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 chasing after a plastic bag attached to a lure that whizzes by on a specially designed course.
AKC Lure Coursing is a sport which 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 where their 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 quick manner across a field according to the course layout, simulating the unpredictability of a real chase.
Most all 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. Eligible Sighthound breeds can compete in AKC Lure Coursing after reaching their first birthday and being AKC, FSS or PAL registered.
Lure Coursing events take place as tests or trials. Tests are non-competitive and 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 (FC) Title), and Veteran (dogs over a certain age as required by their breed’s Parent Club). 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).
Lure Coursing Title Structure:
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.
(JC) Junior Courser, 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 enthusiasm.
(SC) Senior Courser, dog must earn qualifying scores (with competition) at four AKC lure coursing trials under three different judges.
(MC) Master Courser, dog must have earned a SC and have earned an additional 25 qualifying scores (with competition) in either the Open, Veteran or Specials stakes.
(FC) Field Champion, dog must earn 15 championship points including two majors
(majors = 1 st place earning a value of of 3,4, or 5 pts according to the Schedule of Points by Breed) under two different judges and at least 1 point must be earned in competition with a hound of the same breed.
(DC) Dual Champion, dog must earn an FC title in Lure Coursing and a CH title in conformation dog shows.
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 and basic obedience is highly recommended. Foundational test levels such as Junior Courser is a great place to introduce a hound to coursing and serves as a pre-requisite to the Qualified Courser test level where a dog must prove they can run cleanly with another hound.