This is Barbarella.
She is Barak, a Bosnian wirehair hound.
So, how did I, not a hunter and family owning no dog, end up breeding Bosnian Hounds?
Well, there is one breed from theese farout places that is well described in all of the aforementioned types of books, an that breed is the Dalmatian. Now, strangely enough, I am a Dalmatian too. Quite purebred. I also learned to read some English while I was still a kid, so I knew about the looks of the breed an was on the lookout for them whenever I visited Dalmatia (that was generally a couple of months during summer holydays). I saw no Dalmatians at all untill unto mid-sixties, but there were some white or mostly-white dogs that resembled the pictures of Dalmatians, only they had no spots on them. Naturally, I, knowing already that the colour of Dals was due to the T- dominant gene, assumed that these were same but showing recessive lack of spots. Fact is, these dogs were another FCI recognized breed, Istrian hounds, but English books naturally did not describe any FCI breed from some farout place like that, so I did not know untill much later, when I got hold of some Croatian dog magazines, usually available only to kennel club members (you can see the vitious circle at work here). Then I found out that there are several breeds of simylar type, some smooth some rough, mostly defined by their colouring (posavac is orange with some white, istrian is white with a little orange, tricolor is tricolor etc.) and one day a dog and a bitch fell into my lap that had grizzly-gray-ochre wiry hair and it turned out these were the bosnian hounds - Cezar and Lara, the first Baraks that I ever had. Or saw, for they were not common even in those days before the Bosnian war; now they've become rare and endangered. Lara was reported to be a cross between Barak and a wirehair Istrian, and abandoned by her owner who came to live in Zagreb and found out that hunting with hounds is banned around this city (the law is pretty simple - no hunting with hounds where there are deer) - so she was taken to the first Croatian dog sanctuary that was then being organized by Marija Randic, a pensioned scoolteacher. Cezar had been salvaged from Primošten, a small Dalmatian town, by Boris Papandopulo, the then greatest Croatian living composer, where he took him from people who kept him tied up on a very short chain for all his short puppy life - when I got him he was 5 months old and could not walk or trot without his hind legs bump into his front ones (it did not show in canter and did not prevent him going on his own “expeditions”). I never saw something like that before or after. It took a whole year walking on sharp stones to correct this fault, but afterwards he walked fine. Luck had it that I was at that time also engaged in dog rescue, so I bought off both dogs (Mr Pandpulo was a very old man then and was not really able to keep Cezar, as the family had a Peke already, but he wanted to place him with someone who can care properly for such type of dog; if you had a chance to hear his music... I guess no wonder he took liking to a hound) for a small sum which went to the sanctuary; and that was the beginning. I could have registered both of them, the stud book was open untill Cezar was two years old and Lara three, but I was not qute happy with all their features (ear shape, and funny walk that I mentioned), so that I did not want their genes into the pool before being tested; Later when I saw much inferior specimen being shown I was sorry, so that I eventually bred them and to these days I have some of their descendants. The characteristic of that line is excellent hair, not quite perfect ears, perfect nose and endurance. I am not wishing for the opening of the stud book for one reason: the genes of Baraks are dominant, i.e. crosses of Barak with everything else hound look like a Barak, with the other traits - short hair, unwanted color, apearing in third or subsequent generations. Well in my line I had some dogs with much too much white, so I believe that a wirehair Istrian has indeed been one of the ancestors. Why was I keeping this unregisterd line? Why, it looked very likely that because of the war, the need would arise for infusion of new genes (“new blood”) and I was keeping something ready. As it happened, this line is no longer around, except for two or three old males, but breeding of those helped a great deal 8n recognizing what the genotype of this breed is. There are other unregistered Baraks out there, and interestingly enough they all have imperfect ears - ears shaped like a Dalmatian, not quite those round hound shape. Those same ears can be seen on old photos of Baraks and now it seems obvious that most owners simply thougt at the time “my dog does not look perfect, look at those ears” and did not register his dog. Today's unregistered Baraks have inherited this characteristic that made their ancestors undesirable for registration! Thus my advice is to: breed the unregistered bitches to sires with longest and most penduluos ears, bar all else. Do not breed to unregistered sires (why would one?) unless it is an exceptional working dog - considering that working characteristic must be well preserved in non-show specimen, othervise they would not be there. Some days we will have tests to prove homozigotousy or heterozygotousy (is there some easier word to describe this?) and the problem of excluding crosses from being registered will be solved.
There are other admittable colours, but they are frowned upon and thus not common. Currently the standard rules that such “faulty coloured” dog’s exterior cannot be graded better than “good” at shows – no “very good”, “excellent”, CAC, BOB etc. there, but this does not affect working titles. Those unwanted colours are: a little bit of white – not more than 1/3 anyway, so that at a glance the dog really does look solid-coloured; this areas are often ticked, and in heavily ticked individuals white is apparent only on paws – the dogs with those little spots on fingertips are not discriminated against in the show ring. And then there are two variants of yellow - the breeders generally don't care which is which, although it is important - they have different modes of inheritance; the recessive yellow (e e) can be recognized by being free from any black hairs, and dominant yellow (ay-) often comes with dark carboneé areas on the back or even a dark mask (ay- em-). And also some of the black-and-tans are more lightly coloured than some dominant yellows, which can be to such a degree darkened that they can be termed “green”. These darker yellow dogs are also not discriminated against... Interestingly, among the related breeds, the recessive yellow appears in Istrian and Posavac hounds, and dominant yellow in Styrian hounds. Although it is generally believed that one of the constituents Peitinger used for the Styrian breed was solid-coloured variant (today not recognized by the standard as such, but recessive yellow baraks match this category) of Istrian wirehair hound, also called “barbino”, that are today usually unregistered - it is documented that it was a “wirehair breed from the south”, this could point to the fact that those were possibly Bosnian dogs; at that time, though, the difference between Istrian wirehair hound and Bosnian Barak was not all that clear. Today is for instance impossible to determine for certain, reading the catalogue descriptions, which breed were some of the early exhibited dogs from the beginning of the XX century, either Baraks or Istrian wirehair breed...
(This is as good place as any to mention that wire-haired Istrian is in no way only wirehair form of shorthair Istrian, but that those are two each well determined breeds that are quite by chance (or perhaps as a result of fashion, or taste) of the same colouring. Althought the occasional cross-breedings here can't be ruled out completely, the constitution (conformation) of the wirehair Istrian is nearly equal to Barak, but quite different from shorhaired namesake, which is smaller, finer built, and rather better suited for different, rockier terrain and warmer climate.) Wirehair Istrians in their own turn were crossed with Italian Spinone to improve that breed (Beckman 1889).
One of the reasons that dogs in these countries were always uniformly coloured is the tradition (from ancient Greece, even! says the legend)... But the more realistic is the turbulent history of Bosnia. Because many wars resulted in number of stray dogs, and game reserves are patched into small areas, it was necessary to cull these strays not only to protect game animals, but also, in fact more important, to prevent the spreading of rabies. Thus the hunters had to be able to recognize a hunting or pastoral dog at a quick glance, and multicoloured hounds, by their natural style working far away from their masters, were easily mistaken for strays. The policy was usually “shoot first, find owner later”... even if the dog was not harrasing livestock or doing any damage. As, in 1970 a black champion Giant Schnauzer was shot in the park adjacent (not part, just next close) to the hunting grounds in the outskirts of Zagreb, the very capital of Croatia, and the excuse to the hawkeye was that it seemed to be a wolf (!) although there was no question of wolves being closer than 100 km from the city at that time. Thus, most popular hunting breeds are the chocolate German pointer, or the easily recognizable plumed spaniels and setters; the hounds are mostly yellow/white, and terriers are mostly German jagdterrier (which many hunters, who should really know better, mix up with Baraks, even at close range view!). Pastoral dogs too, the most popular Croatian sheepdog and Sarplaninac, are uniformly coloured so that can be easily recognized – one is black, the other gray. Another pastoral breed, Tornjak, that is now (re)gaining popularity, is broken-coloured - and that might be one of the factors that made it nearly extinct, it was pulled off the brink at the very last moment.
If in the future Baraks become more popular with hunters in other countries or in non-hunting circles, it is likely that other colours, recessive, that spring from time to time but are generally very rare, might become established. I myself like dogs with some white, and I have seen very attractive yellow-white dogs, (ee factor), the colour of posavac, which colour-cum-wiry-hair would be accepted as a breed of it's own if there were only enough of them, as it was one of the first to be described in literature (by Laska in 1905). As it is now they are tucked in with this other closely similar breed, but therefore without due recognition. The very pale e e dogs that spring up in the F2 and subsequent generations from crosses of these wirehair posavac with genuine baraks are not all that handsome, they look more like the colour of washed-out rugs. I have also seen dogs with large white areas, some were nice silvery white phenotipically alike the Dalmatian but splattered with typical barak slate-gray, those are though usually considered to be miscoloured Istrian hounds; and I have seen very attractive brown (bb) with bright orange tan areas, that looked like a coat of flame (I admit I don't know if this is acceptable - it was off the show ring). This may be a throwback, because one Franz Laska who first described the breed also mentioned that the colour of “dry leaves” was common. I suspect, but cant't argue with absolute certainity that this is indeed a bb brown; brown colored mix-breeds that I've seen did not have the same brilliance of color. He warned, however, that the pure (glossy) chocolate is typical for bird dogs, not hounds.
One fact is evident from all the literature of any time: this breed indeed does stem from ancient history, and was well established when at last it got to the show ring. However, it was not quite distinct at the time from Istrian wirehair hound, as both of those breeds had then wider range of colours than today; but it is easy to suppose that the breeds at adjacent sides of main east-west border in Europe, through which lot of trade went once the great 14 and 15ct wars ended, (making Venice and Dubrovnik stinking rich in the process!), had some genetic material seep throught too, as in the ancient times dogs were valued sometimes quite high; they were on various occasions given as presents to kings and nobles, exchanged for land (one medieval document in Bosnian city Vitez mentions a meadow as payment for a bitch), or for livestock - usually, the price was: a pregnant sheep of one's own pick, for a puppy - a good price even today.
