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Ever wonder how the sighthound got its name? Just as the label suggests, many years ago they were bred to pursue their prey by sight rather than scent, which requires a display of fantastic athleticism and keen eyesight to stay in hot pursuit. Today’s Sighthounds demonstrate their Coursing skills by following a plastic bag attached to a lure (used to mimic the movement of a rabbit) while it whizzes by on a specially designed course.

AKC Lure Coursing is a sport that tests the inherent coursing characteristics of sighthound breeds. During a lure coursing trial, sighthounds do what comes naturally in a safe, controlled environment. Hounds run in packs of three and must wear a light, soft blanket in pink, yellow, or blue to help differentiate each dog.

Lure Coursing trials are competitive. Dogs’ ability to follow the lure over a course is scored according to a structured point system. They are judged on categories such as follow, speed, agility, and endurance.  A mechanical lure, which consists of a white plastic bag attached to a movable line positioned slightly above the ground, is controlled by a lure operator, who moves the white bag in a quick manner across a field according to the course layout, simulating the unpredictability of a real chase.

Afghan Hound running in lure coursing.
©Lois Stanfield

Most sighthound breeds love lure coursing events. It provides them a great outlet to use their natural ability to run fast and visually focus on something in motion.

What Dogs Can Compete?

The following breeds are eligible to compete in AKC Lure Coursing after reaching their first birthday and being registered with the AKC, Foundation Stock Service (FSS) program, or Purebred Alternative Listing (PAL):

    • Coursing Events for Any Dog

      Any breed, including mixed breeds, can participate in the non-competitive Coursing Ability Test (CAT) or FAST CAT.

      Coursing Ability Tests are pass/fail. Dogs must run alone on a course rather than in a trio. To pass, a dog under 12” at the withers must complete a 300-yard course. If the dog is brachycephalic (flat-faced), they must complete the course in less than 90 seconds.

      Dogs over 12” at the withers must run a 600-yard course in less than 2 minutes. Passing dogs receive the following titles upon the number of passes — 3 passes = (CA), 10 passes = (CAA), 25 passes = (CAX), 50 passes = (CAX2). All additional passes at 25 increments will earn a higher numbered title (i.e., CAX3, CAX4, etc.)

      Test or Trial?

      Lure Coursing events take place as tests or trials. Tests are non-competitive and are meant to test the instincts of a dog with a pass/fail outcome.

      Trials are competitive and have three stakes a dog can enter and earn points — Open (for non-titled dogs), Specials (for dogs that earned their Field Champion, or FC, Title), and Veteran (dogs over a certain age, as required by their breed’s Parent Club).

      Mark L. Baer/MLBaer Photography
    • How Are Points Scored?

      In Lure Coursing Trials, judges score hounds for a maximum score of 50 points, based on overall ability (10), follow (10), speed (10), agility (10), and endurance (10).

      What Titles Can Dogs Earn?

      All Lure Coursing Titles are added to the dogs’ official registered name, according to the title’s acronym. All lure coursing titles are added after a dog’s name (except a field champion title or a dual champion title, which is added before). Lure Coursing titles are:

      (JC) Junior Courser — the dog must complete this lure coursing test twice and in each instance must run alone and receive a qualification after showing enthusiasm and no interruptions in each run from two different AKC judges.

      (QC) Qualified Courser — a certificate is issued by an AKC judge once a dog shows he/she can run with another hound of the same breed or similar running style and can complete the course cleanly with no interference with the other hound, with no interruption, and with enthusiasm.

      (SC) Senior Courser — the dog must earn qualifying scores (with competition) at four AKC lure coursing trials under three different judges.

      (MC) Master Courser — the dog must have earned the title of SC and have earned an additional 25 qualifying scores (with competition) in either the Open, Veteran, or Specials stakes.

      (FC) Field Champion — the dog must earn 15 championship points including two majors (majors = 1st place, earning a value of 3, 4, or 5 points according to the Schedule of Points by Breed) under two different judges. At least 1 point must be earned in competition with a hound of the same breed.

      (DC) Dual Champion — the dog must earn an FC title in Lure Coursing and a CH title in Conformation dog shows.

      ©krushelss -
      Italian Greyhound

      How Can Dogs Prepare?

      Sighthounds typically don’t require much training to chase a lure, since the action is instinctual. As with any puppy, early socialization with other dogs, plus basic obedience training, are highly recommended.

      Foundational test levels such as Junior Courser are great places to introduce a hound to coursing. They serve as a pre-requisite to the Qualified Courser test level, where a dog must prove they can run cleanly with another hound.

Related article: How Do Dogs Run AKC Fast CAT?
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