The song is about being afraid to fall in love; in the song this feeling is compared to being chased by a pack of hounds.
The versions worldwide differ slightly: the US single mix included an additional chorus just after the second chorus. The words "it's in the trees, it's coming!" heard at the beginning of the track are sampled from the British 1957 horror filmNight of the Demon and are mouthed by an actor from the film, Reginald Beckwith, who plays a medium channelling a character played by Maurice Denham, who provides the voice.
In October 2004, Q magazine placed this song at No. 21 in its list of the 50 greatest British songs of all time.
The song was performed live for the first time as part of the 2014 Before the Dawn residency, in which the lyrics were slightly altered.
English post-punk band the Futureheads covered the song in 2005, scoring a UK Top 10 hit with it. Faroese singer Eivør also covered the song in 2010 on her album Larva.
A music video was made for the song, which Bush herself directed. It was inspired by Alfred Hitchcock's thriller film The 39 Steps (1935) and a Hitchcock lookalike also features in the video (a nod to the director's famous cameo appearances in his movies).
All songs written and composed by Kate Bush, except "The Handsome Cabin Boy", which is a traditional composition. "Alternative Hounds of Love" is not a remix, but an early version, with slightly different lyrics.
"Hounds of Love" was covered by English post-punk band the Futureheads for their self-titled debut album and was released as a single in February 2005. The single peaked at No. 8 on the UK charts in its first week and was named Best Single of 2005 by NME. In October 2011, NME placed it at No. 89 on its list "150 Best Tracks of the Past 15 Years".