“ Animal Species: Dogs „
My family and I took in a Lurcher from the RSPCA 15 years ago. He had been abused by his owner for four years before being taken in by the RSPCA, however they were forced to return him to his owner for legal reasons (the law is mad). Not content with being back home he ran away and headed straight back to the RSCPA Centre (some 6 miles away). How he knew how to get there is anyone's guess but it just demonstrates the intelligence of these dogs. So we took him in, a skinny little wretch, and never looked back.
At first he would scavenge for food so you could never leave anything within reach. I'll never forget the time we came home and he'd had a thorough go-through of the vegetable rack and taken a bite out of every single potato. But once he realised that he would be getting fed regularly he soon stopped the scavenging. He was absolutely desperate for love and affection to begin with and would jump up whenever you came home so that his feet were resting on your shoulders, and you couldn't sit down without the bony beast clambering up to sit on your lap (not easy considering the size of him). But he was a brilliant dog. Friendly, loyal, good fun to watch running.
I have known met people since then that own Lurchers or Greyhounds and everyone has agreed with me that they are the best dogs you can get. They make great family pets (you can trust them with your children) and, despite what people think, they actually don't need much walking (one big walk a day is sufficient) so they're dead easy to care for. They love company so they're not good for people who are never in and some are even good with cats (although this does depend from dog to dog). The dogs' homes are always packed full of them as well so you'll always have plenty to choose from.
We adopted a lurcher two years ago - well "found" is more accurate - she was running loose on a main road - no more than a pup - and in spite of comprehensive efforts to find an owner we never did. We kept her at home for the 30 statutory days rather than take her to the pound as she had a leg injury - and of course after 30 days she was never going to leave.
I have always had large and hairy guarding breeds - or collies/sheepdogs - so she has been completely different. In some ways infuriatingly so - in others a breath of fresh air.
She is a very greyhoundy lurcher - we think possibly greyhound-collie cross (a lurcher is a cross between a sighthound and another working breed - often a collie or a terrier; a cross between two sighthound breeds is known as a long dog). But she looks like a greyhound with a slightly shorter muzzle. I never expected I would like the look of a completely smooth coated dog - but she has grown into one of the most stunning dogs I have ever seen - elegant, graceful. She is also very affectionate and demonstrative - she loves people and likes nothing better than to cuddle up close. She also loves her dog friends but is not keen on other dogs - and has what I understand to be a lurchery habit of running at them and grabbing with her mouth - not doing any harm but quite rough.
I have found her to be extremely intelligent and trainable - responding brilliantly to positive training and clicker. Maybe that is the collie part? But certainly she is a fast learner.
In fact she does everything at top speed. There is nothing more stunning than watching her run at full speed. But it does mean she can be across a field and over a hill in seconds. You do need a good recall - and while hers is good in general, it disappears when there is a rabbit or a squirrel on the horizon. And this is where the exasperation comes. I have never had a dog where instinctive behaviour is so strong. Her prey drive is huge - and when it kicks in she hears nothing and feels no pain (I know this because she will run through brambles and barbed wire - NOT because I have or would ever use a pain-oriented device on her). In that heightened state she can jump 5 foot from a standing start and can scramble over 6 or 7. And she will - lurcher proofing a garden that has perfectly adequately contained numerous 45kg guardian dogs has been a continuous job. It now resembles a prison camp - without the watchtowers!
Exercise wise she needs to free run - but not for hours. As long as she can stretch her legs once for 10 minutes for a good gallop she is happy to trot at heel the rest of the time. She gets about an hour's walking a day. I muzzle her offlead - for the sake of the local rabbit population and any unknown dogs she may grab in her rather clumsy attempts to initiate play!
Overall I wouldn't have swapped this experience for the world - she is a fabulous dog and I would certainly consider having another lurcher in the future. Whether she is typical - well perhaps that is for other lurcher owners to say. But if you are looking for a new dog - have a look at the many greyhound and lurcher rescues - there are thousands of these gorgeous dogs looking for homes out there.
I have worked with animal all my life and as a result have seen hundreds of different breeds. Up until last year I would have said my favourite breed was Border Collies however the for the past year I have been working in a greyhound and lurcher rescue and now I must admit that my favourite breed is the greyhound as they are so loyal.
In the rescue I see many greyhounds and lurchers coming in after facing a lot of abuse and sometimes so close to death but yet the dogs do not show any signs of aggression. The lurcher is a lot like the greyhound and there is a lot of bad press about the breeds for example they are not good with small animals and I admit in some cases this is true however it is like every other breed and in fact animal, one or two of that species does something wrong they are all treated the same but this is very wrong.
