Having enjoyed the company of a hound (more specifically, a lurcher) for 2 years now, we find that we are regularly visiting the same conversation topics on walks. I thought I’d share our favourites. We have also had a terrier (a patterdale cross) for 3 years, but she doesn’t elicit a tenth of the interest that our lovely lurcher boy does (bless her! – we’re always so happy when someone directs a comment to her).
1: Yes, he is fast
(sorry that the gif’s a bit amateur, but I do think it’s cute – it’s one Google+ automatically created from a couple of burst shots of the dogs – hence the sudden appearance of lurcher boy)
Amusingly, this is most often said when he’s jogging around relatively gently. The full-speed blasts are very short-lived but quite impressive.
2: No, he’s not a greyhound, a retired racer (or worse “an ex-greyhound”, as someone once asked us!)
Lurchers are not a breed as such; they’re a sighthound (greyhound, whippet, saluki, deerhound etc) crossed with something else (often a collie or a terrier). They originated from the days when only the nobility could have hunting dogs. Other dogs would be surreptitiously mated with the lord’s hounds to create a dog that could hunt.
Both our dogs are from Dogs Trust, so we don’t know his full history, but our lurcher seems to be part saluki (for those in the know: he has webbed feet and a rather lovely shawl) and we think part collie, due to the expressiveness of his ears.
3: No, he’s not too skinny/Yes, we do feed him
Actually, you’d be surprised how much he eats – and how much more he’d be willing to eat, given half a chance. I think lurchers are quite well known for being gluttonous, despite the skinny appearance.
4: No, he doesn’t take a ‘fair bit of walking’
The poor soul actually gets considerably more walking than is necessary for him, thanks to living with a terrier. I don’t think we could ever walk her enough for her to not want more, but lurcher boy would definitely be happy with just a couple of half-hour walks a day, if allowed some free running. As it stands, though, he gets 4-6 miles daily (and often a good run, since he lacks the self-awareness to not run when he’s knackered). That’s why he has well-developed leg muscles which sometimes lead other lurcher folks to assume he’s a working dog.
5: No, we don’t ‘work’ him
I suppose having a terrier as well does kind of invite the assumption that we often dine on rabbit, but trust me: they are ‘just’ pets. As for the idiot who insulted us recently declaring this ‘a waste’, I can only pity you. On a related note, to the owners of the poor little ‘pampered’ pooches who aren’t allowed to be dogs: our lurcher does not think your dog is a rabbit. However, your little dog who is wriggling and wagging does want to play with our boy and might actually have fun running around if you’d just let it…
Finally, here’s a plea for the humble hound. They make fantastic family pets (but rubbish guard dogs due to their gentle natures, although I suppose you might still have the deterrent factor) and can commonly be found at rescue centres. Indeed, there are several hound-specific charities which specialise in rehoming former racers and related breeds. The Retired Greyhound Trust is one of the largest of these, with multiple branches across the UK. For more info on rehoming greyhounds and lurchers, Dogs Trust has some great advice.