cur dog standing

THE CUR DOG breed “type” a great American Hunting dog

cur dog standingCur dog Definition


Cur dogs like Feists dogs have an interesting history. Officially not a breed, but a type of dog, Curs are usually considered more ‘mongrel’ or not breed specific than even Feist dogs.

NOTE while country wide and international kennels mostly don’t recognized any cur as a specific breed (two out of twenty have made it through), many of the smaller southern American clubs began officially recognizing the specific area cut from the 1950s onwards.

While the next article will list many known Cur dog types/ breeds, the most popular ones are: blackmouth cur, mountain cur and Catahoula Cur Dog

Originally the term cur was derogatory to mean ” mangy mongrel or almost any crossbred dog.” Though over the last century dedicated breeders, mostly in the southern parts of the USA have aimed at refining a whole range of specific cur breeds, within the cur family. The next article will go through the many names and places that Cur dogs are found.

Just as many parts of the world have utilized a generic dog of the region for many tasks around the farm or home, so too the Cur dog was used by Early American settlers for hunting, family guard duties and as a stock dog.

Cur Dog physical characteristics

Because of the many regional varieties of the cur dog you might think that it would be hard to physically describe them, however their overall body shape is surprisingly similar.

The cur dogs tend to be a medium to medium-large sized dog of powerful build. But that power is shared between outright strength and endurance, so they often are described as lean, but solid muscle.

They are typically short coated and it is the color of the striking pattern which often is the most defining point between the different cur dog varieties (as well as their hunting characteristics of course).

Because they are not recognized by any international clubs, defining their exact look (head shape, size etc) would be of little use to people out of the regions, though you will see that many dedicated cur dog sites attempt to define this in anticipation of the cur dog becoming a recognized breed, globally.

Cur dog Hunting abilities

This site is all about Hunting dogs, so it would be remiss not to mention as much information as possible about the Cur dog hunting skills. However we are mindful to add, that there are almost as many cur dogs specializing in certain environments, and sometimes certain game as there are terriers, so again we will leave specific cur type definitions to later articles.

The main thing to consider is that with all of that lean muscle they are very fast and agile hunters able to run at speed through very rough dry terrain and swamp land.

Preferred targets range from small game hunting (squirrel and raccoon) to big game (cougar, bear, feral pig). As you can see they are very multi-purpose. high speed and agility makes them perfect for hunting small game, while their size and strength means that they can function exceedingly well solo or in cur packs of 2 or 3 against game much bigger than themselves.

Unlike many hunting dogs, but very much like the Feist dogs, the Cur dog has a strong TREEING instinct. Though for large game that don’t climb trees, or go to ground, the cur can equally hold its ground and ‘corner’ large game or rogue cattle.

The cur is neither a sight or scent specialist – its skill lie in its speed and endurance. Though once spotted they will pursue prey relentlessly. They are not considered a particularly strong tracking dog by scent unless the track is very new.

This means they may have to circle an area for quite a while longer to pick up a scent than any dog considered as a scent dog would. On recent scents though, they can track at high running speed.

feist dog

Feist dog type and Jack Russell difference, Family pet nature

feist dogPart one of this article describes many of the common features of the Feist dog. A great little hunter similar in look to a jack russell, but a TYPE of dog, not a single BREED. They are very high energy and TREE their target game, rather than running them to ground.

Because of the similarity of the Feist to the Jack Russell it is very instructive to see point by point what the actual differences are. The major complication her is that many jack russells you see are actually Fox Terrier Crosses. There are big differences in hunting style and shape of head etc, but one of the easier tells is often that the jack russell is a much smaller dog and its head is not as square at the front (long but rounder nose).

FEIST DOG V Jack Russell Characteristics table

Because the Feist is has often been mistaken for the smooth coat jack russell and most people know what a jack russell or at least jack russel X Fox terrier looks and acts like, it is often instructional to know the differences between these two breeds.

FEIST Hunting Dog Jack Russell Dog
COLOR BOTH Feist and Jack Russell are mainly white with spots or markings (to help hunters to not shoot them. Feist dogs color range is: red and white, blue and white, black and tan, red brindle, red, black, white, and tricolor with spots.


