ALL DOG BREED PROFILES

Lurcher: The Social Butterflies of the Canine World

John Walton
Written by John Walton

You’re looking at many factors right now which will determine what breed you’re going to end up with. Are you looking for a high or low energy dog? Small, medium, or a large breed? Well, if you’re looking for a large, high energy breed, then the Lurcher may be exactly what you’ve been looking for. But don’t take our word for it—it’s time you get to know this breed a little bit better so you can decide for yourself.

As we’ve mentioned before, the Lurcher is a high energy breed, so they’re perfect for active people or those who are looking to work out more. They’re also highly intelligent, trainable, and loyal dogs. They’re friendly towards everyone, except maybe smaller animals which hunting dogs like the Lurcher may consider as prey.

In this article, you will find all the information you need to come to a decision whether to adopt a Lurcher or to keep looking and find another breed that suits your lifestyle. Personality, size, feeding schedule, and breed history are just a few of the many informative categories you’ll find here.

Breed Characteristics

black Lurcher standing in the field with yellow flowers

  • Adaptability: Good

  • Trainability: High

  • Health and Grooming: Good

  • All Around Friendliness: High; but may not get along with smaller animals due to their high prey drive

  • Exercise Needs: High Maintenance

Dog Breed GroupSighthound
Height22 - 28 inches
Weight60 - 70 lbs
Lifespan12 - 15 years

These are extremely athletic, agile, affectionate, and gentle dogs which love the company of their family. Though they don’t mind being inside, they’re not apartment dogs. In fact, they love exploring outside, going for runs and chasing after small animals. The Lurcher is ideal for outdoorsy people. If they’re kept inside for long periods of time alone, they can become depressed and destructive.Originating in the 1600s in England, the Lurcher is a mixed breed. These dogs were developed by Romany Gypsies as they wanted a dog which would be able to hunt small game. What resulted was the Lurcher.

The breed can come in a variety of sizes as it greatly depends on what they’re bred with. Generally, they’re as large as Greyhounds. However, they can also be as small as Whippets. Their bodies are long and lean, as they’re designed to hunt. Their intelligent and loyalty make them extremely easy to train.

The Lurcher is generally a low-maintenance and healthy breed. If you’re into going outside and investing a couple of hours a day exercising, then this is a great breed. You can give them a weekly brushing, and a monthly bath—that’s all you need to keep them in tip-top shape.

The Lurchers have literally been around for centuries, yet, they haven’t been recognized by any canine association or organization. However, they remain a favorite within their home country. They’re also continuing to gain popularity outside of England, even making their way to the United States.

Main Highlights

Lurcher standing in water

  • Lurchers can vary in size and coat type, depending on what they’re crossed with. In some cases, they can be as small as a Whippet or as large as a Scottish Deerhound.

  • In Alaska, Lurchers are being used as sled dogs. They’re currently being bred with sled-dog breeds.

  • The name “Lurcher” has various meanings in different languages. Originally, the word came from “lorchen” in Middle English which means “to lurk.” In the Roman language, it means “thief” and “mixed dog breed.”

  • They’re typically found in Great Britain and are rare in the United States.

  • Lurchers were developed by Romanichals and Mouchers in England to poach rabbits, hares, and other small animals

  • Lurchers love being outside and are highly social with whoever they meet.

Breed History

Lurcher Running in the field

Lurchers have an interesting and exciting history. Originally, they were developed by Romanichals and Mouchers in England. They were never bred to a specific standard and were not actually considered a breed themselves since the Lurcher is a crossbreed. Typically, they’re made of three-quarters Sighthound and combined with either Greyhound, Terrier, or Collie.

Brian Vesey-Fitzgerald set the standards for Lurchers in 1948, stating that a Lurcher should not be more than 24 inches tall and should tip the scales at more or less 50 pounds. The dog should have short and coarse. The tail should be thin and long. A Lurcher should have the head of a Greyhound with small, pricked ears.

Though the standard is set, these dogs have yet to be recognized by the Kennel Club or any other canine organization. Regardless of this, they’re still popular in Britain as they not only have excellent hunting skills, but they’re also extremely loyal and affectionate towards their families.

The Lurcher was used primarily for hunting rabbits, hares, and other small animals, so they may need to be socialized first before they would be able to coexist peacefully with smaller pets like birds or hamsters.

See Also: How to Socialize a Dog

Size

An interesting fact about Lurchers is that these dogs vary greatly in size. Since they’re mixed with various breeds, they can be as large as a Greyhound or as small as a Whippet. Though, a Lurcher generally weighs between 60 and 70 pounds, with their average height being between 22 and 28 inches.

Though they’re large in size, they’re built quite elegantly as they’re designed for hunting. Thus, their bodies are typically lean, allowing them to run fast and move nimbly.

Personality and Character

Lurcher running very fast

Since Lurchers have inherited the characteristics of sighthounds, they’re highly dutiful dogs with extremely strong hunting instincts. In addition, these qualities also make them highly intelligent and able to learn commands very quickly. Though they need the instructions of a strong master, they’re very gentle towards people in general which makes them ideal for families and outdoorsy-type people.

