Hound dogs were specifically bred to hunt and track down prey including birds, small game, and some larger game. Varying types of hounds are known to track their quarry using different senses, with the two most common categories of this breed being scent and sight hounds.
Whether yours will be a working dog or a family pet, hounds can make great companion animals. They tend to be alert and active, intelligent, and willing to learn. However, they do require some exercise and you will need to ensure that they burn off energy or they may become destructive or display other antisocial behaviors.
Below are 26 hound dog breeds, broken down into the two main subcategories. Click below to jump ahead:
Scent hounds were especially popular in surroundings where the line of sight was broken. For example, if a dog could not see through trees and thickets, a scent hound would be able to smell its prey.
These breeds are not usually fast, but they have a lot of stamina and can make their way over difficult terrain and through challenging undergrowth.
The 15 Scent Hound Breeds
1. American Foxhound
The American Foxhound tends to be well-behaved and gentle. It will get along with people of all ages, including children and even other domesticated pets. Like many of the breeds on this list, the American Foxhound does require a lot of exercise and if you fail to provide this, they can become destructive or they can suffer from depression.
2. Basset Hound
The Basset Hound is an easily recognizable breed with the distinctive long ears of a trail hound and the shorter body of a dog that would be followed by hunters on foot. This breed is known to love children and make a good family pet. Although Basset Hounds do require exercise, they are better suited to walks than more energetic activities, and they are considered good pets for novice owners.
Most of the scent hounds have the same white and brown, with some black, markings, and the cute Beagle is no different. The Beagle remains an excellent hunting breed but also makes a friendly, loving, and fun-loving companion pet. Bred to hunt in packs, the Beagle will eagerly adopt you and the rest of your family as part of its pack. The breed is intelligent and eager to please, and it’s also a suitable hound dog breed for novice owners.
The Bloodhound is a much larger breed than the likes of the Beagle, and it was first bred to hunt animals like boar and deer. Although the breed is still used for hunting, its incredibly keen sense of smell means that the Bloodhound is as often called upon to hunt for missing people, drugs, and explosives as it is for wild boar. As well as their striking looks, the Bloodhound is popular because it makes a caring and loving pet.
Although they were bred to hunt badgers and foxes, the Dachshund’s sweet personality means that it has become a very popular family pet. They are also popular show dogs, and they are still used to hunt small game. The breed can suffer musculoskeletal problems as a result of their elongated back.
6. English Foxhound
The English Foxhound is a cousin to the American Foxhound and one of four official foxhound breeds. The English Foxhound has long legs and is strong and robust. This hound breed is known to be friendly and sociable but is not usually found as a family pet. Bred to hunt as part of a pack, the English Foxhound can suffer from depression if left alone. These pups require a lot of exercise and can be quite vocal about everything.
7. Norwegian Elkhound
The Norwegian Elkhound has similar colorings and markings as a Husky and is bred to withstand the extreme cold temperatures of Norway. They are fun-loving dogs that can be easily trained thanks to their incredible intelligence and their comedic nature. The breed can be protective, however, and they will require a lot of socialization from an early age to ensure that they grow up as well-adjusted dogs.
As the name suggests, the Otterhound was bred to hunt otters. It was developed in England and bred from existing breeds like the Bloodhound. It is a wiry-haired dog. Not only is its coat developed to help withstand the cold and wet, but it is described as being hypoallergenic because it sheds less than most breeds. This breed loves exercise and is happiest when playing, so it does require a decent amount of space.
9. Portuguese Podengo
The Portuguese Podengo is a lively and playful dog. It is very intelligent but can be highly independent, so an experienced handler can enjoy a lot of training success while a novice might struggle with all but very basic commands. The Podengo is known to be loving with family but can be cautious with strangers, so this hound dog breed is another that requires a lot of socialization from a young age.
There are actually several breeds of Coonhound, but the most discerning difference between them is their color. Black and tan is the most popular, while other breeds include the bluetick and redbone variants. All are built to hunt game and they all require a lot of challenging exercise. They prefer running and hard work to walking, so they are ideal for joggers that require a companion but are not typically suited to families that will only be able to provide walks in the park.
11. American Leopard Cur
The American Leopard Cur, or American Leopard Hound, is an energetic dog that found its way to the US with Spanish conquistadors. The breed is sociable and friendly, which makes it a good pet for families, but it does require a lot of exercise and will enjoy playing with all members of the family. They are intelligent and take well to general training, so they are a suitable breed for novice owners.
12. Black Mouth Cur
The Black Mouth Cur is a strong, muscly, and energetic dog breed. Still used as a hunting and general working dog, the breed is known for being attractive and also as a good family pet because it is easy to train and eager to please its owners. The Cur forms a very strong bond with its owner, as well, so it is a good option for individual or family owners.
