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The lurcher is the offspring of a sighthound mated with another breed, most commonly a pastoral breed or a terrier type of dog. Historically a poacher's dog, lurchers in modern times are used as pets, hunting dogs and in racing.

Lurcher on Mountain.jpg
Longhaired Lurcher
OriginIreland and Great Britain
Breed statusNot recognized as a standardized breed by any major kennel club.
Coat Any
Colour Any
Litter size variable
Life span 12-15 years
NotesLurchers may be registered with the North American Lurcher and Longdog Association (NALLA)[1]
Domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris)


While not a pure breed, it is generally a cross between a sighthound and a working dog breed.[1] Collie crosses are popular, given the working instinct of a sheepdog when mated with a sighthound gives a dog of great intelligence plus speed—prerequisites for the hunter/poacher. In the U.S. Midwest, crosses with large scenthounds are fairly common.

The distinction in England between a greyhound and a lurcher was both legal and biological. Greyhounds were used to hunt legally only by the privileged upper class who could show qualification by sufficient income or estate. Anyone else with a lower income was, from 1389, prohibited from hunting with any hound whatsoever, including a lurcher ('lerce' in Norman French)[2].

Brian Plummer identifies the Norfolk Lurcher as the predecessor of the modern lurcher.[2]


Temperament is also variable, again dependent on parental influence. As could be expected, lurchers with dominant sighthound attributes have similar temperaments—often fairly lazy with a good eye—however, accordingly, others are influenced by their other, often more tractable, biddable, and slower parent. As with all dogs, temperament will be modified by socialising the puppy.


The word 'lurcher' is from Norman French[3], Middle English lurch, to lurk or remain in a place furtively.[3]

While it has been suggested the word 'lurcher' is from the Romani word for thief, the word for thief in Romani is "Chor".[4] It is more recently related to the dog's ability to suddenly turn=lurch, to strike its usual prey, the hare. However, the archaic meaning of the word lurcher in English is a prowler, swindler, or petty thief.[3]


From the late 14th century in England, to the repeal of the Game Laws in Britain of 1831, those without financial qualification were prohibited from owning and hunting with any hunting dogs, including lurchers. Generally, the aim of the cross is to produce a sighthound with more intelligence, a canny animal suitable for poaching rabbits, hares and game birds. Over time, poachers and hunters discovered that the crossing of certain breeds with sighthounds produced a dog better suited to this purpose, given the lurcher's combination of speed and intelligence.

Modern rolesEdit

Lurchers as petsEdit

The modern lurcher has left behind its old image of disrepute, and is now regarded as an exceptional family dog and many groups have been founded to rehome lurchers as family pets.[5]


The lurcher has as many varied uses as types can be crossbred, but generally they are used as hunting dogs that can chase and kill their prey. Most lurchers today are used for general pest control, typically rabbits, hares and foxes, although some of the larger types have been successfully used on bigger game like wild boar and deer. Lurchers can be used for hare coursing, although most hare coursing dogs are greyhounds. Sighthound heavy lurchers move most effectively over open ground, although different crosses suit different terrains, indeed many crosses are specifically engineered for the purpose of working cover. Early breeders and breeders from as little as 50 years ago would often cull dogs and puppies that could not or would not work. This helped ensure the dogs being bred were able to do the job as asked. Breeders today will place these dogs into a home as a pet or have them sterilized.

Amateur sportsEdit

Lurchers excel at sports such as lure coursing and dog racing, which are very popular in areas with little available hunting, or for people who dislike hunting. In the U.S., lurchers are eligible to compete in lure coursing events sanctioned by the National Lure Coursing Club.[6]

Lurchers have also proven to be very good at dog sports such as flyball, agility, disc dog and dock diving where suitable breed combinations create increasingly popular lurchers that combine speed and willingness to please.

Recognition and registrationEdit

Because lurchers are not purebreds they are not recognized by any of the major kennel clubs although the acronym HJCK serves in some circles: Hunt Jump Catch Kill. However, the North American Lurcher and Longdog Association[7] was created in 2007 to serve as a registering body for lurchers and longdogs in the United States and Canada.

In popular cultureEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Blount, Deborah (February 2000). "The Lurcher Submission for the Committee of Inquiry into Hunting with Dogs in England and Wales". The Association of Lurcher Clubs. Archived from the original on 23 January 2013. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  2. ^ Plummer, Brian (1979). "The Complete Lurcher". The Boydell Press. ISBN 9780851151182. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  3. ^ a b "Lurcher". Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  4. ^ Lee, Ronald (2005). Learn Romani. University of Hertfordshire Press. p. 365. ISBN 978-1-902806-44-0. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  5. ^ Drakeford, J. (2003). The House Lurcher. Shrewsbury: Swan Hill Press. ISBN 978-1-904057-34-5.
  6. ^ Lure Coursing Club
  7. ^ "Lure Coursing, Amateur Whippet & Sighthound Racing - NALLA Overview". Lure Coursing, Amateur Whippet & Sighthound Racing. Retrieved 2015-12-21.

External linksEdit