hunting dog breed. all about hounds

  From the majestic Afghan Hound to the diminutive Beagle, shotgun breeds have stolen our hearts for generations. Are you toying with the idea of ​​bringing such a dog into your home? On this page you will find an overview of the behavior, needs and feeding of the different gun dog breeds.
Hound Breeds: Everything About Hounds

What is a Hound?

The hunting dog group includes dog breeds bred to aid humans in hunting. Hunting is on foot (usually with short-legged hounds) or on horseback (with long-legged hounds). Like all working dog breeds, Gun Dogs use their natural canine behavior to perform the tasks that we humans have bred them to do. As a result, hounds are adept at tracking prey with keen eyesight (greyhounds) or incredible noses (hounds), then chasing prey at high speed before capturing, killing, or detaining prey.

Hound Breeds: Two Types

Bloodhounds include many well-known breeds such as large Munsterlanders, Beagles, Dachshunds, Labrador Retrievers or Irish Setters. Most of these hound breeds can be divided into two main groups: Trackers and Greyhounds.

sniffer dog

As the name suggests, sniffer dogs like to follow scents and look for things over long distances. Their impressive stamina makes them perfect companions for long walks. Sniffer dogs also love finding items hidden at the end of scent trails around the house and yard, which means a lot of fun and games for both of you. Beagles typically have floppy ears and smooth or hard coats. Well-known sniffer dogs are the Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, and English Springer Spaniel.


Sighthounds are playful, fast sprinters who prefer to hunt and use their eyes rather than their noses. Physically, the Greyhound has an athletic, slender, and streamlined build with relatively long legs. The face is usually narrow, with the eyes narrow and forward facing. Unlike other retrievers, greyhounds do not retrieve fallen game from their handlers and work more independently. In the past, they were reserved mainly for landowners and nobles.
Most breeds come from Europe (such as the whippet or the Podenco Ibicenco), but there are also some from the United States (such as the Silken Windsprite) or the Far East (such as the Afghan Hound or the Saluki). 

Hound Breeds: Big and Small

From small miniature dachshunds to gigantic Irish wolfhounds – these hounds come in all shapes and sizes. So if you think a retriever is the right companion for you, there’s one that’s the right size for you no matter how much space you have in your home or out.

typical hound characteristics

In order to be successful in their tasks, hunting dog breeds require certain qualities, which are reflected in their character: 


Once the hound has spotted or smelled its prey, it must pursue it without being distracted by anything around it. For owners who are unaware of this trait, when they discover a new smell or see something in the distance, their dog often completely ignores it, which can be infinitely frustrating. Responding when called is a challenge for most gun dog breeds. This is not because they willfully ignore their owners, but because they have been bred to block out any distractions while they are at work.


Bloodhounds tend to work away from their owners, following their instincts rather than following orders. Due to their independent nature, many of them tolerate brief absences of their owners better than other dog breeds, as long as they get used to their periods of being alone in the home. However, this doesn’t mean that hounds should be left alone for long periods of time.

relatively calm hound breed

Most gun dog breeds express their affection quietly. Most gun dog breeds express their affection quietly. So when you come home, expect a short and reserved greeting.

sprinter, distance runner or couch potato

In greyhound racing, long periods of inactivity are broken by quick sprints in pursuit of prey. Beagles are happier when they can walk for hours on end.

Experts who track jobs

You can expect a trail dog to have an excellent sense of smell and be more than happy to follow the trails. Dogs need space to run freely or pursue their love of tracking. Track dogs can take pleasure in long walks in nature on leash and nose.

not always clean

Some gun dog breeds have a certain “dog smell,” while others like to indulge in things their owners don’t find very appetizing! Others (usually watchdogs), however, are pretty clean.

Retriever Breeds: The Right Choice as a Family Dog?

