Hounds have a sense of smell that’s highly developed – a common characteristic that sets this group apart.
That being said, other traits in the hound group seem to have little in common. A hound can be excitable or lazy, be a lump on the rug or require an extensive exercise, and some prefer a slow trot while others love to run at full tilt.
The Hounds aren’t the Einstein’s of the dog kingdom. The strength lies in their ability to focus fully on their senses and to act in accordance. This isn’t to say that hounds are stupid – they are smart in their own particular way.
Scent Hounds are cunning in their ability to detect the location of prey. The Sighthounds intelligence is of slightly lower level.
The sighthound can be instructed to trail a lure across a field again and again or to make a deviation in direction – without thinking of a shortcut or to anticipate the next location to aid in catching the lure. The lower intelligence level results in more repetition in training a dog and to respond to instructed commands.
On the positive side, this trait is seen to be the reason why Sighthounds make undemanding and calm family pets. It’s often noted, that the more intelligent the breed, the more trouble witnessed.
Scent Hounds and Sighthounds are the two distinct types of hounds – in addition to two small, and less recognized types.
The Scent Hounds: Have the ability to track their prey by scent. Breeds that offer endurance, but not fast runners.
The Sighthounds: Once located, will keep prey in sight – and kill on their own. These breeds are bred for their keen sight and speed.
The Aboriginal Hounds: Uses all senses – scent, hearing, and sight. Not as good at tracking as the scent hounds, nor as fast as the sighthounds. Endurance and good speed at combined. Seen as a rare group, it’s typically accepted that the Afghan hound is a part of this sub-category.
And ‘Other’ Hounds: the ability to track with the combined senses of sight and scent. Although not as adapted as either the scent or sighthounds. This sub-category isn’t class by breed and is more typically a hybrid of two breeds.
Scent hound breeds feature physical characteristics that are common – though the size of the breeds varies widely. Drooping, long ears serve a functional use for these breeds, and some hounds have a distinctive structure or fold. Once these hounds track a scent, the head is lowered and the ears are able to catch a wider area and this effectively funnels the scent to the nostrils.
The scent hounds feature the ‘bay’ – a distinctive booming voice that instructs the dog’s master that a scent has been located.
It is possible for hound owners to distinguish the various barks or bays or their dog – either the sound that indicates ‘I’ve found a scent‘ or the bay to indicate ‘here’s the prize’. The loud and deep bark of the hound is necessary as they track far in front of their master and this allows the hunter to locate and follow the dog.
Scent hounds aren’t necessarily fast dogs but endurance is a necessity as tracking can go on for some time. The scent hound is the sturdiest of the group. Bassett hounds for instants will plod along with its nostrils to the floor and direct its master to the prey’s location.
The Bloodhounds are often thought off in this group. Able to trail a scent across ground cover, water, and even through water. Bloodhounds are happiest when tracking a scent and can often pick-up a trails that has been dormant for several days.
The large ears of the Otterhound drape the face – this in turn allows the hound to funnel the scent to its nostrils. This aids a dog in locating a scent even in adverse conditions, such as being underwater.
Traditionally used for hunting, the Scent Hounds are now put to work to locate a missing person, escaped convicts, and detecting bombs or contraband.
Scent Hounds vary in sizes – from a Beagle to a Bloodhound. The faster, longer legged hounds hunted in packs with their masters on horseback. The small hounds – such as theBassets or Beagles were put to use by their masters on foot.
These hounds have an instinct that instructs them to track scent trail – and that is often followed. Once on a scent trail, these dogs soon become one minded, aren’t likely to acknowledge boungaries or traffic problems, and might not even notice commands being instructed. A big voiced breed with a bark to disturb the neighbor and it’s a noise meant to be heard.
Scent Hound Breeds
Basset Hound – Bavarian Mountain hound – Beagle – Beagle-Harrier – Berner Laufhund – Blackmouth Cur – Bloodhound – Brachet – Black and Tan Coonhound – Redbone Coonhound – Bluetick Coonhound – English Coonhound – Treeing Walker Coonhound – Plott Hound – Dachshund – Foxhound – Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen – Grand Bleu de Gascoigne – Harrier – Ibizan hound – Kerry Beagle – Cretan Hound – Norwegian Elkhound – Otterhound – Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen – Polish Hound – Polish Scenthound – Rhodesian Ridgeback – Sean Dewar –Smellhound – Zyler Hound
The dogs to feature within the Sighthounds ground includes several of the oldest breeds to exist. The first reported breeds to appear date back to 2nd Century A.D. and a Saluki is believed to have a history to date for appox. 5000 years.
Dogs bred to detect its prey as a result of movement – once detected these hounds will give chase and pull down its prize with speed bursts in the region of 35 – 40 mph. Today, a sight hound is often seen as a family pet, although some breeds still compete in trail events.
A lot of hounds within this category have a personality that’s laid-back, with a few not too keen on strangers, and act as guardians for its familiy members. Physical appearance for these dogs is streamlined and sleek, with lean, light heads. The shape of a dogs head is critical to permit a complete range of stereoscopic sight. No feature of the head will interfere with the vision field. Although, for a breed that’s more common as a pet, the head shape appears to alter to limit its vision range – the reason for this isn’t known.
These are dogs that love to roam so in need of control when outside, with the help of fences, large open areas, or leads. If a small animal is seen when out running its instinct is to give chase, and it’s a instinct that’s so strong that prior training is often unable to overcome it.
Exercise is a vital part to the daily life of these dogs and a quick run is often enough to keep them content. In between a bout of physical activity these dogs aren’t nervous or hyperactive, more often seen to be couch potatoes. Once great example is the Greyhound – in its heyday it will give chase to a lure around a racetrack, yet later in retirement and living as a house pet will be content on a comfy pillow. Surprisingly, these dogs can adapt to apartment living. Although, large, can be undemanding and quiet as a pet.
Studies indicate that a wealthy landowner would hunt with a greyhound as companion and a common workman was seen to hunt with a lurcher. The lurcher is not a specific breed but a mixture of several breeds. Often a lurcher dog is part work dog and part sight hound.
There isn’t a accepted size for a lurches, with the exception that these dogs should be a quiet dog. The origins of the lurcher started in Europe with Gypsies, and bred in Great Britain and Ireland. A trait desired with a lurcher was the ability to track its game by sight and to take down its prey all without making noises typical with some hound breeds. An ability for quiet is desired due to the nature of poaching game from private estates.
Owning a recognized sight hound could often cause a problem for a workman as it would be assumed that he was attempting to poach. In addition, it was for that reason that a lurcher was bred – all to have sighthound ability, as well as high intelligence level and physical appearance of a work dog. A common dog to cross-bred with was a collie as it resulted in a breed with high intellect and a rougher, longer coat. In a attempt to add even more intelligence a terrier would often be include in the mix.
Lurchers with the ideal traits where those able to watch a herd of sheep throughout the day, and later at night poach a rabbit for a families mealtime. Lurchers have attracted there own following and gained a more prosperous image.
A Long dog, on the other hand, is a cross-bred of Sighthounds with the aim of combining the perfect traits and qualities of each breed. A Greyhound is often a breed to feature in the mix due to its tendency for acceleration and speed. Some common crosses for a long dog are a Greyhound and Saluki, a Greyhound and Deerhound, and a Greyhound and Whippet. In all cases, the ideal result is to retain focus and speed of a Greyhound with the added weather resistance and endurance of the partnering Sighthound breed.
Coursing (chasing of game) was often practiced by all society levels and at times a structured event of tracking live mammals, such as foxes, rabbits, jackals, deer, coyotes, wolves, gazelle, and antelope. In the United Kingdom a competitive course meet would see two dogs running together, while an American team often consists of three hounds. Coursing often relies on ‘lure coursing’, with a lure built to imitate a real mammal with enforced rules on the behavior of a lure.
For an effective coursing competition, a lure is required to alter direction several times to imitate game. Dogs can be focused to watch a lure no matter what else is taking place. A sighthound will trail a lure instinctively, although training is necessary to stay on course with a lure, instead of cutting it off via a shorter route.
Hounds can either be naturally attracted to lure coursing or in need of a considerable amount of training. A intelligent sighthound can’t be trained to track a lure as it’s often likely to take the shortest route, and as a consequence be disqualified.
A Greyhound race is a class of lure coursing and gambling on a dog race is a favored pastime. A side effect to this sporting activity is often mistreatment to a lot of these dogs, and the abandonment of the dogs as soon as the race career is finished. A Greyhound is excellent as a pet, whether racing or not.
Sighthound Breeds – Afghan Hound – American Staghound – Azawakh – Borzoi – Chart Polski – Cimeco dell’Etna – Galgo Espanol – Greyhound – Hortoya Borzaya – Ibizan Hound – Irish Wolfhound – Italian Greyhound – Longdog – Lurcher – Magyar Agar – Mudhol Hound – Pharaoh Hound – Rhodesian Ridgeback – Saluki – Scottish Deerhound – Sloughi – Whippet.