!Let's Talk! Button

Book Appointment
Book Appointment

Spotlight On Sighthounds

September 15, 2022

Did you know that the fastest dogs on the planet are sighthounds? Sighthounds are part of the AKC’s broader Hound group. The term ‘sighthound’ is somewhat self explanatory, as sighthounds—or gazehounds, as they are sometimes called—use visual tracking to hunt their prey. A local Brampton, ON vet discusses these very good boys in this article.


Sighthounds have been around for a very long time. The earliest example may be from the remains of a pup that was excavated in Tell Brak, about 4000 years ago. There are currently breeds of sighthounds. The most well-known is probably the Greyhound. The group also includes the Afghan Hound, Azawakh, Borzoi, Chippiparai, Chortai, Galgo Español, Greyhound, Irish Wolfhound, Italian Greyhound, Kaikadi, Kanni, Kombai, Levriero Sardo, Magyar agár, Mudhol Hound, Old Croatian Sighthound, Patagonian Greyhound, Polish Greyhound, Saluki, Scottish Deerhound, and Whippet. There are also a few breeds that aren’t easily categorized as either sight or scent hounds, as they hunt by both methods.


Sighthounds have some very unique traits. Many of them have very distinctive body types, with a small head, long, slim legs, and a deep chest. These guys were bred to be able to chase down some pretty quick animals, such as rabbits, deer, and even wolves: as mentioned above, they are very fast. The Greyhound, for example, can run at speeds up to 45 mph.


As you may know, the Greyhound racing industry caused an influx of unwanted race dogs that had passed their prime. Since the industry has now fallen by the wayside, there aren’t quite as many Greyhounds in need of homes as there once were. However, there are still some wonderful rescues that work with Greyhounds and other sighthounds. You can also find many in rescues and shelters.


Sighthounds make wonderful pets. They tend to be very cuddly, loyal, and attentive. In fact, some are even service dogs. Most have very short coats, which are easy to groom. Another thing that may surprise you is the fact that many sighthounds are quite lazy … at least when they aren’t running at top speed. Fido will need a daily workout, but he’ll probably nap the rest of the day when he’s done. Because they are so sedentary, they can even do well in apartments!

Our Advice on Spotlight On Sighthounds in 2024

What are sighthounds, and how do they differ from other types of dogs?

Sighthounds, also known as gazehounds, are a distinct group of dog breeds renowned for their exceptional speed and keen vision. Unlike scent hounds, which rely on their sense of smell, sighthounds predominantly use their acute sight to track and chase prey. Characterized by their slender, aerodynamic bodies, long legs, and deep chests, these breeds are built for high-speed pursuits. Notable examples include Greyhounds, Whippets, and Afghan Hounds. Their unique physical attributes enable them to reach impressive speeds, making them stand out from other dog types primarily designed for strength, endurance, or olfactory tracking.

What are some of the most well-known breeds within the sighthound group?

Within the sighthound group, several breeds are particularly well-known for their speed and elegant physique. The Greyhound is arguably the most famous, celebrated for its remarkable agility and top speeds of up to 45 mph. The Whippet, often considered a smaller version of the Greyhound, is also famous for its speed and friendly nature. With its distinctive long, silky coat, the Afghan Hound stands out for beauty and agility. The Irish Wolfhound, known for its imposing size and gentle temperament, is another notable sighthound, as is the Saluki, famed for its grace and endurance. These breeds exemplify the unique characteristics of sighthounds: speed, elegance, and keen sight.

What unique physical features are characteristic of sighthounds?

Sighthounds are distinguished by their unique physical features, optimized for speed and visual acuity. They typically have a slim, aerodynamic body structure characterized by a deep chest accommodating large lungs and a strong heart, essential for sustained high-speed running. Their long, lean legs facilitate rapid acceleration and agility. Sighthounds have a small, streamlined head with wide-set eyes, enhancing their peripheral vision for spotting prey at a distance. Their overall build reflects a perfect blend of strength and grace, enabling them to chase swiftly and efficiently using sight rather than scent.

What are the personality traits of sighthounds, and how do they fare as pets?

Sighthounds are known for their gentle, affectionate personalities, making them excellent pets. They often form solid and loyal bonds with their owners and are known to be cuddly and affectionate. Despite their high-speed capabilities, many sighthounds are surprisingly laid back and lazy at home, enjoying long naps and relaxed environments. They are typically calm and well-mannered indoors, though they do require regular exercise to satisfy their natural running instincts. Sighthounds are usually good with children and other pets, but their strong prey drive means they might chase smaller animals. Overall, their sweet disposition and manageable temperament make them excellent companions.

Are sighthounds suitable for becoming service dogs?

Sighthounds can be suitable for becoming service dogs, but it largely depends on the individual dog and its training. Traditionally, sighthounds are bred for speed and hunting, traits that don’t inherently align with service work. However, their calm demeanor, intelligence, and loyalty can be advantageous in service roles. Sighthounds, like Greyhounds, are known for their gentle nature and can excel in roles that require a calming presence, such as therapy or emotional support. They are less commonly used for tasks requiring protective instincts or heavy physical assistance. Success in service roles requires comprehensive, specialized training tailored to each dog’s unique temperament and abilities.

Do you have questions about your dog’s health or care? Contact us, your Brampton, ON pet hospital, today!