Even though in the interwar period, hounds were used for hunting and there still were those who appreciated the hounds, they constituted only a small group that tried hard to bring back the belief that a hound is a certain link to the past. Lithuanian Hounds received no strategically important attention from the state in the interwar period, and they did not have any specific status and were not considered cultural heritage by the state. No exhibition was organized for them, and no club or society was found for them.
In the interwar period, Lithuanian Hounds found themselves in a difficult situation due to many reasons: decreased forest areas and their quality, many more land owners after the Land reform; at the end of the war people engaged in hunting to compensate for seized food products, and this resulted in a decrease in animal population, and, as a result, hunting of the majority of animals was prohibited; poaching and degradation of fauna were widespread; a law was adopted preventing hunting with tall hounds (which gave rise to short Latvian and Estonian Hounds), and overall taxation on using hounds for hunting.
The government had an opinion that hunting with strong and fast hounds was harmful to animals being hunted. Some hunters had a similar opinion and went as far as to suggest replacing hounds with dachshunds, which according to them were better suited for hunting than overambitious hounds, which can work for more than ten hours and chase away animals. Even though at first the status of the hounds in the interwar period in Lithuania was not too bad, the law adopted in 1935 was the most harmful and almost completely eliminated hounds as hunting dogs.
Unfortunately, the Second World War has further reduced the already small pack of purebred Lithuanian Hounds, and only in the fifties of the 20th c. did handler Z. Goštautas started restoring the breed of Lithuanian Hounds. At that time there were some dogs left in Samogitia – around Telšiai and other neighbouring regions. It is believed that these dogs were the offsprings of large packs of hounds kept at manors at the beginning of the 20th c. Apart from Z. Goštautas, A. Kuzavinis, V. Klovas and others have also contributed to restoring the hounds and bringing the breed to the professional world of cynology. All these people travelled across Lithuania in search of dogs similar to Lithuanian Hounds. In 1966, the first standard of Lithuanian Hound was drafted and later updated. Trials and exhibitions of Lithuanian Hounds were held in the Soviet period, where all participating dogs were examined and their advantages and disadvantages were recorded. Meanwhile, the first documented dogs, in a contemporary sense, are introduced whose documents contain information about the origin of the dog. (p. 119–120)
We can take comfort in the fact that the effort by handlers and hunters has not been in vain and the work with hounds continued even after 1990. It is true that the size of dog population changes – it falls down and increases again, but the interest of people in this breed only grows stronger. Since 1990, the concept of what a dog is, what it should be, and what it needs, has been gradually changing. Great victories have been achieved: Lithuanian Hounds compete with other breeds on equal terms; Lithuanian and international media write articles about Lithuanian Hounds, make videos, and there is a number of kennels of Lithuanian Hounds.
Sculptures in three cities in Lithuania (Vilnius, Klaipėda and Telšiai) are probably the most important symbol of making the breed more popular and commemorating it. Lithuanian Hound together with other national breed Žemaitukas were depicted on commemorative coins issued by the Bank of Lithuania. In 2018, Lithuanian Hounds were evaluated and a new standard of this breed was presented to the Lithuanian Kennel Club. Today, people train Lithuanian Hounds and prepare them for living in a city, train them to perform human search, try to attend different competitions and various cynological activities. We can rejoice in the fact that the breed of Lithuanian Hounds, which came into existence in the 15th c. and survived the 19th and the 20th c., geopolitically and historically difficult to Lithuania, has not disappeared and now regains its forgotten glory, honour and abundance.
A contemporary Lithuanian Hound is a universal dog, but its passion and work method indicate that this is primarily a hunting dog. The work method during a hunt of Lithuanian Hounds, compared to other breeds, is rather simple, but also special. They may chase an animal by using their voice and alternate it depending on a situation (a fresh track or the animal itself, large or small animal, etc.); slow down the animal being hunted by using their voice and without any contact, or control a boar by contacting it and restricting its movements so that the hunter could approach and hunt it down; find an animal in the hunting area, raise it from its den and chase to the line of hunters waiting for the animal being chased; search of injured animals. (p. 121).
Since our hounds are very clever, they are easy to train and they follow commands well, but this takes time and patience. Patience is especially needed since Lithuanian Hounds are energetic and cannot keep still, they can be trained only by exhausting them physically before training, since only then they are able to keep still and focus on training and commands. Our hounds quickly learn how to follow commands and follow them well, in some cases they are as good as service dogs, but, due to their curious nature, they may become bored of repeating the same command multiple times. It should be noted that Lithuanian Hounds are sensitive dogs and the voice tone should never be raised when reinforcing or disciplining them. If you get angry and start shouting, the dog will get frustrated, abandon its work and will not resume it because its only wish will be to stay with you, please you, reduce your anger and give sympathy.
Lithuanian Hounds are powerful and clever dogs, but they are also gentle, very kind, and loyal. A popular belief that hunting dogs should be chained or kept in a cage, and that Lithuanian Hounds should not be kept in an apartment, is not true. Even though Lithuanian Hounds have a very strong hunting instinct, they are not at all aggressive towards humans; they love and respect their owners. They are very loving dogs that are perfect for families as they get along with all members of the family – not only children, but other animals as well, for example, cats. (p. 123).
Photo by Gabija Ščerbavičiūtė