Hound dogs are some of the most popular pups to own in America. According to the AKC, beagle hounds, one of the best-recognized hound breeds, are the 6th most popular breed in America. In addition to being excellent hunting dog breeds, these charismatic dogs are well-known for having plenty of energy and fantastic family dog personalities. In this article, we’ll go over what you need to know about hounds before adopting, from hunting hound history to hound breed characteristics.

The History of Hound Dog Breeds

The history of the hound dogs

Hunting dogs are some of the oldest breeds developed by man. The eldest hunting dog breed, and perhaps the first purebred dog breed, is an Afghan Hound. Afghan Hounds are thought to be older than written history by at least a thousand years. They were developed in the Asian Mountains as sighthounds, who relied on their excellent vision to spot prey, and speed to catch it.

The oldest existing scent hound may be the bloodhound, which was developed from the St. Hubert Hound, originally bred by the monks at Saint-Hubert Monastery in Belgium around 1000 A.D. Bloodhounds are first referenced in the 14th century in England and France, and are so-called because they were considered “blooded” or, having aristocratic blood.

From these ancient breeds, dozens of modern dog breeds, both sight, and scent hounds, have been developed, resulting in today’s 32 AKC-recognized hound dog breeds.

Becoming Part of the AKC

2 hound breeds at the park

The American Kennel Club (AKC) was founded in 1884 by a group of dedicated dog sportsmen who wanted to create a premier dog club for the celebration and delegation of specific dog breeds. Hound dog breeds became part of the AKC in 1885, with the acceptance of the basset hound, beagle, and the bloodhound. The dachshund and greyhound breeds were also accepted in 1885. Despite their long history, Afghan hounds weren’t recognized by the AKC until 1926. Today, the group continues to expand; the most recent addition to the hound group is the Sloughi, a mid-size hound bred to chase foxes, jackals, and wild pigs.

Popular Hound Breeds of Dog

By far, beagles are the most popular dog in the hound group. These small, usually tricolored hunting experts are loved for their friendly and gentle nature, as much as their hunting expertise, making them a popular choice for both avid hunters and families. Other top hound breeds include:


These popular racing dogs also make wonderful family pets due to their calm and gentle personalities. Greyhounds are some of the fastest dogs in existence, reaching speeds up to 45 miles per hour during their races.

These tiny hounds come in short-haired, wire-haired and long-haired varieties and are beloved by many for their short, long bodies. Daschunds are experts at digging and share many personality traits with the popular terrier breeds.

There are several breeds of coonhounds, including the black and tan coonhound, redbone coonhound, and the bluetick coonhound. These dogs are known for their baying howl and stubbornness, but also their mellow nature when not on the hunt.

Basset Hounds
These adorable pups are known for their short legs and long, pendant-like ears, but they’re also formidable scent hunters and gun dogs with a strong nose and a hard-working personality.

German Shorthaired Pointer
Already a popular breed, adoptions of these cunning and beautiful dogs shot up after a Pointer named CJ won the Westminster Dog Show in 2016. Pointers are versatile hunters, skilled in everything from bird hunting to trailing large game animals such as deer.

Hound Dog Breed Standards

Hound dog breeds standards

Breed standards differ between specific breeds within the hound breeds group. Here are a few examples from the group’s most popular breeds:


  • The animal must stand below 15 inches at the shoulder (or 13 inches for the 13-inch variety).
  • The coat should be hard and close and exhibit a medium length.
  • The tail should be high but without a teapot curve. The tail should have some brush, and should not look like a rat-tail.

American English Coonhound

  • The animal must exhibit ticking on at least 10% of their body. Ticking is a small pattern of dots on the animal’s white parts.

The dog should exhibit a deep chest, and “racy” body build.

  • The eyes should be dark brown.

Basset Hounds

  • The dog’s movements should be deliberate but not clumsy.
  • The ears should be long enough to fold over the end of the nose.
  • The dog should not be taller than 14 inches at most.

Famous Hound Dogs

Hounds represent famous characters in pop culture

Hound dogs are close to our hearts, and many have been immortalized as famous characters in pop culture. Here are just a few famous hounds you might know

  • Lady Greyhound: This beautiful pup was used as the inspiration for the famous Greyhound Bus Line’s logo.
  • Mick the Miller: One of the most celebrated racing greyhounds of all time, this greyhound from Ireland is still remembered today through races bearing his name, and a statue in the Irish city of Killeigh.
  • McGruff: This trusty bloodhound is the mascot for the National Crime Prevention Council, and usually sports a trench coat.
  • Shiloh: The title character of the film Shiloh, this little beagle captured all of our hearts.
  • Snoopy: Charlie Brown’s best friend is an adorable spotted beagle.
  • Pluto: Mickey Mouse’s famous best friend is a mixed breed, but made his debut as a bloodhound in the cartoons!

Are you thinking about adopting a hound breed? Find out which breed is right for you by following the steps in our complete guide to choosing a puppy breed. Make sure your hound puppy stays healthy and happy by enrolling them in a comprehensive dog insurance policy from Prudent Pet.