Hounds are faithful hunting and tracking companions that have adapted alongside their humans for hundreds of years. These remarkable breeds are known for their exceptional sight, hearing, and sense of smell. Together with their hunting masters, hounds have helped families and communities thrive. But, which hound breeds are the best? Here are the seven breeds most well-loved and fondly reviewed by experts.
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Our trusted experts helped us thin the pack and learn about seven of best hound dog breeds. From loyal companion to cunning tracker, these dogs are able to fill many roles. Let us know your favorite hounds in the comments below!
The List: Top 7 Hound Dog Breeds, According to Experts
1. Afghan Hounds
These ancient hunting dogs developed their luscious locks as a means of survival in cold climates. They have keen senses and are capable of bursts of amazing speed. The Pioneer Woman writes, “Known for their elegant beauty, Afghan hounds have a thick, shaggy coat to keep them warm in the mountainous regions of the Middle East. These aloof creatures are around 27 inches tall and weigh between 60-75 pounds. They are wildly independent — bolstering their dignified appearance.”
Daily Paws notes that the Afghan hounds’ pedigree is top notch and hard to beat. “Dogs resembling the modern Afghan have been traced back through thousands of years of Middle Eastern history. Native to Afghanistan and blessed with keen, panoramic vision, Afghans are athletic hunters who rely on their super-strong sense of sight to visually stalk prey over large distances.”
Afghan Hounds are best known for being bred for hunting. American Kennal Club adds, “Some use acute scenting powers to follow a trail. Others demonstrate a phenomenal gift of stamina as they relentlessly run down quarry… Among the most eye-catching of all dog breeds, the Afghan Hound is an aloof and dignified [dog].”
2. Basset Hound
These dogs might look sad, but they are quite cheerful. Basset Hounds have adapted to hunt small prey. Woman’s World says, “Don’t be fooled by this pup’s droopy appearance — basset hounds are cheerful, social dogs that make great companions. Thought to have originated in 16th-century France, Basset Hounds were bred as rabbit hunters. Their long, low bodies help them burrow into rabbit holes, and their long droopy ears assist them in trapping scents.”
Even though Basset Hounds were bred as hunting dogs, they make for great family pets. Dog O’ Day notes, “When it comes to the Basset Hound… They have a very easy-going nature and they’re actually relatively low energy. They are great for families; however, they do have a bit of a stubborn streak. This means that you will want to be patient with them, as they will dig in their heels at times.”
However, don’t leave Basset Hounds alone outside for a long time since they can get a bit noisy. “These dogs make excellent family pets, and are generally laid back and lovable at home, though they can get a little feisty when they’re on the trail of a really interesting scent. They’re also known to be a little, uh, vocal—so make sure you don’t leave them unattended outside for too long—your neighbors may not appreciate it,” explains The Dog People.
3. American Foxhound
American Foxhounds are high-energy dogs. This, when combined with their intelligence, makes them natural hunters. Pure Wow writes, “American Foxhounds are… vocal and energetic. Once they hit on a scent, it’s pretty difficult to convince them to stop or change direction, so early training is essential. Due to their sweet disposition, American Foxhounds make great family dogs.”
American Foxhounds are usually mild-mannered, but when they’re in pursuit, watch out! Top Dog Tips says, “When on the chase, these dogs become relentless and determined. Unfortunately, the Foxhound is stubborn and independent, making training a challenge. Obedience training is critical with this breed, helping establish hierarchy and your position as the leader in the pack.”
Pet Keen notes that the American Foxhound breed is very gentle. “It will get along with people of all ages, including children and even other domesticated pets. Like many of the breeds on this list, the American Foxhound does require a lot of exercise and if you fail to provide this, they can become destructive or they can suffer from depression.”
When Beagles bond with their humans, there is an undeniable rapport that they can develop. These charming and personable dogs are shy at first but are very loyal once they become attached to a person. The Spruce Pets explains, “Beagles have one of the best noses in the entire canine kingdom, plus a keen intelligence that comes in handy when you’re trying to pick up a particular scent. Their small size, athleticism, and natural affinity for agility make beagles a formidable scent hound with plenty of energy to keep on the trail for hours on end.”
Beagles love to explore the outdoors. The Pioneer Woman says, “These clever dogs require a lot of playtime to keep their minds occupied… this loyal dog was bred for action. The beagle is known to be great at hunting small animals, specifically rabbits.”
Daily Paws says Beagles are great dogs for owners who lead active lives. “Another iconic breed, the beagle is immediately recognizable to even casual dog lovers. Noted hunters of foxes and rabbits even today, beagles are sighthounds blessed with huge reserves of stamina. This makes them best suited to human companions that live more active lifestyles, but beagles can be happy with a large yard and some spirited games of fetch.”
The Bloodhound is a breed that is often used for tracking humans. Their keen sense of smell allows them to track a target from afar. Woman’s World says, “Another hound dog that’s droopy but dapper: the bloodhound. This large breed (often weighing in between 80 and 100 pounds) is famous for its incredible sense of smell and is often used for search and rescue missions.”
Bloodhounds are a very easy-going hound breed. Dog O’ Day says, “They do require a lot more exercise than the Basset Hound. However, this could be a great thing for a family with children, as the kids can help with burning off that excess energy. It is important for these dogs to be in a fenced in yard, as they do have a tendency to not pay attention to their surroundings, and if they start tracking something they can easily get lost.”
6. Irish Wolfhound
Irish Wolfhounds are one of the tallest dog breeds. As the name implies, they are fierce and able to hunt with strength and dexterity. “As the tallest dog breed out there, an Irish Wolfhound always makes a statement when they walk into a room. These peaceful, yet dignified animals hunted wolves and these days make unwavering companions to people of all ages,” according to Pure Wow.
The Irish Wolfhound is a perfect pet for families. Top Dog Tips writes, “Today, the Irish Wolfhound enjoys spending time with his family, tracking, obedience [training], and lure coursing. On average, the Irish Wolfhound is the tallest dog breed in the world (although many breeds will outweigh them).”
Pet Keen notes that the Irish Wolfhound loves being outdoors. “The Irish Wolfhound is a large breed of dog that looks somewhat disheveled… The Wolfhound makes an excellent family pet and is used in canine sports while excelling at obedience training. The breed does require a lot of room thanks to its incredible height, and it benefits from plenty of exercise and time outdoors.”
Basenjis are hunting dogs that still have a look of the wild in them. Like the other hounds on this list, they are strong and have vast reserves of energy. Pet Keen notes, “The Basenji is a Congolese hound dog that was used for flushing animals. They were also used to hunt and kill rodents in villages. Today, they are as likely to be utilized as family pets and they are chosen because they are loyal and loving, fun and friendly.”
Surprisingly, Basenjis rarely bark. Pure Wow writes, “They’re sort of a triple threat: excellent eyesight, impeccable sense of smell and lightning speed. Basenjis are known for their cat-like behavior and expressive faces, so get ready to cuddle if you go the Basenji route.”
Daily Paws says the Basenji is a great dog for those that like to exercise. “The hunting instinct remains strong in the breed even today, making a fenced yard a must. For pet parents who have active lifestyles and want a running companion or a partner to engage in agility or flyball competitions, there are few dogs that can match the Basenji’s motor and stamina.”
You might also be interested in:
- The Pioneer Woman
- Daily Paws
- American Kennel Club
- Woman’s World
- Dog O’ Day
- The Dog People
- Pure Wow
- Top Dog Tips
- Pet Keen
- The Spruce Pets
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