The Transylvanian Hound (Erdélyi Kopó) is one of the most elegant Hungarian dog breeds. It is an ancient Hungarian hunting dog, which was formed by the conditions of special climate, terrain and hunting method. The overall appearance of the dog reflects nobility and harmony. It’s a medium-sized dog, his body is athletically built, lean, muscular, with an exempt from extremity. His movement is balanced, and elegant. The environmental conditions of the Carpathians made the Kopó a tough and brave dog.
His basic nature is calm, balanced, but strong-minded, impetuous. It is undemanding and adaptive. It is shorthaired that does not need particular caring. He likes children very much, and his playful nature makes this dog an ideal family pet without the necessity of any indulgence. It is very devoted and protective to its owner. Due to its demureness and docility he can be kept in a flat and in a house with garden as well. His braveness and loyalty makes him a good watchdog.
The Transylvanian Hound is basically a chasing dog, but can be used for trail-tracking, too. During the chase-hunt they are used in troops containing 3-5 dogs, but it also works alone. Thanks to its extremely good smelling he keeps the cold track well and if he reaches the fresh track he barks with a characteristic sound. During the chase he signs by a far-sounding, high tone, chinking sound where the game runs, many times he work far from its handler. The individual work drove the Kopó to make fast, independent decisions, so its problem solving ability had been refined. Due to it he picked up an unbelievable intelligence and obstinacy.
But we should not forget that the Kopó is primarily a gundog, which can hardly resist his ancient instincts. Walking this dog without a leash needs utmost caution, since a pop-up rabbit is enough for our dog to run after it headlong. So, for the attentive owner it is very important to train the Kopó properly – especially to teach him to come back by call -, to walk and play with him a lot that can satisfy his demand of motion.
The story of the breed
Archaeological findings prove that in the age of migration Kopó –type dogs lived in the Carpathian Basin. The hounds arrived with the conquest Hungarians and were mixed with the preserved offspring of those dogs lived there already. It is how the Pannon Kopó was formed, the direct ancestor of the Transylvanian Hound, in the 11th-12th century. Kopós were illustrated on the miniatures of the Pictured Chronicles, and the first written form where they were mentioned originates from 1237. During the centuries, and due to the particular hunting circumstances, those hounds living in Transylvania were developed to be extremely tough and brave. These hounds developed in Transylvania were firstly illustrated as a decoration on reliefs and goblets in the 1600s.
The Transylvanian Hound was bred in two variants. One of them is the long-legged and the other one is the short-legged version. The long-legged Kopó was originally used for woodland hunting for big games – formerly for bison, then bear, wild boar, and lynx -, the short-legged was used in covered territory for small game – fox, hare -, and rocky territory for chamois. Today only the long-legged variant is recognised by the FCI, but the short-legged Kopós are also bred by some breeders, who would like to get them recognised as the tenth Hungarian dog breed.
In the 19th century the Transylvanian Hound was quite widespread both in Hungary and in Transylvania. Unfortunately, due to the structural changes of the Carpathian Basin – draining marshes and deforestation - hunting with Kopós was pushed back to the Transylvanian mountain areas, and the Hungarian Kopó livestock has disappeared. After it became clear that Romania cannot get the Kopós recognised as their national dog breed, and a Romanian regulation issued in 1947, which classified the breed as brute deleterious for the wild livestock, ordered the extermination of the Kopós together with the Hungarian Greyhound. With such regulation, the breed has almost sentenced to death. Between 1944 and 1969 no litters were announced – and by the register of the FCI the breed has been extinct. Fortunately, there have been dedicated believers of the breed, who did not let the Transylvanian Hound to disappear. In Máramarossziget they found Kopós still bred in pure blood, from which two of them was successfully brought to Hungary and the breeding of breed could have started again. After preparing the Hungarian standard of the breed the FCI officially and internationally recognised the Transylvanian Hound as the ninth Hungarian dog breed in 1968.
