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What to Expect with Hounds among Dog Breeds

The Hound classification contains some of the oldest known dog breeds and includes the beloved Beagle. Hunting dogs, they can be scent hounds (dogs who hunt by scent) or sight hounds (dogs who hunt by sight). The Dachshund goes to ground after vermin and arguably belongs with the terriers because of this trait, but the name (and other factors) say otherwise.

The size range is dramatic from miniature Dachshunds, about five inches tall at the shoulder with a weight of less than 10 pounds, to the tallest dog of all, the Irish Wolfhound, more than 30 inches tall and weighing more than 100 pounds. Hounds come in a range of sizes:

  • Tiny breeds (less than 20 pounds): Dachshunds, standard and miniature.

  • Small- to medium-sized breeds (20 to 50 pounds): Basenji, Basset Hound, Beagle, Harrier, Norwegian Elkhound, Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen, Whippet.

  • Large breeds (50 to 80 pounds): Afghan Hound, American Foxhound, Black and Tan Coonhound, English Foxhound, Greyhound, Ibizan Hound, Pharaoh Hound, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Saluki.

  • Giant breeds (more than 80 pounds): Blood-hound, Borzoi, Irish Wolfhound, Otterhound, Scottish Deerhound.

Most hounds have energy to burn, but most breeds are fairly calm in the house. Greyhounds, for example, are often called “40-mile-per-hour couch potatoes” for their decided preference for napping. Scent hounds tend to be more active than sight hounds.

Some wonderful potential pets are in this group, most notably the Beagle, a happy, sturdy dog considered to be an outstanding companion for children. Highly recommended, too, is the Basset Hound.

Don’t expect hound breeds to watch your every step out of doors: They’ve got better things to do, following their nose and their eyes as their heritage demands. “Come” can be a difficult concept for many hounds. House-training can be tough with the scent hounds.

Coats are generally low-maintenance: Most, but not all, of these breeds are short- or wire-haired. The most notable exception is the Afghan Hound, whose long, silky coat tangles and mats quickly without constant attention.

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