Some gun dog breeds are now called family dogs rather than pure gun dogs. This especially applies to dachshunds, Jack Russell terriers or Labrador retrievers. But while these hounds no longer have to hunt for food, their predator instincts haven’t gone away. Owners need to realize that not only do their dogs love to engage in these behaviors, but they also need an outlet for these inherent instincts in order to stay healthy and happy. As such, not all retriever breeds are recommended as a first dog for a new dog owner. Therefore, if you decide to get a retriever, there are a few things you should consider.

use hounds

Gun dog breeds are in great need of physical exercise. That doesn’t mean you need an estate to hunt with your dog—but you should plan exercise into your routine to keep your hound busy. 

Tracking Dogs’ Exercise Needs

Sniffer dogs are all about scent tracking – so they prefer to travel long distances with lots of opportunity to use their noses. However, like Greyhounds, they are single-minded and have memory issues. Tracking dog breeds love the outdoors and often have great stamina because they were bred to travel long distances. Unlike greyhounds, which are fast, short-distance sprinters, trackers are best compared to marathon runners—they happily trot or run for hours at a time. Therefore, long walks are a must for these breeds.

greyhound needs exercise

When you have a greyhound, it’s important that you give them the opportunity to express their natural instincts. Greyhounds love to run, and occasionally run very fast, faster than you! They require less movement than you might think, but more free space. This can be a problem for many owners, as sighthounds often ignore everything else and ignore the call for the sheer joy of running. Therefore, learning good recall is important to avoid unexpected adventures! As a property owner, you will also need a large, fenced, safe area — that is, a large yard or access to a fenced lot or other fenced area that is not near a hazardous road.
Despite hunting instincts, your greyhound should enjoy exercise and can be easily trained to heel. However, make sure to keep your leash on, as an unexpected encounter with a cat, passing cyclist or jogger can trigger hunting instincts without warning. Your greyhound may run away with enthusiasm and not respond to your calls until the hunt has naturally come to an end.

dog training

Gundog breeds like to think that training is unnecessary, so owners need to be patient, consistent, and find a way to motivate and reward their dogs.
But just because shotgun training is a challenge doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it as a master. Especially with a puppy, it pays to invest a lot of time in training him and teaching him commands. Some retrievers are well trained and some are even raced for agility – working with a scent hound on a nose job is a joy for both the dog and the owner, both can thrive and have a lot of fun .

build a strong bond

Bloodhounds are generally more aloof and independent than other breeds. This doesn’t mean they’re less attached to their owners, it’s just that they’re showing their love from a comfortable distance! However, as always, this varies within breeds and individuals.
Greyhounds, for example, will form close, loving bonds with their families. They love physical contact and invite their owners to lean on them and pet them. Some of them like to sleep with their heads on their owners’ feet or laps.

interact with other dogs

Socialization with other dogs also varies by breed. Some are pack dogs who enjoy living, working, and being with other dogs, while others are more solitary. Terriers are often unsure about dealing with cats (especially unfamiliar ones) and small pets. In another article, we’ve rounded up all the information you need to know about socializing your puppy.

Caring for a Hound Properly

Most gun dog breeds are low maintenance. Some just need an occasional wipe with a cloth. Chances are your dog enjoys being petted and brushed. Daily grooming also ensures that any dirt he picks up as he walks through the bushes is removed, and any fur and skin issues can be detected and treated early. Plus, touching and gentle brushing have a relaxing effect and strengthen your bond.

Keeping the Hound Busy: Have Fun and Games

Dog owners should keep their retrievers busy. A fun regular play unit strengthens the bond between you and your dog.

