Dog Portraits and Animal Portraits by Ann Seward
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Dog Portraits - Brindle Lurcher Bitch - Dog Portrait

Smooth-coated brindle lurcher bitch portrait. This lovely bitch 'Lucy' had been homed six times before she found the home that really suited her athletic disposition.
Dog Portraits - Brindle Lurcher Bitch - Dog Portrait Back to previous page

Smooth-coated brindle lurcher bitch portrait. This lovely bitch 'Lucy' had been homed six times before she found the home that really suited her athletic disposition.

The Lurcher is not a dog breed, but rather a type of dog. It is a hardy crossbred sighthound that is generally a cross between a sighthound and a working breed, usually a pastoral dog 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 a Deerhound; but most are chosen for a size similar to that of a Greyhound, and a distinct sighthound form is preferred. The Lurcher was bred in Ireland and Great Britain by the Irish Gypsies and travellers in the 17th century. They were used for poaching rabbits, hares and other small creatures. The name Lurcher is a derived name from the Romani language word lur, which means thief. The travellers considered the short-haired Lurcher the most prized. The Lurcher is rarely seen outside of Ireland or Great Britain, and is still common in its native land. The Collie crosses were often not large enough to do the work the Lurcher was intended for. Irish Romany or Roma people were instrumental in developing the breed, and traditionally sneered at any Lurcher that was not predominantly genetically Greyhound, since these "lesser" Lurchers were not as good at hunting and could not stand a full day's work of the hunt. The stringent training methods of the Gypsies are looked down upon in some Lurcher circles, since the pups began working at six months old. Only the top-producing pups were kept; the rest were sold at traditional bargain rates. Today some breeding is carried out in a more systematic manner, with Lurchers bred to Lurchers to perpetuate the "breed's" prowess at rabbit and hare coursing. Generally, the aim of the cross is to produce a sighthound with more intelligence, a canny animal suitable for the original purpose of the lurcher, poaching. Developed in the Middle Ages in Great Britain and Ireland, the lurcher was created because only nobility were allowed to have purebred sighthounds like Irish Wolfhounds, Scottish Deerhounds, Greyhounds,Borzoi 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 a sighthound were high, particularly given that if you owned one then by default you were considered a poacher. 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. 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. They have also been successfully used on deer. Lurcher can be used for hare coursing, although most hare coursing dogs are Greyhounds. Lurchers move most effectively over open ground, although different crosses suit different terrains. Lure coursing and dog racing are 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 as family pets.


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