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Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Hamiltonstovare
Average Cost to keep/care for a Hamiltonstovare
Breed Specific Buying Advice
The Hamiltonstövare hails from Sweden where they have always been highly prized for their hunting and abilities. They share a common ancestry with English Foxhounds, Harriers and other German hounds all of which were used to create this handsome dog. They were bred to hunt alone rather than in packs although they are often seen working in pairs and as such, they generally get on well with other dogs but having hunting in their ancestry, they do have a high prey drive.
Hamiltons are handsome dogs and they are known to be intelligent, however, they are the sort of hound that needs to be kept busy for them to be truly happy. In short, they are better suited to people who lead active, outdoor lives and who live in a country environment. With this said, Hamiltonstövare although great companions and family pets are not a good choice for novice dog owners.
Also known as a Hamilton Hound, the Hamiltonstövare is highly prized in Sweden although they are a far lesser known breed elsewhere in the world. There is very little information both about the breed and the man who developed the Hamilton. With this said, they are not native to Sweden having been imported from other European countries from a north German province known as Schleswig-Holstein which at a specific time in history namely 1480 to 1860 was a region of Denmark.
As such, German Hounds are the descendants of these short-legged hounds with long ears that were called Leithunde. There are records of the hounds in a book written by Gaston Phoebus during the 14th Century called Le Livre de Chasse which translated means “The Book of Hunting”. They were known as Leithunde because these hounds were held on a long lead by their handlers as they tracked down their prey.
King Karl XII owned these hounds during his reign which lasted from 1682 to 1718 and right up until the end of the 18th Century only royals and the nobility were permitted to hunt using these hounds. After this, farmers and the poorer Swedish people could hunt with hounds and as such each region of the country developed their own versions of what were referred to as Stö- var which meant there were many different types of hounds around at the time. This resulted in a breed standard being drawn up for the Svenske Stövare, a type of hound that had been developed by introducing English Foxhounds and Harriers into the mix by crossing them with German Hounds.
German Hounds were first introduced to Sweden by Baron von Greiff, the Royal Gamekeeper with 2 of them having been acquired by the Baron de Geer af Leufsta. However, the man who was supposed to take the dogs to the baron, kept them for a while and bred from them creating two famous lines namely the Filholmer and the Säby-Ängsö. It was during this time in history that Count Hamilton became involved in the development of the breed and over the following years established a breeding programme to develop his own bloodline with some people believing that his dogs came from both an English and Scottish lineage.
With this said, there are those people who believe that the count used other dogs to develop his bloodline which included Finnentroper-Olper hounds and various Swiss hounds. By 1921 he introduced Harriers and Foxhounds into his breeding programme and at the time, his hounds were known as Hamilton Stövare A Class. However, over the following years it became hard to differentiate between the two “types” and as such in 1933, a decision was made to class them all under the same category calling them Hamiltonstövare. However, crossbreeds were still being registered in the breed’s studbook right up until 1952 at which time the book was ended.
Over time and through careful selective breeding, the Hamiltonstövare was to become one of the healthier hound breeds around and one that boasts a superb hunting instinct. This is just one of the reasons why these handsome gundogs remain so highly prized in their native Sweden and elsewhere in the world including here in the UK. However, they are less well known with people who are looking to share their homes with a canine companion although they do make great family pets and companion dogs, but only if these high energy dogs are given the right amount of daily exercise and a ton of mental stimulation.
Height at the withers: Males 53 - 61 cm, Females 49 - 57 cm
Average weight: Males 23 - 27 kg, Females 23 - 27 kg
The Hamiltonstövare is a very handsome dog that's instantly recognisable thanks to their charming “hound-like” looks. They resemble English Foxhounds which were used to create the breed and they boast having a tremendous amount of presence which adds to their overall appeal. They have quite long, rectangular heads which are slightly arched. Their skulls are moderately broad with occiputs not being too prominent, but stops are well defined. They have nicely formed jowls that are not overly heavy and their muzzles are quite long, rectangular and large. A Hamilton's nose is always black with dogs having well developed large nostrils.
