This is an ancient breed that can be traced back to hounds brought to Europe by the Phoenicians. The black variety has been cited as the basis of the mythical Hounds of Hell of early Celtic lore. Evidence suggests that the breed as we know it today originated in ancient Gaul, now part of France, where it was bred by the hunting tribe known as the Segusians.
After the Roman conquest of Gaul, the Segusian Hound was transported to Italy where it was subsequently refined and improved. The emperor Caligula is reputed to have been particularly fond of his pack of Segugi. During the Middle Ages the breed declined in both quantity and quality and received tremendous resurgence of popularity at the Renaissance.
During the early twentieth century it declined again, to be followed by another revival.
Originally bred to hunt in large packs, the breed later became adapted to use in small groups or singly. Their method of work is a cross between a hound and a gundog and in Italy today they are used for flushing, in the same way as a spaniel.