Types of Hound Dogs

Pharaoh Hounds

If your knowledge of the hound dog is relegated to Elvis Presley's "Hound Dog" song, you'll be surprised to find out that the hound dog category consists of two sub-sets and up to 100 different types of hound dogs worldwide. Hound dogs were bred in order to track and hunt prey in a variety of settings. Breeding adapted these dogs to perform different skills depending on the terrain and environment presented for hunting. Some dogs track game primarily by scent, while others track primarily by sight.

Different Types of Hound Dogs


In areas of the world where trees and brush inhibit the line of sight, dogs were bred to track game by scent, enabling hunters to find their mark despite the inability to see. Scenthounds do not need to be especially fast, but they do need stamina in order to track an animal's trail for long periods of time. Some scent hounds have long legs and faster speed, enabling hunters to follow them on horseback, while others have short legs and slower speed. Hunters follow this latter type of hound dog on foot. Scenthouds are further separated into two subcategories: trailing hounds and tree hounds.

  • Trailing Hounds: Trailing hounds were developed as a breed in Europe during the Middle Ages. These dogs tend to work in a pack and they're characterized by long, droopy ears, endurance and tracking ability. Many trailing hounds howl, or bay, guiding hunters along their trail when out of sight.
  • Tree Hounds: Tree hounds include coonhounds and curs. Coonhounds were developed in the Americas shortly following early settlement. They provided protection while also helping settlers hunt over vast land space for food. Because the area of land hunters needed to cover was so large, tree hounds developed the ability to pick up cold trails, track game, and drive the game up into trees until the hunters could catch up to the dogs. Curs were used more often in the southern and western United States as general work dogs. In some cases they were used to hunt game ranging squirrels to bears, but in other cases they were used as stock dogs.

Scenthounds are still used in hunting today. Depending on the game available in different parts of the country, some hounds track squirrels, rabbits and raccoons while others track large-game like bears, cougars and deer.


True to their name, sighthounds track game by sight. Developed in Northern Africa more than 5,000 years ago, sighthounds were bred to track animals visually over the flat and barren desert landscape. These dogs were bred to be aerodynamic with long, thin faces and light bones to facilitate speed. Unlike scenthounds, sighthounds were bred to chase, cut down and kill prey rather than to corner prey for the hunter's kill. Today, most sighthounds are kept as pets rather than hunting dogs.


The types of hound dogs are further distinguished by their breeds. Hound dogs vary greatly from the small and long Dachshund to the tall and lean Greyhound or the substantially-sized Irish Wolfhound. When choosing a hound dog as a pet, consider each breed independently as their personalities vary as much as their physiques.

Types of Sighthounds

  • Whippets
  • Basenjis
  • Greyhounds
  • Afghan Hounds
  • Borzois
  • Ibizan Hounds
  • Pharaoh Hounds
  • Irish Wolfhounds
  • Scottish Deerhounds
  • Salukis
  • Rhodesian Ridgebacks

Popular Scenthounds

  • American Black & Tan Coonhound
  • American Foxhound
  • Basset Hound
  • Beagle
  • Black and Tan Coonhound
  • Bloodhound
  • Blue Tick Coonhound
  • Dachshund
  • English Foxhound
  • Harrier
  • Norwegian Elkhound
  • Otterhound
  • Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen
  • Plott Hound
  • Redbone Coonhound
  • Leopard Curs
  • Black Mouth Cur
  • Treeing Cur

Many hound dogs provide good companionship and guardianship. Because they were bred to run and track animals, most need regular exercise and activity. Make sure you do your research before choosing a hound dog as your pet.

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Types of Hound Dogs