Release the Hounds! Learn About Beagles, Basenjis and 31 Other Breeds
by Megan Winter
Published on March 13, 2015
Some have incredibly keen noses. Others are known for their
sight. A fair amount of them are food thieves. And many of them are skilled hunters.
You guessed it, we’re talking about dog breeds in the Hound Group. And there are a lot of them.
From the food-loving Beagle to the speedy Whippet, the hounds sure are a talented group of dogs. Check out our photo gallery to learn more about each one.
At first look, the Afghan Hound seems to be all about elegance, but beneath that long, dazzling coat is a true Hound. Bred to hunt hare and gazelle, most Afghans have a strong instinct to run and chase. And the breed is no couch potato, so be prepared to make a commitment to his exercise needs. Proper maintenance of his trademark coat also requires devotion.
Rarely thought of as a companion dog, the American Foxhound is one of the oldest and least known American breeds. He’s frequently found as a member of a pack owned by a fox-hunting club, but he can easily be a best friend to an active person or family who wants a regular exercise buddy. The typical Foxhound weighs between 65 and 75 pounds and can be gentle and friendly.
The Azawakh is a rare sighthound from the Sahel region of Africa, where she has long been a prized companion of the nomadic Tuareg people. The breed usually forms a strong bond with a single person or family and tends to be indifferent toward people outside her family. You may think the Azawakh looks underfed, but she was bred for running and her thin skin is supposed to stretch over her muscular frame.
Though he is known as the African Barkless Dog, the typical Basenji is by no means silent. He crows, growls, screams, chortles and yodels to communicate. He also can seem catlike in his cleanliness, curiosity and independence, so be firm, patient and consistent during training sessions.
Hounds can be a little too much for some people, but the Basset Hound's short legs slow him down and he usually gets along with children, cats and other dogs. Just don't fall for his sweet, pleading eyes or you'll find yourself giving him lots of treats.
The Beagle has long been one of the most popular breeds for families, thanks to her compact size (20 to 35 pounds) and typically happy, outgoing nature. It's important to keep in mind that this scenthound is ruled by one thing: her nose. If she smells something good, she might escape from your yard or dig through the trash to find the scent — especially if it's food. Make use of her scenting abilities by giving her plenty of opportunities to sniff while walking or hunting, or train her in nose work or tracking.
Black and Tan Coonhound
The Black and Tan was the first Coonhound to achieve AKC recognition and is famous for his cold nose, which is the ability to find and follow an old trail. He is a large breed, ordinarily standing 23 to 27 inches tall and weighing 65 to 100 pounds, and when he's not enjoying a long, meandering on-leash walk, you can find him snuggling on the couch with his family.
Even though he's droopy-eyed and resembles someone in need of a serious face-lift, the Bloodhound can be an affectionate dog with a keen sense of humor and strong character. The breed is renowned for his man-trailing ability, as evidenced by his appearance in modern crime movies and television shows. And under certain circumstances, courts will accept his testimony.
Like the Bloodhound, the Bluetick Coonhound is a cold-nosed dog, meaning he’s good at finding and following an old trail. The Bluetick typically stands 21 to 27 inches tall and can weigh anywhere from 45 to 80 pounds. He is generally friendly, happy and good with children. Most Blueticks love hunting, but if that's not your thing, he also can enjoy long hikes, tracking or search and rescue.
With her long legs and flowing coat, the elegant Borzoi looks like she just stepped off the runway. It's hard to believe that such a glamorous breed was bred to course wolves and other game. She has long been featured in art — especially during the Art Deco era — and she remains a favored breed of the aristocracy and royalty. The Borzoi is a giant breed, weighing anywhere between 55 to 120 pounds and usually standing 26 inches at the shoulder or more, so it's good that she's ordinarily quiet, clean and well-mannered.
The Chart Polski is a muscular yet lean sighthound who can be fast and loves to run. Typically 26.5 to 31.5 inches tall and weighing 65 to 95 pounds, he is one of the bigger and heavier sighthounds. This breed isn't for everyone, the Chart Polski can be highly protective and territorial and requires an experienced owner who can commit to consistent training and socialization.
