Dogs classified as sighthounds evolved to spot game by sight and chase it down with great speed. Consequently, sighthounds have long legs and low body fat. They look streamlined and built for speed. These hounds need good vision and run very fast to succeed as hunters.
Sighthounds are naturally skinny and may look malnourished and underfed to those unfamiliar with them. About 40 dog breeds qualify as sighthounds. Our list will only cover 9 of the better know breeds.
Although sighthounds may look different, they 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.
The sighthound is the fastest dog breed. They can outrun a horse over a short distance but would probably lose in a longer race. The Greyhound is the world’s fastest dog and can reach speeds as high as 45 miles an hour.
The aristocratic Afghan Hound will be the most loyal pet of any dog breed for the right family. However, they are not the 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 sighthound breed, and no one knows 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 challenging to train. They are hunting dogs and may not be safe for small animals. The Afgan needs a lot of room to play and a high-fenced-in backyard for safety.
The long silky Afghan coats that make them distinctive-looking dogs need regular brushing. The skin comes in many colors: white, black, cream, red, silver, tan, and blue. You may run a comb or brush through your hair several hours a week.
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 have a few health issues, so ensure 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 see its bone structure under its skin.
Some Azawakh sighthound dogs are lap dogs, but others may be aggressive. They will need careful socialization to be loyal family pets. The Azawakh is very thin. It fits the description that it looks like “skin and bones.”
It has a short, smooth coat with fine hair that needs occasional brushing. Coat colors can be black, brindle, cream, white, or shades of brown and white. However, looks can be deceiving, and this dog is very healthy, with a lifespan of 12 to 15 years.
The American Azawakh Association, founded in 1988, promotes the Azawakh in the United States and is trying to improve the breed’s popularity.
The Basenji comes from Africa, as do most sighthounds. It is shorter than other sighthounds, just 16 to 17 inches at its shoulders. It is 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 intelligent dogs but stubborn and maybe challenging 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. This sighthound does have a history of kidney disorder, Fanconi syndrome. Veterinarians can treat the disease, and owners should become familiar with testing for this potential problem.
The Basenji coat has concise 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, 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.
They do well with other dogs and cats if they are correctly socialized. However, this breed was born to chase, and if a cat runs from it, the Borzoi will likely give chase. It would be best if you 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 of 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.
The Borzoi coats can have many colors, including white, black, brown, silver, and others. They have long hair, so shedding is a bit of a problem. Frequent brushing will remove any loose fur and lessen shedding.
They are generally healthy, with a lifespan of 9 to 14 years. These dogs 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 sighthound dogs worldwide. During races, Greyhounds are aggressive, so they wear muzzles during races. Because they get excited during the race, 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. If correctly socialized, they get along well with other family pets, including cats.
They are not vocal but will bark occasionally. Greyhounds are friendly with strangers, and 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. Greyhound coats come in a wide variety of colors. Overall, they tend to be healthy and live from 10 to 13 years.
The Irish Wolfhound is the tallest dog on the sighthound 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 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.
The Irish Wolfhound sheds throughout the year but not excessively. They have a double coat with a wiry outer fur and a softer inner one. They will need occasional brushing to remove 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 appropriately socialized. They sometimes are a bit stubborn, making them difficult to train.
The Saluki is one of the oldest known sighthound 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. 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 have several colors, including black, white, red, chocolate, silver, and tan.
The male Saluki is 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 sizeable 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 severe genetic diseases. Their lifespans range from 10 to 17 years.
The Scottish Deerhound is a friendly, gentle, docile family dog. Due to their size, these dogs need supervision if there are small children in the home.
They adapt well to city life as long as you take them to a park or other suitable place for a good run. Otherwise, they make an excellent couch buddy if you have a large enough couch.
They have a wiry coat that does not need lots of grooming. Brushing once in a while will do. And they will need a bath to wash away any doggy odor.
Deerhound coats come in a few different color varieties, including 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 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.
Scottish Deerhound wins Best in Show at 2020 National Dog Show
The Sloughi is another ancient sighthound dog breed from North Africa that 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. Sloughi coat colors include light sand, cream, mahogany, and red.
This dog breed needs plenty of exercise and enjoys excellent health. Sloughis 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.