This painting and the subsequent lot were painted at the kennel of Léon-Félix Loysel, a friend and fellow artist of Troyon. Beginning in 1854, Troyon made annual summer visits to visit Loysel in the Touraine. While there, Troyon painted portraits of the hunting dogs that filled Loysel's kennels. The most well-known of this group is in The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Like Troyon's paintings of cows, his dogs can trace their lineage to 17th century Dutch painting, especially in the monumental depictions of dogs by Frans Snyders.
The subject of these two paintings are described precisely in the catalogue of the 1866 Vente Troyon as "deux chiens couplés, par une chaîne, flairent une piste dans la plaine, au sortir d'un bois" and "deux chiens couplés, arrêtés sur la lisière d'un bois; l'un est haletant, l'autre tourne le nez au vente." A third painting, which must have been part of the series, is in the John G. Johnson Collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (fig. 1) and described in the Vente Troyon, as "deux chiens au bois; l'un d'eux tire sur la corde qui le retient a son compagnon et s'efforce de boire a une mare."