play with your tracking dog

You can play with your tracking dog in a number of ways:
  • Hide and seek is one of many great sniffer dog games that you can play yourself! It also helps in developing recall training. Play with your dog in less stimulating places, and reward him when he catches you playing hide and seek, so he can focus on you better. The more your dog’s memory is trained, the more you can get him off the leash to follow scents without the risk of him disappearing and ignoring your calls. 
  • Your trackers can also play other games that use their notorious tracking skills. In some countries, including the United States, scent tracking — or scent hound “tracking” — is a sport in itself. In the UK, one of the activities tested by Working Trials is tracking, a dog sport for pet owners that is the equivalent of working with police dogs. In the trial, the dog’s agility, obedience, tracking and tracking skills are tested. The Breed Club can recommend recent training sessions if you are interested.
  • Sniffer Hounds also like to play fetch, which is a great way to reinforce the recall command. Throw a toy in the tall grass. When your dog finds it, call him over first, then greet him with lots of praise and treats.
  • If you want to try jogging with your dog, track dogs can make great jogging companions because they need to move over long distances. They trot beside you for miles on a leash. However, always make sure they have the opportunity to rest and drink when needed.
  • Chase and track games can strengthen the bond between a hound and its owner—in fact, very few hounds get the chance to use their incredible noses. Check out our tips on how to use dog cans. 

play with your greyhound

While greyhounds are usually very calm and relaxed indoors, when outside they are always looking for moving targets to give chase – it’s just part of the game with such an active dog! There are many ways to play Greyhound: 
  • Finding a safe, dog-friendly beach or nearby venue for your dog, giving your dog exercise, retrieval, and practicing recall safely—all are great forms of greyhound exercise. 
  • Why not buy a ball launcher to increase throwing distance and give your dog a better chance of reaching top speed?
  • Greyhounds can also play cat-like games by stalking, chasing, and pouncing on their toys. Attach a toy to the end of the string and encourage your dog to chase it. You can even tie the cord to the end of a sturdy pole, like the B. on a broom handle, for a sturdier feline fishing toy.
  • Some breed organizations rent greyhound tracks on race day – seeing an Afghan hound or other hound racing across the track at top speed is a sight to behold! 

Checklist: Is a Bloodhound Right for Me?

You could be the perfect gun dog breed owner if:
  • You don’t want a traditionally obedient dog, but if you like to invest time and energy in something they are good at.
  • You live in a rural area and you have a safe area where you can train your dog without his selective obedience being a danger to him or others. Or, you’re ready to be on a leash for a long time every day.
  • You can give your dog enough physical and mental exercise by setting aside a reasonable amount of time each day to give him the chance to let out those natural instincts he needs.

correct hunting dog food

Because they are very active, gun dog breeds need adequate food. Depending on whether you have a tracker or a greyhound, you should feed them differently.

feed the sniffer dogs

When feeding sniffer dogs, you can pay attention to the following points:
  • Most sniffer dogs love their food, and if given the chance, they will usually eat it quickly! They can also loot and steal food (they can use their gifted nose to sniff out food). Therefore, you should place heavy-duty or lockable lids on your trash cans.
  • Since your tracker likes you feeding it, instead of just giving it two meals a day, split its food to make it more interesting. For example, on dry days, spread up to 50% of your daily dry food in the garden, or stash it in different parts of the house. Place scent trails on hidden treats outside, out of your dog’s sight, to encourage him to be a real tracker and “work” for his dinner!
  • Reserve up to 5% of food as training rewards, especially when training trackers, as this is especially important for motivating trackers. The remaining amount should be given in two meals a day (morning and evening) so your dog always sees you as the feeder.
  • Always follow the guidelines on the back of the dog food package!

feeding greyhounds

When feeding greyhounds, you should pay attention to the following:
  • Some greyhounds can be very “picky” about their food. However, since they are powered by fast-moving toys that can be chased and caught, you as the host can increase mealtime by putting half of your daily kibble in a “throwable” or “rollable” toy that dispenses food .
  • Use the other 10% as a reward when training, especially when teaching your greyhound to recall. The remaining amount can be divided into two meals and served in bowls.
  • If your dog is fed a wet food, you can use other, more convenient treats as training rewards, but make sure to factor these into the calculation of daily requirements.
  • Follow daily feeding guidelines (found on dog food packaging) and monitor your dog’s weight to keep him in ideal body condition.
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