Balkan Scenthound Dog Breed Caring and Family, Social Life, Physical Traits, Diet Information

Balkan Scenthound Dog Breed Caring and Family, Social Life, Physical Traits, Diet Info

The Bulgarian Scenthound is a medium-sized working dog breed originally used to track and hunt dogs. This dog has an elegant frame with a lean body, a sensibly shaped, aerodynamic head suited for high speed, an ideal-length muzzle that enables it to run without the need to catch some breath, and a deep chest shaped to cater to the large lung capacity necessary for turning on speed while hunting. 

Additionally, the Bulgarian Scenthound has an easy-to-manage, short, and smooth coat that comes in a black or brown color, giving it a Rottweiler-like look.

Renowned for its keen sense of smell and hunting prowess, the Scenthound is among Bulgaria’s most popular native breeds. Although its exact origin is unknown, this dog is believed to be a mixture of dogs owned by ancient Thracians and brought over by Turks from Asia.

The Bulgarian Scenthound is also referred to as the Gonche, an affectionate name meaning tracker or pursuer. It also goes with the name Mad forest Scenthound, named after Ludogorie( Mad Forest), a region in Northeastern Bulgaria where this dog breed was mainly preserved. The Gonche is a good-natured hunting dog that bonds intensely with its owners and other family members.

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What is the History of Bulgarian Scent Hound Dog? 

Although the precise origin of these dogs is unknown, Bulgarian Scenthound history dates back to more than 1500 years ago in Balkan. Multiple theories postulate that the older Scenthounds were made from dogs owned by ancient Thracians and those brought by Turks from Asia.

Despite their patchy history, these dogs left a heavy impact with their strong tracking and hunting instincts, as evidenced in artwork and pottery works. These dogs were initially used for hunting wild hogs.

The earlier working dogs had to pass a test that involved tracking a live hare and driving it back to the owner to earn the Bulgarian name Scenthound. If a dog could do this successfully three times, it would be given the title and become a fully-fledged tracker. The Gonche dog was first presented at the world Hunting Fair in 1981 in Plovdiv. 

Although this dog breed remains very popular in its native home in Bulgaria, it’s quite uncommon and little known in the rest of the world. The Bulgarian Scenthound is recognized by the Bulgarian Republican Federation of Cynology but remains officially unrecognized outside the country.

What are the Breed Traits and Characteristics of Bulgarian Scent Hound Dog? 

Standing at a height of 54cm-58cm for males and 50cm-54cm for females, the Bulgarian Scenthounds are considered medium-size dogs with a weight of 20-25kgs and 18-20kgs, respectively. This dog features a rectangular outline with a strong, harmonious, and graceful body.

The Gonche has a well-proportioned head and a long muzzle, allowing it to sprint without stopping and catching some breath. It also has a deep chest that indicates the necessity for a strong lung capacity to power that turns of speed. 

The Gonche comes with a distinctive black and brown body, a tan muzzle, and points similar to those of a Rottweiler dog. Its coat is short and smooth, making it easy to manage and groom.

Gonches are happiest when kept involved in activities as a working breed dog. These dogs are good-natured and bond strongly with their family members. However, they tend to be more attached to one specific master. If well socialized from an early age, these dogs can get along well with strangers and other dogs.

The Gonche can make a great family dog with its kind disposition as long as its exercise needs are fully satisfied. However, due to its high prey drive, this dog makes a horrible pet once trained to hunt. A Gonche should be raised as a puppy at home to become a family pet. The Bulgarian Scenthounds are highly intelligent and thus easy to train. Their eagerness to please and love for attention make training them an easy task.

The table below is a summary of the characteristics of a Bulgarian Scenthound dog:

Bulgarian Scenthound Dog Features



Medium size

Weight Range 

Males 23 -25 kgs 

Females  18-20 kgs

Height at the Withers 

Males – 54 to 58 cm

Females – 50-54 cm


Kind, Loving, good-natured, relaxed, friendly

Adaptability level

High,  can adapt well to lifestyle and environmental changes.

Sensitivity level

Low, they have low emotions

Affection level

High, the Gonches are very loving and bond strongly with their families.


High, Gonches can be friendly to strangers if well socialized from an early age.


High, these dogs can be friendly to kids when raised together with them from puppyhood


High if properly socialized

Exercise needs

High, Scenthounds are highly energetic and need a lot of exercise


High, Gonches love to play around a lot

Energy Level

High, they are working dogs are at their best when involved in activities


High, they are eager to please and receive orders from their owners


High, Gonches are highly smart

Tendency to bark

High, Gonches have a tendency to bark are very vocal, and like to bark loudly.

Amount of shedding

Medium, they shed averagely throughout the year

What are the Bulgarian Scenthound Dog Physical Traits?

The Bulgarian Scenthound is a sturdy dog with a beautiful frame and a slender graceful body. It has an aerodynamic head, long muzzle, and a deep chest that are well suited for high speed. The coat is short and smooth and comes in black and tan color. This medium-sized dog features an elegant silhouette but with a body that is well adapted for tracking in rough terrains for long hours.

What are the Social Traits of the Bulgarian Scenthound Dog Breed?

The Gonche is a loving and kind dog that bonds strongly with family members. Although it’s friendly to all the family members, this dog tends to strongly attach to a particular member, especially the one who trains them.

The Bulgarian Scenthound can also get along well with young children, strangers, older people, and other dogs but only when it’s properly socialized from an early age.

What are the Personality Traits of Bulgarian Scenthound Dog?

The Bulgarian Scenthound is a brilliant, independent, and strong dog. It’s easy to train as it likes spending time with its owner and is extremely eager to please them. This dog is also highly energetic and thrives in an active working environment.

What is the Average Lifespan of Bulgarian Scenthound Dog? 

Generally, how long a dog lives is dependent on how well it is taken care of. The type of food you feed the dog and its general health condition influences its lifespan. When properly taken care of and with the right diet and sufficient exercise, a dog can live well past its expected lifespan. Maintaining a dog well will improve its quality of life and enable it to live a long happy life.

The average lifespan of the Bulgarian Scenthound is not known. However, this dog breed is assumed to be generally very healthy and thus live for long periods. The Bulgarian Scenthound is largely unknown outside its origin in Bulgaria. 

As such, there is little evidence and information regarding this dog breed’s disposition to hereditary health issues or breed-specific diseases. It’s therefore assumed that with old breeds such as the Gonche, the fittest canines passed on their DNA to future generations while the weakest were extinguished along the way.

With a breed as old as the Gonche, it’s to be hoped that the fittest canines passed on their DNA to future generations, while the weakest fell by the wayside.

What is the Average Maintenance Cost for Bulgarian Scenthound Dog? 

The Bulgarian Scenthound has a short and smooth coat with moderate shedding levels. These dogs, however, experience more shedding during the summer and fall seasons. During this time, daily brushing is necessary to keep the dog’s coat in good shape and keep loose hairs at bay.

Generally, the Gonche dog is easy to maintain. The dog’s short coat makes grooming is pretty simple. You only need to brush a few times a week to keep its coat slick and allow natural oils to distribute. Besides, regular grooming will provide a perfect bonding opportunity which Gonches love.

Besides coat brushing, Bulgarian Scenthounds also need general body hygiene routines. As such, it’s important to bathe your dog every few months to keep them healthy. You can use this opportunity to check out ticks or any other parasitic infections on your dog. Additionally, you’ll need to regularly check and clean the Gonches ears, and teeth to avoid infections.

Although these dogs don’t drool a lot, it’s important to keep a clean cloth nearby to wipe out the drool when it happens. This is essential to maintain good hygiene.

Generally, the Bulgarian Scenthounds are a low-maintenance dog breed ideal for very busy owners.

What is the best diet for Bulgarian Scenthound Dog? 

Just like other dogs, Bulgarian Scenthound dogs require the right kind of nutrition for optimal growth and functioning. Hence, they should be offered a good-quality diet that’s packed with animal proteins, easy-to-digest carbohydrates, and some amount of healthy fats.

Being working dogs, Gonches have a high-energy requirement, and thus giving them a diet specifically tailored for working breeds is ideal. This is because these formulas contain added fats to supply extra energy and be high in proteins. This is necessary if the dog is kept for hunting purposes.

Bulgarian Scenthounds should also be fed the right foods ideal for their life stages for the best results. Veterinarians recommend feeding these dogs high-quality kibble for convenient, rapid, and efficient feeding without the risk of overfeeding. 