Greyhounds are known mostly for racing around the track in the greyhound racing world however greyhounds and lurchers have other uses too such as hare coursing however this sport is now banned in this country.
Lurchers and greyhounds make very good pets and despite the myth that they need a lot of walking this is not actually the case they need 3 or 4 walks per day but not a long distance each time.
These breeds are very much food orientated so would be easy to train using treats and as they are very intelligent dogs and they can easily pick up the basic training. These breeds are so food orientated that if you leave food sitting on tables or work surface they will find it and steal it. Some of these breeds can also be partial to trying to drink teas and coffee.
In my experience I would recommend a greyhound or lurcher as a suitable pet for most people and as they are good with children they make an ideal family pet. My summary of these breeds would have to be moderate work bit they are very loyal which makes it rewarding.
I have worked with animals all my life so have seen hundreds of different breeds. One breed in particular, the Greyhound has always been one of my favourites.
** A bit about the breed **
A lurcher is bred using a greyhound with another breed, usually a border collie or a terrier. Other breeds are also used and lurchers can be as small as a whippet or as large as a deerhound (which can stand up to an adults waist!) The aim of the cross is to produce a sighthound with intelligence to carry out the original purpose for this breed which is poaching.
The Lurcher belongs the sighthound group, next to the Greyhound, Irish Wolfhound, Whippet and Afghan Hound.
The word "lurcher" is a derived name from the romany word "lur" which means thief. It was the Irish Romany / gypsy people who played a major part in developing this breed. Most lurchers are bred as hunting dogs that can chase and kill their prey (can I just point out I am against this type of thing although everyone is entitled to their opinion) A lot of lurchers are employed for pest control ie rabbits, hares and sometimes foxes.
Lurchers are popular for hare coursing, although this sport is actually banned in this country I'm sure it still goes on. Coursing is where dogs are tested on their ability to chase a hare usually to kill, and owners bet on their dogs. Bets placed can sometimes amount to thousands of pounds. This sport although banned in this country continues in other parts of the world especially in the Republic of Ireland and Western United States.
** Lurchers as pets **
If you decide to keep a Lurcher as a pet you need to be prepared to spend a lot of time with your dog. They need regular exercise but not necessarily over a long distance, quite often their energy is released in short spurts of high speed sprinting. If you do not give your lurcher enough exercise they will soon let you know! They can become destructive when bored so if you value your furniture get that lead out !
They are quite food orientated so can easily be trained using food snacks as bribes. As they are very intelligent dogs training for the basics can be quite easy.
Lurchers have plenty of love to give and in a household environment can demand lots of cuddles and attention. Grooming is also an important bonding time for you and your pet.
This breed is known for "stealing" and if your not careful will steal food and laundry!! (mine does this a lot and I quite often find things in the garden) If their are children in the house you should take the same precaution as with any breed - don't ever risk leaving any dog alone in a room where there is a small child / baby. Sudden movements, wriggling or crying can cause unexpected actions from any dog - its just not worth the risk. When feeding children its advisable to keep a watchful eye incase your lurcher steals their food.
This type of dog was originally bred to chase and kill smaller animals so take care when exercising. Unless very well trained they will chase cats and smaller dogs, and unfortunately have been known to severely injure or kill. You need to be aware of any animals in the vicinity to prevent this. obviously you cannot help meeting wildlife.
** My experience of this breed **
As you may already know I own a lurcher. My dog is bred from a greyhound and a Saluki which are both sighthounds. I had a Labrador before this one and unfortunately had to have him put to sleep when he was 13 years old due to various old age related problems.
Harry was brought in to my workplace to be put to sleep as he was very ill (please read my review - Important appointment with vet) he is not the best behaved dog in the world, he does steal food and laundry, but is a very loving dog. He's knocking my hand right now for some attention. He was very easy to house train but took a while to train to come back to us when off the lead. He has plenty of soft dog toys to play with and we also buy him some hard chews to keep him occupied. We have a 5 month old baby and he has never shown any signs of aggression or jealousy, but this is something thats always individual to each dog and I cannot stress enought the need for caution no matter how soft natured you believe your dog to be.
I wouldn't recommend a Lurcher to just anybody, but to people and families who have the time to give to a breed like this.
Thanks for reading-hope this has been informative and interesting
The Lurcher is not a dog breed, but rather a type of dog.