish Hound Temperament: Independent but Devoted

The Spanish Hound temperament is not for everyone. He is an exceptional scenthound from Spain who is also called the Sabueso Español.



He can be independent and willful, but he is also devoted and affectionate. In the right hands, he can make a wonderful family companion.

Spanish Hound Temperament

1. Intelligent

Like most hunting dogs, the Spanish Hound is smart and learns easily.

2. Independent

He has a history of hunting alone or with only one or two other dogs. Because of this, the Spanish Hound temperament is quite independent.

3. Affectionate

He is a loving dog, though, and does enjoy spending time with his human family.

4. Even-tempered

The Spanish Hound temperament is calm and gentle when he’s not working. He’s a good family companion once he accepts that he’s not in charge.

5. Loyal

The Spanish Hound tends to be devoted to his family members.

6. Lively

The Spanish Hound temperament is enthusiastic and lively. He can be playful with kids, but he does not do well with rough play or teasing. He needs to be supervised around small children.

7. Sociable

The Spanish Hound enjoys human interaction. In the right hands, he is a good companion dog.

8. Courageous

He is a very brave hunter. He has traditionally worked hunting bear and wild boar, and he doesn't back down.

9. Temperamental

The Spanish Hound temperament can be cheerful and lively, but he can also be moody. When not working, he may or may not wish to follow commands. He needs a firm and consistent leader.

10. Stubborn

The Spanish Hound can be willful. It’s not always easy to deal with this part of the Spanish Hound temperament.

11. High Prey Drive

He is a scenthound, after all. He may leave house pets alone if you train him to. But he is always going to chase an interesting scent when he can.

Spanish Hound History

The Sabueso Español is an ancient breed of hunting dog. Historians believe his history goes back as far as the Middle Ages on the Iberian Peninsula.

The breed is mentioned in literature going back to the 1300s. For most of its existence, this dog has been used to hunt deer and wild boar.

Interestingly, the breed appears to have originated in France, though no one knows for sure. It was known there as the Chien Courant Espagnol. It likely descended from St. Hubert Hounds (Bloodhounds).

Once there were two size variants of this dog: the Sabueso Español de Monte (or Large Spanish Hound) and the Español Lebrero (Small Spanish Hound). The Lebrero is now extinct.

As with most European breeds, war took its toll on the Sabueso Español. The breed also became less popular as hunters switched to German and English hunting breeds.

By the end of the Spanish Civil War, this breed was near extinction.

In more recent years, the Spaniard Antonio Lopez Milan began selectively breeding the Spanish Hound back to its original form. In 1982, the breed standard was written.

The Spanish Hound was accepted by the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) in 1996. The United Kennel Club (UKC) accepted the breed in 1957.

This breed is still used for hunting in Spain, but it is not as popular as it once was. These days, it hunts mainly smaller game such as rabbit and fox.

Spanish Hound Training

The Spanish Hound is a training challenge for most people. He can be moody and stubborn. He does become attached to his owner, but he’s not likely to be blindly obedient.

This dog needs a firm, no-nonsense leader. But firmness needs to be balanced with positive reinforcement training methods. This isn’t always an easy balance to find.

Because of the Spanish Hound traits of willfulness and intelligence, training sessions should be short and fun. Otherwise, he may get bored and refuse to cooperate.

He also needs socializing to other dogs and to children.

This breed is not a good choice for a first-time dog owner or a sedentary family.

Helpful Dog Training Resource:

For help with training your Spanish Hound dog, you should take a look at The Online Dog Trainer by Doggy Dan. Doggy Dan is an expert Dog Trainer based in New Zealand. His online resource contains Hundreds of Excellent Dog Training Videos that will take you step-by-step through the process of developing a healthy, happy well-behaved dog.

Spanish Hound Appearance

General Appearance

The Spanish Hound is a medium-sized dog. His body is rectangular, slightly longer than it is tall. He has thick, elastic skin and possibly wrinkles in his forehead area.

His coat is short, dense, and smooth. Spanish Hound color is white with orange or reddish patches.

His head is slightly long for his body size. The skull is dome-shaped. His skull and muzzle lengths are equal.

He has long, pendulous ears that hang below the nose. They are soft and twist into a corkscrew.

His eyes are medium-sized, almond-shaped, and dark. He has a noble expression. The neck is muscular and broad with a dewlap.

He has a well-developed chest with rounded ribs and a long, broad back. His legs are angulated, powerful, and muscular.

His tail is tapered to a paint-brush tip. He carries it like a saber.

Spanish Hound Size

Average Spanish Hound weight is 55 to 65 for males and 50 to 60 for females.

Spanish Hound height averages 20-1/2 to 22-1/2 inches for males and 19 to 21 inches for females.

Spanish Hound Information

Other Names

  • Sabueso Español.
  • Sabueso Español de Monte.
  • Great Spanish Hound.
  • Large Spanish Hound.
  • Small Spanish Hound (or Español Lebrero), now extinct.

Spanish Hound Lifespan

The life expectancy of this breed is 12 to 14 years.

Hunting with a Spanish Hound

The Spanish Hound was once considered a boar specialist who hunted on a leash. He now hunts mostly small game, but he is still brave enough to face a wild boar or a bear.

This dog needs very little training to be an exceptional hunting partner. He wants nothing more than to do what comes naturally.

He has remarkable stamina and can run for miles without tiring.

The Spanish Hound has a booming voice that changes as he hunts to keep the hunter apprised of his progress. This makes for unusually close communication and teamwork between the dog and the hunter.

