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Spotlight On Sighthounds

September 15, 2023

September 27th is Sighthound Day. Sighthounds, or Gazehounds, as they are also called, is the term for a subset of dogs that were bred to hunt. These sweet pups definitely deserve their own day! A local Brampton, ON vet offers some ‘insight’ into these pups in this article.

Why Are They Called Sighthounds?

Sighthounds track their prey visually, as opposed to Scenthounds, who follow their noses. Sighthounds have distinctives head and body shapes. They tend to be very sleek, and are usually extremely fast. Sighthounds are a very ancient type of dog: evidence suggests that these pups have been around for thousands of years. They have been linked to ancient Egyptian, Middle Eastern, African and Southwest Asian civilizations.

What Are Some Common Sighthounds?

The AKC recognizes over 28 types of Sighthound. The most well-known Sighthound is without a doubt the Greyhound, who is renowned for his popularity as a racing dog. Other sighthounds include the Whippet, Borzoi, Afghan Hound, and Saluki. 

How Do I Care For A Sighthound?

Many sighthounds have similar care needs, some of which may be surprising. For instance, one may think that Greyhounds need lots and lots of activity, and are only suitable for runners. However, that really isn’t the case. Many of these pups do need some vigorous activity. However, once their workouts are over, they tend to become couch potatoes. There are a few other things potential owners should be aware of, such as the fact that their physiology is a bit different from that of other dogs. Fido’s lab results may seem a bit unusual in comparison to that of a Lab or German Shepherd. These dogs are also very sensitive to chemicals, and sometimes do not react well to anesthesia. Sighthounds also tend to get chilly quite easily. Ask your vet for specific care advice.

How Do I Help Sighthounds?

Sighthounds represent a specific and unique challenge from an animal welfare point of view. Many former racing dogs out there in need of loving homes. While dog racing has become illegal in many places, there are still active tracks. Overseas, there’s also a very sad situation with Galgos, a close cousin of the Greyhound. These pups are often used for hunting, and then cruelly abandoned. Consider making a donation to an organization that works with these breeds. Even raising awareness can help!

Our Advice on Sighthounds in 2024

Why are sighthounds also known as gazehounds?

Sighthounds are also known as gazehounds due to their unique hunting method, which relies on their exceptional vision to spot and pursue prey rather than tracking scents like other hunting dogs. These breeds have distinctively sleek and aerodynamic bodies, enabling them to achieve remarkable speeds. Their ability to visually detect and chase down fast-moving targets is what sets them apart, earning them the gazehound moniker. This method of hunting showcases their incredible agility and speed, traits that have been revered through the ages.

What distinguishes sighthounds from scenthounds in terms of hunting methods?

Sighthounds differ from scenthounds in their hunting methods primarily through their reliance on sight to track prey, as opposed to utilizing their sense of smell. Sighthounds possess a lean, aerodynamic build, enabling them to achieve high speeds rapidly, essential for chasing down visually spotted prey. In contrast, scenthounds use their highly developed olfactory senses to follow trails, often over long distances, even if the prey is no longer in sight. This fundamental difference in approach highlights the unique adaptations each type of hound has evolved for their specific hunting roles.

What are some unique care considerations for sighthounds?

Sighthounds require specific care due to their unique physiology. Their lean bodies mean they often need extra warmth, as they can chill easily. Vigorous exercise is essential, but they also enjoy relaxation post-activity. Their sensitivity to chemicals necessitates cautious use of medications and anesthesia. Sighthounds’ lab results may differ from other breeds, requiring knowledgeable interpretation. Owners should be aware of these distinct needs, ensuring these elegant dogs receive the appropriate care and attention to thrive. Our Brampton, Ontario vet clinic is equipped to address the unique requirements of sighthounds.

How do sighthounds typically react to anesthesia and chemicals?

Sighthounds typically exhibit heightened sensitivity to anesthesia and certain chemicals due to their unique physiology and low body fat percentage. This sensitivity necessitates careful dosage adjustments and vigilant monitoring during medical procedures to mitigate risks and ensure their safety. In Springdale, Ontario, our veterinary practice is experienced in catering to the specific needs of sighthounds, including tailored anesthesia protocols, to provide the safest possible care for these distinctive dogs during surgeries and other procedures requiring sedation.

What is a common misconception about the exercise needs of sighthounds?

A common misconception about sighthounds is that they require constant, vigorous exercise due to their reputation as fast runners. In reality, while they do enjoy and benefit from regular, structured exercise to maintain their health and happiness, many sighthounds are content with moderate activity followed by periods of rest. After fulfilling their exercise needs, these graceful dogs often exhibit a preference for lounging and relaxation, displaying a more laid-back demeanor than one might expect from their athletic build. In Brampton, ON, we advise sighthound owners on balanced exercise routines suitable for their pets.

Please reach out to us, your Brampton, ON pet hospital, for all of your pet’s veterinary care needs. We’re here to help!