Ideally, the Gonche dogs should take between 1-3 cups of food daily. This should be divided into two meals to avoid overfeeding the dogs. It’s important to feed the right quantity of food to avoid causing problems. While overfeeding can lead to obesity, underfeeding can lead to nutrient deficiency.

Bulgarian Scenthound puppies are highly active and thus require enough food to fuel their rapid growth. As such, they should consume up to 2 cups of food split into 3-4 meals per day.

Feeding a Bulgarian Scenthound dog will cost you $1.2-$1.8 daily and  $36-$54 monthly. This can vary depending on the dog food brand, special dietary needs, and the size of your dog.

What are the common health problems of Bulgarian Scenthound Dog? 

Although there are no records of hereditary diseases in Gonche dogs, they may be prone to some health issues just like any other dog breed. These health problems include

Obesity: Being scent dogs, Gonches can sniff food anywhere. As such, these dogs love eating and can eat anything and everything that comes their way. This excessive appetite puts them at the risk of gaining unhealthy weight. Additionally, when they cease working, these dogs are at the risk of putting on extra weight due to their inactivity. Excessive weight gain can cause many health problems, including heart problems, diabetes, and joint problems. It’s thus crucial to ensure that you feed the right amount of food to your Bulgarian Scenthound to avoid this problem.

Hip dysplasia: Although this is mostly associated with large breed dogs, any dog Gonches included can suffer from this problem. This is a condition characterized by an abnormal formation of the hip socket resulting in the loosening of the hip joint and consequently causing debilitating pain and dysfunction. Over time, this condition leads to lameness,  muscle atrophy, and mobility problems.

The symptoms of hip dysplasia include:

  • Difficulty getting up
  • Occasional or chronic lameness
  • Abnormal sitting positions
  • Lameness
  • Cracking and popping sounds from joints

Parasitic infections: Due to the nature of work, the Bulgarian Scenthounds are prone to parasitic infections such as ticks and fleas. This can cause skin problems. It is thus essential to carry out regular grooming in order to detect these problems before they escalate to advanced levels.

What are the Nutritional Needs of a Bulgarian Scenthound Dog? 

Being working dogs, Gonches are highly energetic and active dogs and thus need a high-protein diet to cater to this need. Just like any other dog, the diet for Gonches should be completely balanced with all the necessary nutrients essential for their optimal health and wellbeing. This should include

  • Proteins: Proteins are the most important nutrient in the diet for dogs. Gonches need high-quality animal proteins from sources such as beef, chicken, fish, lamb, or pork to provide the vital amino acids they need. These make crucial building components for cells and tissues. Gonches need proteins for healthy muscle growth and maintenance. These dogs require at least 18% proteins for adults and a minimum of 22% for puppies. 
  • Minerals: The diet for the Bulgarian Scenthounds should contain a healthy balance of all essential minerals. Potassium, calcium, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, folate, zinc, and selenium are some of the essential minerals that  Gonches need. These minerals are key for various body functions. They help promote kidney, heart, liver, and bone health in dogs. Others like iron help boost blood production.
  • Carbohydrates: Although not part of the dietary requirements, carbohydrates make essential sources of energy that Gonches need to fuel their activities and keep them going. Besides providing extra proteins for dogs, Carbs are also beneficial for protein uptake and the development of strong muscles.
  • Vitamins: Gonches need vitamins to provide the essential antioxidants to help them boost their immunity and improve their general wellbeing. Antioxidants help combat the harmful effects of free radicals that cause damage to the body cells in dogs. 
  • Fats: Gonche dogs require a reasonable amount of fats in their diet. These are necessary for supplying additional energy to fuel their activities and enhance their metabolism. However, large amounts of fat may lead to obesity and other health concerns such as pancreatitis.
  • Micronutrients: The diet of Gonches should also include important micronutrients such as glucosamine, chondroitin, and taurine, which help promote strong joints and improve their heart health.

Where to Buy or Adopt Bulgarian Scenthound Dogs? 

While looking to buy or adopt a Bulgarian Scenthound dog, it’s important to exercise caution and only go for genuine breeders with good reputations. This will give you a guarantee that you will be getting a healthy dog that’s free from any potential health concerns in the future.

