Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sight Hounds

A hound is a type of dog that assists hunters by tracking or chasing the animal being hunted. They are not the type called a "gun dog". Gun dogs (also gundogs or bird dogs) are a type of dog developed to assist hunters in finding and retrieving game. Gun dogs are divided into three primary types: Retrievers, flushers, and pointers. Some kennel clubs define a Gundog Group for gundogs, while other kennel clubs include them in the Sporting Group. One of the oldest meanings for the word sport, in English, is hunting as an entertainment for members of the nobility and elite classes. To assist in the hunting of birds and small game, various sporting types of dogs were developed, which became the ancestors of today's pointer, retriever, setter, and spaniel purebred breeds. Not all kennel clubs include the same breeds in the Sporting Group, and some kennel clubs do not use the Sporting Group classification.

But, back to the Hound group. Their are basically 3 types of Hound:  Sight hounds, Scent Hounds and Site/Scent Hounds. This post is about gazehounds.

The SightHounds are also known as Gaze Hounds. They hunt by sight and speed. Although, as all dogs, they add some scent and sound to their hunt. But they follow the prey with their sight. These dogs are very fast and will catch and kill game on their own. GazeHounds are bred to keep the prey in sight and pursue it, overpowering it by their speed and agility. There are characteristics that the breed has in order to enable it to do it's job. First it must have keen eyesight so it can detect motion. They have long necks which assists them in sighting their quarry. These long necks do better with a Martingale collar so that there isn't too much pulling on those sensitive necks causing injury to the trachea.

They will have deep chests in order to accomodate their larger heart and lungs. I know that when I run my heart is pumping like a piston and I'm gulping air and when I'm not in good shape, I can't get enough oxygen and my heart is pumping out of my chest! If your heart can't pump fast enough you can get fluid around the heart causing your lungs not to have enough room. So these dogs need large efficient lungs and heart that can pump more oxygen and blood.

They have to be very agile and will have long, slender legs in order to grab and purchase as much land as possible in their stride. Their back thighs will be the biggest muscle because it is used to push off in the running stride. They have to have flexible backs in order to stretch out in the run. They need a lean body and their weight needs to be kept down. Weight will slow down the run but it also puts stress on those thin legs and joints. The long, slender legs are more fragile and their agility makes them able to leap, run, twist and turn on a dime which puts stress on the legs and joints. Broken legs can be a problem in the long legged breeds and it's important to keep their bones and joints healthy.

They will have a long, slender head with ears that can lay flat back in the run. This makes them aerodynamic. The tail is also very slender so that it doesn't slow them down.

Unless they are bred for colder climates, they will have short, sleek coats which also help make them aerodynamic. But if they hunt in colder climes like the Borzoi, which was developed to hunt in Russia, it will have a long coat to protect it from the cold. Some of the long haired breeds have long silky hair that has to be taken care of. Others have a wiry coat.

They don't (or shouldn't) have fat on their bodies. Fur and fat protects a dog from the cold but these are lean, thin dogs. If you own a short haired Gaze Hound, like a Greyhound, and you live in a colder climate, you need to supplement their short coat with a real coat. They can be cold intolerant. Some of the longer haired breeds may be protected from the cold but their silky fur needs protection from rain, snow and dirt. You can buy rain outfit that fit over them like a pair of longjohns.

They will have feet with elongated toes, especially the two middle toes. This is to help them keep their footing.

Here are some of the Sight Hound Breeds:

These are the Greyhound, the Whippet and the Italian Greyhound.

The Greyhound, aka the Greyt, can run at speeds as high as 39 mph! These are normally very laid back, gentle dogs but they are prey driven. You may think it's OK to walk your Greyt without a leash because they are very attached to their owners. But don't be fooled, if a rabbit or cat catches their eye, they are off and there is no way for YOU to catch up with them on foot. Many sight hounds are lost due to running after what they consider to be prey. They can be miles away in no time and can't find their way back. It's very important to keep sight hounds safely on a leash when walking or within a fenced yard or park.

A Greyhound has thin skin (as do their smaller counterparts, the medium sized Whippet and the tiny Italian Greyhound) which can be easily scratched and torn by thorns or playful nips.

Racing greyhounds wear muzzles but it's not because they are a mean or aggressive breed. It's to protect them from each other when the race is finished. The "prey" has disappeared but they are still on adrenaline and may get too excited, causing injury to their thin skin. If they catch, what they consider as, prey, it will be destroyed! So if your neighbor's cat catches the eye of your Greyt and he pursues and catches it, the cat is a goner. In this photo, the dog's mouth is open to purchase oxygen, not out of aggressiveness.

I am NOT a proponent of racing Greyhounds but not because they race (they love to run), but because it's a money/profit driven business and the dogs are not always taken care of, especially when their days of running are over. These owners are only interested in money and once the dogs can't run any more, they want to get rid of the dog and, for many, that means killing them.

And why spend money on keeping the dog or in putting the dog down humanely? Cut costs, no unnecessary expense, how to run a dog as cheaply as possible. These goals are usually done with bad food, no vetting, and cramped quarters and a cheap death. If you want one of these wonderful dogs, adopt a rescued Greyhound! Due to racing, it's difficult to purchase Greyhound puppies and they can be very expensive.

