Let's talk Istrian Wire-Haired Hounds

The Istrian Wire-Haired Hound is a rare breed from Croatia, revered for their hunting talents. Their wiry coat protects them from wet weather, and they display impressive tracking skills aided by their strong physique and stamina. This scenthound may not be initially thought of as a family pet, but they are gentle and affectionate while also being good with children (once trained). As long as they get enough exercise, they will be calm indoors. If you enjoy adventures surrounded by nature, you’ll find a loyal companion in the Istrian Wire-Haired Hound.

Official name: Istrian Wire-Haired Hound

Other names: Istrian Rough-coated Hound, Istrian Coarse-Haired Hound

Origins: Croatia

Black and white portrait of an Istrian Wirehaired Hound
 Drooling tendencies  Very low Warm weather?  High
 Shedding level   Suited to apartment living?   Very low
 Physical activity needs Moderate Kid-friendly?
 Compatibility with other pets  Very low Can stay alone?  Very low

We advise against leaving pets alone for long stretches. Companionship can prevent emotional distress and destructive behaviour. Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations.

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Illustration of a Istrian Wirehaired Hound
50 - 53 cm translations.feature.breeds.height
16 - 24 kg translations.feature.breeds.weight
48 - 52 cm translations.feature.breeds.height
16 - 24 kg translations.feature.breeds.weight


 Baby age  Birth to 2 months
 Puppy age  2-12 months
 Adult age  1-7 years
 Mature age  7-10 years
 Senior age  From 10 years


Get to know the Istrian Wire-Haired Hound

All you need to know about the breed

The sturdy Istrian Wire-Haired Hound was original bred as a hunting dog but their gentle temperament translates into an affectionate canine companion. They are hard-workers who relish having a job to do and will benefit from a confident owner who can spend time outdoors with them on a daily basis. A kind but firm approach to training will yield the best results.

This breed is a pack dog, so they’re comfortable with being surrounded by other canines. They are more likely to prefer the company than to spend time alone, which could lead to boredom and in some cases, separation anxiety.

Hunting origins doesn’t mean aggressive but it does mean a healthy prey drive. Things will not end well (sadly) if your Istrian Wire-Haired Hound is in close proximity to smaller animals such as cats, hamsters or guinea-pigs. For this very reason, when out on a long walk or hike, your Istrian Wire-Haired Hound should be kept on leash to prevent them from dashing off when their nose picks up an interesting scent.

This athletic breed will thrive with an active owner who prefers the countryside to the city, and can spend a few hours each day exercising outdoors. If this sounds like you, you’ve definitely met your match with the Istrian Wire-Haired Hound.


2 facts about Istrian Wire-Haired Hounds

1. Hear me bark

Another reason that the Istrian Wire-Haired Hound is suited to a natural setting is that they are moderate barkers. Early training and socialisation will help them to know when to use it, but if you’re out of the city there are less people to disturb.

2. Not for first-timers

The Istrian Wire-Haired Hound may be too much for certain people, including first time dog owners. They’re active dogs who can easily become bored, leading to destructive behaviour, and they’re also free-spirited. This quality can be challenging for first-time dog owners to confidently train.


History of the breed

The Istrian Wire-Haired Hound comes from the peninsula of Istria in Croatia. Due to a lack of formal documentation, it is hard to say exactly when the Istrian Wire-Haired Hound came to be - but experts agree that this is a very old hunting breed.

Less popular than his canine relative, the Istrian Shorthaired Hound, the breed was even more at risk of extinction following World War I. This is thought to be down to their physical appearance, which is apparently less appealing. We find both breeds equally striking!

Despite their ancient history, the breed was only recognised by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale in 1948, and the first standard was registered in 1969. Along with their short-haired relative, the Istrian Wire-Haired Hound remains a rare breed, even in Croatia.

Black and white portrait of an Istrian Wirehaired Hound


From head to tail

Physical characteristics of Istrian Wire-Haired Hounds

1. Coat

Coat has a wiry texture and is weather resistant.

2. Colouring

Coat colour is white, with yellow or orange markings.

3. Ears

Ears are broad and hang flat.

Close-up of an Istrian Wirehaired Hound from the side with mouth open


Things to look out for

From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Istrian Wire-Haired Hound
Istrian Wirehaired Hound stood looking to something to the left


Caring for your Istrian Wire-Haired Hound

Grooming, training and exercise tips

When it comes to grooming your Istrian Wire-Haired Hound, one to two weekly brushes will keep their wiry coat clean and healthy. Nails should be trimmed and teeth brushed regularly - daily is ideal - to prevent dental disease. To stay in their best shape and prevent boredom, the Istrian Wire-Haired Hound will need daily exercise of between one to three hours. Trailing a scent is their ideal activity but they’ll also enjoy long walks or jogs in a wooded area, and chasing after balls. The breed is intelligent but when they’re outdoors, their determined temperament comes out. Training an Istrian Wire-Haired Hound will require a confident and consistent owner, who will demonstrate patience and take a firm approach. Any food-based rewards that can help with positive reinforcement or encouragement should always be counted as part of your dog’s daily kibble portion.


All about Istrian Wire-Haired Hounds

On the one hand, the Istrian Wire-Haired Hound is calm, affectionate and loyal. But once they’re outside with plenty of space to play, they can become somewhat stubborn and distracted. While they’re not aggressive, the breed will be most content with an owner who can match their high energy and enthusiasm outside, while returning their affection curled up together indoors.

The company of other canines is much appreciated by the breed - they are pack dogs after all. But there is unlikely to be a happy ending when it comes to smaller household pets and the Istrian Wire-Haired Hound. Their prey drive will get in the way so best to avoid this combination.



1 - Veterinary Centers of America https://vcahospitals.com/ 

2 - Royal Canin Dog Encyclopaedia. Ed 2010 and 2020

3 - Banfield Pet Hospital https://www.banfield.com/

4 - Royal Canin BHN Product Book

5 - American Kennel Club https://www.akc.org/