They are eyes are dark in colour with dogs always having a calm, intelligent expression in them. Ears are set quite high and drop down with dogs only holding them slightly raised when alert. The Hamilton has a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones. They have powerful, long necks that merge smoothly into the shoulders with the skin on their necks being nice and supple.
Shoulders are well laid back and muscular with dogs having straight, well-muscled front legs. They have deep chests and straight powerful backs with strong muscular and broad loins. Ribs are quite well sprung with dogs showing a slight tuck up which adds to their athletic appearance. They have powerful, strong back legs and their feet are short with dogs having firm pads and strong nails. Tails are set low being thicker at the base before tapering to the tip. Dogs hold their tails either straight or slightly curved.
When it comes to their coat, the Hamiltonstövare boasts having a double coat that consists of a short, close and soft undercoat which is typically that much thicker during the colder winter months and an extremely weather resistant top coat that lies close to the body. The hair on the underside of a dog's tail is longer and they have a lot of hair growing between their paw pads. The accepted breed colour Kennel Club registration are as follows:
It is worth noting that the accepted breed colours for Kennel Club registration can differ from those set out in the breed standard which are as follows:
It is worth noting that any mixture of black and brown in a dog’s coat is highly undesirable and too much of any of the three “permitted” colours under the Kennel Club standard is also undesirable.
When a Hamiltonstövare moves, they do with a free striding gait covering a lot of ground with their long reach and showing good drive from behind.
The Kennel Club frowns on any exaggerations or departures from the breed standard and would judge the faults on how much they affect a dog's overall health and wellbeing as well as their ability to perform.
Males should have both testicles fully descended into their scrotums and it is worth noting that a dog can be a little lighter or heavier as well as slightly taller or shorter than set out in the Kennel Club breed standard which is only given as a guideline.
The Hamiltonstövare is an even-tempered dog and one that makes a wonderful companion, but only if they are given the right amount of exercise and enough mental stimulation for them to be well-rounded characters. Their instinct to hunt remains exceptionally strong, even in a home environment and as such they do a lot better living with people who live in the country and who lead active, outdoor lives. Because they form strong bonds with their owners, the Hamilton does not like being left on their own for extended periods of time which could result in them developing some unwanted and destructive behaviours. As such they do better in households where one person usually stays at home when everyone else is out of the house.
These handsome dogs are not the best choice for first time owners because they need to be socialised, trained and handled by people who are familiar with the particular needs of this type of high-energy, intelligent dog and one that boasts such a high prey drive. They have a tremendous amount of stamina and will happily follow their noses for hours if allowed. As such, they need to be given a tremendous amount of daily exercise which has to include indulging these dogs in the thing they do best - namely hunting.
They tend to be a little wary of people they do not know, but rarely would a Hamilton show any sort of aggressive behaviour towards a stranger, preferring to keep their distance until they get to know a person. With this said, the Hamilton is known to be a trustworthy and reliable dog by nature which is why they do make good family pets in households where the children are slightly older and therefore know how to behave around dogs.
They are known to be quite social dogs and having been bred to work in pairs, as long as a Hamilton has been well socialised from a young enough age, they generally get on well with other dogs. It cannot be stressed strongly enough the importance of socialising a Hamilton puppy as early as possible so they grow up to be more confident and trustworthy mature dogs.
Hamiltons are not a good choice for first time dog owners because they must be socialised, handled and trained by people who are familiar with the needs of an intelligent, energetic hound that likes to be kept busy and a dog that needs to know their place in the “pack”.
Although Hamiltons are social by nature they are keen hunting dogs and as such they have a very high prey drive. As such, care should always be taken as to where and when a dog can run off the lead more especially if there is wildlife and/or livestock close by.
Hamiltons have a very playful side to their natures and love to entertain and be entertained. They are known to be a little mischievous when the mood takes them and being so clever, they quickly learn what pleases an owner and how to get their own way when they want something, more especially when they are young.
A Hamiltonstövare is better suited to people who have well-fenced, secure back gardens a dog can safely roam in whenever possible to really let off steam. As such, they are not a good choice for anyone who lives in an apartment because these dogs need to be kept busy and enjoy being in the great outdoors doing something.
