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Breeds 101

Sight Hounds

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Sight Hounds are products of special selective breeding thousands of years ago, all from southwest Asia; some of them are close relatives of the primitive dogs, such as the Ibizan and Pharaoh Hounds.

Sight Hounds are breeds with an aerodynamic build for running like arrows after their prey. They have a very flexible back and long legs, a deep chest to support an unusually large heart, very efficient lungs, and a lean, wiry body.

This breed primarily hunt by speed and sight, instead of by scent; they are tall, long, lean, lithe running hounds. These dogs pursuing prey (such as deer and hare), keeping it in sight, and overpowering it by their great speed and agility.

The oldest recorded sight hounds are in Arabia. Saluki and Sloughi have been bred there for 5.000 years. In ancient Persia, the Saluki existed in 16 different varieties. The Afghan Hound (in some varieties) was used in Afghanistan to hunt desert foxes and gazelles by day and to guard the tent at night. The Borzoi existed in some varieties in Czarist times.

All Sight Hound breeds are an ancient type of dog dating back to the Egyptian, Middle Eastern, African and Southwest Asian civilizations.

Breeders are recreate many of these lost varieties. Sight Hounds thrived further south, in India, and exist there today. They were probably brought into Mediterranean Europe and Africa by Phoenician traders. They may have transported hounds to Great Britain over 2.500 years ago.

In Great Britain they were selectively bred and crossed with mastiff breeds, producing the Irish Wolfhound. The English Greyhound may have been brought to Great Britain by the Celts, to course hares and foxes. The Whippert was bred as the working man’s sight hound, as was the Lurcher. Some sight hound breeds exist outside Asia and Europe.

Many sight hounds are now kept for companionship. They are quiet, good with children; some of them are good watchdogs, but some pure-bred types are not very territorial. The sight hounds need physical activity and regular access to open space.

The Sight Hounds are:

Greyhound, Italian Greyhound, Whippet, Lurcher, Deerhound, Irish Wolfhound, Borzoi, Afghan Hound, Saluki and Sloughi.