Dog Care 101 Tip #186 – Dog Sports: Lure Coursing

If you don’t use it, you lose it. That’s the case with today’s Dog Care 101’s featured Dog Sport, Lure Coursing. This fast-paced, high-energy event was created to keep dogs on their toes and off the couch. This sport shows off the sheer speed and athleticism dogs are born with and wants to share it with you. Read on to learn more about Lure Coursing!

What is Lure Coursing?
This Dog Sport consists of sighthounds chasing or coursing an artificial lure around an open field. If you’re unsure what qualifies as a sighthound, think Whippets, Greyhounds, or Rhodesian Ridgebcks (full list later in post). This purpose of this sport is to preserve the abilites and skills of sighthounds.

The inception of Lure Coursing is in ancient times. Sighthounds have been hunting live prey as far back as ancient Egypt.  People have used sighthounds for hunting throughout history to catch game because they hunt by sight, not smell, thus their name. Not only do they have sharp eyes but sighthounds are known for their sleek forms and extremely fast legs. However, the athleticism shown by these amazing dogs wasn’t always good for the dogs. Many fanciers of these hounds risked their dog’s safety because of barbed wire fencing and running in harsh elements. A better way was needed.

In the 1970s Lyle Gillette set out to create a humane way to show off the skill, speed and agility of sighthounds. As a breeder of Borzoi and Salukis, Gillette dreamed of a portable sport, held on open land and that wasn’t dependent on live game. It was then Lure Coursing was born! Soon after in 1972, the ASFA began and since has recruited over a hundred clubs countrywide.

How It Works
Sighthounds include Whippets, Basenjis, Greyhounds, Italian Greyhounds, Afghan Hounds, Borzois, Ibizan Hounds, Pharaoh Hounds, Irish Wolfhounds, Scottish Deerhounds, Salukis and Rhodesian Ridgebacks. However, any dog that is “certified” can run in this Dog Sport. Most clubs require a “clean” run, which means a dog must run for the lure while not interfering with the other dogs of similar running style. 

Dogs chase a “bunny”, a piece of white plastic, attached to a length of line. This line is pulled from a lure coursing machine which contains a spool, just like thread on spool. This line is pulled around a predetermined course and held in place by a series of pulleys. Courses can range from straight and short to oblong to long and weaving. Usually dogs must complete courses ranging from 600 to 1000 yards.

When a race starts on the call of “Tally-ho!,” a dog or dogs are released and the operator of the machine determines how fast the line retracts to the machine. Each race lasts under a minute.  When a hound completes the course, they are judged on a few different criteria including speed, enthusiasm, agility, endurance, and their ability to follow the lure. Dogs must be at least one year old to compete. There are at least four different organizations that run lure coursing events, and each have slightly different rules. There are no cash prizes or betting in this Dog Sport, just pure enjoyment and maybe a title or ribbon here and there.

Watch this video to get a better idea of how Lure Coursing works! 

To read about more fun and exciting Dog Sports, check out the BBS spotlights on Dock JumpingObedience TrialsFlyballBikejoring and Agility! This wraps up our series on Dog Sports! We hope you’ve enjoyed the ride! Tell us your dog’s favorite sport in the comments section below! 

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