Hamiltons form strong ties with their families and dogs are never very happy when they find themselves left on their own for longer periods of time. They are better suited to people who either work from home or in households where one person stays at home when everyone else is out, so they are never alone for any length of time which could see a dog suffering from separation anxiety. This can lead to them being destructive around the home which is a dog's way of relieving any stress they are feeling and a way to keep themselves entertained.
Hamiltons are known to like the sound of their own voices a little too much which is something that needs to be gently nipped in the bud when a dog is still young being careful not to frighten them. However, even with the best training, some dogs just cannot resist barking at the slightest thing just for the sake of it.
Most Hamiltons love swimming and will take to the water whenever they can more especially when the weather is hot. However, if anyone who owns a dog that does not like water should never force them to go in because it would just end up scaring them. With this said, care should always be taken when walking a dog off the lead anywhere near more dangerous watercourses just in case a dog decides to leap in and then needs rescuing because they cannot get out of the water on their own.
Hamiltons are not natural watchdogs although this is not to say a dog would not be quick off the mark to let an owner know when there are strangers about although they would rarely do this aggressively, preferring to keep their distance and bark which as previously mentioned is something they enjoy doing.
A Hamiltonstövare 's training has to start early and it has to be consistent throughout a dog's life so they understand what is expected of them. Like many other hound breeds, they are sensitive by nature and as such, a Hamilton does not respond well to any sort of harsh correction or heavier handed training. They do answer well to positive reinforcement and it's important to pay particular attention to the "recall" command because a Hamilton's strong hunting instinct.
The key to successfully training a Hamiltonstövare is to keep training sessions short and interesting so dogs remain focussed on what is being asked of them. It's also essential to gently curb their strong hunting instinct rather than to try and prevent one of these handsome dogs from doing what comes so naturally to them. In short, it's best to enrol a Hamilton into activities that involve tracking and scenting so they get to use their skills and indulge this breed’s strong desire to follow their noses.
Hamilton's are never happier than when they know their place in the pack and who they can look to for direction and guidance which in short means they need to know who the alpha dog is in a household. If allowed, a Hamilton would quickly take on this role which can make them that much harder to manage and live with.
Like all puppies, Hamiltons are incredibly cute when young and it is all too easy to spoil them when they first arrive in new homes. As soon as a puppy is nicely settled owners must start out as they mean to go on by laying down ground rules and boundaries so that a puppy understands what is expected of them. It helps establish a pecking order and who the alpha dog is in the household. The first commands a puppy should be taught are as follows:
Hamiltons are known to love people and they thrive in a family environment. They are gentle characters by nature and in particular when they are around children. However, they can be a little boisterous which means they are not the best choice for families where the children are still young and any interaction between toddlers and a dog should always be well supervised by an adult to make sure things stay calm and nobody gets knocked over, albeit by accident.
Having been bred to work with other dogs, the Hamilton is known to be good around them more especially if they have been properly socialised from a young enough age. If they have grown up with a family cat in a household, they usually get on well together. However, a Hamilton would think nothing of chasing any other cats they come across. Because of their strong hunting instincts, care has to be taken when a Hamilton is anywhere near smaller animals and pets because they may well see them as prey so any contact is best avoided.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of a Hamiltonstövare is between 10 and 13 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
Hamiltons are known to be healthy and they don’t seem to be affected by the hereditary and congenital disorders that afflict many other pure breeds. However, the conditions that are known to affect the breed are as follows:
Hamiltonstövare puppies would have been given their initial vaccinations before being sold, but it is up to their new owners to make sure they have their follow-up shots in a timely manner with the vaccination schedule for puppies being as follows:
There has been a lot of discussion about the need for dogs to have boosters. As such, it's best to talk to a vet before making a final decision on whether a dog should continue to have annual vaccinations which are known as boosters.
A lot of vets these days recommend waiting until dogs are slightly older before spaying and neutering them which means they are more mature before undergoing the procedures. As such they advise neutering males and spaying females when they are between the ages of 6 to 9 months old and sometimes even when a dog is 12 months old.
