Sighthounds, also known as gazehounds, are breeds that primarily hunt by speed and sight, instead of by scent. All Sighthound breeds are an ancient type of dog dating back to the great Egyptian, Middle Eastern, African and Southwest Asian civilisations.
Sighthounds are independent dogs, as the breed was taught to hunt and chase down game with little guidance from their humans, whereas other sporting dog breeds were trained to work alongside their masters and rely on cues or signals for their actions.
Perhaps surprising to many people, is the sedate indoor demeanor and behaviour of the sighthound dogs considering they are the fastest canines on the planet. Some are capable of reaching speeds of just over 45 kilometres per hour or faster, and can be the calmest and most relaxed breeds of dogs in the house, provided they are given adequate outside routine exercise.
Afghan Hound The Afghan Hound was discovered by Westeners in Afghanistan and surrounding regions and brought to the UK in the latter part of the 19th century. There were two distinct types: the ones from the Southern and Western desert regions were of a rangy build, were light in color and sparse in outer coat. The dogs from the Northern regions were more compact in structure, darker in color and more heavily coated. The first Afghans in Australia were imported from the United States in 1934. The breed is primarily a coursing hound, pursuing its quarry by sight. The Afghan Hound hunted singly, in dog and bitch pairs, in packs, or combined with specially trained falcons. A tremendously versatile breed, its quarry included hare, wolves, jackals, marmots ,and snow leopards. Because of the variety of game hunted and the diversity of the geography, the Afghan Hound's most desirable traits were being sure-footed and agile to work the rugged terrain, strength and speed to bring down prey, plus the stamina to maintain a strenuous chase for a sustained length of time. The gait of the Afghan Hound should be smooth and springy with a style of high order. The whole appearance of the dog should give the impression of strength and dignity combining speed and power. The head must be held proudly, showing its arrogance, with its signature ringed tail held aloft. The eastern or oriental expression is typical of the breed. All colours are acceptable. The typical Afghan Hound can be aloof and dignified with a certain keen fierceness, but happy and clownish when playing. The Afghan Hound's reasoning skills have made it a successful competitor in dog agility trials as well as an intuitive therapy dog and companion. Although seldom used today for hunting, Afghan Hounds are frequent participants in lure coursing events and are also popular in the conformation show ring.
Azawakh The Azawakh is a sighthound from the Sahel region of Africa, which encompasses parts of the West African nations of Mali and Niger, including an area called Azawakh Valley. The dogs have accompanied the wandering Touareg people for centuries and were kept as camp guards and livestock guards as well as valued companions. The Azawakh's strongest character trait is as a watch dog. These dogs often can be seen sleeping on the low straw roofs of the village homes of their Mali owners. As hyenas or other night predators approach, the first Azawakh to see it jumps down and is quickly joined by the others; they form a pack and chase away or kill the intruder. There is no doubt, however, that back in the mists of time they share ancestors with the Saluki and Sloughi. In fact, another name for the Azawakh is Touareg Sloughi. The Azawakh is a rare sighthound; is aloof, with a complex personality, and has the unusual characteristic of being protective. The Azawakh, quiet to live with, is not suited to every home. Intelligent and loyal, the Azawakh must live indoors with his family, never outside with little attention. The Azawakh has excellent running gear and is built for speed, but this has evolved over millennia for the purpose of heat dissipation, living in the harsh climate of the Sahel in West Africa. The Azawakh was never developed for hunting large or small game. To the extent that *all* dogs have some level of prey drive, so also does an Azawakh, and the level of prey drive varies from average to none. They need regular exercise to stay conditioned. Not terribly successful hunters on their own so they are not suited to coursing, although they enjoy lure chasing. Particularly high in the leg and elegant, the Azawakh sighthound gives a general impression of great fineness. His bone structure and musculature are transparent beneath fine and lean tissues (skin). This sighthound presents itself as a racy dog whose body fits into a rectangle with its longer sides in vertical position. Covered by a short, thin coat that comes in shades of fawn, sand, brindle, white, black, grey, blue, grizzle, and all shades of brown, including chocolate. Some Azawakh have a black mask or white markings on the legs, chest and tail tip.
