The Schillerstovare, also known as the Schiller Hound, is a Swedish hunting dog developed in the late 1800s in Stenungstund, located on the southwestern coast of Sweden. The originator of this breed was Per Schiller, a farmer described by the Swedish Kennel Club (SKC) as a “godsagare” or large landowner; he was also an avid outdoorsman and hunter, as well as an artist. His aim was not to create a new dog breed, but rather to make one more suited to his preferences—elegant with a lively temperament, possessing an excellent nose and strong feet. This dog would be versatile, but also finely suited to track and hunt foxes and rabbits in the snow.
During the late 1800s, Dr. Adolf Patrick Hamilton, the founder of the SKC, and Per Schiller were both trying to develop a better Stovare type dog and worked cooperatively. Dr. Hamilton used the English Foxhound in what became the Hamilton-Stovare. These two breeds are similar in appearance. The Hamilton-Stovare is slightly taller, but the main difference is in coloring; the Schillerstovare is brown and black while the Hamilton-Stovare is tricolor.
The word “stovare” is Swedish for “gun dog”, but the Scandinavian Stovare breeds actually belong in the scent hound group. Schillerstovares are a mix of hounds from Sweden, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and Harriers from England. The exact source of the original Schillerstovares’ bloodlines is not certain, however most breed fanciers believe they are 7/16 Swedish-German, 7/16 English Harriers, and 2/16 Swiss. Although, as dog breeder, judge, and writer Ria Horter points out, the Austrian aspect is not accounted for in this breakdown.
Many of the Schillerstovare’s ancestors have hunted the snowy forests of Sweden since the Middle Ages, when soldiers returning from wars in the 15th and 16th centuries brought back dogs from Austria. These dogs became the ancestors of the majority of Sweden’s hound dogs by the 1800s. Per Schiller incorporated a number of these hounds to create his new breed. In addition to these, he used hounds imported from southern Germany, which were small and primarily brown and black, with white markings. Schiller also used Swiss hounds that Mr. H. Carbonnier had imported to Sweden, which were markedly different from the German ones. Dr. Hans Raber, a dog breed historian and author, writes that he believes Schiller used Swiss black and red hounds, such as the “old ‘Aargauer Hound’”.
He also crossed in English Harriers, which added size to the Schillerstovare. Mr. O.B. Rydholm imported an English Harrier named Crossy about the time Schiller was creating his new type of dog. Crossy was mated to a female Harrier who had been imported by an English civil engineer living in Sweden. It was their offspring that Schiller used to cross with the Swedish hounds.
He exhibited his new breed at the first Swedish dog show held in 1886. Around 189 hounds were shown, including two of Schiller’s—a sister and brother named Tamburini and Ralla I, respectively. These first dogs were smaller than today’s Schillerstovares, with brown rather than black markings. They are considered the ancestors of the present day Schillerstovares.
Schiller painted a portrait of two of Tamburini and Ralla I’s grandchildren, whom he also entered in the Goteborg dog show of 1892. They were named Polka 1 and 1 Roller (although one source gives the latter dog’s name as Kala 1). Unfortunately Pers Schiller did not live to see the breed he created receive full recognition; he died in 1894 at the age of thirty-four. His brother Karl inherited the dogs and continued Pers’ work, breeding and exhibiting them.
Schiller managed to achieve consistency of type along with exceptional working traits in these dogs in a remarkably short span of time. When fifty entries from the Schiller line appeared in the 1903 dog show organized by the Stovare Club of Vastergotland, their presence wowed the crowd and brought about discussion of a breed standard. In 1907, the breed was officially named the Schillerstovare in honor of Pers Schiller.
It is worth noting that Schiller was able to create his breed in record time despite the fact that he used such a variety of dogs of varying heights. One dog breed expert speculates that to achieve what he did so quickly could either be chalked up to luck, or could suggest that these different breeds have more in common genetically than is currently realized.
