Hounds have been bred by humans for thousands of years to help with hunting by tracking and chasing down prey. They are fast runners with great eyesight and a keen sense of smell, and like gundogs they love frequent exercise. Sizes can vary greatly, from the huge bloodhound to the small dachshund. Hound breeds tend to get on very well with humans and make good family pets, although they should be trained from an early age. They also may not get on well with other pets.
Types of hound:
- Afghan Hound
- Basset Hound
- Irish Wolfhound
- Pharaoh Hound
- Rhodesian Ridgeback
The Afghan Hound is in the Top Ten of the most glamorous dog breeds.
The breed standard describes Afghan's strength and dignity, as well as its Oriental expression. One of the greatest attractions of this breed is its silky coat that does require a great deal of grooming, which is often best displayed in the show ring.
Afghan hounds are one of the typical sighthounds of the world who, as his name implies, comes from the mountains of Afghanistan. This breed is a hunter that will chase electric hare or even the neighbour's cat!
The first Afghan's arrived in Britain in the early 1900's and one, called Zardin, won in spectacular style at the 1907 Crystal Palace show. The breed is also known as the Tazi, as it resembles the Russian breed of that name.
As a companion this breed appears aloof with those he doesn't know, but shows real affection and faithfulness for his owner.
We are all familiar with Fred Basset, the cartoon dog, featured around the world as a kindly, yet worried pooch.
This breed makes an excellent family pet, he is happy both walking outdoors or sat inside the house. Basset Hounds are capable of hunting his natural prey, hare, persistently at a relatively slow pace over considerable distances.
This breed was reputedly bred by monks in France during the Middle Ages for hunting in heavy cover, keeping his nose close to the ground. They are closely related to the entire family of French Bassets, however, the breed was developed to perfection in the UK.
Basset hounds have slightly wrinkled skin on the top of his head and his are long, reaching below his muzzle. He loves to paddle through the wet and mud of a winter field, but is quite easy to keep clean. This breed might have a bark that suggests he is unfriendly, but nothing could be further from the truth. Basset hounds are placid and very affectionate.
Like the Basset hound, the Bloodhound is one of the most recognisable dogs, even to non-dog lovers.
These dogs have an amazing ability to follow human scent over all types of terrain. This has made him an ideal choice to be featured regularly in many fictional detective series and books.
The breed originates from Belgium and its ancestry, like the Basset hound, can be traced back to the monastery of St Hubert. Back in his native country the Bloodhound is known as the St Hubert Hound, and is thought to have been introduced to England, by the Normans, in 1066.
His main characteristic are the loose folds of skin over his forehead and his long ears, combined with his powerful limbs and body make him a truly big dog. Despite his size Bloodhounds are good-natured and affectionate, and have coats that are easy to maintain.
The wolf hunter of Russia his name means 'swift', although he isn't used for his original purpose, this breed is built on the lines of speed and grace.
Borzoi is an aristocrat of a dog who was first seen in the UK when he was presented by the Tsar of all the Russias to Queen Alexandra, and soon became popular.
His long silky coat has a slight wave and comes in a mass of different colours, and will require regular grooming to prevent it from matting. He is a loveable and faithful dog, who may appear aloof to strangers.
This breed has been used in a variety of roles over many years, as a result there are now six varieties, ranging in size.
Each of the sizes split into Smooth-haired, Long-haired and Wire-haired and there are also a variety of colours.
Dachshunds were bred to enter badger sets and remove the occupants hence their long low bodies, making them an ideal choice. All varieties are make excellent family pets although they have an independent nature, which may need to be dealt with through training.
The breed originates from Germany and since their introduction in the UK Dachshunds have become a popular pet.
It is believed that the Greyhound originated in the Middle East, although this is not totally agreed upon by the experts.
Drawings were discovered on the walls in Ancient Egyptian tombs, showing a Greyhound-type dogs, as far back as 4000 BC.
These dogs were found right across Europe, however, it is believed that the breed was developed in the UK.
