- Average Height: 27 to 30 inches at the shoulder
- Average Weight: 35 to 100 pounds
- Coloring: Grizzle, black, or black and tan
- Coat Type: Short and harsh
- Dog Breed Group: Working crossbreed
- Average Lifespan: 12 to 15 years
Key Personality Traits:
A Lurcher is a sighthound such as a Greyhound crossed with a terrier, herding breed, or large scenthound. Lurchers are primarily hunting dogs, prized for their stealth and silence. They are calm, affectionate (except around cats or other furry critters), active, and intelligent.
Originally known as the poacher’s dog, the Lurcher is bred for speed, hunting ability, intelligence, and tenacity. Besides those talents, the lurcher’s value to the poacher is his silence. He hunts quietly, never giving voice.
They are not recognized as a breed and are used primarily for hunting — legally, these days, in most cases — although some are now making a name for themselves in agility, lure coursing and other dog sports that call for speed, intelligence and nimble movement.
The Lurcher loves the great outdoors, but he is also a social animal who loves people. It’s an unhappy Lurcher who is relegated to the backyard with little attention from his family.
Other Quick Facts
- Lurchers are primarily found in Great Britain and are uncommon in the United States. More are being bred, however, by people interested in developing them for agility competition.
- In 1948, Brian Vesey-Fitzgerald set out a standard of sorts for the Lurcher, writing the following: “A true lurcher should not exceed 24 inches in height and should weigh about 50 pounds. The coat be short and harsh, with long, thin, tapering tail. Head of Greyhound type with small pricked ears. Colours grizzle, black or black and tan.”
The History of the Lurcher
A Lurcher is a classic working crossbreed: the result of a cross between a sighthound and a herding or terrier breed, depending on the goals of the breeder. Common crosses include Greyhounds, Whippets, Salukis, Scottish Deerhounds, or Irish Wolfhounds with Border Collies or Bedlington Terriers or Bull Terriers. A great Lurcher has speed, courage, intelligence and endurance.
In Great Britain, Lurchers have their own shows, can be raced or coursed, and are used for hunting, primarily rabbits, hares, foxes, game birds, and rats. In the United States, some people may use Lurchers to hunt coyotes, foxes, or jackrabbits in areas where they are considered pests or just for the thrill of the chase. Lurchers are also ace lure coursing dogs.
No breed registry recognizes Lurchers, and there is no movement to gain American Kennel Club or United Kennel Club recognition for them. They are, as they have always been, strictly working dogs.
Lurcher Temperament and Personality
The Lurcher’s temperament is typically like that of the sighthound — calm and affectionate but not demonstrative, with a strong desire to run — boosted by the gameness or intensity of the terrier or herding breed that is in its heritage. Early and frequent socialization is essential to help prevent the development of timidity or aggression.
A Lurcher will appreciate a long daily walk and the opportunity to run free in a large, safely enclosed area. He should always be walked on leash, or he is likely to take off after some small, furry critter. Lurchers are generally not a good choice for homes with other pets such as cats or rabbits.
The Lurcher is an independent thinker but intelligent and highly trainable. He can learn the basics of good dog behavior, plus much more, if you use positive reinforcement techniques, particularly food rewards. Begin training when he is young and still somewhat malleable, keep training sessions short and fun, and avoid harsh corrections. Never forget, however, that a Lurcher is a master of the fine art of thievery. Do not leave food out, even if you think it is out of reach.
If possible, get him into a puppy socialization group by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks old. However, be aware that many of these training classes require certain vaccines (like kennel cough) to be up to date. Also, many veterinarians recommend limited exposure to other dogs and public places until all puppy vaccines (including rabies, distemper and parvovirus) have been completed. In addition to training and socialization, invite people to your home as well so he becomes accustomed to visitors. These experiences as a young dog will help him grow into a sensible, calm adult dog.
What You Need To Know About Lurcher Health
Lurchers are considered a pretty healthy cross-breed. The main health concerns for Lurchers are gastric torsion, torn toenails, foot or muscle injuries, and heat stroke or heat exhaustion. They may also be prone to osteosarcoma (bone cancer). Lurchers with herding breeds in their ancestry may be prone to eye problems. Hypothyroidism is common in many dog breeds.
Ask if the breeder has screened the puppy’s parents for thyroid disease and eye health. A thyroid evaluation from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals and certification of eye health from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation are points in a breeder’s favor.
Careful breeders screen their breeding dogs for genetic disease and breed only the healthiest and best-looking specimens, but sometimes Mother Nature has other ideas and a puppy develops one of these diseases despite good breeding practices. Advances in veterinary medicine mean that in most cases the dogs can still live a good life. If you’re getting a puppy, ask the breeder about the ages of the dogs in her lines and what they died of.
You can play a large part in keeping your Lurcher healthy just by helping him maintain a healthy weight. Obesity is one of the most common health problems seen in dogs. Taking preventative measures is always preferred, but you can also help your dog lose weight by exercising him and giving him an appropriate amount of food.
The Basics of Lurcher Grooming
The Lurcher may have a rough or smooth coat. Weekly brushing will keep the coat healthy and free of dead hair. Introduce him to grooming early in life so that he learns to accept it willingly and patiently.
The rest is basic care. Trim his nails as needed, usually once a month, and keep his ears clean and dry. Check the ears weekly for dirt, redness or a bad odor that can indicate an infection. If the ears look dirty, wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with a gentle pH-balanced ear cleaner recommended by your veterinarian.
Good dental hygiene is also important. Brush the teeth frequently with a vet-approved pet toothpaste for good overall health and fresh breath.
Finding a Breeder for Your Lurcher
What to find the perfect puppy? Find the right breeder. A good breeder will match you with the kind of Lurcher you’re looking for, and will ensure all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems are complete. Be wary of breeders who only tell you the good things about the breed or who promote the dogs as being “good with kids” without any context as to what that means or how it comes about.
Buying a dog is not an insignificant purchase, so good breeders will welcome your questions about temperament, health clearances and expectations after bringing your pup home. A breeder should want to be a resource for you throughout your dog’s life, and that starts at first contact: she should be able to explain the breed’s history, why one puppy is considered pet quality while another is not, and potential health problems common to the breed. Look for more information about the Lurcher at the Lurcher and Tumbler Welfare and Breed Club (Britain).
Breeders who offer puppies at one price “with papers” and at a lower price “without papers” are unethical. Likewise, breeders with multiple litters on the premises, puppies who are always available, and the ability to pay online with a credit card are often a sign of an unqualified breeder.
How much you should expect to pay for a Lurcher puppy depends on location, sex, and the puppies’ genetic lineage. Regardless, always look for puppies who have been raised in a clean home environment and who are from parents with proper health clearances. Puppies should be temperament tested, vetted, dewormed, and socialized for the best possible start to their long life.
However, before making the jump to buy a puppy, have you considered an adult Lurcher? Puppies are fun, but they also hard work. They require a lot of time and effort before they grow up to be your dream dog. Adults often already have some training and are likely less active, destructive, and demanding as a puppy, making them better suited for people with busier lifestyles. Keep reading for some advice on how to adopt the perfect Lurcher.
Adopting a Lurcher from a Rescue or a Shelter
If you are looking to adopt a Lurcher, you’re in luck: There are many great options available. Here is how to get started.
Use the Web. Start your search online at asite like Petfinder.com. This resource lets you perform either very general or very specific queries. For example, if you’re looking for a housetrained Lurcher in your area, Petfinder will allow you to filter search results by your request.
AnimalShelter is your go-to resource finding animal rescue groups in your area, which are great places to look for a Lurcher in need of a home.
Otherwise, don’t discount your local newspaper or even social media to help in your search!For example, a quick post on your Facebook page can invite your entire community to serve as your eyes and ears in finding a Lurcher to bring home.
Talk to Local Experts. Start talking with vets, dog walkers, groomer and other pet pros in your area about your search for a Lurcher to adopt. These individuals are often the first group people turn to When they make the tough decision to give up a dog.
Of course, the most important thing you can do for your new Lurcher is taking him to the veterinarian soon after adoption. Your vet can identify any current or potential problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen to help get your new dog’s health on the right track.
What kind of dog is a Lurcher?
A Lurcher is a crossbreed that combines a sighthound—usually a Greyhound—with a terrier, herding breed, or other large scenthound. They are prized for their stealth and silence, primarily considered hunting dogs. While they are not a technically recognized breed by the AKC or any other registry, Lurchers are loved by many for their speed, hunting ability, intelligence, and tenacity.
Is a Lurcher a good family dog?
Of course, all animals can have unique, individual personalities. But the friendly, gentle, and calm nature of most Lurchers generally make them great family pets. Because of those qualities, Lurchers are often used as therapy and education dogs, visiting nursing homes and schools. They are generally friendly, laid back, and get along well with children.
However, as a working breed, make sure you understand what makes them tick before deciding to bring one home. Lurchers require a good deal of exercise, training, and patience to be the best versions of themselves.
How fast can a Lurcher run?
Lurchers are fast. Thanks to the fact that many are the result of crossbreeding with a Greyhound, some Lurchers can run over 40mph! Their speed is a result of careful breeding over many years, and they generally prefer sprints over endurance runs.