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As the most variable mammals on earth, dogs are a fascinating animal species and so are their stories of origin. There are 450 globally-recognized, surviving breeds, of which the hound is a type of hunting dog.
It is interesting to know how they acquired their names. While some get their names from their place of origin, others get their names from their physical features or their traits. There are three types of hounds, namely, sighthounds, that chase prey with great speed, scenthounds, that chase prey by picking up scents, and the last, that do not fall in either of the above categories and follow prey using both sight and scent.
With so many breeds of dogs and subspecies within it, it could be difficult to pick one if you are looking for a perfect hound dog. The following is a list of 20 hound breeds based on their popularity.
20. Black Mouth Cur
Of American origin, the Black Mouth Cur is a medium-to-large sized breed of cur-type dog and is believed to have descended from Asian and European cur dogs.
Bred to assist farmers and hunters with watching over the cattle, protecting homes, and pursuing game, the Black Mouth Cur is a smart-looking, energetic breed even as they are sensitive, loyal and courageous. Quite a multi-faceted breed, it was bred to meet several needs of the early settlers.
As a pet, one needs to keep up with its energy levels and must provide ample space or take them on walks every day.
19. American Foxhound
A taller breed of a Beagle, American Foxhounds are the American cousins of the English Foxhound. The breed ranks well on instinctive intelligence, meaning that they do not need instructions from their owners and are good at performing the tasks on their own.
An excellent scenthound, they are easily distracted by smells, and owing to their stubbornness, which is a characteristic of most hounds, they are somewhat difficult to train.
18. English Foxhound
One of the four foxhound breeds, the English Foxhound is a very active, athletic, energetic, and stouter hunting breed than its American counterpart. It is particularly meant for the open and the countryside and like any other scenthound, picks up the scent and can wander off to find out its source.
This breed prefers to cohabitate in packs and prefers animals over humans. Also, it has a distinct bark and bays uniquely too, making them good watchdogs. A caveat though, is that they are not ideal for apartment living and where there are other smaller animals. Overall, a good companion dog.
17. Norwegian Elkhound
Norwegian Elkhound, the national dog of Norway, has similar markings and colorings to a Husky and is among the most courageous scent hounds. The breed has an interesting ancestry. The breed is a cross of a female wolf – male dog hybridization following their domestication.
It is particularly known for tracking and hunting moose and even bears, lynxes, mountain lions, and wolves. So, one can imagine the hardy, sturdy build of this breed.
An intelligent, reliable, and fearless breed, the Norwegian Elkhound has been used as a guardian, hunter, defender, and herder. Not just this, they (privately-owned Norwegian Elks) can also be called on to serve in defense of Norway.
Otterhound gets its name from the purpose they were used for in medieval times in the United Kingdom, viz. otter hunting which is now banned.
It probably originated in France and resembles an old French Vendeen hound. This large breed has immense strength owing to its strong body and thus is ideal for prolonged hard work.
This scent hound has a powerful olfactory function that can track scents on land and in water for over 72 hours. Interestingly, they have webbed feet and are expert swimmers. In fact, due to their strong shoulders and broad chest, they can swim all day without tiring.
A friendly, funny hound, Otterhounds are social but not dependent on humans.
15. Portuguese Podengo
A native of Portugal, the Portuguese Podengo is the small breed of this species, the other two being large and medium. The breed has a rich and long history of lineage dating back to the ancient Romans and the Phoenicians into 600 B.C. They are skilled hunters and can hunt games of any size.
The large size was bred for hunting bigger games such as the deer and boar, while the medium was used to chase, flush, hunt and retrieve rabbits. The small size of this breed too was used to draw out rabbits from their hiding and also sniff out mice.
As a pet, they are a good addition to urban owners but do better in houses with yards or in open spaces.
Yet another native of the United States, the Coonhound is a hunting dog with a sharp sense of smell used to hunt feral pigs, raccoons, bobcats, bears, foxes, and even cougars.
