The Countryman's Weekly


January 22
08:10 2020

Is the lurcher uniquely British?

By Penny Taylor.

THERE are hundreds of sighthound breeds throughout the world, their histories logged in art and literature. From the Chinese Xigou with its odd, downward curved muzzle, to the Indian Poligar hound which looks rather like a heavily-built Saluki, to the many lesser-known breeds which owe their colours, coat and type to the various peoples who prized them for their ability to bring down game of all sizes.

The Romans certainly brought with them some of these sighthound types when they came to Britain, for dogs were traded along the Silk Road together with all the other goods carried from east to west during a time of massive expansion.

When we consider the dogs we believe to be uniquely British in origin, we must not forget their true genetic inheritance may belong very far from our shores; that our Greyhounds may carry genes from the Far East as well as from the dogs that hunted our forests so many centuries ago.

However, during my research I have yet to find mention of a crossbred dog like the lurcher elsewhere in the world. But were the hunting dogs from overseas actually any different to our lurchers? Were they, in fact, the product of deliberate or accidental crossbreeding long ago, the resulting progeny gradually homogenising into a standard which later became rigorously adhered to?


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