The hounds are the original hunting dogs. There is a great deal of diversity, both behavioral and physical, within this group, a history of hunting assistance often being the only common bond among some of the hound breeds. In size, they range from the tall and lanky Irish wolfhound to the short-legged dachshund.
For the most part, these breeds originally assisted hunters in the field with either excellent scenting abilities or exceptional speed. Scent hounds such as bloodhounds, beagles and foxhounds have historically aided hunters by following the scent trails left by their quarry. Today the slow, prodding bloodhound is commonly used by law enforcement to track fugitives or missing persons. Some of the oldest breeds of domestic dogs are the speedy sight hounds. Saluki and pharaoh hounds, in particular, can trace their origins back to antiquity. Images of dogs closely resembling these breeds are depicted on the walls of the tombs of the Egyptian pharaohs. Even the famous racer, the greyhound, has proved to be a popular family pet.
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