Predominantly white with black or brown spots.
Coat Softer and smoother than that of a rough-coated Jack Russell Smooth coated JR looks very similar to a feist coat.
Leg Legs are longer (particularly the mountain feist) Fox terrier crosses look can look closer to the feist dog.
Tail Tail shorter (or bob tail) Tail longer (unless docked)
Hunt behavior Silent on track until they corner prey Frantic barking in pursuit
Capture STYLE Prefer to Tree its prey, and are great tree climbers (particularly after squirrels) Prefer to go to ground, though also good tree climbers.
HUNT Aggression Many feists are motivated on the hunt, but wait for hunter when prey is cornered. Prefer to capture and Kill prey, with or without hunter
Life expectancy 10-13 years 14-18 years (smaller size give longevity)
HUNT TARGET Squirrel, opossum, raccoon, rats and rabbits, and to flush out game birds Rats, squirrel, rabbits. Also love hunting birds but not a primary function.
Larger Game Feist have been adapted for pack hunting of: bear, mountain lion large local southern US game. Jack Russells have a massive hunt heart, but small size can get them in dangerous situations if allowed to hunt large animals or snakes.


FEISTS as companion animals & behavior around the family.

Both Feists and jack russells are known to make great family pets, even those used for hunting. They can separate out their behavior around the children and other family dogs, but sometimes have issues with cats and non canine animals.

They are very alert, intelligent, tenacious, powerful dogs, proving a great watch dog with excellent guarding capabilities but all of this energy has to go somewhere if they are not used regularly for hunting.

The feist can be very protective of the children in its family, so beware around other children playing with your children when your feist is off lead.

And this is the shame when Feists are kept as pets and not socialised or trained to behave off lead. Not given regular walks to redirect energy, the feist suffers similar issues to jack russells and fox terriers kept as pets. They can develop anxieties and aggression towards other dogs.

Their amazing energy and hunt instinct means they don’t get bored, they just escape the house and yard. They can mark territory in the house and bark until they get what they want. They have centuries of breeding in them to find and get small prey, so it is natural that this instinct must have a healthy outlet, not suppression.

The high intelligence of the feist means they are easily trainable, but again high intelligence without stimulation can see energy directed where you may not want it to go.

mountain feist dog

Feist dog breed definition as Hunting dogs Pt 1

mountain feist dogFeist dog type and “breed”

Feist dogs are included on this hunting sites as they make up one of the minor and separate hunting dog groups. Note the Feist dog is a mixed breed TYPE of dog, and only two out of many variations are under consideration for breed recognition.

Feist dogs are also included here because they are now almost exclusively American. Known mostly in the Southern States of America. Not such much in Texas (shout out the my fellow Texan dog hunters) but more the Ozark Mountain and Southern Appalachian regions (where they were Further developed after their importation from the UK).

Feists dogs were originally created in Great Britain by farmers, miners, and field workers but that was a long time ago and the type of feist that exists today is mainly found in America, and has been breed considerably away from the original species of Feist.

The first thing you should be aware of is that the FEIST (like the CUR) is a type of dog, not a breed, they have been around for centuries, but are not a known breed because they continue to be breed locally with many different strains, and there has not been enough agreement with a specific type of feist for long enough to be attempted to be declared a breed by the major kennel clubs such as the AKC.

In fact, there exists an amazing array of variants of TYPE of feist (all similar in shape, attitude and size) but with nuances.


Almost exclusively used small terrier breeds including: Smooth Fox Terrier, Manchester Terrier, Jack Russell Terrier, White English Terrier ( extinct).

In America, the “Native American village dogs” were also added to add hardness for harsher environments and the hot south, while in other places, Whippets were added for speed and agility, and the Beagle for trailing abilities.

Many feists are also believed to be crosses from ” Treeing Walker hounds” which is a vital difference between terriers in that Feists ALL tree their prey.

The Treeing Feist has been recognized as an identifiable breed by the United Kennel Club in 1998. Though it is rumored that an American Feist now is claimed by the AKC.

“Various named varieties within the feist type umbrella have been developed, including the Mountain Feist which include the Baldwin Feist, Buckley Feist, Denmark Feist, Galla Creek Feist, Kemmer Feist, Lost Creek Feist, Sport bred Feist, and the Thornburg Feist. The Treeing Feist which include the Atomic Feist, Barger Feist, Boggs Creek, Cajun Squirrel Dogs, Charlie Feists, Fleming Creek Squirrel Dogs, Hickory Grounds Feist, Horse Creek Feists, Hurley Comb’s bred Feist, Mullins Feist, Riverun Feist, and the Rat Terrier. Both the National Kennel Club and the United Kennel Club recognize the Feist “breed”. ” (wikipedia)

Feists are typically developed from the terrier class and were originally ratters on UK farms but their targets have been widely increased in America. While they often resemble ratters, the main difference is that they work exclusively above ground to chase small prey such as squirrels as opposed to most terriers and dachshunds who are “earth dogs” and go to ground down holes to secure their prey (such as rats, rabbits, foxes, badgers).

The “standard” Feist is often confused in looks and behavior with jack russells and fox terriers, but there are many mass and subtle differences between these hunting breeds.