An outstanding Schillerstovare named Ray was entered in the 1910 dog show in Stockholm. Ray, owned by J. Svedenborg and bred by Karl Schiller, had exceptional working qualities making him a favorite of hunters. Ray was also a favored stud dog and many of today’s Schillerstovare lines trace back to him.
This medium to large hound is used for running fox and rabbits and is highly valued for its tracking and hunting abilities. The Swedish Kennel Club (SKC) claims the Schillerstovare is the fastest of the Scandinavian hounds and the breed has been dubbed “the hunting dog for the Frozen Land”. The sobriquet is well deserved as the Schillerstovare exhibits great power and endurance, as well as incredible speed, traversing vast expanses of snowy terrain, remaining unfazed by long periods of time spent hunting in the bitter cold of Scandinavia. This breed works alone, with their owner, rather than in a pack.
When tracking an animal, Schillerstovares are so intent on their mission that they are oblivious to everything else. Once they have their prey cornered, the Schillerstovare does not touch it, but howls until the hunter appears. In Sweden hunting is primarily recreational and the focus is on the hunt, not on the kill. Often when the hunter arrives on the scene, he or she simply calls off the dog, letting the prey go free.
Today Schillerstovares are one of the most popular dogs in Sweden for use in hunting; they are also used as companion dogs. But the Schillerstovare remains rare outside of Sweden. Swedish breeders are generally disinterested in selling their dogs outside of their homeland; when they do, they want to know the dog will be used as a hunting dog.
The Swedish Kennel Club allowed the Schillerstovare to be listed in a provisional stud book in 1907, granting them full recognition as a Swedish breed in 1913. The current breed standard was written in 1997; the SKC uses the same standard as the Federacion Cynologique Internationale (FCI). The Schillerstovare is also recognized internationally by the FCI and by the U.S. based organization, the United Kennel Club. The latter recognized the breed in 2006.
Schillerstovares are well proportioned, muscular dogs of medium size. These athletic dogs convey a noble bearing and a robust physicality. Their bodies are somewhat rectangular, with the torso slightly longer than the tail. The height for males (measured from ground to withers) should be 21 to 24 inches, with the ideal height 22.5 inches. The height of the female should be 19.5 to 22.5 inches, with the ideal height at 21 inches. On average members of the breed will weigh between 40 and 55 pounds; males being the heavier of the two sexes.
These dogs have a thick undercoat; the top coat is short and glossy, but harsh to the touch, lying close to the body. The hair on the head, ears, and front of the legs is smooth, rather than harsh, and shorter than the hair on the rest of the body. The top coat is longest on the back of the thighs and on the underside of the tail. Their coat color is tan, fawn, or ginger with a distinct black mantle (also called a saddle) that covers the back and sides of the neck, sides and top of the torso, and the top of the tail. Black marks on the cheeks are allowed; slight white markings on the chest and toes are also acceptable.
Schillerstovares have slightly domed skulls and longish heads. The head is triangular in shape when viewed from the front and the side. Their faces are widest between their ears and their stops are well defined. Their muzzles are long and, when viewed from the side, straight and parallel to the top of the skull. The ears are soft and set high, hanging flat, with the forward edge close to their cheeks. When the ears are pulled forward, they reach midway down the length of the muzzle. Schillerstovares raise their ears slightly when attentive. Their medium sized, dark brown eyes should have a lively expression. They have lean cheeks and black noses with well developed nostrils. Their lips are tight and their jaws close in a scissor bite over a complete set of strong, white teeth.
Their strong necks are long with smooth, tight skin. Males should have a noticeable arch at the crest. Their long, muscular shoulders are well laid back and defined. Their chests are deep, well developed, and reach down to their elbows. The ribs are moderately sprung. They have straight backs and a slight tuck up at the underline. The strong loins have a moderate arch and the long, wide croup slopes slightly.
