"Is a longdog the right choice of pet for you?

"Is a longdog the right choice of pet for you?

The term “longdog” is one that has fallen out of common usage to some degree since poaching on country estates became much less widespread than it was historically, but nevertheless, the term endures to this day, and is one that owners and admirers of sighthounds are usually familiar with!

The term refers to the crossing of any sighthound breed with any other sighthound breed, such as a greyhound with a saluki, or a deerhound with an Irish wolfhound, or any other variant of such. This falls as a contrast to the similar lurcher dog, which is a crossing of any sighthound breed with any non-sighthound breed. Like the lurcher, the longdog is a cross breed or mixed breed dog and not a pedigree breed in its own right, but the term is very widely used and instantly descriptive nevertheless.

Originally associated with poachers, who would hunt for game using longdogs during the dark hours of the night, today, the longdog is almost always kept as a pet only. The point of breeding longdogs in the first place was to produce the best possible hare coursing dog, but overall, the lurcher is generally regarded as the superior working dog of the two.

How can you tell a longdog on sight?

As the two crossings involved in the creation of a longdog can be rather variable, it would be difficult if not impossible to describe a core or uniform appearance trait across all of the possible crosses. However, the longdog, like virtually all sighthounds, is likely to be tall, lithe and leggy, with a deep but narrow chest.

The coat of the longdog can vary considerably, from the short, fine and light coat of the greyhound, to the shaggy, rough coat of the Irish wolfhound. While crossings involving smaller sighthounds such as the Italian greyhound are possible, longdogs are generally crosses of two of the taller sighthound breeds, and as a result, are normally relatively tall.

Any combination of two sighthounds will produce a longdog, but some crosses are more popular and desirable than others. Some of the most common crosses of dogs that are still kept for working purposes, but that tend to be faster on their feet than lurchers, include the saluki cross greyhound, whippet cross greyhound, and deerhound cross greyhound.

  • Saluki/greyhound crossings are still widely admired as hare coursing dogs within both the UK and the USA, offering the fast acceleration rate of the greyhound combined with the higher levels of endurance and tolerance for heat of the saluki.
  • Deerhound/greyhound crosses are a variant of longdog that is now popular throughout the world, and is still used in working roles in countries including the USA and Australia. Within the UK, this longdog variant is considered to be the best sighthound for working with foxes and deer, showing excellent endurance and resistance to inclement weather. Now that hunting with hounds is illegal within the UK, these dogs are crossed in smaller numbers and generally now kept as pets.
  • Whippet/greyhound crosses are desired for their quick acceleration, small, compact build and agility. They are also able to tolerate reasonably high temperatures, and recover quickly after exercise. This cross is the most popular longdog for the pursuit of lamping, and is also a good hare coursing dog in general.

Do longdogs make good pets?

All of the popular crosses mentioned above were originally bred for working purposes, to create a dog that carried the best and most desirable traits present within the two component breeds. However, the greyhound and the vast majority of other sighthound breeds such as the longdog too also make for excellent domestic pets, and even ex-working dogs generally fit into a family or domestic environment with relative ease.

Dogs of this type tend to have a strong prey drive, regardless of their working history, which means that they are likely to try to chase wildlife and even potentially cats outside of the home. It can be difficult to train longdogs for good, reliable recall, which means that longdog owners need to take special steps to keep other animals safe. Always walking the dog on the lead when out in public, muzzling the dog if necessary, and finding safe, enclosed and permissible spaces to allow the dog to run off the lead in are all potential challenges.

Providing that you are able to find an outdoor space for the longdog to run in, they are generally happy with just a couple of moderately long walks per day, and do not require hours and hours of exercise at a time. They tend to be quiet and well behaved within the home, and are very gentle, affectionate and loving with their families. They generally get on well with children too, and are highly unlikely to ever display aggression.

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