You may know them for their floppy ears and droopy faces, but hound dogs are so much more than that. Hound dogs are one of the most recognizable breeds in the world and some, like the Beagle, of the most popular companions in America. The hound group houses some of the dog world’s best hunters. They’re also high energy, charismatic, and are amazing family dogs.
All breeds in the hound group come from a long history of hunting dogs. Some of them use their acute sense of smell to track prey — which can range from animals to their favorite chew toy — and others use their keen eyesight, stamina, and speed.
You may think hound dogs are slow, but what if we told you that the hound group is home to one of the fastest dog breeds, the Greyhound? It’s true! Hound is even right in the name.
In fact, three of the most popular hound dog breeds are:
Besides hunting, these dogs have one more thing in common: their howl. Many of them share a very distinct sound known as baying. Before you adopt a dog from the hound group, you may want to listen to a series of bays before you decide if they’re right for you and your family. The howl is loud, can be heard from a long ways away, and is one of their main vocalizations.
Hound Group’s Personality
There are two distinct types of hounds: sighthounds and scent hounds. As you might have guessed, sighthounds rely on their eyesight and scent hours are the dog that prefers to sniff out their prey.
It goes beyond that. Scent hounds are slower, tougher, and generally have smaller legs and longer bodies. A beagle and hound dog is a scent hound, for instance. They usually have lower amounts of energy than sight hounds, but it’s not uncommon for them to to have playfulness to spare at the end of the day.
Sight hounds are the dogs that you may consider to be in the hound group at first, like Greyhounds. They are speedy and prefer to engage in a chase instead of a slow tracking hunt.
Both of them are extremely intelligent and inquisitive. This is why they’re harder to train than other dog groups — they must be taught why they’re doing something instead of just being taught the trick. If the pup doesn’t think the training is important, or they don’t understand why they’re being asked to sit, they’ll probably ignore you.
All hounds love to explore, so you’ll need to have a lot of patience as they sniff or run around their new surroundings. They’ll want to take in every new sight and smell there is, which means long pauses and many trips around the same place.
They are also usually very sweet, loyal, curious, and vocal.
How To Choose the Right Breed
If you’re looking to get a hound dog, you’ll need to ask yourself who will be the pack leader: will it be you or the dog? As the owner, you might want it to be you. That means you’ll need to pick a breed that you’ll be able to level with and explain tricks to, and one that has the right level of energy.
Overall, dogs in the hound group are great pets and extremely loyal to their owners. They’re generally curious and very friendly toward others, though some may be a bit slow to warm up to newcomers.
If you have the room and outdoor space, an English Foxhound would love the space.
If you live in a smaller home or apartment, beagles, greyhounds, and dachshunds can adjust fairly well, though they may be triggered by louder neighbors. They should be fine as long as you can give them plenty of exercise, such as brisk walks or fetch sessions at least once a day.
The exception is bloodhounds, who are happy to nap the day away when they don’t have the room to hunt.
If You Have A Family or Other Pets
Remember, they are hunting dogs, so they will love to stalk, chase, and play a little more aggressively than other breeds. They don’t mean any harm though! Most breeds will not associate their instincts with hurting another animal or you. Hunting is a trained exercise and not a born behavior. That being said, some breeds get along with other animals better than others.
Greyhounds are calm and sociable indoors. They usually get along well with children as well as other dogs and even cats.
English Foxhounds get along well with children and prefer to be with other dogs. While they can get along with other animals, it normally takes firm training to break them of their hunting habits.
If you have kids, a beagle is a great choice. They’re gentle and very patient with humans. But if you have other non-canine pets, you may want to overlook that beagle puppy, as they tend to let their hunting instincts take over and chase the other pet.
You may want to avoid…
Dachshunds are good single-person companions. While generally friendly and loyal, they may get aggressive toward strangers. So if you don’t have a controlling hand, you may not want to introduce a dachshund to your family, especially if they’re older than a few months. If you are good with dogs and the dachshund sees you as a pack leader, they will follow your example and love those around you.
Bloodhounds also need an owner to act as pack leader, but are not as aggressive if they are not under control.
Common Hound Dog Health Problems
Hounds tend to live an average of 10-13 years. They each come with their own health problems. The most common are bloat, eye and back problems, epilepsy (especially in greyhounds and bloodhounds).
Dachshunds are prone to even more health problems due to their long body, such as Chondrodystrophy, which affects their spine. To learn more about this condition and other conditions that affect smaller dog breeds like dachshunds, see our previous blog.
Greyhounds often suffer from leg problems, especially if they are retired racers. You can help support their legs with a dog leg brace.
Overall, hound dogs are great additions to smaller families and do well with any amount of space. They’re wonderfully loyal, smart, and will keep you entertained and feeling loved for years to come.