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Lurcher

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The Lurcher is not a dog breed, but rather a type of dog native to the British Isles. It is a hearty crossbred sighthound which is generally a cross between a sighthound and another sort of dog - usually a Pastoral breed or Terrier. Collie crosses have always been very popular. Lurchers can be crossed several times. There is no set type, so they can be as small as a Whippet or as large as an Scottish Deerhound; but most are chosen for a size that is around the size of a Greyhound, and a distinct sighthound form is preferred.

Generally, the aim of the cross was to produce a sighthound with brains, a canny animal suitable for the original purpose of the Lurcher, poaching. Developed in the middle ages in Great Britain, the Lurcher was created because only nobility were allowed to have purebred sighthounds like Irish Wolfhounds, Scottish Deerhounds, Greyhounds, and Whippets whereas crosses, or curs, had no such perceived value. Similarly, nobility owned most land and commoners were not allowed to hunt game on crown land or other noble estates. It was important that the lurcher did not resemble too closely a sighthound, as the penalties for owning (and if you owned one then by default you were a poacher) a sighthound were high. The original lurchers therefore were generally heavier coated dogs who could herd sheep as well as bring home a rabbit or hare for the pot. Roma, more commonly known as Romany Gypsies, were instrumental in developing the Lurcher type, and the word Lurcher is believed to derive from a Romani word 'Lur' meaning thief.

The Lurcher has as many varied uses as types can be crossbred, but generally they are used as a hunting dog which can chase and kill their prey. Most Lurchers today are used for general pest control, ie rabbits with or without the use of ferrets or the lamp, foxs, they have also been successfully used on Deer and hare in the past. The only truly sport use of the lurcher (ie has no pest control value) is hare coursing however most hare coursing dogs are pure greyhound. The Lurcher is best used in open ground although different crosses suit different terrains. Lure coursing and dog racing is also popular in areas with little available hunting or for people who dislike hunting. The modern Lurcher is growing from its old image of disrepute to heights of popularity as an exceptional family dog, and many groups have been founded to rehome Lurchers in pet households.


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