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Lurcher on Mountain.jpg
OriginGreat Britain and Ireland
Coat Any
Colour Any
Litter size variable
Dog (domestic dog)

The lurcher is a cross-bred dog, the result of mating a sighthound with a dog of another type, most commonly a herding dog or a terrier. Historically a poacher's dog, lurchers in modern times are kept as pets, hunting dogs and in racing.


The lurcher is a cross-bred dog, normally between a Greyhound and a Collie or sheepdog. The word 'lurcher' is derived from the medieval French lerce[1] Lurcher was first used with this meaning in 1668 from the verb 'lurch' — 'lurk'.[2][3]

The distinction in England between a greyhound and a lurcher was both legal and biological. Greyhounds were used to hunt legally only by the privileged upper class who could show qualification by sufficient income or estate. Anyone else with a lower income was, from 1389, prohibited from hunting with any type of dog including the specifically named lurcher: "lerce".[4]


A lurcher is a cross, generally between a sighthound and a working dog breed.[5] Generally, the aim of the cross is to produce a sighthound with more intelligence, a canny animal suitable for poaching rabbits, hares and game birds. Over time, poachers and hunters discovered that the crossing of certain breeds with sighthounds produced a dog better suited to this purpose, given the lurcher's combination of speed and intelligence.[citation needed]


Lurchers were traditionally bred to assist poachers in hunting rabbits and hares. They may be kept as family pets,[6] or to compete in sports such as lure coursing and dog racing.[citation needed] In the USA they may compete in lure coursing events of the National Lure Coursing Club.[7]

As cross-breeds, they are not recognised by any major kennel club. In Canada and the United States they can be registered with the North American Lurcher and Longdog Association.[8]


  1. ^ A dictionary of the Norman or Old French language; collected from such acts of Parliament, Parliament rolls, journals, acts of state, records, law books, antient historians, and manuscripts as related to this nation. To which are added the laws of William, the Conqueror, with notes and referencesKelham, Robert, 1717-1808; Great Britain. Laws, etc (William I); Wilkins, David, 1685-1745 p135
  2. ^ lurcher, n.4. Oxford English Dictionary, online edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (subscription required).
  3. ^ lurch, v.1. Oxford English Dictionary, online edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (subscription required).
  4. ^ "AD 1389 Cap. XIII". Statutes at large. 1763. Retrieved 7 August 2020.
  5. ^ Blount, Deborah (February 2000). "The Lurcher Submission for the Committee of Inquiry into Hunting with Dogs in England and Wales". The Association of Lurcher Clubs. Archived from the original on 23 January 2013. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  6. ^ Drakeford, J. (2003). The House Lurcher. Shrewsbury: Swan Hill Press. ISBN 978-1-904057-34-5.
  7. ^ Lure Coursing Club
  8. ^ "Lure Coursing, Amateur Whippet & Sighthound Racing - NALLA Overview". Lure Coursing, Amateur Whippet & Sighthound Racing. Retrieved 21 December 2015.