Other vets recommend spaying and neutering dogs when they are 6 months old, but never any earlier unless for medical reasons. With this said, many breeds are different, and it is always advisable to discuss things with a vet and then follow their advice on when a dog should be spayed or neutered.
Hamiltons are known to love their food and are extremely “food oriented” which means great care must be taken as to how much they are fed and the amount of daily exercise they are given. As with other breeds, some Hamiltonstövare gain weight after they have been spayed or neutered and it's important to keep an eye on a dog's waistline just in case they do. If a dog starts to put on weight, it's important to adjust their daily calorie intake and to up the amount of exercise they are given. Older dogs too are more prone to gaining weight and again it's essential they be fed and exercised accordingly because obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years. The reason being that it puts a lot of extra strain on a dog's internal organs including the heart which could prove fatal.
Hamiltonstövares are not known to suffer from allergies but it's important for a dog to see a vet sooner rather than later if one flares up. Allergies can be notoriously hard to clear up and finding the triggers can be challenging. With this said, a vet would be able to make a dog with an allergy more comfortable while they try to find out the triggers which could include the following:
All responsible Hamiltonstövare breeders would ensure that their stud dogs are tested for known hereditary and congenital health issues known to affect the breed by using the following schemes:
Apart from the standard breeding restrictions that are in place for all Kennel Club registered breeds, there are no other breed specific breeding restrictions in place for the Hamiltonstövare.
The Kennel Club strongly advises that all breeders follow their breeding guidelines which are as follows:
As with any other breed, Hamiltons need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
Hamilton puppies are boisterous and full of life which means it's essential for homes and gardens to be puppy-proofed well in advance of their arrival. A responsible breeder would have well socialised their puppies which always leads to more outgoing, confident and friendly dogs right from the word go. With this said, any puppy is going to feel vulnerable when they leave their mother and littermates which must be taken into account. The longer a puppy can remain with their mother, the better although it should never be for too long either.
It's best to pick a puppy up when people are going to be around for the first week or, so which is the time needed for a puppy to settle in. Puppy-proofing the home and garden means putting away any tools and other implements that a boisterous puppy might injure themselves on. Electric wires and cables must be put out of their reach because puppies love chewing on things. Toxic plants should be removed from flowerbeds and the home too.
Puppies need to sleep a lot to grow and develop as they should which means setting up a quiet area that's not too out of the way means they can retreat to it when they want to nap and it's important not to disturb them when they are sleeping. It's also a good idea to keep "playtime" nice and calm inside the house and to have a more active "playtime" outside in the garden which means puppies quickly learn to be less boisterous when they are inside.
The documentation a breeder provides for a puppy must have all the details of their worming date and the product used as well as the information relating to their microchip. It is essential for puppies to be wormed again keeping to a schedule which is as follows:
There are certain items that new owners need to already have in the home prior to bringing a new puppy home. It's often a good idea to restrict how much space a puppy plays in more especially when you can't keep an eye on what they get up to bearing in mind that puppies are often quite boisterous which means investing in puppy gates or a large enough playpen that allows a puppy the room to express themselves while keeping them safe too. The items needed are therefore, as follows:
All puppies are sensitive to noise including Hamilton puppies. It's important to keep the noise levels down when a new puppy arrives in the home. TVs and music should not be played too loud which could end up stressing a small puppy out making them withdrawn, timid and shy.
As previously mentioned, Hamilton puppies would have been given their first vaccinations by the breeders, but they must have their follow up shots which is up to their new owners to organise. The vaccination schedule for puppies is as follows:
When it comes to boosters, it's best to discuss these with a vet because there is a lot of debate about whether a dog really needs them after a certain time. However, if a dog ever needed to go into kennels, their vaccinations would need to be fully up to date.
Older Hamiltonstövares need lots of special care because as they reach their golden years, they are more at risk of developing certain health concerns. Physically, a dog's muzzle may start to go grey, but there will be other noticeable changes too which includes the following:
Living with a Hamiltonstövare in their golden years means taking on a few more responsibilities, but these are easily managed and should include looking at their diet, the amount of exercise they are given, how often their dog beds need changing and keeping an eye on the condition of their teeth.
