Welcome to Part 1 of a series of Lurcher articles that build into a “Short Beginners Guide to Lurchers”
As I sit here looking at Johnson ( my lurcher) I can’t help but wonder what exactly he is.
I know he’s a Lurcher, but what is a lurcher and what is he made of.
Starting at the very beginning. If you have, or are about to get, a lurcher exactly what is it that you are letting yourself in for.
Whatever type of lurcher you have I can virtually promise you a lot of fun, affection and mischief.
Mischief being a suitable middle name for most individuals of this type of “ long dog”.
Looking back into the story of how they came to exist and how they still survive, even though they are not a recognised kenil club bread of dog, can give us a good insight into the origins of their nature.
By the way if you don’t yet have your lurcher and you’re hoping for one that doesn’t come with the mischief fitted as standard, then, there’s some bad news for you.
A Very Brief History
The lurcher is a cross between a type of long dog usually a greyhound, Saluki, Afghan, wolfhound etc and a smaller dog such as a collie or terrier.
Looking back a bit. Up until the Norman Conquest most land in the UK could be used by any member of the population and the natural wild animals were the property of all.
Rabbits, squirrels, small deer and other mammals were hunted by the common people as a source of food. But the conquest put pay to that.
Land and the natural resources on it was owned by the lord of the manor and commoners were not allowed to hunt. What has this to do with lurchers?
As hunting was not allowed the owning of hunting dogs was also forbidden. They were viewed as hunting weapons and at this time would be largely greyhounds.
These can be seen in old paintings as objects of great pride in the household of the landed gentry.
Put the poor managed to get round this ban by crossing a greyhound with a much smaller working dog. The resulting animal had to look as little like a greyhound as possible otherwise it would be confiscated or killed.
However, it had to be a crafty and deadly hunting machine. I know it’s not something that today’s owners may wish to dwell on but their beautiful, soft, affectionate pet is also a hunting and killing machine.
The need to have a dog that looked as little like it’s dad as possible meant that a lot of long wire-haired crosses were produced in an attempt fool landowners or their game-keepers.
There are no records of how they got the male greyhound to mate with their working dogs but I’m sure you can think of a few tricks that would result in the desired pupies.
It is easy to see why the lurcher is not a recognised breed. For a start there are so many different looking individuals.
Starting with the greyhound, there different colours and patterns plus when you the add the permutations of breading these with a wide variety of working dogs you come up with a lot of variation in size, colour, markings, temperament etc.
This is not including the non-greyhound varieties now quite common.
So it really wouldn’t be possible to classify your lurcher as one of a specific definable breed.
He or she is simply a lurcher.
Whats in yours?
I bet that like me you sometimes sit and wonder exactly what your lurcher is composed of, breed wise that is. You may know already, especially if you bought it as a pup form a breeder but for many of us who have “rescued” their dog all it says on the documents is Lurcher.
If you stare, for long enough, at your canine buddy you will probably convince yourself that she contains all sorts of combinations of dogs.
To be honest it really doesn’t matter.
If you want to know then you can find out.
Modern science has the answer.
For around £ 60.00 you can get a do it yourself DNA test kit.Wisdom Panel Insights Dog DNA Test
Its dead simple to use you just get swabs from your pets mouth, put them in the container provided, post them off to the lab and wait.
In due course you will get a report back telling you what your precious pal is composed of.
However you could have a Greyhound/collie dad and a staffie/bull dog mum which would give you four breeds.
The permutations are almost endless but you should get a much clearer idea than by just guessing.
Personally I have never had it done. I’ve spent too many amusing and often long conversations with passing dog lovers who wanted to play the “what is it crossed with game”.
Is your Dog a Lurcher
This may sound like a daft question but it’s one that I have heard many times and read in forums and chat rooms repeatedly.
Even if the rescue centre that your dog came from described her as a lurcher, have they got it right.
Well, there’s and old saying “ if it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck – it’s a duck.
So if your pet has an outline resembling a greyhound and it can outrun most dogs that it meets plus it has a mischievous twinkle in it’s eye, then, it’s safe to call it a lurcher.
One word of caution. If your boy or girl looks very much like a greyhound and precious little else – check their ears. Greyhounds have their ears tattooed at birth one ear for an English hound and both ears for an Irish one.
You may be the owner of a pure Greyhound.
If that’s still not good enough for you, then it’s time to order the Wisdom Panel Insights Dog DNA Test
I prefer to keep mine as a talking point.
Behaviour and Temperament Characteristics
As we already mentioned lurchers have always been bred for hunting although if yours is a rescue dog it may well have been disowned or abandoned because it lacked the killer instinct or hunting skills.
This fact does not make long dogs in any way dangerous to people. They are the softest and most affectionate of dogs and pose no problem unless you are small fury and have a tail.
Lurchers should be kept well away for other peoples pets such as rabbits and cats as they will most likely see them as fair game.
In the past any lurcher that was not crafty would end up being killed by a land owner or one of his employees and so it should be no surprise that your pet is highly intelligent and dedicated to getting what he wants.
Having said this careful training will produce a well behaved dog of the highest intelligence.
As result of once surviving by stealth and craftiness most lurchers, no matter how well fed, will steal.
They can’t help it. Good training will reduce it but with enough temptation they will eventually weaken and the moral of the story is not to subject them to temptation.
When Johnson had been with my family for a couple of weeks he looked to be settling in and so we sort of dropped our guard.
One evening we were sitting watching the TV and waiting for our evening meal to thaw out before cooking it. Suddenly my wife shrieked and pointed to the glass living-room door.
There was Johnson walking slowly past just casting a momentary glance in our direction with a partly defrosted 12inch traditional tomato and pepperoni pizza hanging out of his mouth.
This is the price for trusting a lurcher with food. You are dealing with a creature who’s cunning and intelligence would make a James Bond villain look like a village idiot.
You have been warned
Good Luck and Enjoy
Part 2 – Basic Training
House training, Toilet, Destruction, Bed, Stealing etc All those little things that will send you mad if not sorted quickly.
This short guide will be out soon.
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