Dating the early development of the Lurcher is difficult due to it not being widely referenced or recorded. Popular theory suggests that the Lurcher, a recognised cross-breed, developed in England in the 14th and 15th centuries when the ownership of sight hounds was restricted to the aristocracy, with governments banning common possession. This included the ownership of Greyhounds, Irish Wolfhounds and Scottish Deerhounds. For this reason, sight hounds were selectively bred with Border Collies and various Terriers in order to avoid complicated legal regulation, whilst ensuring only the best traits were retained. Primarily bred as efficient and trainable hunting dogs, or as companion dogs to Irish gypsies and tinkers, the Lurcher rose to great popularity in Great Britain and Ireland and is still widely seen today, either in racing or coursing hares, rabbits, foxes, game birds and vermin.
Lurchers can really be any size, as they are a cross of any of the sighthounds. If the cross contains greyhound and whippet, for example, the lurcher would probably be the size of a small greyhound, whereas a cross containing Irish wolfhound and Saluk would be much bigger. Typically, the Lurcher is lean and athletic with long legs, a deep chest for enhanced lung capacity, small, high-set ears and a defined muzzle. Unlike a Greyhound, the Lurcher coat is typically longer, as inherited from the Collie crosses. There is no breed standard when it comes to coat colour, due to the fact there is no standard breed pairing, although a Long-Haired and a Short-Haired variety are recognised. When it comes to shedding, some Lurchers will shed a lot, while others will shed little.
Contrary to popular belief, the Lurcher is an amiable, relaxed and gentle breed, with a quiet temperament that enjoys regular human contact. Like the Greyhound, the Lurcher is neither aggressive nor highly strung, but docile and dependable towards its owners. Compatible with children and other house pets when introduced to them gradually, the breed is low maintenance and makes a great addition to any home setting. Whilst there are discrepancies across gender, the average Lurcher will weigh between 27-32 kg, with a life expectancy of approximately 12-15 years.
Generally very healthy and long-lived, the Lurcher makes a relatively low maintenance breed choice when it comes to ensuring optimum health. That said, the Lurcher is not completely exempt from medical affliction, with documented cases of muscle and joint injury, as well as more serious incidences of bone cancer and gastric tortion being identified in the breed.