Hounds

hound dogs

Greyhound

Greyhounds have been prized for thousands of years for their speed, agility, and keen-sighted hunting skills.  They closely resemble the dogs depicted in ancient Assyrian and Egyptian carvings; and for this reason, some claim that they are the most purebred dogs on earth.  They are certainly among the fastest dogs in the world, capable of reaching speeds up to 43 mph.  Greyhound racing began to become popular in fifteenth-century England

Breed Category

Hound

Temperament

Greyhounds are gently, affectionate, and intelligent dogs, sometimes timid but usually good with children.  They are not always reliable with cats and smaller dogs.

Appearance

With narrow waists, large chests, and long, well-boned legs, Greyhounds are streamlined dogs.  They have long, narrow skulls, long muzzles, and small, neat ears.  Their coats range in color from black to white, through various shades of fawn, red, and brindle.

Size:    Height at withers 27-30 in

Weight:    60-70 lbs

Exercise Requirements:    Considerable

Grooming Requirements:    Minimal

Life Expectancy:    10-12 years

Things to Consider

  1. This breed becomes restless and bored if not adequately exercised.
  2. They should be exercised in fenced areas because they will chase other animals.

Pharaoh Hound

These dignified dogs have a long, venerable ancestry.  Pharaoh Hounds originated in ancient Egypt, where they have existed for more than two thousand years.  In Malta, where the Pharaoh Hound is the national dog, they are bred for rabbit hunting.  With their keen hearing and eyesight, they make excellent watchdogs.

Breed Category

Hound

Temperament

Pharaoh Hounds are affectionate with children and people they know, but may be wary of strangers and are not reliable with unfamiliar children.  They are generally obedient and easy to train.

Appearance

They are characterized by their large, pricked ears.  They have intelligent, alert expressions and well-defined, tapered heads and muzzles.  The neck is long and muscular, amber eyes are deep-set with good binocular vision, and the nose is flesh-colored, although it flushes when the dog is excited.  The short, glossy coat is a deep red color.

Size:    Height at withers 21-25 in

Weight:    45-55 lbs

Exercise Requirements:    Considerable

Grooming Requirements:    Minimal

Life Expectancy:    12-14 years

Things to Consider

  1. These dogs are likely to chase cats.

Ibizan Hound

Tall and agile, Ibizan Hounds share the body type of the dogs that are depicted in ancient Egyptian carvings.  It is said that Phoenician sailors brought these dogs to the island of Ibiza in the eighth century, and that Hannibal took some of them along on his famous campaigns across the Alps.  Today, Ibizan Hounds are popular throughout Spain, where they are used as watchdogs or to hunt rabbits and hares.

Breed Category

Hound

Temperament

Ibizan Hounds are even-tempered, affectionate family dogs, but they can be suspicious of strangers.  Early, supervised exposure to children, in particular, is recommended.

Appearance

Characterized by large, mobile, erect ears, Ibizan Hounds are elegant dogs with long skulls and muzzles, straight backs, and long, powerful legs.  The eyes are widely set, and the nose is flesh-colored.  The coat may be either smooth or wiry, with colors ranging from white to fawn, red, tan, and mixtures of these.

Size:    Height at withers 22-29 in

Weight:    42-55 lbs

Exercise Requirements:    Considerable

Grooming Requirements:    Moderate

Life Expectancy:    12 years

Things to Consider

  1. These dogs must be secured by high fences because of their great ability to jump.

Whippet

Whippets were originally bred to capture small game.  Their speed made them famous as racing dogs–hence their nickname, the “poor man’s racehorse.”  The breed was popularized in many mining areas of England, where, up to WWI, Whippet racing was popular.  These dogs have been known to run at speeds of up to 40 mph.  Small Greyhounds definitely form part of their genetic make-up, but the remaining parts are less certain, though terriers are likely forebears.

Breed Category

Hound

Temperament

They are quiet, intelligent, gentle, and make alert watchdogs.

