Country Life’s Favourite Dogs: Lurcher

Favourite Dog: Lurcher
Vital statistics (top trumps)

Height 7/10
Looks 4/10
Obedience 5/10
Intelligence 9/10
Loyalty 9/10

In the 14th and 15th centuries (or so the story goes), only noblemen were legally permitted to keep pure-bred sighthounds. As a result, people from other walks of life took to crossing dogs such as whippets, greyhounds or salukis with working breedsterriers, collies and so on to create intelligent, agile hunters.

The resulting animals, speedy and stealthy, quickly became the ultimate poachers’ dogs. And although they’ve shaken off their slightly disreputable reputation and become popular family dogs, they retain their deep love of the chase.

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Lurchers’ thousand-yard stare can make them appear mournful, but it’s a function of their eyesight having developed to spy things far away on the horizon. Movement in the distance awakens their hunting instinct, and before you know it they’ve gone shooting off in pursuit of their quarry. Rabbits, squirrels and foxes can all catch their eye – as can cats and, occasionally, smaller dogs. You’ll need to have a recall command properly in place before you let your lurcher off the lead in a public place.

Lurchers come in all shapes and sizes, from petite whippet types to huge, loping deerhound crosses. Endearingly clumsy as puppies (think Bambi), once they grow into their long legs they develop tremendous elegance – watching them run is a joy. Their height, combined with their propensity for scanvenging food, can make them a bit of a menace in the kitchen, however. Leftovers are best kept under lock and key when there’s a lurcher around!

Lurchers love nothing more than stretching their legs, but they don’t need as much exercise as you might imagine. A couple of relatively short walks each day incorporating some sprinting is ample, although they’ll happily spend more time bounding around outdoors if it’s on offer. Back at home, they’ll probably head straight for their beds and curl up – the softer the better, and preferably not too far away from their owners. They are devoate family dogs, and bask in praise and affection.

If you think you could offer a lurcher a happy home, Dogs Trust Salisbury has eight up for rehoming. Click here to read more about them.

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