The show animal is larger than his racing cousin, while the coursing version - that hunts hare - is slightly smaller making him more agile. The racing Greyhound was developed from its coursing cousin, only the Cheetah can top the breed for speed. A greyhound once recorded a speed of 45 mph.
Greyhounds have an insatiable instinct to chase a trait that must be remembered when around small dogs and cats. With humans this breed is affectionate, gentle and faithful making him an excellent family pet.
These giants stand at nearly a yard high at the shoulder making him the tallest of the hound group, and the largest of all dog breeds.
In spite of the size, Irish Wolfhounds are gentle and calm, but can be slightly mischievous and has a harsh, rough coat. Originally this breed could be found with either a smooth or rough coat, though earlier there was probably more of a variation.
The breed almost died out when the last wolf was killed in Ireland and was further affected by the potato famine in 1840. The breed was restored in 1870 and the breed club was created in 1855.
Wolfhounds never appear to hurry, but can cover a lot of ground gracefully. This dog needs space and exercise - a dog that should not be taken on lightly. He also has a hearty appetite, especially in his growing years, when he will need a high calibre diet.
The Otterhound is a large, rugged dog. Built to gallop across the land, he was originally bred to spend his working day in water.
It is believed his ancestry includes a French influence combined with original English hound status.
This breed has a rough double coat making it extremely water resistance, but it will mean he will bring in much of the outdoors with him. These dogs are fun loving and playful, but he's not an ideal choice for those of us who are house-proud.
An Otterhound has webbed feet making this breed a remarkable swimmer, as well as energetic and boisterous. These dogs need plenty of exercise and grooming.
These dogs will be instantly recognisable as the breed featured on paintings or pottery taken from the tombs of ancient Egypt.
This elegant hound has survived for thousands of years and remains popular today.
Pharaoh hounds became a native of Malta, an island colonised by the Pheonicians around 1000 BC. These people almost certainly took their dogs with them and from Malta the first imports originated. The breed finally established itself in Britain in the 1970's.
A striking feature of this breed is it rich tan colouring and amber eyes. Coupled with athletic enthusiasm he has the ability to hunt both by scent and sight, and is a hard working dog. Pharaoh hounds make ideal companions for people who love a dog with energy and affection.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback, is regarded by the Kennel Union of Southern Africa, as the native dog of this continent.
It is also one only two dogs in the world to have a ridge of hair growing the wrong way down it's spine. The other known breed is found in Thailand, but the origins are believed to have come from Africa.
The breed is very agile, powerful and fast. It's original purpose for a Ridgeback was to assist big game hunters in pursuit of their prey, which often included lions. The ridge is a feature of the breed and there are two crowns either side of the ridge just behind the shoulders.
Today the Ridgeback is used on the African continent as a guard dog, however, the breed makes an excellent family dog, as they are good with children, affectionate, loyal and protective.
A graceful, elegant dog, the Saluki has always been a prized possession of the Arabs.
The breed has a highly developed hunting instinct, combined with his excellent speed over all types of terrain; making him a suitable dog for work in the Middle East.
Like the Pharaoh hound, the Saluki has been in existence for many, many years, with records having been kept by Sheikhs for hundreds of years. The breed was first seen in Britain in 1840, but was not officially recognised until 1923.
There are two possibilities for the origin of the name, firstly it was taken from the long-gone Arabian city of Saluk, or secondly from the town of Seleukia, in ancient Syria.
The Saluki needs a lot of attention making him unsuitable as the average family pet. This breed is highly strung, sensitive, intelligent and extremely affectionate towards those he loves. If left alone in a house, he can be very naughty and can easily become bored.
Whippet's are dainty, sleek and agile dogs, whose size varies across different countries.
The Whippet is described as both gentle and affectionate; this breed loves the company of humans and will make a great addition to any family. Smaller than the Greyhound, the Whippet is light enough to pick up, but just as just as energetic and athletic when he wants to play.
Whippet's have been used as racing dogs, particularly in the north east of England, where the dogs devloped into straight racers. Some could cover 180 metres in around 12 seconds.