The Hound Group includes some of the dogs whose ancestors were the earliest companions and assistants of humankind. Sleek sighthounds like the Saluki are believed to be thousands of years old. Alexander the Great hunted with hounds in the third century B.C. This group also offers the widest range in size of any group. The smallest hound is the Dachshund, which actually comes in two sizes: Standard and Miniature. The Mini Dachshund weighs up to 11 pounds, the Standard, up to 32 pounds. He is also the only dog in this group who is neither a sight- nor a scenthound exclusively, but rather was bred to hunt smaller game “to ground,” going gamely into burrows and dens for small animals, like a terrier. The largest dog in the group is the giant Irish Wolfhound, who weighs a minimum of 120 pounds. There is the fleet and agile Whippet, and the lumbering Basset Hound.
The more the merrier! Two popular hounds, Beagles and Dachshunds, come in multiple sizes. Beagles can be under 13" in height, or 13-15" in height; Dachshunds can be Standard (16-32 pounds), and Miniature (11 pounds and under). Dachshunds also have three coat types: smooth, longhaired, and wirehaired.
Hounds generally are grouped together because they will actually hunt down prey and either corner or kill it. They will not wait for the hunter but will let the hunter know where they are by various types of barking. Hound people make a distinction between “barking” (the sound most dogs use to communicate) and “baying” or “tonguing,” which refer to the different types of sounds made when hounds are on the scent trail. As a hound tracks a scent, she lets out what is often referred to as a “song.”
The Beagle is a scenthound, which means she uses her nose to hunt. She is the breed upon which Charles Schultz based his internationally beloved cartoon character, Snoopy, and it is no wonder. Beagles have personality to spare!
Hounds are generally categorized into two distinct types: scenthounds and sighthounds. The scenthounds are the trackers who hunt with their noses. These include Bloodhounds, Beagles, Foxhounds, and Bassets.
Sighthounds hunt by vision. The Afghan Hound, the Pharaoh Hound, and the Irish Wolfhound fall into this category. All had very specific uses, and many date back either to the feudal hunts or to ancient Egypt. The Irish Wolfhound hunted wolves; the Harrier and the Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen hunted rabbit and other small game; the Otterhound hunted otter; the Scottish Deerhound hunted deer; the Rhodesian Ridgeback hunted lions.
The Norwegian Elkhound is Norway's national dog. It was bred to hunt moose and can trace its lineage back to the Vikings. It has the characteristic thick coat, prick ears, and curled tail of a spitz breed and in this sense is unique among the other hounds.
Hounds tend to be social and easy-going — a necessity when working in a pack. Bred for stamina so they could go all day, hounds need sufficient exercise. They were bred to use their voices, their noses, and their acute perception, so owners are forewarned that they will — and do — become easily distracted by smells and movements too refined for our limited senses. Their preoccupation with their sensory worlds has led misguided owners to label them as hard to train, stubborn, or willful. The truth is, you have to be pretty interesting to get the full attention of your hound. Your unconditional love and understanding count for a lot with your hound, and he is mighty happy in a live-and-let-live relationship. These are the members of the Hound Group:
Black and Tan Coonhound
Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen