Hound dog breeds: a complete guide

Let’s do a deep dive into hound dog breeds. This group comprises of dogs ranging from giants to dainty ones with certain specific characters. Let’s understand why they make such amazing family members.

From the miniature Beagle to the majestic Afghan hound, the hound dog breeds have successfully stolen the hearts of humans for many generations. If you are thinking of bringing a hound dog home, you need to know certain things to find out if you are ready for such a breed. In this article, I will be covering everything pertaining to the hound dog breeds in detail. By the time, you reach the end of this article, you will know if this breed is suitable for you or not.

If you want to know more about hound dogs and other dog breeds, their personalities, dog care process, psychology, and training methods, please subscribe (subscribe option is present in sight bars) to The Happy Puppers. Your subscription will allow me to notify you about the release of all new blog posts. You can also subscribe to the YouTube channel of The Happy Puppers, Shruti and Delta. Do not forget to ring the notification bell.

The hound dog breeds
The hound dog breeds

Let’s find out why hound dog breeds have become a beloved name in many households

The two types of hound dog breeds

The hound dog breed is one of the seven primary dog breed groups. These dogs were originally developed to help their humans with hunting on horseback or on foot. The long-legged hound dogs helped humans on horseback while the short-legged ones helped when humans hunted on foot.

Both the hound dog breeds have a different ways of finding their prey. Some use their amazingly keen eyesight to look for their prey while others use their sense of smell. This has been the basis of the distribution of hound dogs into further categories:

Scent hounds

As the name suggests, scent hounds can easily follow trails of scent over very long distances. The playtime of such dogs consists of looking for things by following their scent. If you love going on long walks and hikes, scent hounds will be your perfect companions since they have very impressive stamina. Hiding objects from these dogs can be particularly difficult since they love searching for items by following their scent. They can dig up holes in your garden if they feel that there is an object buried underneath.

If you love to play treasure hunt with your dogs, a scent hound is the perfect companion dog for you. You can enjoy playing lots of treasure-hunting games with your pup.

Even though scent hounds enjoy playing with soft toys, it does not necessarily mean that they respond well to training. They do not like to be trained. Such dogs may not respond quickly when training. They may even show disinterest in the dog training process. Therefore, if you are planning to get a scent hound, you should start the training process very early so that they get used to following instructions and being trained regularly.

One distinct feature of scent hounds is their pendulous ears. This makes it very easy to spot scent hounds amongst a hoard of other dogs. Their coat is either smooth or wiry. They normally look bulky with adorably cute and squishy faces.

Scent hounds
Scent hounds

Sighthounds

The second category of hound dogs are the sighthounds. As the name suggests, sighthounds use their sight to hunt down their prey. They do not depend on their sense of smell and instead rely on their sense of sight. Sighthounds have incredibly long legs and love to run. Therefore, if you’re planning to get a sighthound, you should be ready to provide them with lots of exercises. Running and sprinting is a part of their natural instinct. If you do not provide your sighthound regular exercise, they may start to show aggressive behavior or occasionally start sprinting when on a walk. Thus, experts advise parents of sighthound breeds to provide them regular exercise so that the guardians do not become human kites when on a walk.

Sighthounds have a physical stature that can be described as slender, athletic, and streamlined. As I mentioned before, they have proportionally long legs compared to their body. Their face is long and narrow. Sighthounds have eyes that are close-set and forward-pointing. This allows them to spot prey from a large distance.

Even though your sighthound may look extremely placid, completely relaxed or even lazy indoors, when you take your pup outdoors, you may see a completely different sight to their personality. When sighthounds are outdoors, they are constantly looking for targets that are moving and can be chased. This is their meaning of fun.

Unlike other dogs, the hound dog breeds are not known to retrieve their fallen game. They are extremely independent and expect the game to be picked up by their human companions. Such dogs were kept as companions to nobility and land owners and in some cases, even poachers. Most of the hound dog breeds have originated from Europe. However some do hail from the Far East or even the United States.

Sighthounds
Sighthounds

Understanding the hound dog breeds

Size

As I mentioned before, hound dogs are available in a variety of shapes and sizes. Dogs who come in the tiny category like miniature dachshunds are a part of the hound dog breeds. On the other hand, we have the giant Irish wolfhound.

If you have decided to get a hound dog for you and your family, you will easily find a size that’s suitable for you. With hound dogs, you do not have to worry about having a backyard or a large outdoor space. If you have a lot of space, you can go for the larger varieties. If you have a small space or if you live in an apartment, you can go for the smaller varieties.

