Dogs classified as sighthounds were bred or evolved to spot game by sight and chase it down with great speed. They need to have good vision and to be fast runners to succeed as hunters. Consequently, most of the dogs we cover as sighthounds have long legs, low body fat, look streamlined, and built for speed.
Sighthounds may look malnourished and underfed to those not familiar with them. They are skinny by nature, just as some humans are, but unfortunately, that does not include me. About 40 dog breeds could be listed as sighthounds, although there is some controversy about some of the dogs. Our list will only cover 9 of the better know breeds.
Although sighthounds may look different, they are dogs and make good family pets. They are loyal and affectionate, and gentle with children. Because they do not shed or shed very little, most are hypoallergenic, even the long-haired Afghan Hound.
Sighthounds are the fastest dog breeds. The Greyhound is the world’s fastest dog and may reach speeds as high as 45 miles an hour. They can outrun a horse at short distances but would probably lose a longer race.
|For the right family, the aristocratic Afghan Hound will be the most loyal pet of any dog breed. However, they are not a favorite dog breed for everyone.
They can be great family pets due to their intense loyalty and willingness to play. Afghans are such an ancient breed that no one knows for sure where the breed originated. Some suggest it was the dog breed that survived the flood by going aboard Noah‘s ark.
Today’s Afghans descended from dogs sent to Great Britain by the King of Afghanistan in the 1920s. They are intelligent but stubborn and difficult to train. The Afgan needs a lot of room to play and a high fenced in backyard for safety. They are hunting dogs and may not be safe for small animals.
| The long silky Afghan coats that make them such a distinctive-looking dog needs regular brushing. You may spend several hours a week running a comb or brush through its hair. The coat comes in many colors, including white, black, cream, red, silver, tan, and blue.
Some may be black and silver, black, and tan, or blue and cream. They have a reasonably long lifespan of 12 to 15 years. They do have a few health issues, so make sure your vet is familiar with this breed.
|The Azawakh (pronounced oz-a-wok) is a gentle and affectionate dog that loves to play. It is tall and so thin by nature that you can definitely see its bone structure under its skin.
Some Azawakh dogs are lap dogs, but others may be aggressive. They will need careful socialization to be a trustworthy family pet. The Azawakh is very thin. It fits the description that it looks like “skin and bones.”
However, looks can be deceiving, and this dog is very healthy with a lifespan of 12 to 15 years. It has a short, smooth coat with fine hair that needs occasional brushing. Coat colors can be black, brindle, cream, white, shades of brown, and white.
|The American Azawakh Association, founded in 1988, promotes the Azawakh in the United States and is trying to improve the popularity of the breed.|
|The Basenji comes from Africa, as do most sighthounds. It is shorter than other sighthounds, just 16 to 17 inches at its shoulders. It affectionate and tends to become emotionally attached to a single person. They will get along with other dogs in the family but do not tolerate cats as a general rule.
They are smart dogs but stubborn and maybe difficult to train. They make good family pets with enough patience, care, and socialization. They don’t tolerate having their ears or tail pulled, so families with toddlers may want to wait until the kids are older before getting a Basenji.
One of the unique features of the Basenji is that it is “barkless.” Being barkless does not mean being quiet. Instead of barking, they make sounds like a yodel or howl.
|Not barking makes them good pets for those who live in apartments in the city. They need exercise but are lazy and love taking naps.
Basenjis are healthy, with a lifespan of 13 to 14 years. The breed does have a history of a kidney disorder, Fanconi syndrome. The disease can be treated, and owners should become familiar with testing for this potential problem.
The Basenji coat has very short hair. Because the hair is short and fine, shedding is not a noticeable problem. These dogs keep themselves clean, much like cats. The coat colors are white with black, brown, red, and brindle.
|The Borzoi is a large sighthound from Russia. It is also known as the Russian Wolfhound. They are on the quiet side and do not bark very often. Like other hounds, it is intelligent but stubborn, so you will need much patience to train one.
They are affectionate to people they know but may be wary of strangers. They are indifferent watchdogs since they are not very territorial.
If they are socialized properly, they do well with other dogs and cats. However, this breed was born to chase, and if a cat runs from it, the Borzoi is very likely to give chase. It would be best if you definitely had a fenced yard for this dog.
Borzoi love to run and participate in a competition called lure coursing. The dogs chase a mechanized lure over a course that simulates the chasing live animals.
| The idea is similar to Greyhound racing, where the dogs also chase a lure. Greyhound racing, however, is around a defined race track.
They have long hair, so shedding is a bit of a problem. Frequent brushing will remove any loose fur and lessen shedding. Their coats can be many different colors, including white, black, brown, silver, and several others.
