Understanding the broad category of hounds and how their hunting styles developed and evolved over time
In this episode, we begin a broad survey of hounds, beginning with a linguistic exercise to uncover the meaning of the word “hound.” The general nature of the word perhaps explains the very broad range of hound dogs today.
Hounds are separated into categories such as sight hounds, scent hounds, leash hounds, podengos, and pariah dogs. Perhaps the oldest of these categories is the pariah dog, which is thought to have originated at the refuse piles out on the outskirts of early towns and villages.
Pariah dogs and podengos are perhaps among the most versatile of the hound dogs. They exhibit a combination of developed skills such as the use of their nose to locate hidden game, the use of their eyes to track running game, a bounding gait to overcome dense brush, their speed to overtake and capture game, and a retrieving instinct to bring the game back to the handler. An example of this type of hunting can be found with the Ibizan Hound, or the Podenco Ibicenco, which hunts rabbits in the brushy landscape of the island of Ibiza off the coast of Spain.
Sight hounds include commonly known breeds such as the greyhound, whippet, and wolfhound. These dogs rely on good eyesight, but more than that, they rely on speed to overtake their prey. Mixes between the sight hound breeds were called “long dogs” and were frequently used by poachers to take game off of private estates under cover of darkness.
Scent hounds include well-known favorites such as the foxhound, the bloodhound, and beagles. These dogs are known for their incredible sense of smell and the ability to follow a trail to find game. Scent hounds are often used in packs to run down prey, often using their incredible stamina to outlast the game.
Upcoming episodes will dive deeper into each of these categories of hounds, uncovering a surprising number of breeds both well-known and obscure. Hounds have an incredibly diverse history stretching all across the world as they were used to hunt a variety of prey in a variety of human cultures. Hounds eventually led to the development of many of our pointing dog breeds. Stay tuned to learn more about this unexpected origin story.
As always, we thank you for listening and hope you’ll continue to reach out with your comments, questions, and ideas. We can be reached at HDC@northwoodscollective.com.
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Last modified: October 15, 2020