The natural hound dog breed instinct

As is the case most almost all working dog breeds, hound dogs also make use of their natural behavior to do the tasks that have been trusted on them by their human companions. Hound dogs are especially adept at finding their prey. They will either use their nose or eyesight to hunt down their prey. The hunting method will depend on whether the hound is a sighthound or a scent hound. Once they have located their prey, they will then proceed to stalk their prey before catching and killing it. If the prey is large and it is challenging for the hound dog to kill it, they will hold the prey until their human companions can come and kill it.

Even though, the times have changed and hound dogs are not used for hunting anymore, they have still maintained their predatory instincts. These instincts are hardwired into the nature of your dog. Therefore, getting a hound dog and not providing it enough exercise or a chance to chase is absolutely wrong. You should be ready to provide your dog with a lot of treasure hunt games, chase, running and exercise. This is the only way to keep your dog mentally and physically healthy. If the dogs of the hound breeds do not engage in regular physical and mental exercise, they have a high chance of developing aggressive behavior issues like nipping, biting, barking, howling etcetera.

If you live in a small apartment but want to get a large-sized hound dog like Saluki, Bloodhound etcetera, you will have to make sure that they are getting their regular share of exercises. As long as hound dogs get their exercise and playtime, they make an amazing family companion.

Single-mindedness is famous amongst the hound dog breeds

Once your hound dog has taken notice of its prey or has got a whiff of the scent, he will chase the prey in a single-minded manner. At this moment, nothing can distract your dog. Whether your dog is in the dog park or at home, there is nothing that you can do to deter your dog from the course that he has chosen for himself. Unfortunately, when dog guardians find it hard to understand this part of their hound dog’s behavior, this leads to an unending cycle of frustration. If they try to call the dog when he is in his chasing mode, he will most likely not even hear the command.

One command that is particularly hard to train hound dog breeds in is the recall command. This does not mean that such dogs intentionally ignore the voice of the guardian or the command. This just means that hound dogs have been selectively bred over the generations to successfully ignore all the distractions present in their environment when they are chasing.

Highly independent

Hound dogs are known to be highly independent creatures. They are used to working at a small distance or long distance away from their guardians. They tend to rely more on their own sense of smell and sight instead of the directions given by the guardians.

If you are someone who has to work long hours, a hound dog might be the perfect breed for you since they are much more tolerant towards short-term absences of guardians than other dog breeds. However, this does not mean that you leave your hound dog alone for one entire day. You must train your dog to be comfortable in your absence.

If you have a long meeting planned or if you are going to be away from your home for 8-9 hours, consightr getting a dog sitter so that your dog does not have to be lonely for a very long period. Alternatively, you can also enroll your dog in a dog daycare. At the doggy daycare, your pup will not only learn to socialize with other dogs, but some daycare centers also conduct training programs. Your dog may come back home a few commands wiser.

Quiet by nature

The dogs belonging to the hound dog breed are known to show their affection to their humans in a quiet manner. Therefore, you should be ready to expect a lot of slobbery kisses when you get back home after a long day of work. Despite their reputation as being quiet dogs, if such dogs develop separation anxiety, you will hear them howling at the top of their lungs. Some of these dogs like beagles are known for yodeling. Thus, if things don’t go their way, you can expect to hear some complaints from your pup.

Quiet by nature
Quiet by nature

They can either be long-distance runners, sprinters or be complete couch potatoes

If you are thinking that you can go on a quiet walk with the sighthound, nothing can be further from the truth. This does not mean that the sighthounds don’t like to walk at a leisurely pace. However, if they are inactive for long periods or if they are walking slowly for a while, they may suddenly start to sprint if they locate prey. They do this to release the pent-up energy that has accumulated due to a lack of proper exercise. If you do not hold your ground, you may just turn into a human kite. Therefore, be careful.

The best way to prevent sudden sprints is to give your dog plenty of exercises. If you love to skateboarding or cycling, you can take your dog along on such adventures. When indoors, sighthounds will be complete couch potatoes. It may be hard for you to comprehend that this same couch potato was sprinting on the road behind a quarry.

As I mentioned above, scent hounds have an amazing sense of smell. They love to chase different scents. They go by their noses instead of their eyes. Even if you get a Beagle or a dachshund, you must provide them plenty of exercises and allow them to engage in sniffing and treasure hunting. With these dogs, you can expect a long slow walk. As long as you allow them a long leash and let them have their noses to the ground, they will be very happy.