Hunting with the Transylvanian Hound
The Transylvanian Hound was
is the master of hunting on foot even in the old days. The hound hunting on foot is based on the principle that the game is usually flees from the dogs on its ordinary switch, upwards the hill-side, mostly into the direction of the saddle. Knowing the direction of the game’s escape, the hunters stood at the switch on the trail, or stretched their nets, or sometimes even made pits. Then by the agreed sign, which was usually a horn-sound, the expectant dog-keeper let the troop of Kopós go at the foot of the mountain. The hound had been searching silently until they had found the track of the game. When they reached the track they started their typical and distinctive yelping. Their voice chinked high if they found the track of a small-game, while they signalled deeper for the big-game. Those who knew the Kopós from the barking they knew what kind of game is chased by the dogs. The two, three or four dogs that were released at the same time could work incredibly in accordance. They searched slowly step by step, they didn’t chase, but quasi pushed, shepherded the game towards the hunter, so the game did not run away from its ordinary switch. When they got near the game they started to direct it towards the hunter, they exhausted and engrossed its attention. Then the Kopós and the game were fighting in front of the hunter. The dogs worked “under the gun”. A game which intend to break out, and surrounded by the dogs, usually stood up to the hounds. The Kopós jumped aside incredibly skilfully from the attacking big game, and immediately started to re-attack from every position until the game had been shot. The independent style of these dogs that is practically not influenced by man, can only be explained by the genetic value piled up over thousands of years. This form of hunting requested total independence from the Kopós, as the success of the hunt depended on them.
The Kopó still runs 50-60 km during the hunt. Thanks to its extraordinary orientation ability, even the game takes him far away, he can return back to the hunters or at the end of the hunt he finds the starting point.
Current status of the breed
Even today, the status of breeding of the Transylvanian Hound cannot be called settled, or being promising in many respects. Our current hunting regulations do not allow the classical utilization of the Transylvanian Hound, and like all hounds in general, the Transylvanian Hound can be occasionally stubborn, sometimes obstinate and autonomous in respect to the maintenance needs of today’s urban dog-keeping. We can capitalize its toughness, tenacity and strength in “sport dogging” and in dog sports. And also trail-tracking and after-search for wounded game in today's job hunting can be an alternative. Nowadays, the Transylvanian Hound is still a working dog. For participating in breeding he must prove the existence of the desired qualities in breeding-inspection and in ability-examination. The appropriate standard breeding of the breed is coordinated and supervised by the breed-caring organisation. The Transylvanian Hound Club of the MEOE, then the Hungarian Transylvanian Hound Club, which became independent in the beginning of 2005, is operating as the breed-caring organization. The aim of the Club is to inform Transylvanian Hound owners about issues and rules related to the breed, to join forces and technically help the breeding of the Transylvanian Hound, to ensure opportunity for the Kopó owners to test and utilise the working ability of the dogs. By organizing joint events, the Club brings Kopó owners, friends and visitors closer to each other. The priority objective of the Club is to raise awareness and popularity of the breed by coordinating dog-shows, creating promotional materials and leaflets, and also with media appearances. For this reason, the Club coordinates a Club-Show, 2-3 breeding-inspections, ability and working trials, working competitions, Club-weekends, and other professional programs yearly, and through its website informs about issues related to the breed. The Transylvanian Hound – just like the Hungarian Greyhound, the Wire-Haired Hungarian Vizsla and the Mudi – is one of the most endangered Hungarian dog breeds. Members of the Club have very limited possibilities in familiarising and popularizing the breed widely, though the survival of this rustic and noble breed depends on it. One of the Club’s long-term goals is to introduce this unfairly forgotten breed and get them include to be part of the curriculum in schools.
Modern and sporty keeping of the Transylvanian hound (not using for hunting purposes)
Keeping the conservation of the versatile genetic values of the Transylvanian Hound in mind, it can be an excellent companion for modern, sporty urban dwellers, and rural hikers as well. Its qualities and features mentioned in the introduction such as long-distance runner figure, tireless working spirit, makes it suitable for an active owner, to be his recreational touring, running and hiking partner. The regular and exhaustive exercise of the Transylvanian Hound is very much suggested, since an appropriately tuckered Kopó is a calm, peaceful companion in everyday life. As a hunting dog it is more suitable for higher shocking loads. Not the several short daily walks, but the periodically longer, more intense movement which satisfies its needs. Accordingly, the Transylvanian Hound is also recommended for those who do not want to test their Kopós in hunting. However, we emphasize that even a family pet bought for recreational and sporting purposes can confidently move around in a – safe and controlled, – fenced wild boar exercise park, where they work with pleasure according to their ancient instinct.