Borzoi The Borzoi was bred for hundreds of years by Russian nobility. They were developed by crossing the Eastern Asian Greyhound and a northern hunting spitz type dog for coat. The dogs were called Russian Wolfhounds in America up until 1936 when the name was changed to "Borzoi," coming from the Russian word ”borzii,” which means swift. The Borzoi Club of America and the Borzoi Club UK both prefer "borzoi" as the form for both singular and plural forms (this is not the case in Russian, as the Russian plural is "borzýe"). Fierce on the hunt, this sighthound was used for hundreds of years to hunt wolves, fox and hare in the open plains of Russia. As the breed became more popular it was used more and more as a companion dog and its temperament became more docile. The Borzoi’s talents include hunting, sighting and lure coursing. In a few places around the globe, Borzoi are still used as working hunters, and continue the breed's traditional role as capturers of large predatory game. Borzoi, on average, are the quietest dogs around. Many never bark in their lives, believe it or not, but even the ones that are average in that department, seldom bark at anything other than game (cat, possum etc.) on the other side of the fence. Strangers are usually greeted with a grin or a nose shoved between the legs (such a perfect height!) but rarely with suspicion. They are, as a breed, worthless watchdogs. The Borzoi was originally bred for the coursing of wild game on more or less open terrain, relying on sight rather than scent. To accomplish this purpose, the Borzoi needed particular structural qualities to chase, catch and hold his quarry. Special emphasis is placed on sound running gear, strong neck and jaws, courage and agility, combined with proper condition. The Borzoi should appear well balanced, graceful in motion or repose, aristocratic, dignified and elegant. It is a coursing hound which must be courageous, powerful, and show great speed with a temperament that is sensitive, alert and aloof. The Borzoi should always possess unmistakable elegance, with flowing lines. Males, masculine without coarseness; bitches, feminine and refined.
Deerhound The Deerhound's antecedents will have existed back to a time before recorded history. They would have been kept by the Scots and Picts and used to help in providing part of their diet, mainly hoofed game. The Deerhound was bred to hunt red deer by “coursing”, and also “ deer stalking". In outward appearance, the Scottish Deerhound is similar to the Greyhound, but larger and more heavily boned. However, Deerhounds have a number of characteristics that set them apart. While not as fast as a Greyhound on a smooth, firm surface, once the going gets rough or heavy they can outrun a Greyhound. The environment in which they worked, the cool, often wet, and hilly Scottish Highland glens, contributed to the larger, rough-coated appearance of the breed. The Deerhound is closely related to the Irish wolfhound and was the main contributor to the recovery of that breed when it was re-created at the end of the 19th century. The Scottish deerhound is mellow, low-key and easy going — a gracious and well-mannered addition to the home. Outdoors, it loves to run and chase anything that moves. Indoors, it needs plenty of room to stretch on a soft surface. The deerhound is independent but willing to please; it is extremely sensitive. It is amiable toward, but often reserved with, strangers. This breed is good with children, other dogs and usually other pets. It is however a true sighthound which has been selected for generations to pursue game; consequently, most Deerhounds will be eager to chase. The sport of lure coursing is most enjoyable to the Deerhound. In Australia, deerhounds have been used to hunt the kangaroo and wild boar. In addition, according to Teddy Roosevelt in "Hunting the Grisley and Other Sketches", and some Canadian and American wolf hunters used them.
