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The Equipment Your Sighthound Needs

The post The Equipment Your Sighthound Needs appeared first on Petdogplanet – The Place For Dog Breeds And Expert Pet Advice.

If you’re lucky enough to own a sighthound, or have just come across one in your life, you may have noticed that they have a lot of unique features that make them stand out from other breeds of dog. What you may not realize however is that with these unique traits, comes some unique needs, especially in terms of the equipment we need for our sighthounds.

What is a sighthound?

Firstly, let’s just make sure we’re on the same page about what a sighthound is. 

Sighthounds are an ancient group of dogs that are known for their sight, speed and agility. They’re one of the few breeds that hunt using sight and can see far into the distance and boast an insane 270 degree field of view! Combined with top speeds of up to 45 miles per hour, it’s no wonder that these dogs made such great hunting companions for our ancestors.

Today, we see these dogs more as pets and their unique personalities shine through. They’re the fastest couch potatoes you will ever meet and are known for their funny quirks, and their independent but gentle nature. Most common sighthound breeds today include but are not limited to the greyhound, whippet, saluki, lurcher, Afghan hound, Podenco, Galgo and more.

Why do sighthounds need certain equipment?

Sighthounds are unique in more ways than one, but it mostly comes down to their body shape. They are characterized by their sleek, slender bodies and heads, deep chests, slim waists, and long powerful legs. Because of this, it can make traditional equipment hard to use with a sighthound which doesn’t take their unique shape into account, but we will explore that more in depth below.

What collars should you use with a sighthound?

Whilst a traditional collar may be fine for casual use around the house and for attaching ID tags, it isn’t going to be right for walks, and there’s a few reasons for this.

Firstly, it is very likely to slip right off. Due to a sighthound’s slim head, there isn’t the natural barrier that you would find with say a Labrador where the head is substantially bigger than the neck, so the collar can slip right off.

The other issue is that sighthounds are fast, and I mean really fast. They also have slim, fragile necks, a recipe for disaster. Most traditional collars are only about 1” thick so that concentrates any pulling force around a very small surface area and that’s not safe for our sighthounds. You want a collar at least 1.5” thick, possibly 2” for larger breeds to spread the force over a larger surface area.

So, instead you have a few options for collars you can use with your sighthound.

Leather hound collars:

You may also see these called fishtail collars, and they are particularly good for sighthounds. They are slim on one side to keep them lightweight, and wide on the other side where pressure is applied, up to 2” wide in some instances. As previously mentioned, we want this additional surface area if we’re using a collar with our sighthounds to relieve some of the pressure should they pull or lunge at anything, which is quite common as sighthounds have an incredibly high prey drive.

These don’t completely solve the slipping out issue though, which brings us on to the next option.

Martingale collars:

These can also be called sighthound collars because the design is perfect for sighthound breeds. They are often thicker than traditional collars, which again, is great, but they also have a design that stops a sighthound from slipping out of them.

A martingale collar consists of two loops, one that goes over the dog’s head, and another that the lead attaches too. When your dog pulls or tries to back out of the collar, this pulls the second loop which tightens the first loop around your dog’s neck. This prevents it from being able to slip off, and as soon as your dog stops pulling, the pressure is relieved and it returns to a nice loose fitting collar again.

martingale collar

Some people wonder if this is cruel as it sounds a bit like a choke chain, but it is completely different. They are designed to only tighten by a small amount, just enough to stop it slipping off but not enough to be uncomfortable, and are usually made from soft materials. 

Harnesses:

Some people prefer collars for their sighthounds and that’s fine, but at Snootiful Hound we do recommend a good sighthound harness for many of the same considerations we’ve already made.  Primarily, it doesn’t just reduce pressure on the neck, it removes it altogether. This is especially important if you want to use a longer lead as you should never attach a long line to your dog’s collar. 

So will any harness do for a sighthound? No, they have unique needs here too! It won’t surprise you to hear that sighthounds are also prone to slipping out of traditional harnesses – trust me, my rescue Saluki Blondie used to do it ALL the time! The reason for this is that they have big barrel-y chests, so if the harness slips forward towards the front legs, it leaves a big gap. Again, their narrow heads make it easy for them to fit through this gap, and all of a sudden you have a sighthound on the loose! They don’t call sighthounds the Houdini’s of the dog world for nothing!

Instead, you want a harness with an escape proof design using 3 straps, where the third strap tucks behind the chest. This prevents it from slipping forwards.

A black harness with straps

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Sighthounds are also very sensitive as they have no body fat and some breeds also have very little fur, which means no natural cushioning. That makes it vital to treat your hound to a nice padded harness. You will want it to be padded on the chest piece, chest strap, and belly strap if choosing an escape proof design.

A final consideration on comfort is that you want a y-shaped front as this will prevent the harness from rubbing around the pits. It may sound silly, but I see this problem constantly when sighthound owners use harnesses that have a wide chest plate.

Leads:

Thankfully, leads are pretty straightforward with sighthounds, any lead will do as long as it’s strong enough to handle your dog’s activity. There’s just a few things to keep in mind.

  1. Don’t attach a long lead to a collar, ever.
  2. Your dog is fast – be careful with any lead longer than about 1.5m. They can reach top speeds in just a few strides and they could pull you over if you’re not paying attention.

Many people also use a double ended lead with their sighthound as this gives them additional control which is especially useful if your hound is reactive and likes to pull. You simply attach one end to the collar to redirect them, and the other to the harness to act as a brake so you can safely bring them to a stop.

Conclusion:

Sighthounds are as unique as they are special, and it’s our job to be aware of this. With just this basic information you should be ahead of the game and ready for a life filled with love and joy alongside your sighthound companion.

The post The Equipment Your Sighthound Needs appeared first on Petdogplanet – The Place For Dog Breeds And Expert Pet Advice.