Lurchers are not a breed as such but a 'variety of types' arrived at either by accident or design for a given use.
Hybridisation through mating a running dog such as a whippet, greyhound or deerhound to a non running dog such as collie, terrier, or gundog is the best definition of a lurcher that you can get.
Some folk favour big types for big game (naughty naughty) but others, myself included, prefer to run smaller lurchers on small game – rabbits in particular!
The aim of hybridisation is to retain the qualities of each breed involved such as the brains of the collie, speed of a greyhound or the take off speed and gameness of a whippet.
Genetics aren’t quite that simple though and things don’t always go the way you want.
However, where rabbits are concerned, I’ve found this particular blend highly suited to my every day work whether it’s during the day, or at night.
Having said that, I also own three border collie/greyhound hybrids which are deadly on a burrow… as well as being rather handy on the lamp too.
My lurcher Red has made a well-deserved name for herself as a ferreting dog and is one of the few things in my life that I’m proud of!
I seldom, if ever, have to give her a command during ferreting operations because she invariably takes up position in exactly the right place at the right time.
She glides over a burrow like a ghost listening to every sound ready to make an adder-like strike!
With age comes wisdom and in recent years I’ve seldom seen her run a rabbit as she makes her catches within inches of the hole.
If a ferret lies up with a kill Red will often dig straight down to it and make a retrieve, no locator needed!
She has on occasion also dug down to a fox – but without the retrieve I’m pleased to say.
Red is everything I could have asked for, but perhaps a bit of early pace when she was younger wouldn’t have gone amiss.
Lurchers are rabbit dogs
The saying “you only get one dog of a lifetime” is probably true but I couldn’t have wished for a better starting point; thanks to Red I’ve now got a cracking family of lurchers and maybe one of them – or their offspring – might eventually prove as good.
Her daughter Rum, for instance, is showing promise as a rabbit dog – but I think lamping may be her speciality.
We will just have to wait and see. All I do know is that it’s just sad to see Red getting old as she really was the changing point so far as my rabbit control business is concerned.
Whippets and things
Lurchers are wonderful creatures but terriers make great dogs for ferreting in really dense cover and my terrier, Flea, certainly earns her keep at this job.
Often I’ll work her alongside a lurcher – and believe you me, it’s a very effective combination!
Whippets from the right bloodlines can work extremely well and they are really game little devils.
I currently work two – Toby and Zorro – and they truly are underestimated as rabbit dogs; the only downside with whippets is that they burn their weight off if worked daily!
However, for anyone who plans to do no more than a night or two of lamping along with a couple of days ferreting a week this dog is entirely suitable.
At the end of the day of course you only get out what you put into a dog by way of time, effort, care and attention.
I have a consuming passion for lurchers so if anyone were to ask me: “Da ya like dags?” The answer of course would be: “Yeah, I like dags!!”