Hounds are fascinating little hunters. They can seem like cute and docile guys before they bolt for a small squirrel before you even see it. Hounds will lean into their instincts before they learn not to which causes their sudden bursts of energy. Frequently untrained Hounds bolt after small mammals because they are hunting machines.
They used to be included in the sporting group but eventually got their own designation because of their unique skillset. can also be lackadaisical and seem sick, and some are even prone to skin problems. What can you do about your fuzzy buddy’s health to keep him on track? In conjunction with our Dog Groups series, we wanted to talk about some important facts about what makes your Hound special and what you can do to take better care of it!
Basics Around Hound Health
Typically, hounds are relatively durable and lasting dogs. Many Hounds can live up to 12-15 years on average, which is a pretty long time for bigger dogs. The average lifespan for bigger dogs is around 8-12 years. Part of their health advantage is that they weren’t just bred for size like the Great Dane whose life span is 8-10 years.
All hounds were bred for a specific purpose though they accomplish this purpose differently: hunting. Because of their persistent hunting prowess, many Hounds aren’t as prone to heart disease (kind of hard to hunt when your heart gives out). But, keep an eye on your particular breed as not all Hound breeding processes phased out heart problems. For example, the Afghan Hound’s breeding process made heart problems pretty common within the breed. However, the Greyhound has a robust heart and isn’t known to have any heart problems. So it’s good to research what your specific breed can expect through their lifespan.
Like all types of dogs, the Hounds group is disposed toward specific health problems. Hounds were bred for hunting and they got special skills. Sometimes these special traits can cause problems. Like how Basset hounds tend to get infections in their ears. Their droopy ears are prone to infections partly because of how difficult it is to clean them.
Bassets are also very purebred. So, two kinds of dysplasia are prevalent within the breed: hip and elbow dysplasia.
Strong pure breeding also created some common problems like skin irritation and itching in hounds like the Basset. Allergies like pollen, grass, and certain foods are more prevalent in these dogs. However, some Hounds are unbelievably robust. Greyhounds are big but still live perfectly in the dead center of the 12-15 year average for hounds. Their only known common condition is bloat. Bloat is simply gas that gets caught in the stomach and twists it.
So, your dog’s leading health problems are probably going to be breed-specific rather than unique to the “hound” grouping. But, all hounds tend to have health issues related to their unique hunting abilities. Many of these can be overcome through training, good hygiene, and a proper diet.
Training Your Hound
Hounds have quite the reputation when training. They are known to be some of the most stubborn dogs that just won’t listen. The likelihood that your Hound also had some training issues is relatively high. But the reason Hounds are so stubborn is not because of what you think.
Hounds have special needs and accommodations you might not need with other groups and breeds because of their special skillsets! Hounds were bred for hunting, and each Hound is a little different. There are two different kinds of Hound: scent hounds and sight hounds. One scent hound breed, the Basset hound, was bred for small game, and the sighthound Greyhound was bred for running, or more formally coursing. Coursing means they chase prey until they catch them. Their differences are pretty straightforward as sight hounds use their sight for hunting prey and scent hounds prey’s scent.
The reason for their stubbornness is because of these exceptional instincts and skills. Their instincts make them want to hunt and they have the ability to go get that squirrel several hundred feet away, so sometimes they do! Unless you have a method to get some of this energy out or some healthy expression for it, they will not want to listen. So make sure you get some exercise with your dog and some toys that will allow them to go on a “hunt.”
And each Hound is going to express their needs a little differently. Bassets need 30-60 minutes of walking. But Greyhounds will need to run! They have very “bursty” energy reserves where they go as hard as they can and then stop and rest for long periods of time. Greyhounds may even seem lazy at times with how often they don’t go full speed but how long could you run 45 mph? Giving them the space to sprint and do a fetch exercise would help these robust athletes’ temperament.
Take Care of Your Hound
Hounds need special attention to their instincts. Whereas other less active dog types just want to be with you, Hounds make loyal companions but have unique traits that they need to exercise. If you don’t give hounds an outlet for their hunting energy, they may begin to “hunt” your couch or everyday objects. Exercise also helps prevent health major problems down the line. It helps keep your dog’s joints healthy and strong through old age. It also helps with heart health!
So whether you have a Hound or are looking to get one, you should be a bit more informed about their common needs and feel a bit more confident to research about your current or future fuzzy buddy!