Is a hound dog right for your family?
The hound group represents one of the most diverse canine groups. From pint-sized to big and tall, extra furry to extra short, there is a hound for everyone, and for every family—that is, if you can handle a hound’s well-known, special quirks.
Originally bred for hunting, some hound dogs are recognized for their sharp eyesight, and others for their keen sense of smell. When considering a hound, keep these things in mind:
- Whether they are best at seeing or smelling, most hounds have an innate sense to track and wander, which you should consider when planning any off-leash activity.
- Hound dogs do best in a home with a fenced-in yard.
- Certain hound breeds are notorious for a characteristic howling-like sound called baying, and you should ensure your family, and your neighbors, can tolerate this unique noise.
Here is a sampling of some popular hound breeds that families enjoy as companions.
Low-key and low-to-the-ground basset hounds also make the list for calm dog breeds. Their laid-back attitude and endearing gaze win the hearts of many adoring fans. Standing an average of 14 inches tall, basset hounds are little powerhouses with strong, stout legs and giant paws. While they can be stubborn, these dogs have a mild, tolerant disposition, making them great family companions. Plus, they are simply adorable, as long as you can tolerate the occasional baying.
- Exercise and training — This breed is known as a couch potato, but mild-to-moderate daily exercise in the form of a walk is recommended to keep them fit and healthy. Basset hounds can be difficult to train.
- Care requirements — Due to their propensity for ear infections and skin allergies, this breed demands regular ear cleaning and bathing.
- Health concerns — Allergies, ear infections, elbow and hip dysplasia, intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), and eye problems are common.
The Irish wolfhound, who is immense yet delicate and encompasses grace and dignity, is the tallest of all hound dog breeds, standing at a whopping 30 to 32 inches. Families love the calm, cool attitude of these gentle giants, but they do require extra precaution with small children, only because of their size.
- Exercise and training — A home with a moderate-sized fenced yard is ideal. This breed requires moderate daily exercise, and early training is necessary to instill good habits. Be aware that younger, immature Irish wolfhounds will be quite large, more active, potentially destructive, and difficult on the leash.
- Care and grooming requirements — This breed has a somewhat long, wiry, double coat that sheds moderately and requires weekly brushing and regular bathing.
- Health concerns — Hip dysplasia, gastric dilatation and volvulus (i.e., GDV, or bloat), congenital heart disease, liver shunting, and cancer are common. Unfortunately these dogs tend to have a diminished average lifespan.
Often dubbed America’s favorite hound dog, the smart and sassy beagle is well-loved. These curious little pooches, who weigh between 20 and 30 pounds, are the perfect size, not to mention 100% cute. Energetic and easygoing, beagles enjoy company, making them ideal family dogs. While they aren’t considered guard dogs, their tendency to bay may ward off a frightened intruder.
- Exercise and training — Beagles are energetic and require moderate-to-heavy daily exercise, preferably in the form of play. They are easy to train with positive and consistent reinforcement.
- Care and grooming requirements — Weekly brushing and occasional bathing keeps the beagle’s smooth, dense coat in tip-top shape. This breed is allergy-prone, and needs a regular ear-cleaning regimen.
- Health concerns — Allergies, ear infections, epilepsy, hip dysplasia, luxating patellas (i.e., knee caps), and hypothyroidism are potential health problems.
Don’t be fooled by their size—dachshunds are vivacious little dogs with intense, delightful personalities. You can find dachshunds in varying sizes, colors, and coats, but their characteristic long, low profile is unmistakable. Busy families adore these charming dogs with their unassuming size and adorable looks, but strangers or intruders should take heed. Dachshunds are known to relentlessly bark.
- Exercise and training — While a dachshund won’t be your running partner, regular, moderate exercise outside the home is needed to keep them fit and happy. Dachshunds are fairly responsive and easy to train.
- Care and grooming requirements — In general, dachshunds need weekly brushing and regular bathing, but long- or wire-haired dogs may require more frequent grooming. Excess weight puts immense pressure on their vulnerable backs, so never allow these dogs to become overweight.
- Health concerns — IVDD is extremely common in this breed. Other common problems include skin allergies and ear infections.
The impressive, friendly bloodhound is a large dog with an incredible sense of smell, granting him a spot as one of the smartest dog breeds. When they aren’t working to follow a scent, these dogs are docile and easygoing, and their pack mentality, combined with a friendly attitude, make them a favorite of families big and small. However, if you live in an apartment or condominium with close neighbors, keep in mind that bloodhounds are a baying breed. With their droopy jowls, these dogs are sloppy drinkers and big-time droolers, so tidy people also should beware.
- Exercise and training — Invest in a strong leash, because these 80-plus-pound dogs will pull hard if they catch a scent. While not extremely active, bloodhounds still require moderate daily exercise, usually in the form of a long, leashed walk. Training may be tricky for this independent breed, but starting early can help.
- Care and grooming requirements — As with most hound breeds, bloodhounds require regular brushing, bathing, and ear cleaning. Gently wiping the skin folds may help stave off infection in this wrinkly breed.
- Health concerns — GDV or bloat, skin allergies or infections, ear infections, and hip or elbow dysplasia are common health problems.
Which hound dog should you choose?
The hound group may encompass a wide variety of extremely different breeds, but one thing is certain—many make excellent family dogs. With their inquisitive nature, charming personalities, and endearing expressions, hounds capture many hearts. Ensure you choose the right dog by deciding on the most important factor for your family. Is it size? Activity level? Tendency to bay? Use your answers to help narrow your choices, and take the time to get to know the breed and its quirks before making a final decision. No matter which lovable dog you gravitate to, be smart and learn more about Trupanion’s dog insurance to keep him protected.