Greyhounds are quiet, gentle, very loving and attached to their owners. They have a sensitive nature and are heartbroken if yelled at. They are pack animals and easily adopt you and your family as their pack with you as Alpha. They get along well with other dogs of suitable size. If your other dogs are too small, you should be very careful in introducing them as they may consider them as prey to chase and kill. These dogs are good with children as long as the children are taught to treat them kindly and give gentle commands. As I said before, yelling at the dog will scare them and hurt their feelings so training should be done gently.

Despite their love of racing and chasing, these dogs are NOT hyperactive. They are laid back, couch potatoes. They need exercise but they don't push for it. They do well in small homes or apartments as long as you take them for walks (on leash) or you have a safe play area for them to run in. Their idea of a lovely day is one where you are home with nothing better to do than lay on the bed with them and a good blanket.

They are not normally barkers but they can break out in "roos". This is the sound that they make that is like a singing. When they have more than one Greyt they will begin this singing as though they were in a choir. It's funny to see. One will start and look around at the others and they begin chiming in. Some Greyt owners even get together for Roo-a-thons.

Whippets are a medium-size dog that looks like a smaller Greyhound. They average in weight from 15 to 30 lb, with height of 18.5 - 20 inches for males and 17.5–18.5 inches for females. American Whippets tend to be a little larger at the AKC standard of 18.5 to 22.5 inches for males, and 17.5 to 21.5 inches for females. The heart of a whippet is large and slow beating, often being arrhythmic or even intermittent when the animal is at rest. This sometimes causes concern to the owner but the heart will beat regularly when exercising.

The Greyhound and Whippet

Whippets are generally quiet and gentle dogs, and may be content to spend much of the day resting like the Greyhounds. They are a friendly dog and they are not a "guard dog" but rather a "watch dog." They will bark at strangers to alert you but they aren't aggressive.

They are intelligent, lively and sweet. The Whippet should never be roughly trained, for they are extremely sensitive both physically and mentally. They are good with children of all ages as long as the children do not roughhouse or tease the dog.

Whippets have been called a "poor man's racehorse." Their speeds can reach 35 mph so they must be on a leash or in a fenced area. They are outstanding running dogs and are top competitors in lure coursing, straight racing, and oval track racing. They are very athletic, superb runners. They are prey driven too and smaller cats or dogs can be seen as prey if not introduced correctly.

They, like the Greyts, tend to like to lay around. They need exercise but they don't push it because they love to snuggle.

Coat with a snood

They are cold intolerant and if you live in a cold environment, they need a coat. Their fur is short and sleek to help them in running. Their coats are clean and odorless. Their coat is easy care.

Italian Greyhound
The Italian Greyhound is also known as an I.G., Iggy or Italian Greyt. They are not in the Hound category. Why? Because they were developed to look like the Greyhound but be a toy dog.

Don't get me wrong! They are fast and they have a prey drive. But they were bred to look like a miniaturized Greyt and they do look just like them, only miniature. They have the same temperament. But they are categorized in the Toy Group.


I.G.'s can run up to 25 mph so they need to be kept on a leash or in a fenced yard that is safe for them. They need exercise but they love snuggling, cuddling and sleeping all day. They are very cold intolerant.

Since I have 3 Iggies who own me, I have done a more indepth post on the little Italian Greyhound. They are a fragile dog and their long skinny legs are easy to break. Broken legs are the most common injury to this breed. Their skin is as thin as peach skin. This breed is not good around children. Not because they are aggressive, but because children can't always control themselves. They are such a fragile dog and a running child could run into the dog or stumble over the dog and you have a $2,000 broken leg. This is an expense you have to be able to afford. They also aren't the easiest to potty train. My boys have to wear diapers but my little girl is well trained to pee pads. Although, if push comes to shove, she will pee on my bed to get her point across. I have layer after layer of mattress pads, beach towels, mattress pads,towels and did I say mattress pads? So I haven't had it go through to the mattress. I'm just warning you in case you come across the same problem. Use layers and keep backups and then just change the sheets if it happens. No use getting torn out of the frame about it. All 3 of my I.G.'s are rescues that I adopted.

How many Iggies are in the ring bed? Three!

Capodimonte, or Capo the Clown!

This is an unusually small I.G. She only weighs a little over 5 lbs. Her name is Persephone.

Here are other Gaze Hounds

The Afghan Hound

Afghan puppy

Afghan Hound with a short cut

With those long, silky ears they have to wear snoods a good bit to keep them out of their drinking water and food and getting nasty. These snoods can be simple or very glamorous.

The Borzoi (Russian Wolfhound)

The Irish Wolfhound

The Scottish Deerhound

The Saluki

The Pharoah Hound

The Ibizan Hound
The Ibizan Hound, pronounced "I-bee-zan" or "I-beeth-an", is a lean, agile dog of the hound family. There are three hair types of the breed: smooth,long, and wire. The more commonly seen type is the smooth.

There are a few more rare breeds of sight hounds but these are the most well known. I love the elegance and beauty of a gazehound! If I had a place and the money, I would love to have a pair of each one. They are just so gorgeous and regal!

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