Things I wish I knew before adopting a lurcher
It is not uncommon to hear of some people not knowing what a lurcher is and even more uncommon for people looking at them as pets. Unfortunately, they are the most common dog in all of Ireland to find in homeless dog shelters and pounds searching for homes. A lurcher is anything crossed with a greyhound, they are sight hounds which were originally found in the desert and were kept for their keen eyesight and ability to eye up prey from great distances. They are speedy but only use it in short bursts where they use up usually all of their energy in one sprint and then promptly retire off to find a comfy bed, they are stealthy but rarely graceful dogs who are goofy rather than athletic looking. They are gentle and affectionate but love a good tug o’ war or chew toy in between naps. I’ve recently found myself the owner of one, when I adopted a less-than-a-year old lurcher boy earlier this year. Below is a compiled list of all I’ve learned in the hopes of it giving some insight into the lurcher.
They don’t know how long their noses are! With this, comes a very unique and specific trait for lurcher-owners to contend with. Their noses get everywhere and nothing or no where is safe. You’ll find it in your dinner, on your computer keyboard, in the rubbish bin if you’re not watching, under your arm when they want rubs, you’ll get a cold, wet, long-nose pressed up against your back when your cuddled up on the couch, poking out from under your duvet when you want to go to bed and sometimes even in your crotch! As I write this, there is a lurcher nose nestled from under my arm and gently resting on my laptop. Someone once said lurchers are not ‘licky dogs’ but tend to poke their noses at you instead, and lurchers have never forgotten this.
They sleep in really weird positions, like, really weird. They’re usually on their back in the sunny spot on the floor, or on your couch, with their head twisted awkwardly and their legs contorted to look like something out of an orthopaedic case-study. You get accustomed to it, but at first it can be quite startling, and get used to explaining it to guests, that, he is okay and ‘he’s just comfortable.’
Every other lurcher owner is instantly your best friend in every dog park. This is probably because you have a mutual understanding for both the short-lived tribulations, long-term joys and all of the laughs of lurcher-ownership. You share more than a chosen dog breed but an unspoken respect and shared compassion for your long-legged, donkey of a dog. You’ll both know that when you opened your home to a sight hound, you all collectively and unknowingly took on an unofficial responsibility to spread the word of the joys of lurcher ownership to other dog-owners in the hopes others will do the same. You love your lurcher, you hate the thought of so many others waiting in dog-shelters for homes of their own and you want to others to feel the lurcher love too.
Lurchers respond well to commands. They just don’t always obey them! When I first acquired my lurcher two months ago, I was fully aware of the common conception that lurchers don’t ‘do’ obedience commands. Because of this, I was determined to teach my boy a basic ‘sit’. After two months and daily training, asking him to ‘sit’ for his dinner and treats, he had finally mastered it. He looked awkward and like he had too many legs that he knew what to do with but he had mastered it! However, when I then decided he was ready for a ‘lie down’ or a ‘wait’, this was when he promptly decided to forget he ever learned ‘sit’ and he has since decided that this training lark isn’t for him. For this reason, if you are contemplating a lurcher breed, it is important to keep in mind that while some other breeds can master agility and training classes, you should be proud if your lurcher sits. So, yes, lurchers respond well to commands, they just don’t always respond the way you like them too.
Lurcher fashion is a very real thing and deserves a place on a catwalk in London fashion week. There are so many people that have found the niche in the market that lurcher owners search for for their long legged, long necked, no-two-are-ever-the-same-size sight hound breeds. For a dog that requires a coat for the extra protection in cold weather as their fur isn’t thick enough to withstand extreme cold, the range of lurcher jackets, snugs and waterproof macs is unbelieveable! You discover a new hobby for looking at different styles of martingale collars, kennel-coats, waterproof lurcher jackets and colour swatches. Your friends and work colleagues look at you cock-eyed as you discuss the different benefits of the two-tone fleece or the purple-camo collars you have your eye on. I am sure that some people specifically choose sight hound breeds just for the dog wear alone!
It’s a very real thing. Give a lurcher some love and they will return it ten-fold. This is the lurcher guarantee. Getting excited to get home and cuddle your lurcher becomes the norm and hugs on the couch with a fluffy blanket and a sight hound quickly becomes one of your favorite things to do. If you chose to adopt a dog because you wanted to get more active, the lurcher is, perhaps, the wrong dog for you. They love their runs, but they tend to love their snuggles and naps more! And are very easily made couch potatoes, as soon as they are introduced to one. That being said, they seem to love it more when they have you cuddled up beside them, that is, if they have left you any room on the couch/bed/settee and any other comfortable spot.
You start to regret all-things long or dangly in your house. I recently contemplated buying a couch cushion with pretty tassels and instantly put it back when I thought of how hard it would be to have to remember to hide it every time you leave the lurcher alone in the living room. That being said, I’ve never met a dog so appreciative of toys, if ever you feel he’s about to get into something he shouldn’t, show him a toy, and he’ll quickly forget about the mischief they were about to get into. Call this their intuitiveness, maybe they’re just not used to having any of their own, or it’s their way of having you get a toy for them without them having to actually go looking for it themselves, but I think it’s all down to their general low-maintenance as dogs. In my two months as a lurcher-owner, I’ve never come across a problem with him, yet, that a quick walk or a ball-throw around the garden didn’t sort out. For every hour my lurcher is on his feet, he will spend three hours sleeping it off.
They are adorable! From their bright glossy eyes, their pricked up ears, and their big goofy noses to their long, swishy waggy tails, lurchers are hard not to fall head over heels with once you get to know one personally. When they try to sit like a normal dog they end up all legs and just look awkward, their goofy personalities keep you giggling and their majestic stealth when they go for a run at top speed to name a few is something to contend with, how could you not love ’em? Once you adopt a lurcher, you’ll find it difficult to ever want another breed.