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32 Hound Dog Breeds with Incredible Instincts

Was Elvis right? Do they really 'cry all the time?'

Portrait of hound dog lying on wooden floor.
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According to Elvis, hound dogs cry all the time. He’s not… totally wrong. A lot of hound dog breeds, like Basset Hounds, were bred to announce themselves and communicate with their fellow hunters. The result is vocal dogs who can regularly be heard howling (or baying, as it’s often called). Many hound dog breeds are still used in hunting today, though some, like Dachshunds, have been bred to be more content as show dogs or doting family pets. If you’re considering a hound dog breed, get ready for some stubborn, albeit highly playful behavior.

What to Consider When Choosing a Hound Dog Breed

Almost every single hound dog breed on this list is a handful and not recommended for first-time dog owners. Due to their intense prey drives and hunting instincts, hound dog breeds require firm, consistent training to ensure good behavior down the line. Some aren’t fond of strangers (they have more important things to focus on, like the smell of a deer), while others can’t wait to meet new people (they hunt in groups and generally believe the more, the merrier). It’s always wise to research breeds before embarking on a journey with them—especially if their idea of a fun trip is nose to the ground until they’ve chased a raccoon up a tree.

If you’re dead set on a hound dog breed, take notes from certified professional dog trainers on how to teach commands early. Nicole Ellis, a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Pet Lifestyle Expert with Rover, a site that connects pet parents with pet sitters and dog walkers, says her number one rule is rewarding the behavior you want your dog to continue. With hounds and their keen senses, high-value training treats will become invaluable during training sessions.

What Is a Hound Dog Breed, Exactly?

At their cores, the American Kennel Club says hounds are hunting dogs. Though they vary in shape, size and skill, hunting is the one thing all hound dog breeds can agree on. Some are scent hounds, which means they track prey with their keen sense of smell. Scent hounds like Beagles usually work in groups and alert each other when they’re hot on the trail. Sighthounds, on the other hand, are quieter hound dog breeds who use keen eyesight to spot prey and then bolt after it. They’re fast as lighting and usually work solo.

25 Hunting Dog Breeds That Make the Bravest Companions


hound dog breeds afghan hound
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1. Afghan Hound

  • Height: 25-27 inches
  • Weight: 50-60 pounds
  • Personality: Independent, proud
  • Activity Level: Moderate to High
  • Shedding Factor: Low
  • Life Expectancy: 12-18 years

Though they look like snooty show dogs today, Afghan Hounds were once avid hunters whose long coats protected them from harsh weather in their native land (an area that now includes Afghanistan, India and Pakistan). They are sighthounds who tend to be a bit independent and aloof, though incredibly loyal to their families.

hound dog breeds american english coonhound
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2. American English Coonhound

  • Height: 23-26 inches
  • Weight: 45-65 pounds
  • Personality: Mellow, stubborn
  • Activity Level: Moderate to High
  • Shedding Factor: Low to Moderate
  • Life Expectancy: 11-12 years

If you’re not planning on hunting raccoons or foxes with your American English Coonhound, you better give them a healthy outlet for their high prey drive. These scenthounds love the thrill of the chase and playtime, especially when it involves other dogs.

hound dog breeds american foxhound
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3. American Foxhound

  • Height: 21-25 inches
  • Weight: 60-70 pounds
  • Temperament: Sweet, athletic
  • Activity Level: High
  • Shedding Factor: Moderate
  • Life Expectancy: 11-13 years

Taller than their hound dog breed cousins the English Foxhounds, American Foxhounds are just as vocal and energetic. Once they hit on a scent, it’s pretty difficult to convince them to stop or change direction, so early training is essential. Due to their sweet disposition, American Foxhounds make great family dogs.

hound dog breeds azawakh
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4. Azawakh

  • Height: 23-29 inches
  • Weight: 33-55 pounds
  • Personality: Loyal, reserved
  • Activity Level: Moderate
  • Shedding Factor: Low
  • Life Expectancy: 12-15 years

Look at this stunner of an African dog breed! Azawakhs are ancient sighthounds who love a good sprint. Though incredibly smart, they do have independent streaks and need early, firm training. After that, they’re loyal companions who will stick by your side.

hound dog breeds basenji
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5. Basenji

  • Height: 16-17 inches
  • Weight: 22-24 pounds
  • Personality: Independent, smart
  • Activity Level: High
  • Shedding Factor: Low
  • Life Expectancy: 13-14 years

Like Azawakhs, Basenjis are hound dod breeds that are native to Africa. And get this—they rarely bark! They’re sort of a triple threat: excellent eyesight, impeccable sense of smell and lighting speed. Basenjis are known for their cat-like behavior and expressive faces, so get ready to cuddle if you go the Basenji route.

hound dog breeds basset hound
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6. Basset Hound

  • Height: 13-15 inches
  • Weight: 40-65 pounds
  • Personality: Mellow, charismatic
  • Activity Level: Low
  • Shedding Factor: Low
  • Life Expectancy: 12-13 years

This is a French dog breed with short legs that keep them close to the ground for tracking purposes. As far as hound dog breeds go, Basset Hounds are some of the most recognizable and dedicated. They’ve got loud barks and mellow personalities (aka, they won’t necessarily show you how much they love you all the time, but their loyalty is unwavering).

hound dog breeds beagle
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7. Beagle

  • Height: 10-15 inches
  • Weight: 15-30 pounds
  • Personality: Friendly, doting
  • Activity Level: Moderate
  • Shedding Factor: Moderate
  • Life Expectancy: 10-15 years

Hello, funny family dogs! Beagles are energetic sweethearts and the most popular hound breed among Americans. Sure, they’re barkers and sort of needy, but it’s because they adore you and have to indulge their scenthound instincts. Bred in England to hunt in packs, Beagles know how to share the love in multi-pet households.

hound dog breeds black and tan coonhound
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8. Black And Tan Coonhound

  • Height: 23-27 inches
  • Weight: 65-110 pounds
  • Personality: Mellow, social
  • Activity Level: Moderate
  • Shedding Factor: Moderate
  • Life Expectancy: 10-12 years

Good with kids and other dogs, Black and Tan Coonhounds are made to socialize. These scenthounds enjoy long days outside playing and working but are very even-keel once they’re hanging out at home. Like most American hounds, they were bred to hunt raccoons for early settlers.

hound dog breeds bloodhound
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9. Bloodhound

  • Height: 23-27 inches
  • Weight: 80-110 pounds
  • Personality: Independent, vocal
  • Activity Level: Moderate
  • Shedding Factor: Moderate
  • Life Expectancy: 10-12 years

Perhaps the most hound of all the hound dog breeds is the Bloodhound. They’re so ancient, it’s unclear where they originated (probably somewhere in the Mediterranean). No matter! These scenthounds are very good at what they do (sniff and smell). Bloodhounds need long daily walks and early training before they become set in their ways.

hound dog breeds bluetick coonhound
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10. Bluetick Coonhound

  • Height: 21-27 inches
  • Weight: 45-80 pounds
  • Personality: Smart, tireless
  • Activity Level: Moderate to High
  • Shedding Factor: Moderate
  • Life Expectancy: 11-12 years

Ah, another raccoon hunter who is sweet-natured and vocal. Bluetick Coonhounds were also used to hunt larger animals—like bears—in groups. Today, they still enjoy hanging with other dogs and can make excellent family pets if trained properly (they’re smart, so they pick up on cues quickly).

hound dog breeds borzoi
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11. Borzoi (russian Wolfhounds)

  • Height: 26-30 inches
  • Weight: 60-105 pounds
  • Temperament: Proud, loyal
  • Shedding Factor: Moderate
  • Activity Level: Moderate to High
  • Life Expectancy: 9-14 years

