Once believed to be the stuff of legends, the double-nosed andean tiger hound is an extremely rare dog breed used by Bolivian hunters to track jaguars through the Amazon rainforest.
The first mention of double-nosed dogs in the Amazon jungle can be traced back to 1913, when legendary explorer Colonel Percy Fawcet told tales of such animals on his return from an expedition. No one believed him, they laughed at his stories, and the double-nosed dog remained a cryptozoological beast up until the mid-2000s, when Colonel John Blashford-Snell returned with photographic evidence of the dog’s existence. It’s an extremely rare breed believed to only exist in Bolivia, where it is used to track jaguars because of their enhanced sense of smell.
“There is a chance that these dogs came from a breed with double noses that’s known in Spain as Pachon Navarro, which were hunting dogs at the time of the Conquistadors,” Colonel Blashford-Snell told the BBC back in 2007. “I think it’s highly likely some of these were taken to South America and they continued to breed. They’re good hunting dogs.”
The English explorer first noticed a doubled-nosed dog while carrying out reconnaissance near the village of Ojaki. He was sitting by the fire one night when he saw a weird-looking dog that appeared to have two noses. He had had nothing to drink, so he was pretty sure his eyes weren’t playing tricks on him. Plus, he remembered Colonel Percy Fawcet’s story.
The dog Blashford-Snell saw in 2005 was a female called Bella, and two years later he met Bella’s son, Xingu, who shared the same distinct physical trait. The explorer asked the locals about the existence of other double-nosed Andean tiger hounds and learned that there were other such dogs in the area.
“The Bolivian Army came and took DNA samples because they’re interested in the breed. He’s not the only dog like this, there are others in the area,” the colonel said.
Double-nosed Andean tiger hounds were developed to help hunters track jaguars, called ‘tigrés’ in Bolivia. Not much is known about them, but it is rumored that their double nose gives the dogs a superior sense of smell. Because it is so rare, the breed isn’t even recognized by major breed groups or kennels, and until Colonel Blashford-Snell provided evidence of its existence, the double-nosed dog was considered a cryptozoological animal.