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Hound Breeds

Hound breeds are plentiful and popular. Currently, twenty-five different individual breeds make up the American Kennel Club’s Hound Group.

Many hounds were first bred as hunting companions because of their special tracking qualities that the hunter can utilize.

Long-haired dachshund photo courtesy of Caroline (hills_alive) on Flickr via Creative Commons

Long-haired dachshund photo courtesy of Caroline (hills_alive) on Flickr via Creative Commons

Scenthounds, like the Basset Hound and Dachshund, follow their noses and help follow trails to prey on a hunt. Some breeds like Foxhounds and Beagles have been popular to take along on hunts to help the hunters locate prey.

Sighthounds are slim and fast, and were bred to track prey in their sightline, quickly running after and overtaking it.

Of the twenty-five hound breeds in the AKC, there are more scent-driven hounds (fifteen) and only ten sight-driven hounds.

The AKC Scent Hounds

Let’s look at the first category in the Hounds group a little more closely – The Scent Hound. These amazing scent-tracking dogs are able to sniff out prey and follow a line of scent, sometimes days old, for incredible distances. Many of these dogs howl or bay once they have located their prey, in order to alert the hunter.

The dogs in this category of hounds all look quite different from each other. Some have smooth, short coats and are small in stature, like the dachshund.

The miniature dachshund is only five to six inches tall and weighs less than eleven pounds. In contrast, the Otter Hound, with its coarse, wavy coat and long beard, can stand twenty-seven inches tall and weigh more than one hundred fifteen pounds!

What these dogs do have in common is their ability to track animals by their scent. You will notice that most of these dogs have long, droopy ears and some have extra skin around their faces- all the more to help them “snuffle up” the scent! Many of these dogs are also low-to the ground and are sturdier or stockier than their sight hound counterparts.

Because of their strong desire to track scent, there are some considerations to keep in mind if thinking about bringing a scent hound into your family. Most of the scent-tracking hound breeds are unhappy unless they are given a good deal of room to roam outdoors. City life is basically unsuitable for these dogs, who need to be able to use their marvelous noses, or they can become bored and develop traits like barking, howling or digging.

AKC Scent hound breeds are as follows:

  • Otterhound breed

    Otterhound photo is courtesy of Llima Orosa on Flicker, under the Creative Commons License

    • American FoxhoundBasset Hound
    • Beagle
    • Black and Tan Coonhound
    • Bloodhound
    • Bluetick Coonhound
    • Dachshund
    • English Foxhound
    • Harrier
    • Norwegian Elkhound
    • Otterhound
    • Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen
    • Plott
    • Redbone Coonhound
    • Rhodesian Ridgeback

    If you have cats or other small animals, be aware that some of the hounds (mostly the sight hounds, but some scent hounds as well) may try to chase or corner them. Read thoroughly about the individual traits of each of the breeds to make sure that you will have a compatible situation in your home.

    There are quite a few dogs in this category of the Hounds group that make outstanding family dogs.

    Our favorite family scent hounds are:

    • Beagle
    • Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen
    • Basset Hound
    • Harrier
    • Black and Tan Coonhound
    • American Foxhound
    • English Foxhound
    • Bloodhound

    You may wonder why we don’t have the Dachshund or Otter Hound listed.

    Although Dachshunds are a well-loved breed, their personality can vacillate, which makes them not the best choice for families with young children. They also tend to be a bit more of a solitary breed, rather than an extremely social breed. Dachshunds can be great for families with older children.

    Otter Hounds are not recommended because they do best with experienced dog owners only. These dogs are huge, do not train easily and are prone to chasing smaller animals. That said, they are quite friendly. Unfortunately, the other traits listed make them difficult for most families to handle

    The AKC Sight Hounds

    hound breeds-picture of an Egyptian tomb painting of Pharaoh HoundsSome of the oldest breeds of all come from this category within the Hounds group, and were the dogs of the ancient “rich and famous.”

    Paintings in the Egyptian tombs depict Greyhounds, Ibizian and Pharoh Hounds. Greyhounds, especially, seem to have been favorites with the ancient Greeks and Romans as well. The painting at the left shows the Pharaoh Hound, the same breed that is pictured just below.

    Beginning with early hunting times, sight hounds were bred to see prey, chase it, and sometimes even kill it for the hunter.

    Dogs that fall into the sight hounds category within the Hound breeds group are sleek and built for speed.

    Sight hounds include:

    • Afghan Houndhound-breeds-pharaoh hound at beach
    • Basenji
    • Borzoi
    • Greyhound
    • Ibizan Hound
    • Irish Wolfhound
    • Pharaoh Hound
    • Saluki
    • Scottish Deerhound
    • Whippet

    Of this large category of dogs within the hound breeds, only a few breeds are recommended as great family dogs by

    Why? In our research, we found that many of the dogs in this group, because of their breeding, are more solitary (rather than social) individuals. They can be moderately to highly territorial, and have more dominant, vacillating personalities, which makes them less suitable for families with young children.

    hound breeds- greyhound picture

    Greyhound photo courtesy of Adam.J.W.C. on Wikimedia Commons, licensed under Creative Commons

    Probably the most-loved dog that is absent from our list of favorites for families with young children is the Greyhound. Greyhounds are very sweet-tempered dogs, and many former racing dogs are helped by adoption groups, so we want to promote them to the right families. Greyhounds can be skittish or timid, and do best in quiet homes (which do not generally equal families with small children). Greyhounds will do well in loving households with quieter older children, as long as they are given long daily walks and time to run.

    Some of the breeds not listed below will still work well in families with older children or teens, but only the two listed below are fully recommended by this site for families with young kids. Still, there are caveats about their size and exercise requirements that should be noted. Both of these breeds are very large (over twenty-eight inches tall, with weight between seventy-five to upwards of one hundred twenty pounds). Both also require a large amount of daily exercise, but are extremely friendly and good with children, if their size can be dealt with.

    Our favorite family sight hounds are:

    • Scottish Deerhound
    • Irish Wolfhound


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