They are generally healthy, with a lifespan of 9 to 14 years. They may be sensitive to anesthesia like other sighthounds.
|Greyhounds are affectionate, calm, and enjoy being with their human family and other dogs. They are built for speed and are the fastest dogs in the world.
Greyhounds are not aggressive even though they wear muzzles during races. They get excited during the race. The muzzles protect the dogs from any nipping due to pent up excitement once the rabbit disappears.
When the Greyhound is not running at 45 miles per hour, it is content to go at a speed of zero on the couch. They get along well with other family pets, including cats, if properly socialized.
They are not vocal but will bark occasionally. They tend to be friendly with strangers and their families, so they are not the best watchdogs.
|Greyhounds have a short, smooth coat that does not need much grooming. A regular bath is about all they need. Their coats come in a wide variety of colors. They are not a hypoallergenic dog breed.|
|The Irish Wolfhound is the tallest dog on the list of AKC registered breeds. While their size is imposing, they are not aggressive and make good family pets. However, they should be supervised like any other large dog when around tiny children. They are unlikely to hurt a child deliberately, but accidents can happen.
They are intelligent, easy-going companions who won’t tear up the house unless they are left alone for a long time. Like most other dogs, they want to be with their family and may get dog separation anxiety if left alone too long.
They have a double coat with an outer wiry fur and a softer inner one. They shed throughout the year but not excessively. They will need occasional brushing to loose hair.
|They have a relatively short expected life span of only 6 to 8 years. As other sighthounds do, they can suffer from bloat, which is life-threatening. If you own an Irish Wolfhound, you need to be aware of this possibility and know what to do if it occurs.|
|The Saluki is intelligent, calm as an adult, and an adaptable dog that can live almost anywhere. There are good family pets provided they are socialized properly. They sometimes are a bit stubborn, and that could make them difficult to train.
The Saluki is one of the oldest known breeds in the world. Mummified Salukis are sometimes found in tombs of Egyptian pharaohs.
They are hunters and have a hunter’s instinct to chase things. If they see a cat, squirrel, rabbit, or other animal running, they will want to give chase. An given their speed and endurance, they have a good chance of catching whatever they pursue.
|They have two types of coats, feathered and smooth. Both are easy to groom, and they only need occasional bathing. Salukis are very clean dogs and seldom have a doggy odor. The coat can be of several different colors, including black, white, red, chocolate, silver, and tan.
The male Saluki is quite a bit taller than the female and can be 28 inches at the shoulder. The female averages a height of 23 inches
Salukis were born to run, and even though they can live in apartments, they need a large fenced-in place to run without danger from car traffic. They are generally good family pets but may not be a good choice for families with small children.
Salukis are a healthy breed with no serious genetic diseases. Their lifespans range from 10 to 17 years.
|The Scottish Deerhound is a good family dog who is gentle, docile, and very friendly. Due to their size, these dogs should be supervised if there are small children in the home.
They adapt well to city life as long as they are taken to a park or other suitable place for a good run. Otherwise, they make an excellent couch buddy if you have a large enough cough.
They have a wiry coat that does not need a lot of grooming other than brushing once in a while. And they will need a bath to wash away any doggy odor.
Their coats come in a few color varieties. They can be black, gray, blue, and brindle. Some will also have white markings.
The Deerhound is closely related to the Scottish Wolfhound as they share some common ancestry.
|The Deerhound shares some of the problems of other sighthounds, such as sensitivity to anesthesia and being susceptible to bloat. They definitely need exercise even in old age. Their lifespan ranges from 8 to 11 years.
The Scottish Deerhound Club of America publishes a club flyer if you want further information on this noble dog breed.
|The Sloughi is another ancient dog breed from North Africa who probably hunted in deserts with kings and pharaohs sometime in the distant past. They are wary of strangers but friendly and devoted to their families.
The Slough is easy to confuse with the Saluki. The Sloughi is found mainly in Morocco, while the Saluki originated in the Arabian Peninsula. The Slought is also known as the Arabian Greyhound.
They have a short, smooth coat that needs very little grooming. Coat colors include light sand, cream, mahogany, and red. They have big melancholy eyes.
This dog breed needs plenty of exercise and tends to enjoy excellent health into old age.
|They can be sensitive to anesthesia and vaccines. Otherwise, they do not have any known genetic health problems.
Go to the website of the Ameican Sloughi Association for more information.
|Breed||Height (inches)||Weight (Pounds)||Life Expectancy (Years)||Popularity (AKC)||Country of Origin|
|Azawakh||25-29||33-55||12-15||n/a||Niger and surrounding countries|