The name “Lurcher” refers to a type of dog that is usually a cross between a type of hound, such as a Whippet or Greyhound, and another breed. The type of breed mixing depends on the requirements of the owner. Many Lurchers are bred for hunting, and thus incorporate mixes from breeds such as terriers. Lurchers date back some four hundred years, and originate from the British Isles, where they were traditionally used for hunting. In Australia generally Lurchers are also known as Staghounds, while in the Northern Territory greyhounds are also often crossed with other breeds to create Kangaroo Dogs.
The history of the Lurcher
Lurchers were bred in a time when only the aristocratic classes were allowed to hunt game. The Lurcher was bred by other classes as a poaching dog to catch game. The breed’s origins are mixed, as many different breeds may be a part of the dog’s lineage. Usually, though, a Lurcher is a sighthound mixed with another breed. The percentage of sighthound in a particular animal is not bred to a standard, but it is commonly thought that the greater the amount of sighthound in an animal the better. This percentage is deemed beneficial in terms of the animal’s ability to hunt and give chase. Common breeds found in the Lurcher lineage include Collies and Terriers. In Australia, Australian Cattle Dogs or Heelers are commonly used in the breed.
The Lurcher’s Appearance
Lurchers are typically built for speed and endurance, and have a deep chest and powerful, long legs. They usually have a short, smooth coat, although this coat becomes thicker during the winter months. The exact size, colour, and coat type of a given Lurcher will vary depending on its lineage, and many different variations can be found.
Exercising your Lurcher
Unsurprisingly given its background, the Lurcher needs plenty of space to roam and run about. Lurchers need to be exercised regularly and with relative intensity. Lurchers are quick and agile, and will sprint and bound with abandon. However, their origins as hunting dogs mean that they are prone to chasing after small game, which can be an issue for urban owners. Lurchers are therefore best suited to country areas or areas where there is plenty of room for them to run unimpeded.
Care and Grooming
The grooming regimen required for a Lurcher varies depending on its coat type. Lurchers are usually a short-haired breed, but some are prone to shedding more than others. Regardless of the coat type, all lurchers should be groomed on a regular basis.
As with a Lurcher’s coat, the temperament of a Lurcher will depend on its parentage. Lurchers that have a high proportion of sighthound in them are often docile and calm. Those that have a greater amount of terrier in them may be more robust and snappy. It’s a good idea to determine the parentage of a Lurcher in order to determine its temperament and to develop an appropriate socialising and training approach.
Lurchers are built for speed and agility, and can be used in both hunting and coursing and canine sporting events such as racing.
As a robust and active mixed breed, Lurchers are often be given up to canine shelters for re-homing. A number of associations have been founded to help re-home relinquished Lurchers.