Appearance

With a lithe, elegant shape, Whippets are streamlined for swiftness.  They have long, lean heads, which taper to a black nose, and rose-shaped ears that flop sideways.  Their coat is short, fine, and close; and, when not running, they usually carry their long tail between their hind legs.

Size:    Height at withers 18-22 in

Weight:    27-30 lbs

Exercise Requirements:    Considerable

Grooming Requirements:    Minimal

Life Expectancy:    13-14 years

Things to Consider

  1. Their delicate skins may be prone to lacerations.
  2. They need access to a secured area for running.

Basenji

Basenjis are small, alert hunting dogs of an ancient lineage; dogs of very similar body type can be seen depicted on the side of the pharaohs’ tombs.  In Africa, they are still used as pack dogs for flushing out game.  Basenjis are distinguished by the strange yodel-like noise they emit, instead of a bark.  Like wolves and dingos, Basenjis come into season once, rather than twice, each year.  Basenjis shed minimally, which makes them excellent pets for allergy sufferers.  They are also fastidious in their cleaning habits, which are similar to those of cats.

Breed Category

Hound

Temperament

Friendly and confident, Basenjis make good house pets, but they are stubborn in nature and have a tendency to become destructive if bored.

Appearance

Basenjis have long jaws, typical of many ancient dog breeds, and wrinkled foreheads, which give them a quizzical expression.  They have large, mobile, pricked ears that encourage heat loss in hot climates.  The distinctive tail curls back close to the spine.  The short, sleek coat evolved as camouflage and is usually tan and white, but black and red with white markings is also common.  The back is short and straight, with a well-defined waist.

Size:    Height at withers 16-17 in

Weight:    21-24 lbs

Exercise Requirements:    Moderate to considerable

Grooming Requirements:    Minimal

Life Expectancy:    15 years

Things to Consider

  1. Prone to many hereditary diseases
  2. Can be difficult to train
  3. Suspicious of strangers

Saluki

Because of their elegance, speed, and hunting prowess, Salukis have been prized throughout the Middle East for generations.  Active dogs, capable of great stamina and speed, they need lots of space.

Breed Category

Hound

Temperament

Salukis can be aloof, high-strung, and sensitive to noises.  But despite their reserved nature, they need a lot attention and they are usually gentle and affectionate pets.  They are not reliable with young children and have a tendency to be shy with strangers.

Appearance

Salukis are graceful, long-boned dogs.  They have narrow skulls, bright, hazel eyes, and long, silky ears.  The supple neck gives way to a muscular torso with a moderately broad back and long, strong legs.  There are two types of Saluki:  the feathered type, and the smooth-haired type.  The coat of both types is silky.  Their coloring varies from white to cream, fawn, golden red, grizzle, tan, tricolor, and black and tan.

Size:    Height at withers 22-28 in

Weight:    31-55 lbs

Exercise Requirements:    Considerable

Grooming Requirements:    Moderate

Life Expectancy:    12 years

Things to Consider

  1. These dogs require a great deal of exercise and space.
  2. Not suitable for city life or households with children.

Borzoi

The majestic Russian Borzoi was bred in medieval times and beyond to hunt for Russian nobles.  The long-limbed Borzois are probably descended from Greyhounds, Salukis, and Russian sheepdogs; they demonstrate exceptional strength and speed, and were thus able to track and capture wolves, hares, and foxes.

Breed Category

Hound

Temperament

Borzois are usually reserved animals and, while they can make loyal pets for adults, they do not easily tolerate boisterous or young children.  They can be snappy and irritable with strangers, though they are usually gently and affectionate toward their owners.

Appearance

Graceful Borzois have elegant, lean heads and long, powerful jaws.  Their oblong-shaped eyes are set closely together, giving them good binocular vision, while the small ears are set well back on the head.  Their sleek, wavy coats come in a wide variety of colors.  The long back is slightly arched, and the tail is long and full.

Size:    Height at withers 27-29 in

Weight:    75-105 lbs

Exercise Requirements:    Considerable

Grooming Requirements:    Considerable

Life Expectancy:    12 years

Things to Consider

  1. These dogs can be stubborn and aggressive.
  2. They are not well-suited to an urban environment.
  3. They are not a good choice for a household with children.

Scottish Deerhound

Deerhounds have outstanding hunting skills:  They are capable of chasing game for miles and strong enough to fell a deer.  Popular for many centuries among the Scottish nobility, the Deerhound population eventually declined in Scotland, as hunting with guns became more common.

Breed Category

Hound

Temperament

As pets, Deerhounds are affectionate, gentle dogs with a quiet dignity.  They respond quickly to obedience training, though they have a tendency to chase cats and smaller animals.

Appearance

Resembling Greyhounds in shape, Deerhounds are long-haired dogs, usually dark gray in color.  The coat is rough and slightly harsh, with a softer, insulating undercoat beneath it.  The head is broad at the ears, tapering into a narrow muzzle with powerful jaws.  Their dark eyes have a gently expression, and small ears are set well back on the head.  The neck is powerfully muscular and the chest is both wide and deep.  The tail is long and reaches almost to the ground.

Size:    Height at withers 28-30 in

Weight:    75-110 lbs

Exercise Requirements:    Considerable

Grooming Requirements:    Low to Moderate

Life Expectancy:    12 years

Things to Consider

  1. These dogs need plenty of space to exercise.

Irish Wolfhound

Distinctive, rangy, and pleasantly shaggy in appearance, Irish Wolfhounds are instantly recognizable by their sheer size.  For centuries, these dogs were valued for their immense strength and speed.  A popular breed today, Irish Wolfhounds are not always obedient and can be a challenge to train–though they are responsive, affectionate pets.

Breed Category

Hound

Temperament

If your home is large enough to accommodate a large dog, an Irish Wolfhound is an ideal family pet.  Calm and affectionate, they are loving dogs, immensely friendly, and keen to play.

Appearance

Rough-coated giants, Irish Wolfhounds have harsh, wiry topcoats.  The colors may be gray, brindle, red, black, white, or wheaten.  They have long heads atop muscular necks, with deep chests and long bodies.  The hair on the face is wiry and reasonably long over the eyes and under the jaw.  Ears are small and set well back on the head.  The tail is long and slightly curved.

Size:    Height at withers 32-34 in

Weight:    105-120 lbs

Exercise Requirements:    Moderate

Grooming Requirements:    Moderate

Life Expectancy:    9-11 years

Things to Consider

  1. Their size makes them unsuitable for most city dwellers.

Afghan Hound

An Afghan seen at top speed is a glorious sight, with its long, flowing coat shown off to perfection.  These long-limbed, elegant dogs are used today as something of a fashion statement for some owners, though they are descendants of an ancient and robust breed of sight hound.  They were first brought to Europe at the end of the nineteenth century by soldiers returning from service in Afghanistan, where they were bred to hunt gazelle and desert fox in the mountainous countryside, while acting as watchdogs at night.

Breed Category

Hound

Temperament

Afghans are sensitive creatures and thrive on attention.  They can be very high-strung and often extremely independent.  They are intelligent dogs which are usually gentle and can make good family pets, though they tend to be nervous with strangers.

Appearance

Afghans have long heads and muzzles and expressive, almond-shaped eyes that lend them a dignified appearance.  The ears are covered in silky hair and are set low so that they almost appear to blend in with the body coat.  A long neck gives way to a muscular body and a straight, level back.  The tail is lightly feathered and curls at the end.

Size:    Height at withers 25-30 in.

Weight:    50-60 lbs

Exercise Requirements:    Considerable

Grooming Requirements:    Considerable

Life Expectancy:    11-12 years

Things to Consider

  1. Need firm handling (can be difficult to train)