You may encounter some doggy smell with the hound dog breeds

The scent hounds are known to have a little bit of a doggy smell. This is primarily because they love to roll in everything that their guardians do not want them to. They are also not fastidiously clean, therefore the smell. However, on the other hand, if you are getting a sight hound, they are exceptionally clean they love grooming themselves and they will always look prim and proper with no doggy smell.

Now that you know the characteristics of both the categories of the hound dog breeds, it is time to decide if the hound dog breed is the right one for you. Let’s figure out if you should get a hound dog or not.

Bonding

Bonding with your scent hound

Scent hounds are particularly sociable. This makes it easy to socialize them. They love to be in presence of other dogs, cats and companion animals. Therefore, if you already have a dog or a cat in your home, a scent hound would be a perfect addition. This is because the scent hounds were originally bred to work in packs. If you have two scent hounds in your home, they will play with each other and rely less on you for providing play time and exercise. However, you must make sure that you do not get dogs from the same litter as this may cause littermates syndrome. Try to maintain a duration of a year or at least a couple of months between the adoption of the two pups.

There is only one downside to having two scent hounds in the same house. Since scent hounds have a tendency to bay, when playing together, one is likely to bay and this will set off the behavior in the other pup as well. With two scent hounds, you can also expect the training process to be more time-consuming. One dog with a lack of interest in training is still easier to handle than two dogs with the same issue. One way to deal with this problem is to train the two pups individually. Once you have trained both of them in the same command, you can practice the command with both the dogs together. However, when training, it is preferable to keep them separate. This will also strengthen the bond between the pups.

As I’ve mentioned before, exercise, regular dog training, and playtime are amazing ways of strengthening your physical and emotional bond with your dog. Adequate exercise is crucial because lack of exercise can make any dog of any breed aggressive. Once your dog has had enough exercise, chances are, they will curl up next to you and watch TV.

Grooming helps

Scent hounds love to be groomed. As a responsible dog guardian, you must provide daily grooming. Grooming your dog daily will ensure that there is no debris settling on your pup’s skin. If there are any health issues or skin-related conditions that are settling in, they can be caught at an early time and treatment can be started. The gentle brushing and stroking of your pup will also relax him after a long day of exercise. This further strengthens the bond between the two of you.

Hounds love their guardians
Hounds love their guardians

Bonding with your sighthound

With sighthounds, guardians feel that they are not openly affectionate. Despite their tendency to show less affection on the front, sighthounds are actually extremely affectionate and loving. They do not like to show their affection as a Labrador or a golden retriever would do with a constant tail wag. However, this in no way means that they will love you any less than if you get a dog of the retriever breed. They tend to show less affection because of their personality. Sighthounds love physical contact. You can expect your dog to lean up against you or sleep by putting its head on your lap or feet or just behave like a lap dog. If you notice that your dog is trying to stick to you and stay extremely close to you, this is your dog’s way of showing affection to you.

Behavior of sighthounds with other dogs

Sighthounds are pretty good at forming bonds with other dogs. However, toys may trigger their hunting instinct. This will especially occur if it is a fast-moving toy like a remote-controlled car or a rope toy that is being carried by another pup in their mouth. If a sighthound sees a moving target, they may become overly enthusiastic and decide to chase.

Since sighthounds are some of the fastest dogs, chances are your other pup (if belongs to another dog breed) will lose the running battle and the toy as well in the process. You may have to work with your pup to help curb this behavior or at least tone it down a bit from early age. 

If you are planning to bring in a sighthound in a family that already has rabbits, cats or other small animals, ensure that the socializing is done gradually and carefully from early age. The best option would be to get a puppy from a breeder where the pups grew up along with cats. Despite this, a lot of training and vigilance will be required to make sure that your pup does not think of the cat or other small dog as prey. If you are finding it difficult to socialize your sight hound, you can work with a dog behaviorist or a dog trainer to help introduce your dog to the other animal companions.

The feeding process of the hound dog breeds

Feeding scent hounds

Scent hounds are known to eat their food in a jiffy. They also have a tendency of stealing and scavenging food. Do not be surprised if you find your scent hound’s nose in the garbage can. It is preferable that you keep all the food away from the kitchen counter and in locked cabinets. You should also empty out your trash bins as soon as possible.

