Traveling the Fast Pace in the Footsteps of Gypsies: The Lurcher

During the days when nobility ruled and established hunting as a royal right, common people looked for ways to feed their families and to own dogs. The Lurcher accommodated both needs.  Because hunting was reserved for the wealthy, and so were sighthounds like greyhounds, the “commoners” developed their own fast breed in order to poach game. The Lurcher originates back to the 1600s in Britain and Ireland when gypsies and tinkers used them to hunt rabbit, hare and other game.

This breed is the result of crossing greyhounds or whippets with other dog breeds, such as collies and terriers. Lurchers inherited the quick, agile movements and strong hunting instincts of sighthound breeds and the great work ethic of working dog breeds like the collie and terrier.

Often short-coated, the color of the Lucher’s coat varies depending upon the crossbreeding. These dogs usually possess the long, straight legs of sighthounds as well as the deep chest needed for endurance. A long-haired variety of Lurcher also exists.

Lurchers are considered fun-loving, affectionate dogs that enjoy the companionship of their humans. They are intelligent and quick learners. They are also gentle, which make them excellent family pets.


A fairly large breed, the Lurcher stands 22 to 28 inches (55 to 71 cm) tall and weighs between 60 and 70 pounds (27 to 32 kg). Lurchers usually live about 13 years.

Although they can be long-lived, Lurchers can develop hip dysplasia, back problems and bloat.

Because of their high energy level, these dogs are not recommended for city living or apartment life. They need a brisk, daily walk and the opportunity to run in a safe, secured environment. These dogs will chase anything due to their sighthound lineage; therefore, a large, fenced yard is highly recommended with no small animals (like cats and rabbits) in the same household.

Whether short- or long-haired, Lurchers should be brushed regularly. They can be constant shedders. The short-haired variety tends to have wiry hair while the long-haired Lurcher possesses a silkier coat, similar to a Saluki. On occasion, a Lurcher may be a cross with a Saluki, which is also a sighthound.

These dogs train easily and are very obedient. They have exceptional eyesight, and they are intense and focused when active. But, Lurchers also enjoy sitting on the couch. Therefore, they can become sluggish if not properly exercised. This breed performs well in lure coursing events.

Although hare coursing is now illegal throughout most of Britain, it is still legal in some parts of Ireland. Lurchers are fast becoming more common as companion pets rather than as hunters, but some are still used for pest control.  They are also seen in agility and obedience events.

The Lurcher is not a breed recognized by the major dog kennel clubs because it is considered a mixed breed. The most common combinations are the Greyhound/Collie and the Greyhound/Terrier. Most Lurchers have 50 to 75 percent sighthound in them.

The name Lurcher is derived from the Romany word lur, which means thief.  Although they were once used primarily for hunting, now these hardy, fast-paced yet docile dogs are gaining popularity as family pets.

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