13. Majestic Tree Hound
The Majestic Tree Hound is a reasonably recent introduction to the hound world, having only been developed in the 20th century. This hound dog breed looks similar to the Bloodhound and is a large breed used to hunt large animals like bears and bobcats. They are highly skilled hunters and they work hard. They also make loyal and loving companions and will get along with other dogs, children, and all family members.
14. Treeing Cur
The Treeing Hound, or Treeing Cur, is one of several similar hound dog breeds. They are used as herders as well as hunters, but they will make loyal and loving family companions that will get along with family members of all ages. The word cur means unkempt, and these breeds are bred for their utility rather than their looks. This does not mean that they are unattractive, but it does mean that the visual appearance of Treeing Curs can vary wildly from one to the next.
15. Basset Griffon
Both the Petite and the Grand Basset Griffon are hunting dogs, and both are known for being friendly and lively animals. They tend to get along with other dogs and can form a close bond with family children, but they do require regular exercise to ensure that they remain healthy and fit.
Where scent hounds use their sense of smell to locate and track prey, sight hounds rely on their vision. They have acute eyesight and they tend to be highly alert as they look for movement. This type of breed can be prone to chasing small animals and anything they perceive to be a small animal, like a leaf.
The 11 Sight Hound Breeds
16. Afghan Hound
The Afghan Hound is instantly recognizable for its long locks of beautiful hair. It is a dignified breed that is very loyal to its owners. The breed will become dedicated to its family, and while its coat is quite high maintenance, it does not shed freely, which means that it is actually considered a suitable dog for owners with allergies and sensitivities.
The Basenji is a Congolese hound dog that was used for flushing animals. They were also used to hunt and kill rodents in villages. Today, they are as likely to be utilized as family pets and they are chosen because they are loyal and loving, fun and friendly. They are an intelligent breed and are considered reasonably easy to train but this is another breed that will require a lot of exercise every day.
The Borzoi is a Russian hunting dog. This breed is known for its adaptability and it can even live in an apartment as long as you have the time and energy to get outside and provide regular exercise. They do shed often and are considered a sensitive breed that can become antisocial and destructive if left alone for too long.
The Greyhound is the fastest of all dog breeds, reaching speeds of up to 40 or even 45 miles per hour. They are built for speed, however, rather than stamina, and while they might spend 10 minutes running at full speed, they will spend the other 23 hours and 50 minutes of the day asleep on the sofa. They tend to be quiet, gentle, and they do not do well with cold weather. But they make excellent family pets.
20. Ibizan Hound
Hailing from Ibiza, the Ibizan Hound was bred to hunt rabbits on the island. Still used for rabbit hunting, the Ibizan Hound also makes for a great sports dog and does very well in obedience and agility classes. It also does very well as a family pet and will make an excellent companion for all members of the family, potentially even including other dogs and cats.
21. Irish Wolfhound
The Irish Wolfhound is a large breed of dog that looks somewhat disheveled. The breed was actually first used during war to drag people off horses, but they were also used for hunting. The Wolfhound makes an excellent family pet and is used in canine sports while excelling at obedience training. The breed does require a lot of room thanks to its incredible height, and it benefits from plenty of exercise and time outdoors.
22. Pharaoh Hound
The Pharaoh Hound is an ancient breed from Egypt. They are a very affectionate breed and are known to make excellent family pets as a result of their amiable nature. They tend to be quite the comic, a little bit goofy, and this also endears them to their people. According to owners, the breed is known to blush. Pharaoh Hounds make a loyal companion to their family members.
23. Rhodesian Ridgeback
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a muscular and strong sighthound from southern Africa. It was bred to hunt large game, sometimes even to hunt lions which gave it its name of the African Lion Hound. They make excellent family dogs but they can be highly independent and will retain a strong prey drive, so they do require training to ensure that they are manageable.
The Saluki is a thin and fast dog breed. They tend to do better with experienced owners. They do not do well in an apartment, require a lot of room to charge around, and retain a very strong prey drive. This means they should not be trusted off-leash and will need a yard with a high fence and a secure perimeter to keep them in. With that said, for the right owner they can become a loving companion.
25. Scottish Deerhound
The Scottish Deerhound is a coursing hound originally used to course wild deer. They are very affectionate dogs but, like the Saluki, they do not do well in apartments and they do need an experienced handler that uses consistent and clear training techniques. They are an energetic and lively breed and they will want to run around to burn off steam, so a decent yard is advantageous with the Deerhound.
The sweet little Whippet looks like a small Greyhound and shares some of the same traits. It is, for example, a quiet dog with a loving temperament, and it is prone to excessive and long bouts of sleeping on the couch. The breed is very fast and enjoys chasing and running, however, and you need to take care when letting it off the leash because it might have its attention taken by small animals and potential prey.
Hound Dog Breeds
Hound dogs tend to be large, need a lot of exercise, and they can have a strong prey drive that prevents you from letting them off-leash. They are also loyal and loving, can make excellent family companions, and have striking looks that set them apart from other breeds. Hopefully, this list of 26 breeds has helped you find the ideal breed for you and your family requirements.
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