Its lineage can be traced back to France, Ireland, and England from where they were imported into the US. They hunt foxes during the day and raccoons at night. They howl while hunting their prey and make for somewhat noisy pets. It is also said that they are quite melodious.
Coonhounds are a wonderful mix of a working dog and a family dog. Great if you can keep up with its energy levels or allow it to pursue its innate tendencies. You ought to know that Coonhounds are quite an independent breed, avid wanderers, and get along well with outdoorsy types of owners.
13. Afghan Hound
A very stylish-looking sighthound breed, the Afghan Hound is one of the oldest breeds of dogs. Easy to identify with its long, flowing hair and exotic coat colors, the breed is famous for its ability to lead day-long hunting expeditions.
Their ability to run at great speeds and long distances and their strength are known to overpower even leopards. Afghan Hounds even possess great instinctive intelligence as they work independently without human direction.
This also means that they are very independent, making them somewhat difficult to train. As a pet, they are mischievous and called the ‘clown’, need plenty of grooming, and should be handled gently.
Resembling the Afghan Hound, Saluki(s) meaning, The Noble in Arabic, was the hunting dogs of the royalty in the Middle East and were bred in the UK and Germany.
Also known as the gazelle hound, the Persian Greyhound and the Arabian Hound were bred for endurance, speed, and strength. It is the long-distance runner of the sighthound family. The breed is extremely sensitive to movement, whether of an animal or a mechanical toy.
It clocks a speed of 30-35 miles per hour. An extremely devoted and friendly breed when among humans; good as guardian dogs but not as protection dogs.
Greyhounds are among the oldest canine breeds in the world and were known to the ancient Egyptians, Romans, and even have a mention in the Bible. The present breed is believed to have originated in England, where it was introduced during the 5th or 6th century B.C.
Besides their sharp sight, the Greyhounds can run at phenomenal speeds, ranging between 40-45 miles per hour and so are also called the ‘Ferraris’ of the canine world. This made them popular as racing dogs.
They exhibit two extreme tendencies, one as an energetic. active breed and the other, as absolute couch potatoes.
They thrive on warmth and affection and make for a good family pet. They are quite a sensitive breed, meaning they cannot take in the terrible colds and also cannot be left alone for long time periods.
10. Ibizan Hound
Hailing from Ibiza, a Spanish island, the Ibizan Hound is a lean, slender, and world-class sprinter and jumper, almost resembling a deer’s sprint. Bred to chase hare and deer, the Ibizan Hound has a strong prey drive and needs to be fenced when not on a leash.
As a pet they make for a good companion even in urban spaces provided they get enough exercise and do not have to live with other small animals such as hamsters, and hares, but can coexist with other dogs and even cats if raised together.
Another important warning, one has to keep food totally out of their reach, as they are known to flick it very easily.
9. Irish Wolfhound
The Irish Wolfhound takes its name from the purpose it was bred for, viz, protection against and for hunting wolves in Ireland. The breed is the tallest of all dog breeds and the largest in the category of sighthounds.
Back then, the Irish Wolfhound also served as a war dog besides being a hunting dog. Over the years, they have mellowed down and are known to be gentle, sensitive, and easygoing.
Nevertheless, capable of intimidating intruders but strangely not great protection dogs. Those looking to own an Irish Wolfhound need to be mindful of their enormous size. Though good as a family dog, if you have space constraints, then it would be difficult for family members to cohabit comfortably.
8. Scottish Deerhound
Scottish Deerhound is the ‘Royal Dog of Scotland’ and is distinct from the Irish Wolfhound owing to its leaner, large, and tall frame. Yet another tall breed of sighthounds, the Scottish Deerhound was bred to stalk giant wild red deer.
From their strong and powerful appearance, they have now turned into extremely friendly, lazy, and laidback creatures. They may appear intimidating but are even gentle towards strangers.
From their overactive, playful nature in puppyhood to leading a sedentary life except for long walks, Scottish Deerhounds need to be homed in spacious houses. Due to their sheer size and hunting instincts, this breed may be difficult for first-time pet owners.