Older Hamiltons should be fed a good quality diet that meets their needs at this stage of their lives all the while keeping a close eye on a dog's weight. A rough feeding guide for older dogs is as follows bearing in mind they should be fed highly digestible food that does not contain any additives:
Older Hamiltons don't need the same amount of daily exercise as a younger dog, but they still need the right amount of physical activity to maintain muscle tone and to prevent a dog from putting on too much weight. All dogs need access to fresh clean water and this is especially true of older dogs when they reach their golden years because they are more at risk of developing kidney disorders.
The Hamiltonstövare boasts having a double coat which consists of a soft, dense undercoat and a harsher, extremely weather resistant topcoat and their undercoat tends to grow a lot thicker during the colder winter months than the rest of the year. However, these handsome dogs are low maintenance on the grooming front and only really need to be brushed on a weekly basis to remove dead and loose hair. Wiping a dog's coat over with a chamois leather helps keep a nice sheen on it too.
It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax is allowed to build up in a dog's ears, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure when it comes to ear infections.
The Hamilton is a high energy, intelligent dog and as such they need to be given the right amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation for them to be truly happy, well-rounded dogs. As such, they need a minimum of 2 hour's exercise a day with as much off the lead time as possible. If they are not given the right amount of mental stimulation and exercise every day, a Hamilton would quickly get bored and could even begin to show some destructive behaviours around the home which includes digging and chewing anything they can find.
A shorter walk in the morning would be fine, but a longer more interesting one in the afternoon is a must with as much off the lead time as possible. These dogs also like to be able to roam around a back garden as often as possible so they can really let off steam. However, the fencing has to be extremely secure to keep these energetic dogs in because if they find a weakness in the fence, they will soon escape and could get into all sorts of trouble.
With this said, Hamiltonstövare puppies should not be over exercised because their joints and bones are still growing. This includes not letting a dog jump up and down from furniture or going up or down the stairs. Too much pressure placed on their joints and spines at an early age could result in a dog developing serious problems later in their lives.
If you get a Hamilton puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy eaters, but this does not mean they can be fed a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
Because Hamiltons have been known to suffer from bloat, it is really important for them to be fed twice a day instead of just one larger meal a day. It's also a good idea to invest in a stand for their feed bowls which makes it easier for these large dogs to eat comfortably without having to stretch their necks down to reach their food. Dogs should never be exercised just before or just after they have eaten either because this puts them more at risk of suffering from gastric torsion.
Puppies need to be fed a highly nutritious, good quality diet for them to develop and grow as they should. As a rough guide, a Hamilton puppy can be fed the following amounts every day making sure their meals are evenly spread out throughout the day and it's best to feed them 3 or 4 times a day:
Once a puppy is 14 months old they can be fed adult dog food.
Once fully mature, an adult Hamiltonstövare should be fed a good quality diet to ensure their continued good health. As a rough guide, an adult dog can be fed the following amounts every day:
If you are looking to buy a Hamiltonstövare, you would need to register your interest with breeders and agree to being put on a waiting list because very few puppies are bred and registered with The Kennel Club every year. You would need to pay anything upwards of £500 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Hamiltonstövare in northern England would be £55.98 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £110.54 a month (quote as of May 2018). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK, a dog's age and whether they have been neutered or spayed among other things.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry making sure it suits the different stages of a dog’s life. This would set you back between £40 - £50 a month. On top of this, you need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Hamilton and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying a dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over £1200 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Hamiltonstövare would be between £100 to £170 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a healthy, well-bred Kennel Club registered Hamiltonstövare puppy.
When visiting and buying any puppy or dog, there are many important things to consider and questions to ask of the breeder/seller. You can read our generic puppy/dog advice here which includes making sure you see the puppy with its mother and to verify that the dog has been wormed and microchipped.
Hamiltonstövares are rare in the UK and finding well-bred puppies can prove challenging which means they can often command a lot of money. As such, with Hamiltons there is specific advice, questions and protocols to follow when buying a puppy which are as follows:
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