Trail hounds look similar to foxhounds but are leaner in build. They originally were bred from foxhounds with other crosses to get a faster hound with a good nose. Various out-crosses were tried many years ago before the present type evolved, including pointer, harrier and sheepdog. Nowadays, only a foxhound is very occasionally bred with a trail hound. They are bred for stamina and speed.
A 10 mile trail takes between 25 minutes and 40 minutes and typically covers all terrain, from low-lying pasture to steep fell sides with streams, walls and ditches to be crossed in-between.
Hound trailing is a sport which takes place all over the Lake District between April and October. It dates back over 200 years. Individual owners get their hounds fit, then take them to race meetings, which are held most days throughout the summer. The hounds run a circular route of up to 10 miles over field and fell, following a strong aniseed and paraffin scent. Owners and spectators wait at the meet where bets are laid on the outcome.
For more details about hound trailing, look up the following websites:
To view video footage of hound trailing, visit the Local Heritage Initiative website and click on the video link.
Hound trailing is very competitive and is run under strict rules. Hounds which continually try to play or ‘interfere’ with other hounds during the race can be banned from racing in future. Some young hounds are just not interested in following the trail. Some may have a minor injury which would preclude them from the rigours of racing but does not affect them as a pet. Many hounds finish their racing career when six or seven years old but still have many years of active life left in them. Trail hounds may live to 15 or 16 years. Lakeland Trailhound Welfare works closely with racing owners to help to find them good retirement homes.
Trail hounds have wonderful temperaments and are very affectionate and loyal. They are friendly towards other pets and children. They adapt quickly to indoor life and soon discover the warmest, cosiest spot in the house. See our Your Trailhound as a Pet leaflet for more information.
Trail hounds will have been well trained to ignore livestock and other animals when they were racing. It is not their nature to chase things in the way a sight hound might, but they do love to put their noses down and follow a scent. However, it is important to continue to remind a new hound that livestock is to be ignored. A new owner should initially walk among livestock with hound on a lead and use voice commands to reinforce that they should ignore.
They are used to travelling in cars and, although they are big dogs, they fold up quite nicely on the back seat! They are friendly, playful and lots of fun. Many people who adopt a trailie say they will never have another breed. A lot of owners go on to get a second hound.
Trail hounds are very adaptable. Some now take part in agility competitions. Some have gone on to do PAT work (Pets As Therapy).
An individual racing owner may have one or more hounds which are normally kept in outdoor kennels. So when first re-homed they are not normally house-trained. However, they are very quick to learn, but for the first few days big dog can equal big puddles! Many hounds understand right from the start and never have an accident indoors.
For any dog that is re-homed, it is a big change in it’s life. Hounds are no different. Many settle in to their new home very quickly but for others, it takes longer. They may be insecure about being left alone at first. Hounds have the ability to jump very high obstacles if they choose to.
Trail hounds, like all hounds, have an independent streak, and may try to go off following their noses, given the opportunity. They have little or no road sense. They will have had little formal training but are exuberant rather than naughty. Hounds are quick to learn so do follow our recall guidelines from the start. Please remember that it is your responsibility as a caring and responsible owner to keep them safe at all times.
Trail hounds are big, active dogs and benefit from having regular exercise. They do enjoy curling up and snoozing in a warm spot as well.
We would like to stress that you should not let your hound offlead, unless in a secure area, until you have properly trained them to return to a recall word. All hounds will be able to jump a 4 foot fence with ease and many hounds will jump higher than that. It is your responsibility to keep them safe until they have bonded with you and you know they will return when called. As a caring and responsible owner you should never allow them to go off unsupervised and assume they will safely return.
Hounds, in general, are strong willed and stubborn but are very trainable. In order for them to get the best out of life (i.e. lots of freedom), you must be prepared to put in time to train them. The words ‘selectively deaf’ were probably thought up by someone with a hound! A number of hounds go to dog training classes and are doing very well. Many adopted hounds settle easily into their new homes from the start, but please only consider adopting a hound if you are committed to taking time to train them. This could take many months. Are you prepared for this? See our training page for more info.
Lakeland Trailhound Welfare encourages owners to train their dogs with modern positive reinforcement methods and not to train with pain. Along with the Dogs Trust and all other major welfare groups, we do not support the use of electronic or ’shock’ collars.
We at Trailhound Welfare want the very best homes for our hounds. We expect a certain commitment from you – when you meet some of our hounds you will understand why we are so passionate about them, and why we want to keep them safe and happy in their new homes. Here are some of our expectations from new owners (other rehoming centres that take in hounds from us may slightly differ and have their own criteria).
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