The Cirneco dell’Etna is a rare sighthound not often found outside Italy. The breed was depicted on Sicilian coins minted as early as the 3rd century B.C., and it’s believed that the Cirneco descended from dogs who were left behind by the Phoenicians along Sicily’s coast. While he is mainly a companion dog today, the Cirneco was once well-known for his silent hunting methods, allowing him to sneak up on prey.
The Dachshund comes in two sizes, three coat types and a wide variety of colors and markings, so it goes without saying that there’s a Dachshund out there for almost everyone interested in this breed. Typically, the miniature weighs 11 pounds or less and the standard weighs between 16 and 32 pounds. Dachshunds are known for seeming fearless to the point of recklessness and usually have no qualms about following their prey into underground burrows or tunnels.
The English Foxhound has been bred for more than 150 years and is primarily a pack hound used for fox hunting. Though he is rarely thought of as a companion dog, he can be a best friend to an active person or family who wants a regular running hiking buddy (overall health permitting, of course). He's the rarest of the foxhound breeds and usually weighs between 60 to 70 pounds.
Nicknamed the 40-mph couch potato, the Greyhound is the fastest of the dog breeds. Despite his large size (commonly 50 to 70 pounds or more) and speedy reputation, the breed is usually quiet and gentle and can adapt to almost any lifestyle or home. In fact, most Greyhounds seem happiest when they're snuggling on the couch with their favorite people.
Often mistaken for an oversized Beagle or a small English Foxhound, the Harrier is a rare scenthound used to hunt hare and fox. Dogs of the Harrier type are thought to have been brought to England after the Normans invaded in 1066. She is primarily a pack hound, but that does not mean she cannot make a good companion dog. The Harrier is typically very energetic and, being a pack animal, she is often fond of canine company and is best suited for a home where she won’t be the only dog.
If you think the Ibizan looks like he belongs in ancient Egypt, you aren’t alone. His resemblance to depictions of the Egyptian dog-god Anubis is one of the reasons he is often thought to be an ancient breed. Nicknamed Beezer, the Ibizan Hound originated on Spain’s Balearic Islands (Ibiza being one of them) where he was used to hunt rabbits. While his appearance is proud and exotic, the Ibizan Hound's personality is typically affectionate and comical.
When you look at an Irish Wolfhound, you’ll see a dog of tremendous size and commanding appearance. He typically stands 30 to 35 inches tall and weighs between 105 and 180 pounds. But do not let his name and size fool you — he usually has a quiet and gentle disposition. Unfortunately, since he's such a giant breed, he has a devastatingly short life span of only 6 to 8 years.
The Norwegian Elkhound has a long history in Norway as a watchdog, flock guardian and big-game hunter. When it comes to hunting, his job is to track elk, bear or moose, and then keep the animal at bay by barking at him until the hunter arrives. That being said, Elkhounds can be barkers, so keep that in mind if you have neighbors.
With his rough, messy coat, the Otterhound might look like a mutt at first glance, but he’s actually a sighthound who was bred to hunt otters in Great Britain. After hunting otters became illegal in 1978, the breed nearly disappeared, and today the Otterhound is extremely rare. He is a water-loving dog and has large, webbed feet to facilitate swimming.
Peruvian Inca Orchid
The Peruvian Inca Orchid is an exotic-looking breed who hails from the Andes. It is said that Spanish conquistadors found these small- to medium-size sighthounds living amidst orchids in Incan homes and called them perros flora, which means flower dogs. Her name in Quechua, the language of the Incas, translates to dog without vestments, or naked dog. The PIO comes in two coat varieties: hairless and coated. The hairless has smooth, supple skin with a narrow patch of hair on top of her head, sort of like a mohawk. She may sometimes have a little fuzz on her forehead or sparse tufts of hair on her lower tail and feet. The coated variety has a single coat that can be short and smooth, long and curly or long and straight.
Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen
The Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen is a a French scenthound built to move through heavy underbrush in pursuit of rabbits. The breed’s name describes him to a tee: petit (small), basset (low to the ground), griffon (rough-coated), Vendeen (the area of France where he originated). For short, he is called the PBGV, Petit, Griff or Roughie.