Feist dog Physical description

  • Feists typically are small (shorter than 18 inches/45 cm) and (weigh up to 30 lbs/14 kg),
  • They are ALL short-coated dogs with long legs and a pointed noses.
  • Ears set high on the head erect, or short hang ears. The tail is a natural bobtail or if legal in the local area, are often docked.
  • Predominantly white so as to be visible to hunters.
  • To the novice many of the feist variations appear to look like jack russell breed dogs.

 Feist Dog Hunting skills

Feists typically have an extreme desire to chase rabbits, squirrels, and rodents. And here in lies the rub. As feists are treeing dogs, and they don’t always pursue to the point of physically biting the animal, chasing animals that got to ground or warrens like rabbits and rats will often require other complimentary techniques such as ferrets to go into the burrows and retrieve the game.

Squirrels and any animal that lives or will find refuge above ground are the more preferred target for the feist.

Feists will use all of their senses to hunt their target (as opposed to specialty hunting dogs such as sight or scent hounds) and when they corner their target they tree them. Silent on the chase they change to loud barking and circling the tree to alert the hunter to their success. In this way the feist draws similar hunting technique to the many varieties of coonhound and their hunt for raccoons.

Feists are as motivated and single minded in getting their squirrel as beagles are at following a scent or coonhounds in pursuing raccoons. There is very little that will stop the pursuit unless a hunter has exceptional control over their dog.

curly coat retriever

RETRIEVERS – Gun dogs definition as Hunting dogs

curly coat retriever

RETRIEVERS = Gun dogs. sporting dog class

Retrievers are one of the main Gun dog breeds:

  • Pointers
  • Retrievers
  • Setters

Many dog breed sites prefer the group name sporting dog GROUP rather than gun dog.

The most curious thing about this group is that there are only SIX (6) dogs in total that are classified as retrievers. These are obviously hunting dogs that have the main skill as retrieving AND have the word retriever in their name. In alphabetical order they are:

  • Chesapeake Bay Retriever
  • Curly-Coated Retriever
  • Flat-Coated Retriever
  • Golden Retriever
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

 It should be noted that only four of these dogs have a long time lineage and are well known to most people on earth. The Chesapeake Bay retriever was created near Chesapeake Bay ( an city located in Virginia, America. And Nova Scotia Duck Tolling retriever is also a very localized dog.

So just like hunting dogs comprise several main groups of dogs, which some people may argue specific breeds should or shouldn’t be included, you will find that the retriever (as part of the gun or sporting group of dogs) has dogs that could or should be included in the group.

The reason that only SIX breeds officially come under the retriever group of dogs, is that while almost any dog can be trained to retrieve, a true retriever has a much more specific skills set. And in fact it is just as much of what the real retriever does as what it doesn’t do that makes it an ideal retriever in the view of hunters.

 RETRIEVER dog MAIN purpose

Retrievers are usually used for hunting of waterfowl.

This means the dog will either sit patiently in boats (often in cold winter conditions) or on the bank of bogs, remaining quietly hidden along with the hunter.

While retrievers can retrieve many other types of game, it is often larger more aggressive, and faster dogs that actually chase, capture and hold prey.

The retriever dog often has a thick coat, that repels water and a very soft mouth for bringing back game in the condition it was downed in.

There are many more mysterious hunting terms used to define how the dog interacts with the hunter owner, the signals that it must learn, how it interacts with other dogs, but essentially these dogs need high intelligence to work cooperatively with the hunter, without disturbing the environment too much or getting in the way of other dogs retrieving.

The best retriever dogs are used as a precision instrument, as if they are attached to the hunter by a string. They observe voice and hand commands, must remember where downed birds are for a long time before retrieving or retrieve on a blind command (where they did not see where a bird is but the hunter guides them).

One of the main motivations of a retriever dog is that they have an amazing fixation with birds. Without this desire to find a bird, without a high level of CONTROLLABLE excitement, they will not overcome the obstacles they need to in the hunting environment to retrieve the birds. A great retriever does not give up, unless recalled by the hunter.

Memory and the ability to mark where a bird has fallen is also a very important skill for the true retriever dog. That is what these dogs were bred for hundreds of years to do, that is why they are so good at this skill. Whereas humans can take centuries of ‘selective breeding’ to obtain a specific physical or mental skill, dog breeds can become very specific in a very short period, only a few generations. When these breeds were formed over centuries of hunting, it makes them very formidable.


Poodles were once known to be one of the best retrievers (of birds) that a hunter could find. They are also classed as water dogs and can do flushing. It is perhaps their high intelligence that had them fall out of flavour with some hunters, as their problem solving skills are exceptional and they will sometimes choose novel unexpected solutions. They were also multi-skilled so they are no longer in the specific retriever group.

