Sighthounds are a group of dog breeds whose physical training makes them in good condition for racing (greyhound racing), they can reach a great speed. They are mostly taller than they are long, they have long and narrow heads, their ears are turned forward or semi-erect, and they have a great sense of sight, unlike most dog breeds. They are usually handled for hunting bigger in packs and for hunting rabbits and hares.
Characteristics of a Sighthound
This breed of dogs focuses on chasing the prey, keeping an eye on it and exceeding it due to its great speed and agility. These dogs take advantage of their great speed to capture the prey they are chasing. Their speed is so great that some breeds of greyhounds are among the fastest land animals in the world. Although there are greyhounds of different sizes and appearances, the general structure of these dogs is determined by the original trade they were subjected to hunting fast animals such as rabbits, hares and deer.
Its body is long, slim and light in shape. The legs are long, thin and strong, the elongated tail of these dogs is said to help them manoeuvre at high speeds. The head is relatively small. They have large eyes and the muzzle is slightly elongated. The neck is long and fine, presenting a long tail.
A true greyhound dog must be dolichocephalic, that is, with an elongated skull with an oval outline. This shape can create the illusion that your head is longer than normal. The dolichocephalic skull comes from the characteristics of wolves and other wild carnivorous animals.
Characteristics that do not define the sighthound
The sighthound excels at the double suspension gallop. However, that gait is not exclusive to the sighthound (see Curtis Brown), sighthounds can simply do it faster and more efficiently. Consequently, not all breeds that can run with the double suspension gallop should be defined as sighthounds. Although sighthounds might appear to be so, they are not aerodynamic in any real sense of the word – the sustainable speed at which sighthounds run is well below that requiring any significant advantage from aerodynamic “bio-engineering”.
Sighthounds as far as we know have no higher visual acuity than other breeds. Most, if not all dog breeds have less visual acuity than their antecedent the wolf. Sighthounds are not endurance athletes. Some may be able to trot and hunt for hours, but it is not what they were best designed for.
Sighthounds are not multi-purpose hounds. They were developed for speed, no more no less. The closest that a sighthound can get to a multi-purpose hound is a lurcher, the result of crossing a working breed with a sighthound to slow it down and give it more brains.
Sighthounds are not the most intelligent of dogs, in the way we recognize intelligence in the working breeds. They were bred to be passionate independent hunters, to run fast with little time to think. They are not particularly amenable to any form of training other than physical conditioning.
The Spanish Greyhound
Spanish greyhound with short hair, fast and athletic, weighing 25 kilos.
English greyhound, bred from Spanish and specialized in speed racing on the track.
The Afghan Long-Haired Greyhound
Afghan greyhound with long, silky hair, weighing between 22 and 30 kilos.
Saluki or Persian greyhound, native to the Middle East, with tufts of long hair in its ears.
A British short-haired greyhound, but smaller than the previous ones.
Italian Greyhound is the smallest greyhound in the world, ideal for living in cities.
The tallest greyhound in the world, with wire and semi-long hair.
Borzoi greyhound, semi-longhaired raised in Russia, highly appreciated by the nobility.
A short-haired and native to Africa, specialized in hunting gazelles
Dog federations may come to recognize some of these varieties as their own breed.
Others are; the English Greyhound, the Saluki, the Little Italian Greyhound, and the Borzoi Greyhound.
Currently, this type of breed is used especially as pets and show dogs. However, in some parts they are also used for hunting hares and rabbits, and in dog racing. Both sighthound hunting and sighthound racing have become much discussed and criticized by animal rights advocates, as there are cases of surprising cruelty to dogs in both activities.