The common trait that all hounds have is that they were bred for hunting. Some are great at following scents while others have seemingly endless stamina to keep up with prey. That is where the similarities end. Hounds come in all shapes and sizes. There are varieties that originate from all over the world, including Scotland, Egypt, Afghanistan, and America. They were bred to hunt everything from raccoon to deer to lions. Most of them make great pets, too, as long as they get enough daily exercise.
The English Foxhound has been represented in art for centuries and is one of the most iconic examples of a hunting dog. The black, white, and tan coat and long, tapered tail are instantly recognizable as that of a hound. English Foxhounds are not a good companion dog but are a great choice for anyone looking for a running partner or a very active family that spends a lot of time outdoors.
In addition to being a faithful family companion, the Basset Hound is also a slow and steady hunting dog. They have an amazing sense of smell second only to the Bloodhound. Their long, low ears pick up scents from the ground and the loose, wrinkly skin around their face and nose all help get the scent to their nose for better tracking. Because of their short legs, they move slower than taller hounds, which means hunters can keep up and the white tip of their tails is easy to spot in tall grass.
The Irish Wolfhound was bred to be both a hunting dog and a war dog and nearly faced extinction back in the 19th century. Since then, the breed has made an impressive comeback. This is the tallest dog breed in the world and was bred to chase prey. They are a good fit for an active family with a large yard and, although they are brave, they are not aggressive. This may make them an ineffective watchdog, but their size is pretty intimidating and could scare off any intruders.
Originally bred in Afghanistan for hunting large prey in the mountains and deserts, the Afghan Hound is a smart, independent dog that does his own thing. These dogs can be quite tender and loving when they want to be but can be mischevious and playful. Subsequently, they can be difficult to train. They are also very sensitive and do not respond well to pain or rough handling.
One of the most impressive things about the Rhodesian Ridgeback is that it was bred to hunt lions and other large prey, including boar and bears. The characteristic ridge running down its back gives it its name and shows a hint to its African lineage. These dogs make great running or hiking companions. They are also very intelligent and need mental stimulation, so they do not get bored. This powerful outgoing breed is not meant for everyone, but someone looking for an outgoing, funny, strong pet might find this it the breed they are looking for.
The Saluki is considered an ancient breed. It is believed that they were used in ancient Egypt over 4,000 years ago to hunt gazelles alongside falcons. These dogs are fast, strong, and have impressive endurance. While they are affectionate and a nice companion for their owners, they are strong-willed and have a tendency to take off after squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, and even goats. They are a challenge but are good to their owners.
Beagles were bred to hunt small game and are therefore determined and curious. They always have their nose to the ground to catch a scent and find a trail to follow. Because they are pack dogs, they get along with most other pets and are loyal to their family. This small, compact breed is hardy, active, and makes a great companion.
The Bloodhound originated in medieval France and was bred to trail boar and deer. This is a highly intelligent breed that has arguably the best sense of smell among all dog breeds. They are often used by law enforcement and search and rescue teams. Bloodhounds are affectionate and gentle. After a long trek following a scent or a walk with their owner, they like to relax in the sun. They are stubborn but sensitive, loving, and full of character.
The Scottish Deerhound is intended to hunt a roe deer, a majestic creature that is at least twice their size. The wiry coat, lanky, muscular build, and athletic grace make this an interesting breed to look at, but they are exceptionally affectionate, too. Scottish Deerhounds like everyone - family, friends, children, other dogs, even strangers. They are really active as puppies and turn into couch potatoes around age five, though they still need a long daily walk to stretch their legs.
The Treeing Walker Coonhound is named for what it is best at. "Treeing" comes from its ability to trail prey until it runs up a tree for safety. The hound then sits at the bottom, barking and signaling the hunter until he arrives. This breed began as an English Coonhound. It is actually a descendant of English Foxhounds brought over to America, but American breeders soon began to breed the dogs to enhance the qualities they wanted. This breed is gentle and can make a great family dog, provided it gets enough exercise.
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