What is the Sighthound Family?
The sighthound family include the breeds of dogs which use their sight for hunting rather than their nose (scent hounds). They are also known as gazehounds. There are roughly 28 breeds of sighthounds ranging from Afghan Hounds to the Chinese Xigou.
They have keen vision and can pursue prey with great speed and endurance. Traditionally they were used for hunting rabbits, hares and deer and could outrun and hold them. Sighthounds usually have long legs giving them a long stride and a hinged back for flexibility.
The earliest known sighthounds were greyhounds, which date back to 8,000bc. Greyhounds are also the fastest dogs on the planet, reaching speeds of up to 80km/h! When they run, they also spend up to 75% of the time in the air.
These breeds have a very high prey drive and become focused (to the point of obsessive) once locked on to their prey – which was ideal when chasing hare and deer. Not so much when next doors cat is in your garden!
Sighthound Physical Characteristics
As well as having gloriously long legs, they also have deep, narrow chests. Sighthounds have larger than normal hearts and lungs to support their lightning sprints. Their bodies are lean and muscular, and they carry little fat keeping them light and agile. They have comparatively small heads with dolichocephalic skulls and long, narrow snouts.
Compared to breeds like the Labrador and Retriever, they can often look underweight – but they are naturally lean and lithe. Their rib cage should be just visible as they only have an average body fat of approx 8% (compared to a Poodle at 24.5%).
The Sighthound Family Temperaments
Sighthounds are known to be calm and loving companions and are very sweet natured. Most are good around children, making them great family pets. They can often be a little shy around strangers and not as skittish or exuberant as other breeds. Most are very laid back and friendly, so if you are looking for a guard dog, these may not be a good choice!
Apart from a morning and afternoon walk you will find them dozing happily on the couch – they sleep a great deal of the day.
Top Ten Sighthound Family breeds
Here is a list of the most popular sighthounds in the world: