Are Sighthounds Good Family Dogs?

Greyhound in funny Hat

Sighthounds include a wide variety of dog breeds so there are some differences among the various breeds. However, in general, the answer to the question, are sighthounds good family dogs, is some are and some aren’t. Most of them are very gentle, sensitive dogs. However, you need to look more specifically at the sighthound breed of dog. Also, remember that there are always differences between individual dog.

They love to play, and they do require varying amounts of activity. However, after they have a good run or walk, they are very likely to curl up on the sofa and sleep for hours.

There are many sighthounds, some of them quite rare, but for this article, we will focus on 5 of the more popular sighthounds. This article focuses on the Afghan Hound, Greyhound, Italian Greyhound, Whippet, and Saluki.

Why are these Dogs Called Sighthounds?

First, these dog breeds are all part of the Hound dog group within the AKC. The Hound group consists of dogs that are classified as either sight hounds or scent hounds. The dog breeds in the Hound group were bred to be hunting dogs. However, the scent hounds use their sense of smell to track and retrieve game.  Whereas the sighthounds use their amazing vision to spot and chase down the game. 

The scent hounds include breeds such as beagles, bloodhounds, basset hounds, and many more.   The sighthounds include those breeds that are the focus of this article as well as many more not as well-known breeds.

Sighthounds are all built for speed. Most of them are large breeds, with very deep chests and narrow waists. Many people that are not aware of what a sighthound is supposed to look like think that these dogs are being starved or mistreated due to their thin frames. They are supposed to have at least 3 ribs visible and prominent hip bones.

They have different types of coats, varying from very short and thin to long and flowing.

We will go through each of these 5 breeds of sighthounds and discuss each of them as they are not all the same and have differing requirements.

The Afghan Hound

sand colored Afghan hound with gray background

The Afghan Hound is, not surprisingly, from Afghanistan. They were bred several thousand years ago by nomadic tribes of Afghanistan. Their long coats helped to protect them from the cold climate of the region they were from. Like other sighthounds, they were originally used for hunting, and like other sighthounds, they are extremely fast.

Temperament

Afghan hounds are not easily trained. They sometimes appear to be aloof but can also be quite playful. Early socialization is essential with this breed. If you hope to get your Afghan trained, unless you are an experienced trainer, I would seek out the help of a professional.

They can be stubborn but are also quite sensitive and can be easily hurt with harsh words. Afghan Hounds are not recommended for new dog owners. They tend to be wary of strangers, but with early socialization, you can reduce this tendency.

Size and Grooming Needs

Male Afghan hounds stand at 27 inches while the female is at about 25. They usually reach weights that average between 50 and 60 pounds. They have a life expectancy that ranges from 12 to 14 years.

Afghan hounds have long, silky coats that can be difficult to maintain. They are considered high-maintenance dogs. Keeping their coats silky and beautiful takes some effort.

They usually need to be bathed about once per month.  The most important part of bathing is drying them thoroughly with a hair dryer to be sure their hair is completely dry. If they are still wet and left to dry, they are likely to get matted and will likely need to be taken to a groomer to remove the mats.

Exercise Requirements

Afghans require about 40 minutes of exercise per day. They can be lazy; however, they do have a very strong prey drive, as do all sighthounds. So, when you are walking them be sure to keep them leashed unless in a fenced area. If they spot a squirrel or a rabbit, they will be off so fast you might not be able to find them.

Are Afghan Hounds Good Family Pets?

Afghan hounds can be great family pets if they are brought up with children and other pets as puppies. Early socialization and professional training are essential as they are not easily trained.

They are very loyal and good with their families, while rather aloof with strangers. It is never a good idea to leave young children unattended with any dog.

The Greyhound

Greyhound sleeping in a dog bed upside down - Are Sighthounds Good Family Dogs?

Greyhounds are the oldest of purebred dogs. They appear in drawings dating back 8,000 years ago in ancient Egypt by the Pharaohs. All of today’s sighthounds are descendants of Egyptian Greyhounds.

Greyhounds are the fastest of all the dog breeds, including other sighthounds. They have been recorded at speeds that exceed 40 miles per hour.

The cruel sport of greyhound racing started in the US in California in 1919. Fortunately, there are only 2 states where it remains legal, West Virginia and Arkansas, and it will be ending in Arkansas by the end of December 2022.

Due to the overwhelming cruelty and needless murdering of greyhounds that became injured or started losing races, greyhound rescue organizations outnumber all other breed rescue groups.

Size and Grooming Needs

Male greyhounds are between 28 and 30 inches tall, while female greyhounds are between 27 and 28 inches. Male greyhounds usually weigh between 65 and 70 pounds. Females usually weigh between 60 and 65 pounds. Their average lifespan is between 10 and 13 years.

Their grooming needs are minimal as they have a very short smooth coat and don’t shed a lot. They don’t require frequent bathing as they don’t have oily coats. Daily grooming with a grooming mitt will keep the shedding and dander to a minimum.

Exercise Requirements

Greyhounds don’t require constant activity, however, they do best when they can break into a run a few times a week.  It is best for them to live in a home with a good-sized fenced yard, so they can run when they feel like it.

However, they can do fine without the backyard if they are taken to a fenced-in area frequently enough to allow them to run 2 to 3 times per week. They are usually quite calm and quiet in the house, and they do not bark a lot.

They do have a strong prey drive so unless they are in a fenced area, it is highly recommended that you keep your greyhound on a leash.

Are Greyhounds Good Family Pets?

All dogs have different background experiences unless you adopt them as young puppies. As a rule, greyhounds make great family pets. They like to be included in family activities and like most dogs don’t like being left alone for hours.

However, some of them don’t mind being left alone and will just sleep the whole time. They are usually very calm, gentle, and sensitive house pets and are very tolerant of children. However, as with all dogs, it is not recommended to leave young children unattended with any dogs.

The Saluki

White Saluki standing in a summer forest.

Salukis are another of the sighthound breeds whose roots go back to Ancient Egypt. They were praised for their ability to hunt and chase down Gazelles. They were considered a noble breed and it was forbidden to crossbreed Salukis with other breeds of dogs.

Temperament

Salukis become very attached to their families.  However, they are not overly affectionate. They are quiet, gentle dogs that are usually great with kids. Salukis require more exercise than greyhounds as greyhounds are sprinters while Salukis are more distance runners. They require a good run daily to keep them from becoming destructive.

They do like their comforts, especially a warm, comfortable bed or couch. Salukis also have a very strong prey drive, so you should keep your Saluki on a leash unless she is in a fenced area.

Size and Grooming Needs

The male Salukis average height is 27 inches while the female’s average height is 24 inches. Male Salukis weigh between 45 and 65 pounds, whereas females weigh between 35 and 45 pounds. Their lifespan usually ranges from 10 to 15 years.

The Saluki has short fur with feathering on their tails, legs, and ears. The feathering should be brushed 2 or 3 times per week to keep it from matting and they should be bathed as necessary to keep them clean, usually about once per month.

Are Salukis Good Family Pets?

Salukis can be great family pets for older children; however, they are not recommended for children under 8 years of age.

Salukis, like many dog breeds, don’t like to be left alone for hours at a time. So, if your family members are all gone from the home all day please consider other breeds for your family pet.

Salukis are not the best breed for inexperienced pet parents. They are better for experienced dog owners that can be firm without being abrasive. One thing sighthound all have in common is that they all tend to be very sensitive and don’t respond well to anger and turmoil.  They can become physically sick if they are subjected to a household that is in turmoil.

The Whippet

Two rescued Whippets on a walk in the park.

These last 2 sighthounds I will be covering are smaller versions of the 3 mentioned above.

Whippets were first bred to hunt game by sight. There are depictions of smaller-looking greyhounds that date back to Ancient Egypt. They were also used as ratting dogs in medieval England.

By the nineteenth century, Whippets began being used in dog racing in parts of England. They were known as “the poor man’s racehorse”.

Whippets were recognized by the AKC in 1888, then in the United Kingdom kennel club in 1891.

Temperament

Whippets are the most affectionate and loving of the sighthounds. They are great with children and the most trainable of the sighthounds. They are very attached to their families and do not like being away from them.

Whippets can live in an apartment if they get enough exercise every day. Whippets require between 40 minutes and 1 hour per day of exercise and will be much happier and well-behaved if they are able to meet this activity level.

Size and Grooming Needs

Male and female whippets are close in height with males averaging 21 inches and females at 20 inches. The males’ weight can range from 25 to 40 pounds with females weighing between 20 and 35 pounds. Their lifespan ranges from 12 to 15 years.

Their coats can be pretty much any color and are very short and smooth. They require very little grooming. They also have no odor, which is a good thing as they really want to be close to you and sleep with you at night to keep warm.

Regular brushing to remove any dander and loose fur, will make your low shedding whippet even shed less. However, if someone in the household has an allergy to dander or fur, extra care should be taken to remove as much as possible from your whippet.

Like most of the other sighthounds, Whippets have very little body fat and seek out warmth wherever they can find it.  

Are Whippets Good Family Pets?

Whippets, like every other dog, need early socialization to help them to become less introverted. They can be wary of strangers and strange dogs, however, once they get to know them, they are fine with them. They are very sweet and gentle dogs with no aggression whatsoever. This makes them great family pets and great with children.

As Whippets have that same prey drive as the other sighthounds, they should not be allowed to walk without a leash in an unfenced area. They are extremely fast for their size and have been known to reach speeds of 35 miles per hour.

Whippets love warmth and comfort and will always seek it out. They don’t like laying on hard or cold surfaces so will always look for a nice, comfortable bed or chair, preferably with a family member sitting in the chair for added warmth and comfort.

The Italian Greyhound

Beautiful Italian Greyhound standing on a gray stone background - Are Sighthounds Good Family Dogs?

The Italian Greyhound is the smallest of the sighthounds by far. As they are miniature greyhounds, they still have the same prey drive that is common in all the sighthounds.

Evidence suggests that Italian Greyhounds were bred to be companions to noblemen around 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Greece and Turkey when it was a part of the Roman Empire.

They were almost wiped out during World Wars I and II, however American breeders kept the breed alive and helped repopulate its numbers in Europe.

Today, Italian Greyhounds compete in the show ring, lure coursing, Rally, and agility. Lure coursing is great for these little dogs as it gives them an opportunity to really run and chase prey, even if it is fake prey.

Temperament

Italian Greyhounds do fine living in an apartment and are affectionate and loving family members. They are highly sensitive dogs that make great pets for the right households.

However, if your household is very noisy, and full of turmoil and arguments, these are conditions that are not a good fit for the Italian Greyhound, and most other sighthounds for that matter. Italian Greyhounds all tend to be very sensitive.

They don’t respond well to being yelled at or spoken to in an angry tone. They respond favorably only to gentle, training methods that emphasize positive reinforcement and cheerful praise with plenty of food rewards.

Size and Grooming Needs

Italian Greyhounds range in height from 13 to 15 inches, with weights ranging from 7 to 14 pounds. Their life expectancy is usually 14 to 15 years. They don’t require much grooming as they have a short smooth coat and have no odor.

However, if you have a family member who has a dog allergy, brushing more frequently will help to remove loose fur and dander, which will also result in less shedding.

Are Italian Greyhounds Good Family Pets?

In many ways, these little dogs make great family pets. They are playful, affectionate, have a good level of energy and are also great with strangers. So don’t expect them to be watchdogs.

However, they are not recommended for pets in homes with small children as children can be rough with dogs, especially small dogs. Italian Greyhounds have very little fat and thin spindly legs that could result in injuries to them if handled too roughly.

They are also quite trainable using positive reinforcement and are very adaptable to change. They do require a fair amount of exercise and will likely break into spurts of running and playfulness.

Your little dog could possibly jump over your fence unless you have at least a six-foot fence around your yard. These dogs may be small, however, they can jump quite high.

Final Thoughts

I hope this brief introduction to sighthounds has provided you with some insight into these elegant, speedy dogs.

There are a lot of factors to consider before deciding to adopt or purchase a sighthound as a family pet.

Please feel free to add any comments that you feel may help people to decide whether or not a sighthound is a dog they should consider as a family pet.

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