Since scent hounds love to eat, one solution to the garbage rummaging problem can be to distribute your dog’s food into smaller portions and feed them more frequently. You can split the food that you provide your dog twice a day into four portions. This way your dog will be fed four times a day. This can help in curbing the garbage rummaging and stealing food from the counter behavior.

Feeding your hounds
Feeding your hounds

Since scent hounds have a tendency to inhale their food, you should use a slow feeder to make sure that your dog eats slower. Alternatively, you can also scatter up some of the dry food outsight in the garden or on the deck so that your dog spends some time trying to find it. Alternatively, you can also split up some of the portions of your dog’s food and use it for a find the treat game. This will not only exercise his nose, it will also exercise his brain and body. This will keep your dog’s senses sharp and will make a fun play time for both of you.

5% of the food that you give your dog should be kept in reserve as rewards for good behavior during training. This is especially important if you’re training your dog, the recall command. Scent hounds do not respond particularly well to this specific command due to their single-minded focus.

Feeding your sighthounds

Unlike scent hounds, sighthounds are not as food motivated. Therefore, to make sure that your sighthound finishes his complete meal, you must provide him plenty of exercise. Once sighthounds have had their fill of exercise, they will come back home pretty hungry.

Some dog guardians have also complained that their sighthounds are extremely picky when it comes to food. However, there is a way around this. Sighthounds as you know by now are motivated by the game of chase. You can put half of your dog’s food in a rollable or throwable toy that dispenses food when moving. This way, when your dog is playing with the toy, he will eat the food as well.

10% of the total amount of dog food per day should be kept as a reward for training. Again this will come in very handy when you are teaching your dog the recall command. The remainder of the dog food can be split into two meals.

If you are providing your dog wet food, use the dry counterparts for training. However, include all of the food that you are using in training in your dog’s daily food allowance. This will prevent you from overfeeding your dog.

With both sight and scent hounds, you must keep a careful eye on their weight. Scenthounds tend to put up weight very easily. Therefore, you must be very careful when feeding scenthounds. Sighthounds are not as fast as scent hounds in gaining weight. Furthermore, their picky behavior when it comes to food also prevents them from piling up pounds.

Is the hound dog breed right for you?

Ready to adopt a dog of the hound dog breed?

Are you ready?
Check if you are ready

Are you ready to provide the following?

  • Provide plenty of exercises
  • Regular training from an early age
  • Take them to dog parks and teach them to be social
  • Groom them everyday/regularly.
  • Make sure that they have treasure hunts or things to chase depending on whether you’re getting a sound hound or scent hound
  • Plenty of playtime everyday

The above-mentioned factors are what your dog needs from you. Let’s see if the hound dog is a suitable one for you or not.

Is the hound dog breed correct for you?

  • You are looking to lead a quiet life. You want a companion who does not cause a ruckus, and is relatively clean and quiet. When you are home, your dog should prefer to relax next to you.
  • You are not looking for a dog who is very obedient. You love the challenge of training, understanding and investing energy and time in the training process.
  • You live at a location where there is plenty of areas to provide regular exercise to your dog. If your dog shows a selective approach towards obedience, it is not going to be a problem for you or others. You love to go on long walks regularly and would love a companion.

If your answer to the above-mentioned pointers is yes, you are ready to get a dog of the hound dog breed.

Conclusion

In this blog post, I covered the hound dog breeds: their nature, temperament, energy levels, specific traits, and characteristics. Hound dog breeds can be divided into two categories: scent hounds and sighthounds. Hounds love to chase their prey. Scent hounds use the scent of smell while the sighthounds use their sense of sight. Both dogs require a good level of exercise daily. With scent hounds, you may have to provide more grooming sessions. You also have to keep an eye on the food they are consuming. Hounds tend to gain weight very easily.

If you want to know more about the hound dog breed, or other dog breeds, dog care process, training methods and psychology, please subscribe to The Happy Puppers. You can use the subscription option present in the sidebar. Your subscription will allow me to notify you about the release of the new blog post so that you stay aware of all the tips and tricks that will make you an amazing dog guardian. If you love watching videos, you should also subscribe to the YouTube channel of The Happy Puppers, Shruti and Delta. Remember to ring the notification bell.

What is your take on the hound dog breeds? Love it or not so much? Please mention your experiences open ends suggestions etcetera in the comment section below. If you have any queries about this blog post or any other on The Happy Puppers, feel free to reach out to me on any of my social media channels. You can also reach me via the contact form. I will be happy to help.

See you in my next blog post

Dr. shruti