Greyhound The Greyhound is one of the most ancient breeds known to man, and can be traced to almost every country on every continent on the globe. The first evidence of the breed was discovered in Egypt, with carvings in old tombs dating back to 2900 and 2751 B.C. depicting dogs of unmistakable Greyhound type attacking deer and mountain goats. There is little doubt that the dog of ancient times is the same as the one we know today. The unique and highly prized abilities of these sighthounds help explain why they have changed very little in 2,000 years. Aristocracy and culture has always surrounded the Greyhound, and in early times only royalty bred them. England has played an important role in the development of the breed, with the first illustrations dating back to the 9th century. It was used on practically all kinds of game from deer, stags, foxes and such, but the hare is the Greyhound's natural quarry. There are today three separate breeding lines that exist: they are racing, coursing and show greyhounds. Racing greyhounds are bred for speed, coursing greyhounds for a combination of speed, endurance, and courage, and show greyhounds for appearance. Greyhounds Arrive in Australia 1770 The botanist Joseph Banks who sailed to Australia with Captain Cook on The Endeavour brought a male and female Greyhound with him on the voyage. Banks was a keen hunter and his diary entries often referred to the dog’s regular pursuit of the native animals. In 1788 when the First Fleet sailed into Botany Bay, on board were Captain Arthur Phillip (who was to become the first Governor of NSW) and his Greyhounds and “assorted puppies”. The Greyhound is strongly built, upstanding, of generous proportions, muscular power and symmetrical formation, with long head and neck, clean well laid shoulders, deep chest, capacious body, slightly arched loin, powerful quarters, sound legs and feet, and a suppleness of limb, which emphasise in a marked degree its distinctive type and quality. Possessing remarkable stamina, endurance and intelligence, they are gentle, affectionate and even tempered.They also participate in many other dog sports, including lure coursing, conformation, agility, and obedience, and beyond their grace and speed, people love them for their sweet, mild nature. If you have room for one of these gentle dogs in your life you will be richly rewarded with their love. If you wish to find out more information regarding adopting a greyhound please follow the links below. http://www.gapqld.com.au/ (Greyhound Adoption Programme) http://www.greenhounds.com.au/what-is-a-greenhound.htm
Irish Wolfhound The Irish Wolfhound's name is derived not from its large stature, but from the breed's intended purpose: to hunt wolves. The wolf and boar (which the dog was also used to hunt as early as the first century) no longer exist in Ireland, in part to the presence of these protective hounds. This is a very old breed with Roman records dating as far back as 391 AD. They were used in wars, and for guarding herds and property and for hunting Irish elk, deer, boar and wolves. They were held in such high esteem that battles were fought over them. Irish Wolfhounds were often given as royal presents. When the boar and wolf became extinct in Ireland the Irish Wolfhound as a result declined in numbers. A British army officer by the name of Captain George Graham bred them in the second half of the 19th century. The breed was restored by the introduction of Great Dane and Deerhound breeds. The Irish Wolfhound Club was founded in 1885 and it was recognized by the AKC in 1897. In 1902 a hound was first presented to the Irish Guards as a mascot. The Irish Wolfhound is not recommended for small yards it will do better with a large yard. This is a giant breed that needs lots of space to run, but they do not need any more exercise than smaller breeds. It needs to be part of the family and would be very unhappy in a kennel. Being a sighthound, it will chase and as such, needs a secure, fenced area for exercise. Irish Wolfhounds are sweet-tempered, patient, kind, thoughtful and very intelligent. Their excellent nature can be trusted with children. Willing and eager to please, they are unconditionally loyal to their owner and family. They tend to greet everyone as a friend, so do not count on them being a watchdog, but may be a deterrent simply due to their size. This giant breed can be clumsy and are slow to mature in both body and mind, taking about two years before they are full grown. However, they grow rapidly and high-quality food is essential. While it is important to take a growing pup for daily walks for their mental well-being, hard exercise should not be forced and may be too taxing for this dog's body when it is young. The health and longevity of the Irish Wolfhound are also very important to consider. Because of their size, these hounds often do not live as long as other breeds.
Italian Greyhound Often the question is asked as to whether the Italian Greyhound were bred for hunting or striclty as a pet? While historians debate the origins of the breed it is most likely the early IGs were used for practical purposes ie hunting small game or controlling rodents and other vermin and was also known as a hunter of rabbits. The Italian Greyhound is the smallest of the family of gaze hounds. The Italian Greyhound first appeared in the Mediterranean Basin in what is now Greece or Turkey. The breed is an old one and is believed to have originated more than 4,000 years ago in the countries now known as Greece and Turkey. This belief is based on the depiction of miniature greyhounds in the early decorative arts of these countries and on the archaeological discovery of small greyhound skeletons. By the Middle Ages, the breed had become distributed throughout Southern Europe and was later a favorite of the Italians of the sixteenth century, among whom miniature dogs were in great demand. Sadly, though, ‘designer’ breeders tried, and failed, to make the breed even smaller by crossbreeding it with other breeds of dogs. This only lead to mutations with deformed skulls, bulging eyes and dental problems. The original Italian Greyhound had almost disappeared when groups of breeders got together and managed to return
the breed to normal. It is due to its popularity in Italy that
the breed became known as the “Italian Greyhound.” From this period onward the history of the breed can be fairly well traced as it spread through Europe, arriving in England in the seventeenth century during the reign of Charles 1. The Italian Greyhound is elegant and graceful without being weedy, they are extremely agile and fleet of foot. The description “A greyhound in miniature” does not mean an exact small replica of an English Greyhound, nor is a scaled down Whippet in type, correct. The European Standard
compares them to a Sloughi - a hound with
similar movement but the Italian Greyhound must be more refined and not show any coarseness. A sighthound in a small package, the Italian Greyhound shares its larger relatives' characteristics. It loves to run and chase. It is extremely gentle and sensitive. Reserved, often timid, with strangers, it is devoted to its family and is good with children, and other dogs and pets. However, it can be easily injured by boisterous children and larger dogs.
