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9 Hound Dogs That Trainers Say Make the Best Family Pets

Plus, how George Washington helped make these pups popular!

All dogs are good dogs, of course. Whether they’re big, small, short or tall, there’s nothing having like a furry friend. And that wide variety of traits is just one of the things that makes dogs so special. If you want a pooch to be your long walk buddy, there’s a breed for that. If you prefer a pup that’s predisposed to being a couch potato, there’s one for that, too. One of the more popular breeds, though, is the hound group — they’re smart, loyal and full of charm. Keep reading to learn more about hound dogs, and see some adorable photos that are guaranteed to make you say, “Awww!”

What makes a hound dog special

If you have a dog, it’s likely that her only job is to be your best friend. However, dogs are bred for certain purposes, and hounds have a specific one — to hunt. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), hound dogs all typically have a strong sense of smell (for tracking) and a lot of stamina (for chasing). Some breeds within the hound group have a loud, unique, howling bark — called a bay — to alert humans of a potential catch.

What to know before adopting a hound dog

Hounds are smart and undeniably adorable, making them terrific family pets. However, there are a few things to know about hound dogs before bringing one into your family, says Nicole Ellis, certified dog trainer with Rover. “Their keen sense of smell can make it a challenge to let them off-leash, as they will follow their nose and ignore everything else.” She adds that many hound dog breeds are high-energy and require a lot of daily exercise, so it’s important to do your research before adopting one.

Hound dog breeds

Though they’re naturally adept at hunting, the most common thing hound dogs capture is our hearts. Keep scrolling to see adorable photos and to learn more about this unique group of dogs:

1. Basset Hound

basset hound dog puppy black with brown eyebrows
Jon Buscall/Shutterstock

Don’t be fooled by this pup’s droopy appearance — basset hounds are cheerful, social dogs that make great companions. Thought to have originated in 16th-century France, basset hounds were bred as rabbit hunters. Their long, low bodies help them burrow into rabbit holes, and their long droopy ears assist them in trapping scents. But despite their hunting abilities, they make low-energy, friendly-family pets. “Basset hounds are among the most pleasant-natured and easygoing of all breeds,” says Michele Welton, dog trainer and creator of She adds that they do have a stubborn streak, however, so if you adopt a basset hound, be patient.

2. Bloodhound

Bloodhound standing in a field of green grass

Another hound dog that’s droopy but dapper: the bloodhound. This large breed (often weighing in between 80 and 100 pounds) is famous for its incredible sense of smell and is often used for search and rescue missions. Bloodhounds are typically easygoing, sensitive and gentle, says Welton, but they require a lot of physical and mental stimulation. Make sure you have a fenced yard if you want a bloodhound, she advises, since they will track a scent for miles without paying attention to their surroundings.

3. Beagle

beagle hound dog in field at sunset
Alexey Androsov/Shutterstock

Among the smaller hound dog breeds on the list, usually between 20 and 30 pounds, beagles are popular family dogs. They’re so popular, in fact, that they ranked as the eighth most popular dog breed in the US in 2022. That’s no surprise, considering that they’re “friendly with people, peaceful with other pets and have an appealing soulful expression,” says Welton. But don’t let their small size fool you — beagles are still hound dogs, and they need plenty of exercise to stay healthy and happy. And speaking of happiness, they’re joyful to a fault, since they’re prone to limber tail syndrome — an injury that results from wagging too much.

4. Irish Wolfhound

irish wolfhound dog on green grass
Viktoriia Bondarenko/Shutterstock

With an adult size of 130 pounds and a name like “wolfhound,” this hound dog is initially intimidating. But despite their appearance, Irish Wolfhounds are docile, gentle giants that make great housepets. They’re playful, affectionate and patient with children. “Irish Wolfhounds are great hound dogs for those who want a lower energy dog that can still be active,” notes Ellis. While they’re content to snuggle on the couch, they do need significant space to stretch out, says Welton. She also notes that, due to their size, Irish Wolfhounds tend to have a shorter lifespan than other breeds.

5. Bluetick Coonhound

bluetick coonhound dog
Mary Swift/Shutterstock

One of the first things you’ll notice about a bluetick coonhound is its unique speckled blue coat. In terms of its lineage, it’s blue-blooded, too, having been gifted to George Washington by a French aristocrat after the American Revolutionary War. They’re intelligent, energetic and loyal dogs that make good family pets when they’re given training and exercise. Keep in mind that they’re vocal, so they may not be a good choice if you’re worried about being the noisy neighbor.

6. American Foxhound

American Foxhound dog sitting on pavement
Olga Aniven/Shutterstock

The American foxhound is among the first dog breeds to be observed by the American Kennel Cub. They’re said to have been bred by George Washington for — you guessed it — hunting foxes. Despite their noble beginnings, American foxhounds make easygoing, kind companions. They’re hound dogs through and through, however, so be prepared to deal with barking and endless energy.

7. Black and Tan Coonhound

black and tan coonhound dog on the beach

Another truly American hound dog, black and tan coonhounds have their roots in the southeastern U.S . and are a cross between bloodhounds and American foxhounds. As their name might suggest, they were bred to hunt raccoons. Black and tan coonhounds are an extremely alert and athletic breed, and they love people. They’re smart and easy to train, but they may be protective and territorial over their human family members.

8. Afghan Hound

two afghan hound dogs

Afghan hounds look like they’re more ready to hit the hair salon than hunt, but they’re technically hound dogs, bred for speed. They’re widely considered one of the oldest existing dog breeds, with roots in ancient Asia as companions for nobility. They gained popularity in the U.S. after one of the Marx brothers (of the famous comedy trio) began breeding them. Afghan hounds are as dignified and confident as they look, says Welton, but can also be silly and entertaining companions. They’re fast runners and high jumpers, so make sure you have large, contained outdoor space if you want to add an Afghan hound to your family.

9. Dachshund

dachshund hound dog playing in the grass
Anna Goroshnikova/Shutterstock

Dachshunds, also known as wiener dogs, are one of the smallest hound dog breeds, typically weighing less than 20 pounds. They were initially bred in Germany to hunt badgers, and while they are mostly used as pets now, they maintain their courageous, tenacious attitudes. “Curious, lively, charming and brave, the dachshund demands to be in on everything,” says Welton. They’re terrific family dogs that thrive on attention and will bark at any sign of an intruder. Their long bodies and short legs make them adorable, but also susceptible to joint issues.

Can’t get enough of cute pups? Click through to learn about more dog breeds:

6 Popular Small Dog Breeds That Are Actually Low-Maintenance

Dog Allergies? These Hypoallergenic Dog Breeds Don’t Have Dander

The World’s Smartest Dog Breeds, According to a Neuropsychologist

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