Borzoi are Russian sighthounds bred to hunt wolves, a pastime that has made them fearless and incredibly fast. While they can be reserved and stubborn, they are always up for playtime and happily show affection to their family members. Keep Borzois entertained or they may become bored and destructive.

hound dog breeds cirneco dell etna
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12. Cirneco Dell’etna

  • Height: 16-20 inches
  • Weight: 17-26 pounds
  • Personality: Athletic, sweet
  • Activity Level: High
  • Shedding Factor: Low
  • Life Expectancy: 12-14 years

With expressive faces and sweet dispositions, these athletic sighthounds excel in events like agility and lure coursing. Cirneco dell-Etna pups hail from Italy and do well with energetic kiddos and happily live in hot, dry climates. They almost went extinct in the 1930s, but a wealthy Sicilian baroness made sure they made a comeback. Grazi!

hound dog breeds dachshund
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13. Dachshund

  • Height: 8-9 inches (Standard), 5-6 inches (Miniature)
  • Weight: 16-32 pounds (Standard), up to 11 pounds (Miniature)
  • Personality: Curious, affectionate
  • Activity Level: Moderate
  • Shedding Factor: Low
  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 16 years

Look at these tiny hounds! The Dachshund is a versatile German dog breed. Their bold personalities are no surprise considering they were bred to sniff out badgers and dig them out of their burrows. Dachshunds are affectionate pets who tend to do well in the company of other dogs—as long as you give them plenty of positive reinforcement.

hound dog breeds english foxhound
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14. English Foxhound

  • Height: 24 inches
  • Weight: 60-75 pounds
  • Personality: Social, affectionate
  • Activity Level: Moderate to High
  • Shedding Factor: Moderate
  • Life Expectancy: 10-13 years

English Foxhounds are social, vocal, playful and energetic dogs who embrace the company of lots of people and animals. Despite this, keeping them as family pets might not be wise unless you plan to use them actively as hunting dogs. English Foxhounds need a job to do.

hound dog breeds grand basset griffon vendeen
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15. Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen

  • Height: 15-18 inches
  • Weight: 40-45 pounds
  • Personality: Affectionate, independent
  • Activity Level: High
  • Shedding Factor: Moderate
  • Life Expectancy: 14-15 years

These French pups were bred as scenthounds for hunters who didn’t own horses (their shorter legs cover less ground, so the humans could keep up). Today, Grand Basset Griffon Vendeens are active, sweet dogs who enjoy going everywhere their families go.

hound dog breeds greyhound
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16. Greyhound

  • Height: 27-30 inches
  • Weight: 60-70 pounds
  • Personality: Independent, sweet
  • Activity Level: High
  • Shedding Factor: Low to Moderate
  • Life Expectancy: 10-13 years

The Greyhound is a lean sighthound often known for its racing skills and aerodynamic body shape. Greyhounds aren’t exactly ideal family pets, but they can adapt to a variety of households if given proper exercise and attention. They like to be included for sure—and may bark to remind you they should be the focus of your attention.

hound dog breeds harrier
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17. Harrier

  • Height: 19-21 inches
  • Weight: 45-60 pounds
  • Personality: Outgoing, adaptable
  • Activity Level: Moderate to High
  • Shedding Factor: Moderate
  • Life Expectancy: 12-15 years

You may mistake Harriers for Beagles, but they are in fact much larger. Harriers love the outdoors and need tons of exercise to stay happy and healthy. Ideal for families who regularly hike or bike, these hound dogs are really game for anything. If a rabbit crosses their path, however, Harriers won’t think twice before giving chase.

hound dog breeds ibizan hound
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18. Ibizan Hound

  • Height: 22-28 inches
  • Weight: 45-50 pounds
  • Personality: Affectionate, loyal
  • Activity Level: High
  • Shedding Factor: Low to Moderate
  • Life Expectancy: 11-14 years

Ibizan Hounds prefer warm climates and lots of space so they can run around and burn all their energy. As long as you can provide them with exercise, they can adapt to many different living situations. These sighthounds are playful with friends but may be wary of strangers. Not to worry if you like quiet time—Ibizan Hounds aren’t big barkers.