Pharaoh Hound The Pharaoh Hound is the National Dog of the Mediterranean nation of Malta. Its native name is Kelb tal-Fenek in Maltese, which means 'Rabbit Dog' and is traditionally used for hunting. For many years, the Pharaoh Hound was considered one of the oldest dog breeds, because it is thought by some to resemble paintings of dogs featured on the walls of ancient Egyptian pyramids and tombs. Recent DNA analysis reveals, however, that this breed is actually a more recent construction, developed out of different lines of European hunting dogs. This DNA data now puts to rest the “Egyptian Myth” and proves the breed did not originate from Egypt. Another study "Mitochondrial DNA sequence variation in Portuguese native dog breeds” found no evidence of connection between Iberian dogs and those of North Africa; showing again, no connection between Mediterranean hounds and dogs of North Africa. The Pharaoh Hound not only hunts by sight but by scent and hearing as well. It is an exuberant chaser, but it is relaxed in homes. They are known for being excited and happy dogs. All Pharaohs may blush at times when they are excited. They do not blush in their cheeks but in their ears and noses. It is an independent-minded, highly intelligent, and occasionally stubborn hound. Positive methods should be used when training. Pharaohs were bred to hunt and think for themselves and they have retained this trait. They are very adept jumpers and are well suited to many dog sports such as agility and lure coursing. It has a very unusual hunting style especially on its own. When its prey, either rabbit or vermin, is in a mound it will bounce in the air on all 4 legs in an attempt to have its prey come out in the open or move. The Pharaoh Hound at first glance should appear both graceful and elegant as well as powerful and athletic. It should show strength without bulkiness or excessive musculature. They usually come in tan or chestnut colours and a white tail tip is commonly admired, white on chest (called "The Star") white on toes. The ears on the Pharaoh Hound medium high set; carried erect when alert, but very mobile; broad at the base; fine and large.
Saluki The Saluki, from the hot climate of the Arab Desert, is the swift, galloping hound of the great nomadic, pastoral, Bedouin tribes of the desert and has been used by them for hunting from time immemorial. Historically, Salukis were used by nomadic tribes for hunting. All along the Silk Road the Salukis presence was known for almost as long as the dog has been domesticated, a testimony to its function as a hunter and his beauty as a companion. His image is found in many cultures. There are petroglyphs and rock arts in Golpaygan and Khomein in central Iran that shows saluki-like hounds and falcons accompanying hunters chasing preys (ca. 8000-10,000 BC).Typical quarry included gazelles, hares, foxes and jackals. An independent and aloof breed, the Saluki may seem reserved with strangers. They are gentle, affectionate, sensitive and intelligent they can be difficult to train and any such training should be gentle and patient, harsh methods should never be used. They can get bored easily, and should not be left at home unattended for long periods.
Salukis come in two varieties - Smooth and Feathered. Although we see mostly the feathered variety at shows, evidence shows that in their countries of origin smooth and feathered were equally desired. Some tribes only kept the smooth variety, but all the Salukis were used for hunting, and were selected as breeding stock based on hunting abilities and stamina. The Saluki is a natural athlete that needs a lot of exercise, including a daily, long, brisk walk or run as they are happiest when running, This very independent dog should never be off-lead except in an isolated, scouted area. These dogs hunt on sight and will pay no attention to their handler's calls if they are chasing something. Salukis run at top speeds of 40 mph (55km/h) or more with their feet barely touching the ground. These top speeds are reached in short spurts, but they also have exceptional endurance. An excellent way to exercise your Saluki is to let it trot alongside your bike. Incredibly fast even over rough terrain they are excellent competitors on the lure coursing field.