English Cocker spaniels are also known to be great retrievers. In fact their name comes from their UK training to hunt the Eurasian Woodcock bird. They were bred to find the bird using exceptional smell, flush the bird for the hunter, then to retriever the bird. It is strange that having three exceptional skills precludes this dog from the retriever category.

Then you have dogs like the working dog collies that can retrieve a ball or thrown object for hours on end if required. The point about this form of retrieving is that it is a substitutes for herding. Border collies are known to be very intelligent, but they weren’t bred to have exceptional noses, and they weren’t bred to retrieve fallen birds. They were bred to occasionally nip a heel of an errant sheep, and they don’t have a soft mouth, so there are many reasons that this breed and others are not classified in the retriever specific class.

The following is a NON exhaustive list of other dogs that are known to be good retrievers. Note I have removed pointers from the list as they definitely have their own Gun Dog category.

You will notice that there are quite a few spaniels on this list. All these dogs love water, have feet webbing, solid coats:

American Cocker Spaniel, American Water Spaniel, Barbet, Boykin Spaniel, Clumber Spaniel, English Cocker Spaniel, English Setter, English Springer Spaniel, Frisian Pointer, German Shorthaired Pointer, German Water Spaniel, Gordon Setter, Italian Spinone, Irish Setter, Irish Water Spaniel, Newfoundland, Poodle, Portuguese Water Dog, Spanish Water Dog, Sussex Spaniel, Welsh Springer Spaniel, Wire-haired Pointing Griffon

English & German Pointers in a park

POINTERS – Gun Dog Breed, Hunting dog

English & German Pointers in a parkPOINTERS – Gun Dog Breed, Hunting dog

Pointers are one of the main Gun dog breeds:

  • Pointers
  • Retrievers
  • Setters
  • Flushing Spaniels
  • Water dogs

Some sites suggest that there are only three categories: flushing, pointers and retrievers.

Besides dogs with pointer in their name, such as English Pointer, German Pinter and Italian Pointer dogs, there are pointer breeds such as: Weimaraner, vizsla, Brittany spaniel, and spinone

You will notice that the English & German pointers and Weimaraner & vizsla, ALL have a similar physical appearance, a generic but slender and tall dog look.

A gun dog is also classed in the sporting breed group (if you consider hunting animals sporting).

Pointer dogs hunt and point game. In America, pointer dogs hunt and POINT to the prey, the may also flush and retrieve the prey depending on how they are trained and if the hunter has other dogs to do these tasks.

In non American countries pointer dogs are more likely to be trained to flush on command. Americans often use specific Flusher dog breeds to do the flushing of birds from hiding places.

Pointers must retrieve on both land and water. The issue for this is their thin coat, so in cold areas of the hunt, these dogs need to be kept continually active or coated.

HUNTING DOG Pointer personality

At work they are high energy and focussed. They have great endurance and relatively high speed, though due to their height, extreme fast turns (such as in chasing rabbits in thick growth) can be difficult for them.

By the age of two these dogs are often ready for hunting training and are raring to go, but still they must have a patient trainer. Pointer dogs can have a tendency to want to do things their own way, flushing or retrieving before commands are given.

Be aware that the age of two is when the dog is mentally mature enough and often willing to hunt, and this is often the age where the bones and joints of the dogs are considered mature enough to stand the rigours of endurance hunting. If in doubt get your pointer VET checked, because over working these breeds too young can lead to costly surgery that may not have the dog be right for life.

Stamina and exceptional nose has many hunters use these dogs multipurpose (rather than using separate scent dogs etc.

The pointer dog AT HOME

At home they Pointer dogs can be fun loving and occasionally naughty taking advantage of left out food on counter tops. They tend to be gentle with all family members (unless they are being goofy) but like many sporting dogs, come nightfall their protective nature kicks in and they make great watchdogs.

Anyone who has gotten this dog in an urban area and doesn’t have time to walk them off lead should give them back. These dogs get very restless and bored when not walked, with the ability to bark loudly. Their high stamina means that unlike many dogs that can be walked off lead for 45 minutes, they prefer an hour to two hours of running.

Tread mills are an option, but often lead to more boredom and wont socialise your dog. Unlike hunting dogs meant to kill be game, and thus be aggressive, the pointer in general is a pacifist and a gentle retriever so if you have an aggressive pointer, it has clearly been mistreated.

Like many dogs, a hunter will often find that a type of dog chooses them. Unless you are after a very specific hunting trait, for very specific hunting conditions the pointer dog makes an excellent pointer (identifying prey without scaring it off) and a retriever (if trained to fetch after the prey is shot).

In all my travels to dog parks, I have not come across a pointer that had anything but love and fun in its personality. Yes they can be pushy (for you to throw a ball) and sometimes they dont tolerate dogs that are not as social as they are, but for a pure hunting dog, they have a remarkable adaptable personality.