The Pharaoh Hound may look like a breed you'd see next to an ancient Egyptian king, but his origin is somewhat of a mystery. He may have originated in Egypt as early as 3,000 B.C., but modern genetics suggest that the breed was created in the 17th century in Malta. Nowadays, the Pharaoh is typically playful, intelligent, and goofy. He's known for chasing moving objects at every opportunity, and can flat-foot jump a 6-foot fence. He generally weighs between 40 to 60 pounds and isn’t above stealing unattended food.
Bred in the mountains of western North Carolina, the Plott Hound is one of the few American-grown dog breeds. The typical Plott is, first and foremost, a hunting dog, but as long as you can satisfy those instincts, then he can be a great family dog.
This Portuguese Podengo is a lively, Portuguese sighthound who comes in three sizes: Grande: 44 to 66 pounds; Medio: 35 to 45 pounds; and Pequeno: 8 to 14 pounds. He was bred to hunt rabbits and other small animals and can jump incredibly high. Alert and intelligent, this hound can be an excellent watchdog and usually makes it his business to know what's going on around your house.
If you’re a fan of Where the Red Fern Grows, you know that Little Ann and Old Dan were both Redbone Coonhounds. The Redbone is a cold-nosed scenthound, meaning he’s good at following an old trail. He can be uncharacteristically laid-back for a Coonhound, but he is still best-suited to a country home where he can hunt and howl to his heart's desire.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is named for the area of Africa from where she originated (now the Republic of Zimbabwe) and for the distinctive ridge of hair that runs down her spine in the opposite direction from the rest of her coat. But, not all purebred Ridgebacks have that telltale ridge, so don't be disappointed if yours doesn't have one. The large and independent-minded breed often weighs 75 to 80 pounds and needs an experienced owner who can train her properly.
Lots of breeds claim to have an ancient heritage, but the Saluki has the DNA evidence to back her up: She is one of 14 breeds to show the fewest genetic differences from wolves. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the Saluki is the world's oldest dog breed, believed to have originated in Egypt around 329 B.C. Bred to course hare and gazelle over desert terrain, she typically has a strong instinct to run and chase.
The Scottish Deerhound is a noble and commanding animal — standing 28 to 32 inches or more at the shoulder and weighing anywhere from 70 to 130 pounds — but he also can have a silly side. Easily suited for a castle or condo, he's normally quiet and calm in the house as an adult, but he can be more than a little rambunctious as a puppy and adolescent. The Deerhound has two great joys in life: chasing things and hanging with his favorite humans on the couch. Try to provide him with both those things, so you can share a happy life together.
Sloughis were originally used to hunt jackals, gazelles and desert hares in North Africa as a companion to the nomadic Berber people. Though he might seem indifferent, this sighthound tends to bond fast and hard with his family and can be very difficult to rehome. Since he is built for speed, he has thin skin stretched over a frame of muscle and bone. Though it may be tempting with his slender frame (normally 35 to 65 pounds), do not overfeed him and make sure he gets regular exercise to stay fit.
The Thai Ridgeback is a primitive dog, sometimes known as a pariah dog, with distinctive physical traits: moderate size (often 35 to 55 pounds), prick ears, wedge-shaped head, wrinkled forehead, squarish body, long legs and smooth coat. He can have as many as eight different ridge patterns formed by hair growing in the opposite direction from the rest of his coat. Patterns can include whorls, circles and even the shape of a guitar. If you've never owned a dog before, this breed isn't for you. He needs an experienced owner who can deliver consistent training and socialization.
Treeing Walker Coonhound
The Treeing Walker Coonhound stands out for his drive, speed and competitive nature. His natural instinct is to hunt, and he needs plenty of activity to be happy. Even if you don’t plan to hunt with him, consider taking him on long hikes (allowing him to sniff to his heart’s content) or getting him involved in tracking or search and rescue. The Treeing Walker stands 20 to 27 inches tall and weighs 45 to 70 pounds.
Admired and valued for his graceful, athletic build, the Whippet has been clocked at speeds of up to 35 mph. He was created to course rabbits and kill small vermin. Today, the Whippet can still be a fast and effective hunter, but at home, he’s usually a calm, quiet companion. He can be friendly to guests and strangers, typically doesn’t mind snoozing the day away snuggling on the sofa, has a manageable size (normally 25 to 35 pounds), and doesn’t often bark excessively.