Sloughi The origin of the Sloughi is not known, but it is a very old breed. It was mentioned in a book by the Moroccan writer Al Mansur which was probably written in the 13th century. Morocco holds the FCI standard, but the breed originated in the area which today consists of Morocco, Libya, Tunisia and Algeria, in the northern Saharan region of the Maghreb. The Sloughi is also known as the Arabian Sighthound, which is actually incorrect as it was the indigenous, nomadic Berbers (the Amazigh or "free people," as they call themselves) who developed the breed long before the invasion of the Arabs. The breed is locally known as the Sloughi Moghrebi, meaning the "sighthound of the Maghreb." The Sloughis held an elevated position in comparison to other dogs, and they were greatly prized. Only chiefs and kings were allowed to own them, and much effort went into making sure that they were bred pure. An owner of a fine hunting female would travel far to find just the right mate for her. There were originally two types of Sloughi: the larger, more substantial mountain Sloughi and the smaller, lither desert Sloughi. In western countries there is less distinction between the two as they have been mixed. The breed is not, as previously believed, closely related to the Saluki DNA testing has shown that these two breeds are only remotely related. The Sloughi's closest relative is the Azawakh which belongs to the Berber tribes of southern Sahara. Still, the two breeds have been separated long enough that there are obvious differences in conformity and temperament.
The Sloughi is a medium-sized, short-coated hunting sighthound of the desert type. An African sighthound, it was used to hunt wild game, such as desert hare, gazelles, foxes and jackals, often in cooperation with hunting falcons. It also protected the house and livestock of its owner. The breed is adapted to desert and semi-desert life in the Maghreb region of northwest Africa. This dry, lean and muscular hound gives an impression of rustic elegance as well as strength, and it is an efficient hunter with great endurance as well as speed. The Sloughis are affectionate, gentle, and very closely knit to their owners. They are intelligent and independent, and curious of their surroundings. They are quiet and calm indoors, and prefer to lie on soft rugs and blankets. Strangers are met with aloofness and caution, while friends are greeted with enthusiasm. Sloughis don't make great obedience dogs, but they respond to fair and gentle training methods. Sloughis get along well with children and other animals if they are raised with them. But as Sloughis are hunting hounds with a strong chase instinct, caution is recommended when the dog is outside with smaller animals. Sloughis, and particularly young dogs, like to run daily. They make excellent jogging partners, and need to go on daily walks or runs. They will truly be happy when they are allowed to run off leash. Colors are all shades of light to red sand with or without black mask, black ears, brindle, black overlay and black mantle. The most common color is sand with a black mask. The facial expression of the Sloughi is gentle and melancholy, almost sad.
Whippet The Whippet was developed during the latter part of the 19th century from various sporting, coursing and running dogs, including small greyhounds. Its name derives from the expression "whip it," meaning “to move quickly.” They were bred to hunt by sight, coursing game in open areas at high speeds, and to race. The Whippets ability to reach speeds of up to 60 klms (37 mph)suited him to track racing. Coursing these dogs was an entertaining form of gambling for the lower classes in England and the Whippet was nicknamed "the poor man’s racehorse." During this period of time in English history, to make a living, the average citizen was either a coal miner, a tenant farmer, or worked in the mills. This breed was adopted by the miners of North-east England who were keen dog racing enthusiasts but they also used the Whippet for coursing, as it was capable of catching rabbits and hares. The Whippet is an amazing athlete and its acceleration ability gives it jack-rabbit starts, covering 200 metres in 10 seconds or less. The Whippet gained the nickname of Snapdog from its ability to kill rats and rabbits with a sharp snap. Although still used as a working and racing dog and takes part in agility and obedience activities, the main role is as a companion. Whippets have been described as the perfect "all purpose dog." They make wonderful house dogs because of their very fine soft coat and dog free odour. This, along with their gentle affectionate nature makes them an ideal breed to bring up with small children. The Whippet is quiet, easy to groom and is by no means as delicate as they look. It is graceful in movement and rabbit fast on the lure coursing field.