Curious about the Lurcher? We explain all in our latest breed guide. Do they make good pets? Are they good around kids? Find out below.
Height: 60–75 cm
Weight: 25–35 kg
Lifespan: 12 – 15 years
Pedigree Breed (recognised by the Kennel Club?): No. Can be various crossbreeds. The offspring of any sighthound mated with a pastoral breed such as a terrier.
Positives and Negatives of the Breed
- Affectionate and gentle
- Social and love children
- Excellent for those who enjoy the outdoors
- Agreeable with larger pets and strangers
- Very high energy
- High prey drive so not ideal with small pets
- Can be hard to train (but exceptionally clever when trained properly)
- Independent and stubborn
Lurchers are not specific crosses but are usually the result of a pastoral dog, so one that is used for farming or traditional agricultural roles e.g. a Collie, Terrier or Sheepdog, mating with a sighthound, typically a Greyhound.
This combination creates an awesome dog for agriculturalists and hunters. It is highly intelligent but also has superb senses, speed, and energy.
Though formerly these dogs would have played an integral role in farming, they are now more broadly kept as family pets due to their highly adaptable, kind and gentle temperament.
Lurchers are highly regarded for their speed and energy, two of the major benefits of breeding tough and intelligent pastoral dogs with Greyhounds or other sighthounds like Irish Wolfhounds.
Despite their high energy and stamina, Lurchers are known also to be fairly lazy when it suits them and they may have unpredictable exercise needs, needing little for days on end before they suddenly get the urge to run miles and miles!
For this reason, they’re suited superbly to those that love to spend time outside or own large houses with gardens and plots of land, etc.
Lurchers are now treasured as family pets and have more or less departed from their role as a hunting dog. They’re very affectionate and love to be around humans and are particularly well known for their docility around children of all ages.
Extremely characterful, playful and sociable, Lurchers tend to get on with anyone and everyone. They do love to run about and chase things but unless what they are chasing is small – e.g. rodents or rabbits, they won’t do anything to cause any harm.
This does mean, however, that Lurchers do need to be socialised around other animals as they do have a high prey drive resulting from their former use as hunting dogs.
Lurchers have a great reputation for silliness, much like many hounds, particularly Greyhounds, and may do some pretty bizarre and entertaining things.
They’re very mischievous, in an endearing way, and are always on the lookout for ways to get one over on their owners and steal some treats.
They’re also pretty famous for their sleeping habits and are often found curled in awkward ways or in confined spaces.
Lurchers aren’t fussy, they’re tough and flexible and that has made them superb family dogs as they’re able to slot into living spaces and arrangements without much hassle.
They’re also simple to train and retrain and have a happy-go-lucky persona that makes them very fun to be around.
Lurcher dogs have a great history that dates back to 1600s Europe.
These dogs were a natural choice for those looking to create a breed that possesses the slenderness, speed and agility of many sighthounds combined with the ruggedness and intelligence of many pastoral breeds, e.g. Sheepdogs.
The result of crossbreeding here created an awesome amalgamation between skills and abilities that suited farmers.
They are also hardy and suffer from few health problems. Their turn of foot and agility has made them great competitive dogs that excel in dog racing and canine sports.
These dogs have a very keen eye from their sighthound influence and this enabled hunters to be alerted quickly to nearby animals to hunt. They’re also able to chase after smaller prey and retrieve it for their owner.
This gave them a prime role in pest control on farms – they are very effective at hunting rabbits and foxes.
They’re a perfect example of a dog that combines highly useful and practical traits with an excellent persona as a companion and pet.
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Lurchers are charming dogs that clearly have a great aptitude for life and loyalty to their owners and friends. They’re kind and affectionate and have a great ability to switch between outdoors and indoors ‘modes’.
It depends on the breeding, as some do turn out to be very lazy (like Greyhounds) whilst others turn out to be extremely energetic.
Either way, their capacity for exercise, when they’re in the mood, is magnificent and as such, the Lurcher dog has become one closely allied to the outdoorsman.
Lurchers are very reliable if a bit unpredictable, it is likely they’ll switch between laziness and excitability at their own will!
This is very charming, though, they love to impress and display their silly personas for others to enjoy, love and laugh at, such has become their strong point as a family dog.
Keen to please their owners and with a desire to be loved, they are friendly and sociable and mix well with strangers in their owner’s presence.
These dogs are sensitive and aware of threats so it’s obvious to them when humans pose no threat and are to be trusted.
They also tend to mix very well with other pets, particularly cats, though care will have to be exercised when there are smaller critters running around like rabbits as these dogs are obviously bred in a background of hunting.
Whilst Lurcher behaviour is influenced by this traditional background, it is by no means defined by it and they’ve come to be respected as some of the most adaptable medium-to-large-sized dogs around.
The Lurcher lifespan is very high for a largeish dog, around 12 – 15 years. This depends on diet and exercise as the Lurcher is an athletic animal with a high metabolism and will need to be fed well.
Digestive issues can get out of hand as Lurchers may eat extremely quickly after exercise which can frequently lead to bloating and vomiting.
To help prevent this, it might be a good idea to use a foraging mat to slow the rate of food consumption. For an active high-energy dog, Lurchers suffer from surprisingly few joint and muscle complications, though arthritis is inevitable in later years.
Some Lurchers may suffer degrees of heart issues, particularly if they are larger than usual. They are also very sensitive to some drugs, which your vet will be aware of.
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As previously outlined, it does depend on the breeding but overall, you ought to be prepared for a high-energy dog that needs a lot of exercise if you plan on owning a Lurcher.
These dogs are bred for their physicality and many will be most happy when zipping around the undergrowth at breakneck speeds.
They’re impressive to watch and will happily roam off the lead. For the most energetic Lurchers, we’re talking about upwards of 1-hour exercise a day and longer at times. For this reason, they are best at home on larger plots of land.
That said, some Lurchers will have less appetite for exercise – it just depends on the breeding. Even so, a lazy Lurcher shouldn’t be left to its own devices and should be encouraged to be active.
Lurchers are intelligent and receptive and generally learn quickly both as puppies and adults. Lurcher dogs have had complex pastoral roles in the past and are able to learn complex commands.
A Lurcher puppy should be socialised as soon as possible if it is to spend time with children and small pets to learn not to chase them. Socialisation through adult life, as always, is imperative to make a Lurcher more confident and accepting.
Chasing is part of play but their speed can get the better of them sometimes and they’ve been known to blunder into others when excited.
You may need to train them not to tear off into the distance if your Lurcher has a tendency to do this, using a short lead after the behaviour occurs may be an idea whilst reinforcing the times your Lurcher returns instantly with treats.
With intelligence and physical speed and agility, Lurchers can be trained to be very effective at canine sports. They’re quite individualistic and the key to training a Lurcher may be elusive at first.
This dog shouldn’t pose too many issues on the lead either, so long as it’s given plenty of opportunities to roam freely and really stretch its legs.
Lurchers require mental stimulation too and may enjoy dog toys that test their motor skills. They learn quickest through exciting training sessions.
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Though it is possible to find a long-haired Lurcher – perhaps when bred with an Irish Wolfhound – most Lurchers don’t have long hair.
What hair they do have can be quite thick and strong, though, so brushing is required to prevent matting. Still, brushing is typically only a bi-weekly task depending on the breeding and how long the hair can get.
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