One of the truly exceptional hunting dog & family dog breeds on this earth.

golden retrever great gun dog!

Gun dogs – their definition in the hunting dogs group

golden retrever great gun dog!Gun Dog Breeds

The gun dogs are a major sub group of hunting dogs they are comprised mainly of:

  • Pointers
  • Retrievers
  • Setters
  • Flushing Spaniels
  • Water dogs

Some sites will group these dog groups into smaller or larger groups or class them as part of the ‘sporting group’ of dogs. The main thing that binds all of these breeds together is that they are used by humans who are hunting animals and primarily shoot animals for game (mostly birds and small animals).

The dogs main function is to assist in either identifying the game (pointers) or retrieving the fallen game (shot, alive or dead).

While this may seem vague, there are many other groups discussed and defined on this hunting dog site that perform hunting activities for their owners that are not primarily involved with showing the prey (pointers) or retrieving the game (retriever, setters, spaniels and water-dogs).

For instance scent dogs track unseen animals and the hunter follows behind until the animal is found, then they take over. Sight hounds visually find animals over long distances and then run to the game and hold (and or kill) it until the hunter catches up.

Because the gun dog is meant to retrieve mostly dead game, and leave it in clean unmarked (except for bullet holes) condition, the gun dog is often found to have a soft mouth, be social and potentially a better companion dog than other classes of hunting dog – particularly those bred to kill.

Qualities of exceptional gun dogs

There are many sites that sell gun dog puppies or train gun dogs. In fact most websites for gun dogs are based around these two facets, rather than what is in the best interests of the dog.

One major differentiation you will find about gun dogs (besides the lavish use of gun dog terminology) is that they are trained from a young age to be patient, controlled and pay great attention to where a downed bird is (sometimes having to retrieve it hours after it has been shot).

The very nature of these breeds and the training (making them calm and less aggressive) is the opposite to many hunting dogs that are bred to be muscular and aggressive to bring down and kill big game by themselves, showing no fear and having maximum independence.

Just as many trainers say it is bad to give too much affection to a large game hunting dog that kills, the goal of most gun dogs is to have them as social and affectionate to humans and dogs alike, while still remaining focused on the job at hand when hunting.

The last thing you want to do is have gun dogs having fights with other gun dogs, or eating the game (rather than calmly retrieving it).

Gun dog behavior main requirement

  • A highly discriminating sense of smell (second only to scent dogs)
  • Pointing / retrieving instinct. Some dogs are much better than other genetically
  • Strong work ethic (internal drive to complete tasks regardless of environment)
  • Cooperation with the hunter (accepting commands) and ‘desire to please’
  • Solid body build for strength and endurance. Not overall strength but ‘power to weight’
  • Coats that protect the dog from the weather & environment while hunting
  • Mental toughness and stability (the fine balance between task completion, independence and accepting commands willingly)

And like any dog on earth these dogs require proper socialization, nutrition, discipline and exercise. The discipline is primary in training, but without adequate socialization and general health a hunting dog cannot maintain its fitness to retrieve in difficult conditions for long.

In this introductory article I will not go into depth the training required of this group, as that would make the article too long and it would be too generic.

Suffice to say that future articles will take care of such specific training needs of specific breeds within the gun dog group.

While you may raise a gun dog in a home environment, just as many fine working dogs like border collies often become part of the family after working hours, it is useful to note that as puppies these GUN dogs require all of the regular nurturing that any dog does.

Typically gun dogs need house training, learning what they can and can’t chew, recall, sit and stay etc. The one extra thing they might be exposed to as a young dog (not puppy per se) is objects that can potentially frighten them or distract them, so that they become desensitized (to distractions and gun shot noises) and pay more attention to the owner, hunter.

Some gun dog hunters find this (puppy) period one of the more difficult periods to manage. Many gun dogs like cocker spaniels can be quite sensitive dogs when puppies and adults, and harsh tones of voice or large truck exposure too early in life without the dog feeling secure, can lead to timidness and break the dog as a good gun dog.

A good gun dog owner knows that a dog is a sentient being well above just being a tool used for hunting. They become a friend, part of the team and part of the family.

Like all good training, of any kind of dog, making the training seem like a game, something pleasurable that has a positive reward for the right behavior or outcome really accelerates training and makes for a happy dog as they feel useful in having performed what you want them to.

Dogs did not evolve from wolves and cohabit with humans to live in isolation, they poses the very rare ability to want to do this, to become domesticated, so it is our task to allow them to feel wanted by completing tasks they believe we value, as well as allowing them plenty of non hunting time to explore areas.