7. Pharaoh Hound
The Pharaoh Hound or Kelb tal-Fenek, literally translated as ‘rabbit dog’ is of Maltese origin that is taken out to hunt during the night when there are fewer distractions.
Used to track rabbits that escape into their burrows, the Pharaoh Hound is bred for high-speed pursuit in tough, rugged terrains. During their intense chases, they emit a sharp bark to signal to hunters about the prey.
Interestingly, Pharaoh Hounds blush when they are happy or excited, so much that their noses and ears turn pink. As a pet, they are a wonderful companion for one with a high-fenced backyard and no other small pets.
6. Rhodesian Ridgeback
The (former) lion hunter of Africa, Rhodesian Ridgeback takes its name after the ridge that runs along its back. Its no-nonsense demeanor can be fairly intimidating owing to its strong build.
The breed is known for cornering and holding big prey such as bears, lions, and even boars. Today, they compete in various sporting events such as lure coursing, agility, obedience, and tracking.
Very high on their primitive instincts, they have to be fenced, and having other small pets at home along with them is not advisable. Rhodesian Ridgeback is independent and intelligent, not noisy but when they do bark, it means something is wrong. A people’s dog makes for a good addition to the house.
A bigger version of a Beagle, Bloodhounds were bred to hunt boars and deer. Bloodhounds are descendants of a breed created in France during medieval times.
Their powerful and sharp sense of smell is unparalleled. They can smell and accurately track smells for over miles. They have served and continue to serve as hunting dogs and are a particular favorite with Law Enforcement agencies around the world.
They are good at sniffing out drugs, and explosives and tracking down missing and lost people. Bloodhounds are pack animals, known to get along well with other dogs. Nevertheless, Bloodhounds make for a wonderful family dog too.
Bearing traits similar to a Greyhound, a Whippet is but its smaller version. Its origins can be traced to Britain where the breed was used to chase small animals, such as rabbits as a part of sporting events.
A sighthound built for speed, Whippets have a sharp vision. The breed is always alert and can even mistake the smallest and unimportant movements for potential prey.
Often called, ‘a poor man’s racehorse’, Whippets are used in lure coursing, dog shows, and amateur racing. Make for a great watchdog and also a good family dog owing to their well-mannered temperament.
3. Basset Hound
Yet another breed with one of the sharpest olfactory functions, the Basset Hound is a purebred species from France, and are descendant of St. Hubert of Belgium.
Despite its short, low body frame, its endurance levels are high enough and they have been used to track hares.
Pack dogs, though generally known to be laidback are good as watchdogs and have a distinct barking sound. A good breed to have, especially for first-time pet owners.
The modern-day Beagle is a scenthound bred in Great Britain in the 1830s from several breeds such as the Southern Hound, the North Country Beagle, the Talbot Hound, and possibly even the Harrier.
Beagles have a sharp sense of smell, and will stubbornly follow it. They patrol the baggage-claim areas at 20+ international airports and other entry points into the United States.
Beagles work well in packs and so are good with other animals, dogs, and kids too. Overall, a good option as a pet, owing to their friendly demeanor. However, owing to their distinct vocalizations, they are often given over to rescue groups.
And the most Popular Hound Breeds award goes to Dachshunds and for all the good reasons.
Are you wondering if the smaller the size, the more fierce the breed? Quite right, Dachshunds were bred to hunt rabbits, hares, and even some bigger animals such as foxes. They also have loud, deep barks, another bold trait for their size.
Dachshund, also called, ‘badger dog’, as the badger is English for ‘Dachs’ in German, is an omnivorous, nocturnal mammal from the weasel family and has its origins in Germany.
They take this name after the purpose they were bred for, namely to scent, chase and hunt out badgers and other animals that dwelled in burrows Also called a ‘sausage dog’ owing to their long body and coat color that resembles a sausage and a ‘wiener dog’.
There are nine varieties of the Dachshund breed, each differing in coat and size. Except that they are not known for being suitable for very strenuous activities, they are generally active.
Dachshunds are vigilant and smart, with the bark of a mature dog. They make for good watchdogs and can make for a good addition to an urban family.