He inherited exceptional scenting ability from his Bloodhound ancestors. These days, Spanish Hounds are used for drug- and bomb-detecting work and as search-and-rescue dogs.

Spanish Hound Health Issues

This breed is very healthy and has no breed-specific health conditions. However, he is somewhat prone to a few that are not uncommon in hunters and other working dogs.

  • Hip dysplasia. This is a malformation of the ball-and-socket joint of a dog’s hip. It can lead to lameness, arthritis, and inability to walk.
  • Ear infections. This is very common in dogs with pendulous ears. Their ears need to be kept clean and dry.
  • Bloat. This is also called torsion or volvulus. It’s a medical emergency where the dog’s stomach becomes twisted and creates a blockage.

Helpful Dog Health Resource:

Note: if you agree that your health and your dog's health should be a top priority then get a copy of The Ultimate Guide to Dog Health. Your Spanish Hound friend will love you for it. This guide will help save you money, time and most of all help you keep your dog healthy.

Caring for the Spanish Hound

Spanish Hound Grooming

The Spanish Hound is fairly low-maintenance. He needs regular brushing and only occasional baths.

The primary care issue for the Spanish Hound is his keeping his ears clean and dry. They are a perfect environment for parasites and bacteria.

Spanish Hound Diet

A Spanish Hound would do well on any high-quality dry food. However, if he is living a hunting life, you may want to consider a high-performance or working-dog formula.

You would need to keep an eye on his weight to be sure he is getting enough exercise if you choose this diet.

Spanish Hound Exercise

This is a hunting breed with a high energy level. He needs a lot of exercise. He also needs room to run freely, so he does not make a good apartment or city dog.

This dog needs a large fenced-in yard. As a scenthound, he will wander off to follow his nose if you don’t keep him contained.

As an intelligent hunting breed, this dog needs to be kept busy. He needs both physical and mental stimulation.

Otherwise, you will see some destructive Spanish Hound behaviors. You may also have to deal with excessive barking.

If you don’t hunt your Spanish Hound, there are other options. You may want to consider organized hunting trials or nose work.

He would enjoy training and participating in these activities. It would help with his exercise need and keep his mind busy.

Finding a Spanish Hound

Buying a Spanish Hound from a Breeder

Finding a Spanish Hound for sale will take patience. It’s a rare breed in North America. At the time of this writing, we found no Spanish Hound breeders in North America.

You could start by doing a search of the breeder lists on the UKC’s web site.

There are also Facebook groups for this breed. They are mostly rescue-oriented, but they could be a good source of breeder recommendations.

You could also try a YouTube search. Dog owners and breeders often post videos of their dogs. Some include contact information.

As a last resort, if you have your heart set on this dog, you could look into importing a Spanish Hound puppy from Europe. The FCI or eurobreeder.com are good resources to start your search.

Vetting the Breeder

If you find a breeder selling Spanish Hound puppies online, be cautious. You will want to get trustworthy recommendations from one or two of the sources mentioned above.

If at all possible, you should make a site visit. Even if you can’t arrange that, ask the question. If the breeder refuses, it’s likely that they’re hiding something. They may well be a puppy mill.

A responsible breeder will welcome visits. They will be able to tell you about the health of the puppies, the parents, and often a few generations before that.

Their dogs will look happy and healthy. They will offer a guarantee of good health.

They will also ask you questions. A reputable breeder is concerned for the wellbeing of their pups after they leave their site.

They will want to be sure that the breed and individual dog are good fits for your lifestyle.

Ethical breeders also breed selectively to reduce the risk of genetic health conditions.

It’s unlikely that puppy mills will have any concern for the puppies’ health or the mother’s. They will not offer a health guarantee.

And they have no concern about the genetic soundness of the breed.

Spanish Hound Rescue/Adoption

If you are seriously interested in this breed, consider a Spanish Hound for adoption. In Spain, this dog has a sad history.

Far too many Sabueso Español end up in shelters there. Most of them don’t find good homes because they are considered hunting dogs only.

When their useful hunting life is over, most are surrendered to shelters. Most people in Spain think that Spanish Hounds don’t make good pets.

The truth is that these dogs can make great pets in the right hands. They are loving and devoted by nature.

They just need proper training to bring out their best. This breed also needs to be with an active family in a rural area.

If you can provide these things, Spanish Hounds can be wonderful companions.

There are several rescue groups in North America that work with the Sabueso Español. Most have Facebook pages. Some make trips to Europe to rescue these dogs from kill shelters.

Adoption Advantages

There are advantages to adopting an adult dog. With this particular breed, you would be saving a life.

But there are other great benefits too. When you adopt an adult dog, you don’t have to go through those sleepless puppy nights.

The dog would probably be housebroken. He would probably have at least basic obedience training. He may even be microchipped.

Before it leaves the rescue, it will have been spayed or neutered. It will be up to date with immunizations and any other medical care it might need.

If you find a rescue near you, you would have the opportunity to visit with the dog. An adult dog will have a formed temperament and personality.

You could get a good sense of whether he would be a good fit for your family. This isn’t really possible with a puppy.

Is the Spanish Hound the Right Breed for You?

The Spanish Hound is not a dog for an inexperienced dog owner. However, if your family is an active one, it may be the right breed for you.

If you can commit to meeting his exercise needs and to firm, consistent training, you could be a great match.

With the traits of gentleness and devotion, the Spanish Hound temperament makes this breed a good fit for many active families.