Lurcher dog at full speed running

Lurcher Definition: Hunting dogs | hounddog | Scent Hound

Lurcher dog at full speed runningLurcher sight hound hunting dogs, what are they?

If you look up the AKC for a definition you will be sadly disappointed. The Lurcher is not a recognized breed in America (even though they have been around 500 years or so). The AKC only manages this ” Lurcher: A crossbred hound.”

You can always look up wikipedia, but as most people understand an open source encyclopaedia is always going to be fraught with politics and potential misinformation.

A celtic site suggests more helpfully that ” a Lurcher is a Sighthound cross, most often part Greyhound”


The main sighthound breeds used to produce hunting lurchers are:

  • greyhound
  • whippet
  • saluki
  • deerhound
  • wolfhound

These base breeds of the lurcher were originally chosen for the sighthounds speed and hunting instinct.

LURCHER – Most popular non scent hound crosses

The breeds that these base breeds are most commonly crossed with are:

  • working border
  • bearded collie
  • bedlington terrier
  • bull terrier and
  • wheaten terrier,

Lurchers and the longdog subgroup

Lurchers that are created from two Sighthounds (eg Greyhound and Deerhound) are a subgroup of Lurchers called Longdogs (again this is not a recognised AKC breed).

Longdogs are composites of the sighthound breeds, the most popular being the saluki, deerhound, whippet and greyhound hybrids.

The cross of a Deerhound and greyhound is known as a Staghound.

A popular lurcher in Australia is the Australian Staghound (native to that country with no direct origins elsewhere). They are said to look like a cross between a Greyhound and the Scottish Deerhound. They are a very distant relative of the American Staghound.

Note there are breeds such as the Norwegian Elkhound that has nothing to do with the lurcher breeds. Nomenclature for many dog breeds can by quite sloppy.


It is said that any breed of dog crossed with a sighthound is a lurcher. But I would be more bold to suggest that the majority of lurchers I have seen in my area are bred from a greyhound base and the other half another scent hound.

The reason that Greyhounds and saluki dog breeds are used as the base breed for lurchers is their exceptional eyesight, large size and prey drive.

Greyhounds are brilliant at seeing, and catching smaller game like vermin (rats and rabbits) however many hunters require stamina and greater attack abilities. A pure bred greyhound has thin skin and long potentially easy to damage legs. Breeding them with a smaller dog (regardless of temperament) will not have them hunt large game without risking considerable damage. Many lurchers such as greyhound crosses with working dogs like the working border are great but are aimed at hunting smaller prey.

And that is why many hunters of larger, more dangerous game prefer lurchers such as the greyhound X wolf hound. While the wolf hound won’t have the bite of the bull terrier, it will have considerable stamina and size, making the resultant lurcher large, fast and high endurance, with the ability to hold most game until the hunter arrives.

The input lurcher breeds are also intelligent and are unlikely to get out of control with blood lust as can happen with some breeds.

With the advent of many specialist cross breed hunting dogs like the various coonhounds you find in the American south, it is little wonder that the lurcher ‘breeds’ are taking off too in America.

Much more than that, the greyhound and several lurcher mixes have also been found to be excellent companion dogs (when sufficiently walked off lead and socialised) meaning that they can serve a dual purpose of hunting dog, while being safe at home with children.

Though mixing with cats and other non dog species can be problematic.

scent hounds table, the beagle

SCENT Hounds – Hound breeds – Full table listed by country & size

scent hounds table, the beagleComplete list of Scent Hound breeds by Country

For a while there I was getting stumped by what scent hounds were out there. It seemed that I only knew a few of them and there was obviously many more on many more people’s lists than I knew.

Then most people realise that the American lists are very abbreviated and American centric and really of little help when wanting to know all of the types of dogs that can be used for scent hound hunting.

So eventually we all seem to stumble upon the Fedraton Cynnologique Internationale (FCI) list of scent hounds.

As you will see it is quite comprehensive and contains dogs in many sizes and countries, but since the FCI site lists these scent hounds by size it is easy to think you are getting almost duplication of a breed of dog.

The point of this scent hound hunting dog list being categories like this highlights many things:

That America has actually very few scent hunting dogs created here, and they are very recent. I am sure that some hunters would expect all coonhounds to be listed in this category, but since their inclusion in the American AKC list is relatively recently, it may take some time.

That France has by far the most number of individually listed scent hounds of any country. Yes many of these are variations on a breed, but that can be said for the five or so recognised coon hounds that America has, being basically from one main original type of dog. France also has the vast majority of LARGE scent hound dog varieties in the world

Many countries have a single entry in the scent hound category which is its country name followed by the name hound. As many of these European countries have taken hunting seriously for hundreds of years, these single hounds are often very well tuned for the weather and hunting conditions found locally in these countries. Yes countries do vary considerably in environment, however many European countries are considerably smaller than African or other continent countries so the temperatures and type of hunting environment used for their specific breed of hunting dog can be quite refined.