When you take your hound for a walk, it will probably happen like this: In the beginning, when you have yet not come to the park or the hunting grounds where you plan to spend that day (note please, “day”, not an hour or two), or when you have barely left the car, the dog will be the epitome of obedience, walking to heel if he has been trained to and generally if it’s your first encounter with a scent-hound you can’t guess what you’re up to. Now when you let him walk freely in the bushes he will at first mostly sniff around and try to get oriented around the space. (Baraks, together with other eastern hounds (this includes Dalmatians, too!), are perfect in orientation and it is impossible that one ever gets lost.) He will dart hither and thither into thickets and then reappear to check if you are still around. This pattern will go on for some minutes or half an hour or so, until the dog detects a scent trail worthy of investigating. He will then “give tongue” (start barking in particular way, half-yodeling-half-howling) and be off in pursuit. It is difficult to recall him in this phase. What you are to do, is of two choices: you can either sit, paint landscapes in watercolour or watch birds or whatever, and wait for him to return, usually in an hour-and-half or two hours, and if it is getting dark and cold, you can go leaving something that belongs to you, a piece of clothing, or a dog’s toy, as a place mark which he will “guard” until you obediently come first thing in the morning. Or you can alternatively go after him, in the same time giving him sound signals (a whistle carries farther then a voice, if you have no traditional horn) so that he knows your position. As I have already said, he is perfect at orientation. If he is chasing a hare or a fox, he will try to make them run in your direction, much as wolves hunt, and sheepdogs fetch sheep, too - think of a sheepdog with really wide outrun. To sight such an otherwise elusive animal as hare or fox is exciting even if you are not a hunter. If you eventually catch up with him and find that he got, even more exciting, a wild boar at bay, obviously better don’t come too close (if you are unarmed), recall the dog and the boar won’t have attack on his mind, he will be happy to get away from that annoying pooch rather than shredding him to pieces... The worst scenario is if the dog is chasing deer, then the deer can run a long distance without retracing their path, and your dog will not be back quite a while. Thus nobody likes the dogs to chase deer, because this also upsets deer, especially hinds with young, but these oriental hound breeds CAN be taught not to. Various techniques produce varying results. What I prefer to do, is, most important, first have a dog that is taught not to chase cats, chicken, sheep etc. I find this stage easy. Then find someone who keeps deer in an enclosure and willing to help you with the training.. Try to get the idea across that this is just another kind of sheep and especially that you are not interested in them, and also you have more interesting things around, toys, food etc. It would be best if you had your own tame deer, especially if they be not afraid of dogs, but not everyone can afford that. Also avoid at all cost the killing of deer which your dog might witness, and do not allow your dog to hunt or associate with dogs that are known deer-chasers. There are also many other techniques, some of dubious value (artificial deer scent is supposed to work in some stages of training and not in another and thus is best left to trainers which have a lot of experience with this method.) - The radiocollars are supposed to work well, but here again do not expect wizardry - you and your dog have to work on it... Even when you are sure that your dog won’t chase deer, make sure that other hunters in the area can recognize him and not mistake him for a stray. Here the typical hound voice helps, for instance I have been told that many times my foundation bitch was nearly shot, but saved by being recognized in time by her voice, thereupon witnessed as being great with wild boars, and as everybody around knew me and her, although I never hunted - let alone wild boars, people afterwards asked for puppies instead. Some dog owners even say that they can guess by the voice which game their dog was chasing, but us who are tune-deaf can’t boast at that...
This is always an open question in any breed - where do we go from here? Obviously we do not want some extremes as longer or shorter coat or change in size or general anatomycal changes. More emphasize on the hair lenght pattern could be done (7cm on back, longer on tail, quite short on legs, 1 cm on ears). Also in my opinion the quality of the voice can be improved upon; the problem for some breeders might be that they might never actually hear the prospectuous sires if they choose them at the shows (which should be the means if we are to strive for more uniformity in exterior). The improvement should go for a fuller and longer-lasting howl, some of today's hounds give out a funny high squeaky sound that does not carry far enough, suitable for a pet pooch, but not quite the real thing. Soon all the hunting dogs in Croatia will have to pass the hunting test, so there'll be more info on prospective sires. Yet, selecting towards these goals is almost impossible with so few registered males around - so you see I do know what I mean when I say that the next first imperative is the increase in numbers. So I am willing to help anyone who wants a barak puppy, I can locate the breeder(s) and help arrange the deal. The average price in Croatia is readilly affordable for outlanders, including possibly more investing that may go into transport, additionall shots etc. Some people might find it fitting to come to Dalmatia for holidays, visit the breeder(s) and take a pup back home at return - this is certainly not the so much despised buying-on-an-impulse!