Hound Dog Breeds
Dog breeds in the Hound Group are used for recreational hunting, performance competition, therapy work, police and customs-inspection work, and, of course, as pets.
posted: July 5, 2012, 6 p.m. EDT
Hounds are the world's oldest specialized hunting dogs, documented for thousands of years. Their gracefulness, beauty and superlative hunting skills inspired ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and Greek literature. Hounds are not good at everything, but they are extremely talented at the things they are bred to do. In medieval times, owning a Greyhound often meant the difference between survival and starvation. Today hounds are used for recreational hunting, performance competition, therapy work, and police and customs-inspection work, and, of course, as pets.
Hound breeds vary dramatically in size, shape and proportion, from smooth-coated, short-legged Dachshunds to huge, rough-coated leggy Irish Wolfhounds. There are two basic hound types: sighthounds and scenthounds, so named for the primary sense by which they hunt. Examples of sighthounds include the Borzoi, Afghan Hound, Greyhound and Whippet. Some sighthounds are short-coated and some are long-coated, but all of them have extremely keen eyesight and are built for speed to find, chase and catch prey. These are the fastest breeds, pursuing their quarry with single-minded determination. They run mute, using all their breath to gain speed.
Examples of scenthounds include the Bloodhound, Basset Hound, Beagle and foxhounds, as well as the coonhounds -- the Black and Tan Coonhounds, American English Coonhound and Redbone Coonhound. They follow their prey primarily by scent rather than sight. With large nostrils and long ears to help them gather scents, they are truly built to sniff. All scenthounds are also noted for their tremendous endurance and perseverance.
Unlike sighthounds, who hunt silently, scent hounds instinctively bark or howl when they pick up a scent. When hunting, they move more slowly than sighthounds do. Some are short-legged, making them easy to follow on foot rather than on horseback. Probably the most renowned scenthound is the Bloodhound, prized for centuries for its trailing abilities. Working Bloodhounds remain indispensible to police departments and search and rescue teams all over the world.
Regardless of specialized abilities, all Hounds are mentally and physically designed to find and catch prey. Whether hunted singly or in packs, they rely primarily on their instincts and senses rather than on human direction. They have been selectively bred to work independently and persistently, qualities highly desire in a hunting dog. But these trains can complicate training, which is why Hounds are sometimes described as being aloof or independent. Their affection and devotion to their owners may be balanced by a reserve toward strangers.
Is a Hound dog for you? Look at these 13 facts about the Hound dog to decide if it is the right dog for your life situation.
- Hounds are sturdy and hardy.
- Hounds are sensitive, even-tempered, gently and highly affectionate.
- The short- and smoothhaired breeds require very little coat care.
- Many sighthounds are fairly inactive indoors, making them good house dogs.
- Their strong predatory drive makes them very playful.
- Some Hounds are notably quiet, others are not.
- Their strong hunting drive can cause hounds to be easily distracted during training.
- Because of their strong predatory instinct, hounds may not be reliable with small animals and other pets unless they are well socialized to them at a young age.
- Their instinct to chase things can make Hounds unreliable off lead.
- Digging and jumping breeds can be escape artists.
- Leash training, obedience training and a securely fenced yard are mandatory.
- Smooth- and shorthaired breeds may need extra weather protection.
- Long-coated breeds may experience extensive seasonal shedding.
Excerpt from the American Kennel Club's Meet the Breeds with permission from its publisher, BowTie Press, a division of BowTie, Inc. Purchase the AKC's Meet the Breeds.
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