Most of these dog breeds will be unfamiliar to even people within the industry as they are not massively popular outside of the country of origin. You will also find that Americans tend to stick to their breed of hunting dog, often favouring very traditional dogs like the beagle, or American created dogs, like the coonhounds (not all in the scent hound category).

Because of this mystery around many of the scent hounds, I will endeavour to bring you as much hunting specific information on the lesser known scent hound hunting dog breeds as possible on this site!

ALL SCENT hound breedsTable list

(Scent hounds – SMALL MEDIUM LARGE by country)


COUNTRY Small Medium Large
AUSTRIA   Austrian Black and Tan Hound  
  Styrian coarse-haired Hound  
  Tyrolean Hound
BELGIUM     Bloodhound
BOSNIA   Bosnian Coarse-haired Hound  
CROATIA   Istrian Short-haired Hound  
  Istrian Coarse-haired Hound  
  Posavaz Hound  
FINLAND   Finnish Hound  
FRANCE Basset fauve de bretagne Anglo-Français de Petite Vénerie Billy
Blue gascony basset Ariégeois Français Tricolore
Grand basset griffon vendeen Beagle-Harrier Français Blanc et Noir
Norman artesien basset Chien d’Artois Français Blanc et Orange
Petit basset griffon vendeen Porcelaine Grand Anglo-Français Tricolore
  Petit Bleu de Gascogne Grand Anglo-Français Blanc et Noir
Gascon Saintongeois Grand Anglo-Français Blanc et Orange
Briquet Griffon Vendéen Grand Bleu de Gascogne
Griffon Bleu de Gascogne Grand Gascon Saintongeois
Griffon Fauve de Bretagne Grand Griffon Vendéen
Griffon Nivernais  
GERMANY Deutsche bracke (german hound)    
Westphalian dachsbracke    
GREECE Hellenic Hound  
GREAT BRITAIN Basset hound Harrier English Foxhound
Beagle   Otterhound
HUNGARY   Transylvanian Hound  
ITALY   Segugio Italiano  
MONTENEGRO   Montenegrin Mountain Hound  
NORWAY   Dunker  
POLAND   Polish Hound  
SERBIA   Serbian Tricolour Hound  
  Serbian Hound  
SLOVAKIA   Slovakian Hound  
SPAIN   Spanish Hound  
SWEDEN Drever Hamiltonstövare  
Small swiss hound Swiss Hound  
Small bernese Hound a)Bernese Hound  
Small jura hound b)Jura Hound  
Small lucerne hound c)Lucerne Hound  
Small schwyz hound d)Schwyz Hound  
USA   American Foxhound
    Black and Tan Coonhound
Leash Hounds


Leash Hounds


Austria Alpine Dachsbracke  
Germany Bavarian Mountain Hound  
Hanover Hound  
Related Breeds


Related Breeds


Croatia Dalmatian  
Zimbabwe Rhodesian Ridgeback  



scent hounds hunting hound dogs

SCENT Hounds – Hound breeds definition as hunting dogs

scent hounds hunting hound dogsScent hound category evolution and current state

The scent hound category is one of the largest and oldest dog breed categories you can find.

The most complete list of this category of breed is kept by the Fedraton Cynnologique Internationale (FCI)

While dogs have evolved from the wolf over 20,000 years or so, they weren’t classified into specific categories until the mid 15th century. though that is a lot longer than many of the AKC breeds have been around, and many of the 15th century dog breeds are now extinct.

For hunting dogs the two main categories are Sight and Scent hound. While many dogs have exceptional hearing, there is no hearing hound class.

The main difference between sight and scent hounds are that each group of dog was mainly breed to use that specific sense in helping their owner hunt a specific type of animal.

Sight hounds are predominantly used at the start of a chase. They have to visually perceive the prey then alert the owner. They are often fast and narrow dogs that once aware of prey chase the prey down.

SCENT Hound physical traits for hunting

Scent hounds are almost the opposite in characteristics to sight hounds. Because of the wolfs exceptional sense of smell, it was relatively easy to breed dogs that could improve on this. Though by putting a focus on a dogs nose, the need for speed was much diminished. In fact most scent hounds are heavily weighted towards endurance.

They don’t have to run fast to catch prey before the prey disappears, because they can put their nose to the ground and track the animal over long distances regardless of where they hide.

SCENT HOUND and their exceptional noses

Scent hounds have large WIDE noses with deep, open nostrils. Compare this to sight hounds that have narrow heads with thin nostrils. While almost all dogs have great smell scent hounds have exceptional smell. The special sections in their nose for concentrating scents, the part of their brain for processing scents are all enlarged.

