What is a Lurcher?


By definition:  [lurch·er] Hunting dog:  A long-limbed crossbred dog that has predominant greyhound features, especially one used by poachers for catching rabbits.

Lurchers are ancient dogs and are documented in medieval manuscripts such as the Book of Kells.  Hound images continued to be an important motif well into Christian times, and in Scotland Greyhounds are depicted in hunt scenes on Pictish stones of Scotland such as the Hilton of Cadboll and Aberlemno stones.  It is in the tales of Irish heroes where we come across the strongest evidence of the importance of hounds to any Celtic culture.  In old England, commoners were not allowed to own Greyhounds, but they were allowed to own lurchers.  They depended on the lurchers to hunt small animals and to put food on the table for their families.

Depending on what part of the world you are from, lurchers are defined in different ways.

A lurcher is not a specific dog breed; it is a type of dog. By definition, a lurcher is a sighthound cross, most often part Greyhound.  Lurchers are the result of a cross of a Greyhound and a Coonhound, or other hunting breed; or can be the result of a cross of two sighthounds such as, the popular cross of a Greyhound and Deerhound which are a subgroup of lurchers called longdogs. In America, a Deerhound lurcher is often referred to as a Staghound.

Is there a difference between the galgo, lurcher, staghound, and greyhound mix? All of the above are indeed sighthound mixes. Regardless of what they are mixed with, they all deserve loving homes.  Sadly, the true mixes — greyhounds and other sighthounds mixed with Labradors, Pit Bulls, Boxers, etc. are often left behind.  There are many indiscriminate litters born, and because they are not “purebred,” they are often left by the wayside and euthanized.

According to Wikipedia:  The lurcher is a type of dog originating in Ireland and parts of Great Britain.  Brian Plummer identifies the Norfolk lurcher as the predecessor of the modern lurcher. While not a pure breed, it is generally a cross between a sighthound and any other non-sighthound breed, usually a pastoral dog or terrier, dependent on the attributes desired by the breeder; originally stealth and cunning. Collie crosses are popular, given the working instinct of a sheepdog when mated with a sighthound gives a dog of great intelligence plus speed—prerequisites for the hunter/poacher. In the United States, crosses with large scent hounds are fairly common.

Lurchers have many varied uses.  In Great Britain, lurchers have their own shows, can be raced or coursed, and are also used for hunting.

In the United States, lurchers are used to hunt coyotes, foxes, or jackrabbits.   In the western states, lurchers are also referred to as coldbloods.  Sighthound heavy lurchers move most effectively over open ground, although different crosses suit different terrains.  Unfortunately, lurchers are often abandoned by the hunters or breeders once they are no longer useful as hunters or if they are sick or injured.