Scents and Sights: Hounds of the Hunt

Whether you prefer smaller specimens, like the dachshund, or gentle giants, like the Irish wolfhound, there is a hound to please nearly every preference. Whichever hound dog breed you choose, you will gain an affectionate and devoted companion.

Scents and Sights: Hounds of the Hunt

Types of Hound Dog

Learn more about the hound´s history and the differences between sight hounds and scent hounds here!

Hound History

Once upon a time, all dog breeds fell into one of two categories. The categories were the sporting group and the non-sporting group. The additional groups that are seen in the dog show rings today branched out from these two groups. From the sporting group, the hounds strutted aside and claimed their own spotlight. The hound group consists of dogs that utilized heightened senses of sight or scent to carry out their hunting duties. Some of the sight hound breeds are also noted for their remarkable speed when pursuing their prey. Today, many of the hound breeds have earned their rightful place as popular family companions.

Scent Hounds

Scent hounds were used to track the scent of their quarry. Hunters accompanied the dogs either on foot or on horseback, and the dogs usually hunted in packs. They are generally slower than the sight hounds, but they have the endurance to track a scent for lengthy distances. They have long ears that aid in funneling the scent toward the nose, and the loose structure of their lips enables them to pick up the scent particles along the trail. Popular hound breeds include the beagle, basset hound, dachshund and Rhodesian ridgeback. Other scent hounds include the American foxhound, English foxhound, bloodhound, black and tan coonhound, Norwegian elkhound, harrier, otterhound and petit basset griffon vendeen.

Sight Hounds

Sight hounds were traditionally utilized for their astounding visual acuity and their amazing speed. Sights hounds are built for stamina. Once they catch sight of their target, then their agile frames, powerful lungs, long running strides, powerful long necks and strong jaws enable them to pursue and kill. The greyhound is the fastest dog on record, reaching speeds in excess of 40 miles per hour. The Saluki is the oldest dog breed, dating back to the ancient Egyptian era. Other ancient sight hounds include the Afghan hound, the basenji, the Ibizan hound and the Pharaoh hound. Other sight hounds include the borzoi, the Irish wolfhound, the Scottish deerhound and whippet.

Diverse Appearances

Beyond their shared origins as hunters, the hound group exhibits a diverse assortment of shapes, sizes and coats. From the dachshund’s short legs and the basset hound’s flowing ears to the luxurious locks of the Afghan hound to the lean physiques of the greyhound and whippet, each breed has its own unique and charming characteristic.

Curb Their Enthusiasm

The hunting instincts of most hound breeds make these dogs potential flight risks. Once they pick up a sight or scent, their full focus is to track it relentlessly. Hound dog breeds must be walked on a tightly held and secure leash, and their homestead’s property must be enclosed with a sturdy, tall fence. Some breeds, such as the dachshund, were developed to go subterranean in pursuit of badgers and other small underground mammals. Be sure to deter them from digging their way out from underneath a fence.

Training Trait

Keep in mind that while hound dogs are trainable, they were initially developed to hunt independently and to think for themselves. They can be headstrong and they will mentally question what is being asked of them. Training is best accomplished with a calm and patient attitude in addition to the use of rewards and other positive reinforcement.

Other Pets

Many hound dogs were developed to hunt in packs, which makes them amenable to sharing their homes with other dogs. Caution should be used when considering other pets in the household, however. Most hound dog breeds that are raised with cats from the earliest age can coexist peacefully with household cats, but many will chase and kill other cats that trespass in the yard. Other small mammals, including pocket pets and backyard wildlife, will also be perceived as prey. It is also important to note that rescued racing dogs, such as greyhounds, were trained on the racetrack with cats or rabbits, and these dogs will likely never learn to get along with these animals in a home setting.

Need tips on finding the perfect dog breed for you? Find here the best tips for picking out a dog for you and your family.

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