Typically the scent hounds lips are loose and moist to assist in picking up scent particles. This is why besides the rapid sniffing to accumulate sense particles into the nose, you may also find the dog quivering its lips when it stands in the direction of the prey, to accumulate more particles on its lips too.

TOP SCENT HOUNDS by scent receptors.

The greatest number of scent receptors i by the blood hound with 300 million scent receptors in their noses. Beagles have the same amount as the German shepherd dog at 225 million scent receptors. However the German shepherd tends to concentrate on guarding duties which is perhaps why it is not classified in the scent hound group.

Dachshunds have 125 million smell receptor cells, while a Fox terriers has 147 million of these cells.

But it is not always about the raw number of receptors. The overall system (including brain processing scent section) and the motivation of the dog to find the prey plays a large part in how much effort a given dog breed might exert in trying to track a scent.

sight hounds greyhound

Sight Hounds – Hound breeds definition as hunting dogs

sight hounds greyhoundGreyhounds are one of the oldest and longest bred breed of dog in the world. The pharaoh hound being known back to Egypt 3000 years ago. Be aware that the evolution of the dog goes back 20,000 years to the wolf, so there were obviously a lot more generic looking wolf/ domestic dog hybrid breeds between the wolf and breeds we recognize today.

The “sighthounds” / “gazehounds” are dogs that were bred for exceptional eyesight so that they could track prey, even still prey that were located a long distance from the hunter. The category is also known for high speed and agility to hunt as compared to most other dog breeds.

The sight hound share a common LONG skull which by definition has a width of less than 75-80% of the length.

The SightHound exceptional vision

This narrowness of head has the dog evolved to have its eyes able to see straight ahead and to the side for better detection of animals because of the extremely wide field of view. Typically carnivores have eyes at the front of their head, while herbivores evolved to have eyes to the side of their head to maximize field of view and escape the predators. This makes the sight hound exceptional in the fact it is a carnivore, with herbivore field of view.

Greyhounds are believed to see up to one mile and have a field of vision up to 270° (20-30 degrees more than most other dog breeds) and much greater than the humans 180 degree field of vision.

Site hound general body shape

Like the greyhound, most sight hounds shapes are built for speed. This means long thin legs and long thin bodies that are aerodynamic and biomechanically geared for high speeds.

That said, varieties like the wolf and deer hound also are blessed with considerable endurance and are more robust, for the bigger game they confront.

Site hound independence and hunting abilities

If you have a look through the list of sight hounds below, you will see that many of them are known to be ‘stubborn’. That is what they are known as when used as a companion or domestic dog. In hunting terms, the reason they were bred in the first place, these dogs are known as independent.

Stubbornness is a negative term owners use for a dog that isn’t easy to train. YET in hunting terms independence from the owner is of great value when you want a dog to run fast and over relatively long distances to hunt and chase game with very little guidance from their hunter owners.

And this is exactly where these breeds come into problems in urban environments. Greyhounds that have been trained to hunt rabbit or at least run after simulated rabbits on race tracks have a hard time breaking that habit when they retire. Once the chase mechanism has been activated and rewarded, it can be difficult for a dog breed for this exact capability to want to not chase, dogs and anything it considers a good game.

Sight hounds and Ancient breed dogs

There was an article (research paper) written a few years ago about breeds that could be classified as ancient dog breeds. While many modern day dog breeds are less than 200-300 years old, some of these ancient breeds go back thousands of years. One paper in 2013 suggests that ” 80 percent of dog breeds are modern breeds that evolved in the last few hundred years.”

An ancient breed dog was classified as such by the closeness of its dna to the wolf, its immediate ancestor. It was argued that dogs that are closest to the wolf in dna (not necessarily look) also share more of their behavior and in particular independence.

Note FOUR of these sight hounds fall within the top 15 ancient breed dogs. Starting with the breed closest to the wolf and going less wolf like these are: Basenji, Afghan Hound, Saluki, Irish wolf hound. While the greyhound is believed to be evolved from the pharaoh hound, the greyhound actually comes in at number 17 on this list, and after the four breeds mentioned above.


List of SIGHT hound breeds

Afghan Hound



Chippiparai (Tamilnadu)

Deer hound – Scottish

Galgo Spanish

Greyhound (general)

Greyhound (Hungarian) – Magyar agár

Greyhound – Polish (Chart Polski)

Greyhound – Italian

Hortaya Borzaya

Ibizan hound

Kombai (Tamilnadu)

Pharoah Hound

Rajapalayam (Tamilnadu)


Windhound – Silken



Wolfhound – Irish

Wolfhound – Russian (Borzoi)