Their forelegs are straight and parallel when seen from the front. The upper arms are long, forming a right angle from the shoulder. Elbows are close to the body and cannot be seen below the chest. Pasterns are flexible and form a slight angle to forearms. They have strong hindquarters and well muscled thighs that appear broad, when viewed from the side. The hind legs are parallel when viewed from the back. Stifles and hocks are well angulated and dewclaws are absent. The rear pasterns are lean, short, and vertical. Feet on the Schillerstovare are oval and tight, with well arched toes. Their gait is strong and elongated, with legs moving parallel to each other.
Their tails, set in line with the back, are wide at the base and taper toward the tip, coming all the way down to the hock. The Schillerstovare holds its tail either straight or curved like a saber. When in motion, the tail should not be carried above the level of the back.
Schillerstovares are intelligent, lively, and attentive dogs. This breed requires a great deal of physical activity and thrives on a strong, stable bond with its owner. They make good family and companion dogs because of their loyalty and affection for their human families. They are attentive to their owners, tending to devote themselves to only one person. They prefer to be indoors with their people to life in a kennel, for they are not pack dogs. When inside the home, Schillerstovares are calm and docile. Even though this breed is not fond of children, they are tolerant and patient with them. They need early and consistent socialization with a variety of people and in particular with children.
They are mistrustful of strangers, however they are not aggressive and not prone to bite or attack humans. Their loud howl can be heard from a distance, giving you clear warning of something or someone they find suspicious, making them good watch dogs. But their gentle natures preclude them from usefulness as guard dogs.
Schillerstovares are not a good choice for first time dog owners; they are a dominant breed and will try to control the inexperienced or weaker willed owner. Schillerstovares are intelligent and capable of learning and obeying commands easily, but they are independent and inclined to be stubborn. A firm and consistent, but gentle, approach is most effective. Harshness in treatment or attitude will only make your dog resistant to learning from you. Monotonous repetition of the same commands will not hold the attention of your Schillerstovare, so training is best accomplished in short sessions, incorporating variety and fun, and always utilizing positive reinforcement.
The Schillerstovare will try to dominate and control other household pets—canine and otherwise. Even though they are a strong and dominant breed, they are not overly aggressive toward other dogs. If given proper training and socialization they can get along well with other canines in the household. But because of this breed’s strong instinct to hunt prey, they should not be trusted with small household pets.
These athletic dogs are bred to hunt across vast expanses for long periods of time. Therefore they require a great deal of exercise, which should include a generous amount of space in which to run. Without adequate room and activity, Schillerstovares will be frustrated, unhappy dogs and may exhibit destructive behavior. As with all dog breeds, the Schillerstovare needs a daily pack walk; in the case of this breed, if you make it a daily run or hike, so much the better. Never let your dog off leash except in an unenclosed area, otherwise, your Schillerstovare may run off to track a scent, oblivious to all else--including cars.
These dogs will not do well living in an apartment; a house with a large, enclosed yard is better, but the challenge will be to make sure your dog gets enough outdoor exercise and activity. Living on a farm or out in the country is probably the best environment for a Schillerstovare, as long as the dog lives inside with the family as it will not be happy with kennel life. They thrive in colder weather, doing quite well in snowy environments.
The Schillerstovare requires a minimal amount of grooming. Brushing should be done on a regular basis, at least once a week, to remove loose hair. Also, after a hunting expedition or any prolonged outdoor time, you will need to brush your dog and carefully check its ears and feet for mites or any debris he or she may have inadvertently picked up. Ears should be cleaned and checked periodically.
These dogs have a harsh outer coat that protects them from the elements, and also repels dirt and water, making frequent bathing unnecessary and unhealthy. Too much bathing with harsh shampoos can strip their skin and hair of needed oils, damaging their skin and the protective qualities in the coats. When required, bathe using mild soap. A good rubdown with a chamois between baths will suffice to clean your dog and bring out the natural sheen of its hair.
The Schillerstovare is a hardy, healthy breed with no major genetic issues. This breed enjoys a lifespan of approximately thirteen years.
Other health concerns: