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hound dogsHounds are dogs which were originally bred and used for hunting. There are both scent hounds and sight hounds. Sight hounds such as Greyhounds and Whippets have very sharp eyesight, while scent hounds such as Beagles or Bloodhounds track prey using their keen sense of smell.

Scent hounds often require a significant amount of exercise, while Sighthounds will often be happy with shorter walks and a daily sprint.

In the UK a cross between two different Sighthound breeds is called a Long Dog while a cross between a Sighthound and another working breed, such as a Collie, is known as a Lurcher.  

SighthoundsMany Sighthound breeds are relatively uncommon in the UK but the more popular breeds include Greyhounds, Irish Wolfhounds, Deerhounds, Afghan, Salukis, Borzoi and Whippets.  

Sighthounds are capable of reaching great speeds, the fastest of course is the Greyhound known to reach a top speed of over 40 mph, although the Saluki, whilst slower at around 35mph, has superior stamina having been bred for longer desert chases.

Long legs, giving tremendous stride, and paws designed to assist grip in high speed turns, combined with a slim body and long aerodynamic shape allow these dogs to follow the twists and turns of their quarry at incredible speeds. The deep chest cavity and large lung capacity helps provide the body with sufficient oxygen to maintain the chase.  

Many Sighthounds were bred to hunt in pairs or packs and as a result they have developed to be sociable with other hounds, however, the need for them to make their own decisions, away from the handler, when hunting in the field gives many Sighhounds an aloof independence. Whilst certainly not untrainable, these breeds are unlikely to become obedience champions!

Although relentless and single-minded in pursuit of their prey, at home Sighthounds tend to be very relaxed, gentle but playful companions.

Scent HoundsScenthounds, including the Beagle, Bloodhound, Basset and Foxhound, have an exceptional sense of smell which is used in pursuit of their prey or quarry. Most of these breeds have long drooping ears and large noses with well opened nostrils.

Many scent hounds have deep, booming voices which are often actively used whilst running, especially when following a scent trail, this allows the handler to follow a pursuit even when the dog is out of sight.

Faster running, longer-legged scent hound breeds usually require hunters to follow the chase on horseback; while shorter-legged breeds were bred to be followed on foot.

Scenthounds do not need to be as fast as sighthounds because they do not need to keep their quarry in sight, however they do need endurance enabling them to stick with a scent and follow it for long distances, often over rough terrain. The best scent hounds can follow a scent trail even across running water and even when it is several days old.

Many scent hound breeds have developed to hunt as a pack, therefore these social dogs like to be part of a group, and particularly enjoy canine companionship.

Generally speaking scent hounds are gentle and loving dogs however can be independent and can be aloof to their owners on walks, especially if they are following a scent. They are intelligent and capable of learning, but often need more of an incentive than some other dog breeds. Scent hounds naturally enjoy games which allow them to follow their noses.