hound dog breeds irish wolfhound
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19. Irish Wolfhound

  • Height: 30-34 inches
  • Weight: 100-120 pounds
  • Personality: Calm, brave
  • Activity Level: Moderate
  • Shedding Factor: Moderate
  • Life Expectancy: 6-8 years

As the tallest dog breed out there, an Irish Wolfhound always makes a statement when they walk into a room. These peaceful, yet dignified animals hunted wolves and these days make unwavering companions to people of all ages. Keep them exercising through old age or they’ll become lazy blokes!

hound dog breeds norwegian elkhound
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20. Norwegian Elkhound

  • Height: 19-21 inches
  • Weight: 45-55 pounds
  • Personality: Confident, protective
  • Activity Level: Moderate to High
  • Shedding Factor: Moderate
  • Life Expectancy: 12-15 years

For a dog whose credits include sailing around with Vikings, it’s no surprise Norwegian Elkhounds are confident and protective. Though once they know a friend, it’s a friend for life. Norwegian Elkhounds are smart scent dogs used to track elk and moose.

hound dog breeds otterhound
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21. Otterhound

  • Height: 24-27 inches
  • Weight: 80-115 pounds
  • Personality: Friendly, sensitive
  • Activity Level: Moderate
  • Shedding Factor: Low to Moderate
  • Life Expectancy: 10-13 years

Though these rare dogs were initially bred to hunt otters, the practice has been outlawed because they were so good at their jobs; now, they make excellent water dogs and companions. As scenthounds, Otterhounds like to follow their noses but may need a little nudging when it comes to exercise.

hound dog breeds petit basset griffon vendeen
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22. Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen

  • Height: 13-15 inches
  • Weight: 25-40 pounds
  • Personality: Alert, Lively
  • Activity Level: Moderate to High
  • Shedding Factor: Low to Moderate
  • Life Expectancy: 14-16 years

Mini versions of the Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen, the Petit is a rabbit hunter and thrives in the company of others. While intelligent and alert, they tend to be stubborn little buggers and require early and consistent training to ensure they work well with others (which they eventually love to do!).

hound dog breeds pharaoh hound
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23. Pharaoh Hound

  • Height: 21-25 inches
  • Weight: 45-55 pounds
  • Personality: Sweet, independent
  • Activity Level: Moderate to High
  • Shedding Factor: Moderate
  • Life Expectancy: 12-14 years

Pharaoh Hounds are cousins of Cirneco dell’Etna pups, and it shows. Those perky ears and muscular bodies are a signature family look. These are affectionate sighthounds who need big yards (or parks) to run through daily.

hound dog breeds plott hound
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24. Plott Hound

  • Height: 20-25 inches
  • Weight: 40-60 pounds
  • Personality: Loyal, intelligent
  • Activity Level: High
  • Shedding Factor: Moderate
  • Life Expectancy: 12-14 years

Initially bred in North Carolina by a German immigrant named Johannes Plott, this hound dog breed has turned into intelligent, energetic pet. Plott Hounds learn quickly but bore easily, so training should be exciting and engaging.

hound dog breeds portuguese podengo pequeno
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25. Portuguese Podengo Pequeno

  • Height: 22-28 inches (large), 16-22 inches (medium)
  • Weight: 44-66 pounds (large), 35-44 pounds (medium)
  • Personality: Loving, alert
  • Activity Level: Moderate to High
  • Shedding Factor: Moderate
  • Life Expectancy: 10-15 years

These scrappy little charmers are goofy dogs bursting with affection for people and animals. Portuguese Podengo Pequenos were bred to hunt and chase down rabbits, skills you’ll see if your pup spots a bunny while out on a walk. Obedient and happy, they make good family pets.

hound dog breeds redbone coonhound
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26. Redbone Coonhound

