Tuesday, 14 October 2008

A Look At Lurchers and Greyhounds

Gaze hounds, sight hounds, long dogs - whatever you want to call them - Greyhounds and Lurchers make wonderful family dogs.
At this point I must admit to being owned by two greyhounds, Olive and Boris, who are looking over my shoulder as I write - this is to make sure that I say plenty of nice things about them!
Whilst greyhounds are a well-recognised breed, a Lurcher is a crossbreed, traditionally a cross between a collie (for intelligence) and a greyhound (for speed). This, along with the varied coat (good for camouflague) , made the lurcher the ideal poacher's dog!
Nowadays a Lurcher is a cross between a sight hound and another dog, so that you can have a Saluki cross (loveable lunatics!), Whippet cross, Wolfhound cross, Borzoi cross, etc.
Lurchers come in all sizes and with a variety of coat types and colours.
If you breed two lurchers their litter of puppies can have a variety of coats and colours. It is hard to predict exactly what the progeny are going to look like.

Sight hounds are so-called because they hunt by sight rather than by scent. They have excellent eyesight and will often stare excitedly into the distance because they can see a rabbit from a mile away!

It is a common misconception that greyhounds need lots of exercise and are fierce because they wear muzzles when racing. NOT SO! They are sprinters , not marathon runners. After a good run they like nothing better than a good long sleep on your couch to get over it.
The muzzles are worn during a race in case of doggy disagreements ("turning the head"), and to protect the mechanical "hare".

Greyhounds are normally very good with children. Both of mine have been in schools for talks, and have been impeccably behaved. They should be called "GreyThounds".
Both greyhounds and lurchers love their fuss and you will often get the famous 'lurcher lean' where they put all their weight against your legs!

Sadly, both breeds can be exploited and mis-treated.

Lurchers are used for coursing and hunting - I've heard of bets up to £30,000 being placed on the outcome of a contest.
Significant numbers of Luchers come into rescue. They are often in poor condition with skin problems, sometimes mange. Quite a few will have been treated with Jeyes Fluid or oil! This doesn't cure anything - but it does burn the coat and skin.

Greyhounds start racing at 15 months and are usually finished by 4 years - sooner if injured or not good enough - and face a very uncertain future.
Thousands are destroyed every year because they no longer race and there is nowhere for them to go. The lucky dogs end up in rescue centres and find the loving homes that they deserve. Others may go to Spain or Thailand for a racing life and can sometimes endure horrible deaths if the owners no longer have any use for them.

Organisations like the Retired Greyhounds Trust (UK) and Greyhounds In Need (who do a lot of work in Spain) are doing a wonderful job. They are charities which rely on volunteers and donations from the general public.
There are also decent owners and trainers who will ensure that greyhounds who can no longer race are found a good home.
But the problem is huge!!!

Give a Gazehound a Good Home!

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