Hounds are dogs that have been bred for the purpose of hunting prey. As such, it should come as no surprise to learn that staghounds are dogs that have been bred for the purpose of hunting deer. However, the term tends to refer to the American staghound, which has been in existence for centuries but isn’t recognized as an official breed by the relevant institutions. Here are 10 things that you may or may not have known about the American staghound:
1. Has Become Less Important
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the American staghound has become less important in the present when compared with the past. After all, hunting is seeing a significant fall in popularity, so much so that the trend can be seen in the changing number of hunters from year to year. On top of that, using dogs for deer hunting is controversial. In part, this is because it is very disruptive, meaning that it can ruin the plans of other deer hunters. However, it should also be mentioned that a lot of people see it in a negative light, which is on top of the fact that a lot of people see hunting as a whole in a negative light.
2. Not Limited to Hunting Deer
American staghounds might have been bred for the purpose of hunting deer. However, it isn’t uncommon to see hounds being used to hunt a wider range of animals than their primary target. For instance, there have been numerous cases of American staghounds being used to hunt wolves and coyotes, which should tell interested individuals much about these formidable dogs.
There are numerous ways to divide hounds into subcategories. For example, it is possible to divide hounds into sighthounds and scenthounds. The first refers to dogs that keep track of their target through sight, which is why they have also been bred for the speed needed to keep up with their target in the chase. Meanwhile, the second refers to dogs that keep track of their target through scent, which is why they have also been bred for endurance rather than speed. American staghounds are very much sighthounds. However, there are some lines that have been bred for their sense of smell as well.
4. Been in Existence For Centuries
Interested individuals will sometimes see the American staghounds being referred to as a hybrid breed. However, it isn’t one of the designer dogs that have become popular in recent decades. Instead, American staghounds can trace their roots much further back than that, so much so that it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that they have been around for centuries. This is because American staghounds were brought into existence by the European colonists in North America in the 1600s.
5. Not Going to Be Recognized As an Official Breed
The chances of the American staghound being recognized as an official breed are somewhere between none and next-to-none. In part, this is because they are still being bred with members of other breeds for useful characteristics, meaning that a lot of them aren’t quite purebred dogs in the standard sense of the word. Moreover, a lot of the people who breed American staghounds aren’t that interested in that kind of recognition anyways. Essentially, the concern is that official recognition would cause these dogs to start being bred for a particular look rather than performance, which as far as these people are concerned, defeats the point.
6. Bred Using Scottish Deerhounds
North American breeds tend to be descended from European breeds for the most part. American staghounds are no exception to this rule, as shown by how they were bred using Scottish deerhounds brought over from Great Britain. In any case, said dogs were one of the numerous breeds to take a serious hit in the early modern era when changes in human society decreased the need for them. However, they managed to hold on, though with the result that most of them are now show dogs.
7. Bred Using Greyhounds
Other than Scottish deerhounds, American staghounds were bred using greyhounds. Amusingly, the grey in greyhound doesn’t seem to be connected with the color grey, which would explain why these dogs can come in a number of different colors. Unfortunately, no one is sure what the grey comes from. Something that says much about their far-reaching roots. Regardless, the speed of the American staghound is very much reminiscent of the speed of the greyhound, though some lines have been bred for increased endurance rather than pure speed.
8. Good Companions
It is interesting to note that American staghounds can make good companions. This is because they tend to have calm and affectionate temperaments when they have been raised right, which is on top of them being eager to spend time with their owners. Having said that, American staghounds are not the best choice of dog for first-time dog owners. Furthermore, hounds are hounds, meaning that they will need a lot of exercise even if they are meant to be household companions.
9. Not Good Guard Dogs
There are examples of American staghounds being used as watch dogs. In fact, they can be quite good at it because of their excellent eyesight, which should come as no surprise considering their nature as sighthounds. However, just because American staghounds can make good guard dogs, that doesn’t mean they can make good guard dogs. Simply put, these dogs have plenty of courage but none of the protective instincts that would make them useful in this role.
10. Can Be a Problem with Small Pets
American staghounds are pack animals. Thanks to this, they can get along very well with other dogs in the same household. However, there have been plenty of reports of these dogs doing less well with other smaller animals, which can be blamed on their hunting instincts. However, this isn’t necessarily impossible. Just as how there are reports of them not getting along with cats, there are also reports of them getting along quite well with cats. Presumably, this is something that early socialization can help out with.