While at it, stay away from breeders that advertise large numbers of this dog breed at ridiculously low prices or those that offer huge discounts for buying or adopting these dogs.

Additionally, before buying or adopting Gonches, it’s best to research and be conversant with the dog’s needs, both physical, dietary, training, exercise, and everything there is to know about them. These dogs are highly energetic and thrive best when given something to do. It may thus not be an ideal choice if you have no time to give it the attention and exercise it yearns for.

The Bulgarian Scenthound dogs are extremely rare and unknown beyond their native origin in Bulgaria. As such, it is rare to find any breeders from whom you can buy or adopt these dogs. It is thus best to seek out the help of the Bulgarian Republican Federation of Cynology.

What are the Rescue Clubs for Bulgarian Scenthound Dogs? 

Rescue clubs are organizations that are dedicated to helping dogs find new homes. These organizations identify and take mistreated, abandoned, stray, or unwanted dogs and attempt to find a suitable home for them. 

The Gonche dog is popular in its original home in Bulgaria but remains unknown and extremely rare beyond their geographical boundaries. Hence, due to the rarity of this dog breed, it’s equally very difficult to find rescue clubs outside Bulgaria. You can reach out to the Bulgarian Republican Federation of Cynology to direct you to any rescue club near you.

How to Name a Bulgarian Scenthound Dog? 

Although naming a Bulgarian Scenthound may not sound like a big deal, it’s not as simple and clear as many potential or new owners might believe. Besides the name itself, the manner and sound in which it’s called play a critical role in eliciting a response from the dog. It’s, therefore, necessary to be keen while choosing a name for your Gonche.

Some of the necessary building blocks, including the tone and syllables that can guide while naming a Bulgarian Scenthound, include

that Gonches respond better to two-syllable names than single-syllable ones. This is because they are neither too short to be confused with command words such as sit or come and neither too long to perplex them. Good examples include cassie, Jinnah, etc.

Many Gonches owners report better response and recognition from their dogs when they call them in a sing-songy manner.

Dogs, Bulgarian Scenthounds included, respond better to high-pitched, energetic, and happy sounds when calling them. They, however, prefer soothing, quiet sounds when they are experiencing anxiety or nervousness.

Owners of Gonches who insist on single-syllable names should find a way to stretch the name and make it sound like two. For instance, Zena can be stretched out and called out as Zee-Heena.

What are the Similar Dog Breeds for Bulgarian Scenthound Dog? 

The following dog breeds are similar in one way or another to the Bulgarian Scenthound dog. These similarities are size, temperament, physical characteristics, or personality.

  • Balkanski Gonic Dog: These dogs are similar to the Bulgarian Scenthounds in that both dogs were initially bred as hunting dogs. Gonic dogs are also very intelligent, extremely loyal, kind, and good-natured, just like the Gonches. Additionally, both dog breeds are considered medium size dogs.
  • Bulgarian Hound dog: Both dog breeds have strong tracking and hunting capabilities and share similar origins in Bulgaria. The Hound dogs are highly intelligent and independent just like Gonches. Standing at 45-60cm in height and weighing up to 27 kgs, these dogs are also similar in size.
  • Rottweilers: The Bulgarian Scenthound dog is likened to Rottweilers in terms of the coat type. They both have short coats that are easy to groom and maintain. These dogs have moderate shedding levels and make low-maintenance dogs.
  • Cotralion dogs are similar in size to Gonche dogs, weighing between 30-50 pounds on average. They also compare heights ranging from 16-22 inches. Additionally, Cotralion dogs have high intelligence levels comparable to that of Gonches.  When properly socialized at an early age, both dogs make wonderful companions.

Sarah Brady

Sarah Brady is an animal lover and the proud dog-mom of a Golden Retriever named Brody and an Italian Greyhound named Jessup. Unfortunately, Jessup developed serious allergies to many different types of dog foods and ingredients when she was just a puppy. Meanwhile, Brody could eat seemingly anything and carry on as healthy as could be. Sarah spent hours of time researching and testing different foods and brands before finding something that worked for little Jessup. She wants Dog Food Care to simplify this experience for future dog-parents who face food allergy or tolerance issues of their own.