Hound dog breeds are amongst the oldest dog groups in the world, having been used by humans since almost the dawn of time to help them track prey. And while their acute sight and scenting powers still see them being used on hunting trails, they’ve also become beloved companion animals.
There are two distinct types of hound dog breed: sighthounds, who use their impressive vision to help them locate their prey, and scent hounds, who rely on their noses to locate what they’re after.
Hound dog breeds tend to be active, alert and highly intelligent, and most make for wonderful companions and playmates. You’ll also find some scent hounds, like the Beagle, pounding the airport beat as drug detection dogs, while others are now used as emotional support animals.
While they make great family dogs and generally have fantastic personalities and temperaments, they require diligent training and socialization from an early age to help them learn how to focus their attention and not run off in pursuit of anything they consider to be prey.
There are over 100 different hound dog breeds and below we explore 12 of the most popular to help you find the right hound for your home. Let’s take a look…
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PetsRadar’s guide to popular hound dog breeds
1. Afghan Hound
There’s something ever so regal looking about the Afghan Hound and it’s by far the most beautiful and dignified of all the hound dog breeds. But what is perhaps most endearing about this breed is that it still has the ability to have moments of being silly and playful, which is bound to make you love it all the more.
Incredibly sweet natured and with an almost always happy disposition around their family, the Afghan Hound can be aloof and standoffish with strangers but is very loyal and loving when it comes to its owners. Bear in mind though that this is a high maintenance dog who is stubborn and sensitive to harsh correction, so gentle guidance coupled with firm discipline will be necessary to keep them on track.
2. American Foxhound
Good natured and easygoing, the American Foxhound is one dog that can roll with the punches, getting on well with everyone from kids to cats. Up for anything and tons of fun, they are charming and rather shameless in their pursuit of attention and affection. Always in high spirits, the American Foxhound truly is a joy to be around.
But this lovable canine is not without the odd drawback or two. Firstly, they need a lot of exercise and if they don’t get it they can become depressed and destructive. Their loud bawling can be excessive and could result in complaints from the neighbors, so that’s another factor worth considering.
3. Basset Hound
With its long drooping ears and wrinkled skin, the Basset Hound appears old and wise, and in many ways, it really is. This is a dog that has the patience many of us wish we had, able to tolerate the shenanigans of children with a gentle grace that has quickly cemented them as one of the most beloved family pets.
Loyal and friendly, this is an easygoing breed with real charm. But that’s not to say they don’t have their faults. Like a lot of hounds, they can be super stubborn, prone to drooling excessively, and they bark a lot - so if you’re after a quiet and clean home, this probably isn’t the dog for you!
If you’ve ever waited at baggage claim, chances are you’ve come across this little guy as you’ve been pulling your luggage off the carousel or getting ready to head through customs. Beagles have an outstanding ability to sniff out contraband, so they’re a popular choice to assist law enforcement officers.
But they’re also incredibly funny, lovable, merry, curious, and charming, and they thrive on social interaction, which makes them wonderful companion animals. They are active in both mind and body, so you’ll want to make sure they stay challenged and stimulated - which will avoid them getting into mischief!
Solemn looking but very mild-mannered, the Bloodhound is a gentle giant who is known for being wonderful with children and will quite happily put up with being clambered all over without making a fuss.
While they may be incredibly tolerant creatures, the Bloodhound is very independent and with that comes a determined streak that can take some managing. This is a dog that has a mind of its own and their tenacity requires an owner who is strong in both patience and consistency.
They may look like little sausages, but boy are these guys full of determination! Bold and vivacious, Dachshunds are small and yet possess a bravery and confidence you’d usually associate with a far bigger breed.
Endlessly endearing, their little hearts overflow with loyalty for their humans and they’re smart problem solvers, which may or may not be a good thing - it depends on whether or not you’re wanting them to find that bag of kibble you’ve hidden away!
Athletic, quiet and gentle, the Greyhound has a sleek, streamlined body that was built for speed. They were originally bred to hunt in groups and because that required them to be highly cooperative, they have almost no aggression in them.
While they may look like they’d need a lot of exercise, the Greyhound is content to spend most of their day asleep, which makes them ideal for anyone who spends a lot of time indoors.
8. Irish Wolfhound
Big of size and of heart, the kindly and sensitive Irish Wolfhound is the gentlest of giants and possesses a noble and easygoing nature. While they can run at great speeds, they move surprisingly slowly around the house, which is good news as they could easily cause some damage if they wanted to!
One of the model citizens of the dog world, they get along beautifully with children and other pets and while their size makes them look rather imposing, they’re true pacifists who wouldn’t harm a fly. At nearly 3 feet tall and weighing anywhere up to 180 pounds, you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of room if you’re wanting to welcome this sweetie into your home.
This adorably shaggy dog was bred for, yip, you guessed it, otter hunting and their webbed feet make them great swimmers. Big, bouncy, and boisterous, you’ll certainly know you’ve got an Otterhound in the house - this is a big dog with an even bigger personality.
In high demand, but actually quite hard to come by, Otterhounds are a ray of sunshine, which is probably why so many people are clambering to get their hands on one. They’re friendly, playful and easy to train, which makes a nice change from other hound breeds who tend to be quite stubborn.
10. Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen
Vivacious, sprightly and a complete extrovert, the Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen was bred to hunt rabbits on the west coast of France and this tough, busy dog is always on the lookout for fun and excitement and will certainly keep you on your toes.
Good with children, other dogs, most pets, and strangers, the PBGV makes for a lovely companion, but they can be stubborn and independent with a love of digging and barking, so training is a must.
11. Rhodesian Ridgeback
The Rhodesian Ridgeback has earned itself a long list of admirers and for good reason - this gregarious and gentle dog are heart-meltingly affectionate with their owners and make the most protective and faithful of friends.
Known for being quiet and rarely barking, this is a canine that you’ll find easy to train, and train them you must as their natural guardian instincts mean they need to learn how to engage appropriately with strangers.
Happy to sit by your side for hours and known to be quite the couch potato, the Saluki still needs daily exercise but is a great choice if you’re wanting a hound who is on the less active end of the spectrum.
Lovey-dovey and affectionate, Salukis can be quite shy and aloof with strangers but they are very devoted to their owners and are very gentle with children. Highly adaptable, they’ll live happily just about anywhere, but don’t let their ethereal looks and innocent eyes fool you - they are serious hunters at heart and need to be well trained.