Hunters on trail of prey

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 August, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 August, 2009, 12:00am

Wolves are top predators. They are excellent hunters who prey on big animals such as deer and wild boar. Wolves also hunt small animals such as ducks and chickens.

About 15,000 years ago, wolves began to live with people. Over time these wolves evolved into the dogs we know today.

When wolves first began to live with us, they helped us hunt. Over time special pedigrees were created.

The saluki was the favourite hunting dog of the Egyptian pharaohs. Salukis are fast and very tough. They are sight hounds, which means they see the prey, then run to catch it. Salukis hunted deer, birds and even lions.

French aristocrats bred bassets about 600 years ago. Bassets are scent hounds, which means they can track their prey by scent. Bassets can sniff out where you've been even after several days. Bassets hunted deer, wild boar, foxes and other animals.

Today there are dozens of hunting dogs. Popular breeds include Spaniels, retrievers, pointers and terriers. Which is your favourite?

What hunting dogs do

Hunting dogs help the hunter find the prey. Some dogs help the hunter kill the prey. Others wait until the prey is dead, then find the body and bring it to the hunter.

Sight hounds such as the saluki hunt by sight. They are mostly used to hunt in fields, meadows and grasslands. They usually hunt alone or in small groups.

Scent hounds such as the basset hunt by scent. They are mostly used to hunt in woods, hills and mountains. They can work alone but often work in packs.

Amazing qualities

Hunting dogs are bred to help hunters. Some pedigrees are created to hunt specific types of prey.

The retriever helps bird hunters. This dog has a waterproof coat so that it can 'retrieve' or fetch ducks, geese and other birds out of the water. It has a soft mouth, so it doesn't damage the birds.

The terrier helps hunters find rats, rabbits and other mammals. They sniff out the prey's underground home. When the terrier digs into the ground, the prey runs out and the hunter shoots it. Sometimes the terrier goes underground and kills it.

Popular breeds

There are more than 50 types of pedigree hunting dogs. Two of the biggest are the bulldog and the deerhound.

American bulldogs are suited to hunting wild boar, which are dangerous to hunt because they are big, strong and very aggressive. Bulldogs are good for hunting boar because these dogs are big, strong, tough and very clever.

Deer hunters include Scottish deerhounds. Deer are very fast. They can also run for miles. Deerhounds have long legs so that they can run fast too. Deerhounds are also very tough. They can run around all day.

fab fact!

Pointers help hunters by showing them where the quarry is. When the dog sees the prey, it points its nose to the right spot and freezes

Dog Joke!

What do you get if you cross a dog and a cheetah?

A dog that chases cars - and catches them!