Despite what Elvis's famous song might suggest, hound dogs are known for a lot more than just "cryin' all the time." There are more than 30 breeds who fall into the American Kennel Club's hound group, and each has its own individual set of characteristics.
The one thing most hound dog breeds have in common is their history of being used for hunting. They can generally be split into two different categories: the scent hound and the sighthound. Scent hounds have a magnificent sense of smell and strong endurance, giving them the power to accurately follow a trail for long distances. Sighthounds are known for their quick reactions and incredible speed, relying on eyesight and agility to track a target. Then there's the infamous baying sound that many hound dogs are famous for, regardless of their hunting specialities.
Of course, not all hound dog breeds were born to be hunters. (You'd be hard-pressed to find a dachshund chasing down prey!) These days, many hound dogs are simply kept as pets--though not all breeds are a fit for first-time owners. Read on to learn more about the various personality traits and physical attributes that make every hound dog unique.
1. Afghan Hound
The American Kennel Club first recognized these longhaired beauties in 1926. Originally, these pups were hunting dogs in the rough terrain of the mountains surrounding their home. The breed is known for being serious and regal but fiercely loyal to its owners. However, the Afghan hound also has a humorous side hidden beneath its lofty exterior. While its personality might not be for all dog owners, once they find their person, they develop a special relationship with them.
2. American Foxhound
The American foxhound is a mid-sized hound dog weighing between 60 to 70 pounds. Recognized by the AKC in 1886, these sweet, affectionate hounds get along with everyone--including other dogs and cats. They are fast hunters and love to run. If one of these pups is not being used for hunting, they still need to have active lifestyles. Otherwise, they are prone to depression and destructive behavior. They are also very loud and can be stubborn when it comes to training.
The Basenji is on the smaller side of the hound group. These pups weigh between 22 to 24 pounds and can live to be 14 years old, on average. A curly tail and pointy ears adorn their slender bodies, giving them a slightly cat-like look. Their inability to bark is one of their most unique features. Unlike a normal dog bark or hound howl, the Basenji voice is somewhere between a yodel and a chortle. These pups may seem a little vain because they groom themselves, much like a cat would, with great precision and care.
Even smaller than the Basenji is the Beagle. These adorable little guys come in two sizes: less than 20 pounds and between 20 to 30 pounds. An equally sunny disposition complements their adorable expression; they're truly one of the happiest dog breeds. Beagles love being around other dogs, especially since they hunt in groups. They are not ones to just lay around the house, though; beagles have plenty of energy and need to expend it productively.
The bloodhound is a large hound dog that can weigh up to 110 pounds. These pups have unmistakable features, including floppy ears and wrinkly bodies. Their coats are usually tan, liver, black, or red. They can track scents for miles--but, despite their drive, they are fairly laidback dogs who love hanging out with their owners.
The borzoi breed has been an AKC member since 1891. They are large and slender, much like the Afghan hound, without long, flowing locks (though not any less regal!). Borzoi has calm, sweet temperaments and is fairly calm. Even though they are generally agreeable, they are still dedicated and fast hound dogs. They can run between 35 to 40 miles per hour. They can be very stubborn and need consistent training and plenty of space to run.
RELATED: 20 Large Dog Breeds That Will Fill Up Your Heart and Home
These tiny pups are certainly an adorable addition to the hound group. They have been a part of the AKC since 1885 and come in standard and miniature sizes. They have three coat types: longhaired, wirehaired and smooth. Unlike the other hounds, the dachshund wasn't made for hunting, running, or swimming--though some of these pups have a little fun in the water. They are plenty playful, though, and love a good game. Even with their small size, they are perfect guard dogs and were originally used for hunting small but dangerous prey.
The harrier loves their humans and meeting their human's friends. They are equally thrilled with small children and other pooches. The harrier was bred for chasing down hares in England. They are a more muscular, slightly larger version of the beagle with just as great of a personality. These dogs are game for a long day of hunting and will make sure to get ear scratches from everyone at the end of the day.
9. Ibizan Hound
Weighing between 45-50 pounds, the Ibizan hound is the perfect size for hunting, showing, or hanging out at home. These pups came from the shores of the Balearic Islands in Spain, where they hunted rabbits. Ibizan hounds are renowned for their speed and jumping prowess, which is often likened to that of a deer.
Otterhounds can weigh up to 115 pounds but are very affectionate and loving with their owners and families. True to their names, their original job in England was hunting down otters. A few unique features made them perfect for the job: Their thick fur kept them warm, while their webbed feet made traversing the water an easier task. They also have a sharp sense of smell and absolutely love to swim.
11. Pharaoh Hound
Pharaoh hounds are another sprinting dog that comes from rougher terrain. They would chase small animals over rocks for miles on end. Their noses can pick up a scent for great distances, and their svelte bodies are built for speed. They are known as the "ancient Blushing Dog of Malta."
12. Plott Hound
The Plott hound's ancestors were brought over by German Johannes Plott when he came to North Carolina with his five Hanover hounds. The pups hunted wild boar and bears. The Hanovers eventually bred with local hunting dogs creating the Plott hound. These pups have excellent noses and a beautiful melodic bay. North Carolina declared the Plott hound its state dog in 1989, and the AKC accepted them in 2006.
13. Rhodesian Ridgeback
Rhodesian ridgebacks are large and in charge dogs. Originally from Africa, the dog is a mix of the native Khoikhoi and various breeds brought over by Dutch colonists. Hunter Cornelius van Rooyen took two of his greyhound-like females and bred them with the big game dogs. The result was a dog who could successfully assist with hunting large prey and could keep the hunters safe from other predators. The standard was set in 1922 for the breed and was accepted by the AKC in 1955. They are an affectionate dog breed known for protecting their families, including the smaller members.
Sloughi were bred to hunt game in North Africa, including foxes, hares, gazelle, jackals, and wild pigs. The sighthound is lean, much like the greyhound, weighing 35 to 50 pounds. Their coats are varying shades of sand to a mahogany red fawn. The dogs come to the U.S. and Europe from Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, and Libya. The AKC recognized them as a breed in 2016.
15. Treeing Walker Coonhound
Treeing Walker coonhounds are another mid-size hound. They weigh between 50 to 70 pounds and live up to 13 years on average. They are another recent addition to the AKC and were officially recognized in 2012. These hounds are fearless and intelligent and can chase down their targets in a hurry.
What's your favorite hound dog? Tell us on our Wide Open Pets Facebook page.
READ MORE: 10 Stubborn Dog Breeds That Aren't Afraid to Give Some Attitude
Love reading about pets?
Don't miss a story! Sign up for daily stories delivered to your inbox.