  • Height: 21-27 inches
  • Weight: 45-70 pounds
  • Personality: Mellow, sweet
  • Activity Level: Moderate
  • Shedding Factor: Moderate
  • Life Expectancy: 12-15 years

Rich, mahogany coats and impressive tracking and hunting skills aside, Redbone Coonhounds are humble, mellow scenthounds. They are also super adaptable and will happily absorb commands when trained early. Keep them exercised and entertained and your Redbone will be content.

hound dog breeds rhodesian ridgeback
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27. Rhodesian Ridgeback

  • Height: 24-27 inches
  • Weight: 70-85 pounds
  • Personality: Affectionate, independent
  • Activity Level: Moderate
  • Shedding Factor: Moderate
  • Life Expectancy: 10-12 years

Being bred to track lions in Africa means having courage and a strong prey drive. Rhodesian Ridgebacks have both and then some! These are incredibly loyal and protective dogs. Training is essential to a well-behaved pup, especially since they don’t always know their own strength.

hound dog breeds saluki
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28. Saluki

  • Height: 20-28 inches
  • Weight: 40-65 pounds
  • Personality: Gentle, independent
  • Activity Level: Moderate to High
  • Shedding Factor: Low to Moderate
  • Life Expectancy: 10-17 years

Salukis are gentle, independent dogs who don’t often gel well with strangers or kids right away. However, they are adaptable creatures and could be happy in a variety of environments, as long as they get to sprint outdoors as often as needed. Salukis have spent centuries in the deserts of Africa, so wide open spaces are ideal.

hound dog breeds scottish deerhound
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29. Scottish Deerhound

  • Height: 30-32 inches (male), 28-30 inches (female)
  • Weight: 85-110 pounds (male), 75-95 pounds (female)
  • Personality: Loving, social
  • Activity Level: Moderate
  • Shedding Factor: Moderate
  • Life Expectancy: 8-11 years

Like Irish Wolfhounds, Scottish Deerhounds are impressively tall, sweet creatures. Bred to chase down deer, Scottish Deerhounds do not thrive if left all day indoors. Ideally, they’re able to roam outdoors and move about freely (they also love other dogs, so having another pet in the house is a good idea).

hound dog breeds sloughi
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30. Sloughi

  • Height: 24-29 inches
  • Weight: 35-50 pounds
  • Personality: Reserved, gentle
  • Activity Level: Moderate to High
  • Shedding Factor: Moderate
  • Life Expectancy: 10-15 years

Like Salukis and Azawakhs, Sloughis are speedy, elegant sighthounds. They also tend to be wary of new people and need time to warm up to strangers. Sloughis aren’t huge on barking to announce themselves, but boy oh boy do they love chasing bunnies or foxes.

hound dog breeds treeing walker coonhound
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31. Treeing Walker Coonhound

  • Height: 20-27 inches
  • Weight: 50-70 pounds
  • Personality: Smart, affectionate
  • Activity Level: High
  • Shedding Factor: Moderate
  • Life Expectancy: 12-13 years

Treeing Walker Coonhounds were adept at chasing prey (mostly raccoons, but often other small animals) into trees and keeping them there until the hunters could catch up. Learning comes easily to these sweet dogs, and they often adapt to their owner’s lifestyle, though swift walks and outdoor excursions are always appreciated, even for lazy pups

hound dog breeds whippet
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32. Whippet

  • Height: 18-22 inches
  • Weight: 25-40 pounds
  • Personality: Calm, Playful
  • Activity Level: Moderate to High
  • Shedding Factor: Low to Moderate
  • Life Expectancy: 12-15 years

An almost miniature version of the Greyhound, the Whippet is a remarkably fast sighthound who often acts more like a cat than a hound dog breed. They love curling up with their favorite human (adult or child) and make excellent apartment dogs. Whippets are low maintenance yet sensitive, so train accordingly.



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Sarah Ashley

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Sarah Ashley is a Chicago-based freelance journalist. She has covered pets for PureWow for six years and tackles everything from dog training tips to the best litter boxes. Her...
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