They tend to pay very close attention to their masters, thus, can become destructive if they’re left alone for long periods of time. So, you want to make sure that you have the time to invest in them; if not, they’ll suffer from anxiety and stress.

They’re mischievous dogs when it comes to food and won’t hesitate to try and snatch something off of your plate. So, when it comes to food, you need to make sure you keep your eyes on them when meal time comes rolling around.

They’re also great with children, though are best around older children as they have a greater respect and understanding for animals. Still, at the end of the day, these dogs aren’t difficult to please. If you want a happy Lurcher, the most important thing you can do is take him/her out for a walk and/or a run.

See Also: Best Dog Harness

Health and Potential Problems

Lurcher's face

Regardless of the breed, all dogs have the potential to develop health problems; they’re no different than humans in this matter. Though, in general, Lurchers are known to have great health as they’re a crossbreed. Still, they do have some health issues that are more common in this breed than in others.

  • Gastric Torsion: also known as bloat—occurs when there’s an abnormal accumulation of air or fluid in the stomach.

  • Torn Toenails: a torn toenail can be caused during play or if the toenails are already cracked or broken.

  • Foot or Muscle Injuries: foot or muscle injuries such as strains and sprains and be caused by playing or inherited joint and ligament conditions.

  • Heatstroke: happens when the body is overheating—usually caused by prolonged exposure to high temperatures.

  • Osteosarcoma: this is a cancerous tumor in the bone.

  • Hypothyroidism: is an underactive thyroid. This is when the thyroid doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone. It’ll cause your dog to be lethargic, constipated, depressed, or gain weight.

Many of these conditions are easily spottable when the dog is a puppy. Plus, if you’re getting a Lurcher through a good breeder, they’ll have information on the parents, so you should be able to adopt a dog with no inherited health issues.

See Also: Questions to Ask a Dog Breeder

Care Features

If you’re wanting a high-energy breed, then the Lurcher may be the perfect dog for you. They prefer to run off-leash as compared to on-leash since they were bred to hunt.

However, you need to make sure that they’re properly trained prior to taking them off-leash if you don’t want them to go chasing after small animals. If possible, keeping them off-leash in a fenced area would be ideal as they tend to go after small animals such as rabbits, mice, and birds.

Feeding Schedule

light Lurcher's face

Like all dogs, you should make sure your Lurcher is being fed with high-quality dog food. Their diets need to be made up of essential carbohydrates, minerals, proteins, and vitamins.

The size of their meals will greatly depend on their age and level of physical activity. However, adult Lurchers prefer to be fed twice a day—once in the morning and once during dinner time.

You can feed them either dry or wet food, and give them treats on occasion. You’ll probably be giving them more treats during the training period, so that’s something to keep in mind.

Coat, Color, and Grooming

two lurchers playing with each other

Their coats can range in a variety of colors such as black, white, tan, brown, and mixed. The Lurcher’s coat can vary depending on the mix, though they usually have either a rough or a smooth coat. Their coats can be either as smooth and short as a Greyhound, as long and thick as a Collie, or as harsh as a Terrier. Thus, grooming will depend greatly on the type of hair your Lurcher will have.

Generally, however, the rule of thumb is that weekly or twice weekly brushing will help keep their coats shiny and will remove any dead hairs. They do shed all year round, and more during the spring and autumn period. Thus, you’ll need to brush them more during these shedding seasons.

They’re not typically smelly dogs, so, you’ll only need to bathe them when you start to smell the odor, which is usually once a month. To prevent toenail damage, make sure their toenails are properly trimmed to prevent any splitting or breaking.

Also, you’ll need to check your dog’s ears on a regular basis and clean them if dirty. If too much wax develops within their ears, it can lead to serious ear infections. Thus, this is simple and easy prevention. This is especially true in dogs with droopy ears like the Lurcher.

See Also: Best Dog Ear Cleaner

Children and Other Pets Compatibility

lurcher and a cat

A Lurcher is ideal for families who have older children as Lurchers are very gentle and emotional dogs. Older children have a greater understanding and respect for animals, plus, they’re large dogs and can easily knock over a small child without even being aware of it. Of course, all interactions with small children should be supervised to ensure that your dog and child are playing nicely together.

As we all know, the Lurcher is a hunting dog. Thus, if you have small animals in your home, the Lurcher is not a good choice of breed for you. They have a high prey drive and see all small animals as prey. They do get along well with cats that are sharing the home with them but don’t be surprised if they chase other neighborhood cats outside.

Wrap Up

lurcher puppy playing with a toy

The Lurcher is truly a great breed if you’re looking for a dog that’s energetic and will get you outside. The Lurcher needs a lot of attention and physical activity.

Though they’re high-energy dogs, they’re very gentle, emotional, and affectionate. They love to be around family and are ideal for those who have the time to spend with them. If not, they can become depressed and destructive—something you don’t want to happen.

As you can see, the Lurcher is a high-energy and affectionate breed. They love being outside, around family, and will grab any food off your plate. Do you think that the Lurcher is the breed for you? Or perhaps you’re already living with a Lurcher and would like to share your experience? Let us know what you think in the comment section below!

If you decide to adopt a Lurcher, you’ll need to pick a name for him/her. Do check out our article on big dog names for inspiration.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.

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