Lure Coursing / Sighthound Racing
Lure coursing is a modern day copy of the original practice of “coursing” sighthounds. A course is set up in a large field, using corner pulleys, string and a machine which pulls the string through all the pulleys in a set pattern so as to mimic game running away from a predator.
At the end of the course, a Borzoi finally catches her ‘bunny’.
To preserve the natural attributes of beauty, grace, and speed of the Sighthounds, Lure Coursing was designed for these breeds. For field trial purposes, only Sighthounds can participate. The Canadian Kennel Club rules allow the following breeds to compete: The Afghan Hound, Basenji, Borzoi, Greyhound, Ibizan Hound, Irish Wolfhound, Pharaoh Hound, Saluki, Scottish Deerhound, and the Whippet.
In addition to the CKC accepted breeds, the American Sighthound Field Association (ASFA) also recognizes the following breeds: The Italian Greyhound, Azawakh, Chart Polski, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Magyar Agar, Sloughi, Pervuian Inca Orchid, Cirneco dell’Etna, Galgo Español, and the Portuguese Podengo.
Non-Sighthounds, such as Jack Russell Terriers are also seen participating in this exciting sport but only in practices and fun matches.
Amateur oval-track racing for Sighthounds is sponsored by the National Oval Track Racing Association (NOTRA). Most breeds (except for the Irish Wolfhound, Rhodesian Ridgebacks and Scottish Deerhound, which are too large) are started from a mechanical starting box. The dogs wear numbered, coloured blankets, and leap from the box to chase an artificial lure around an oval or u-shaped course. Each dog runs 3-4 times in a meet, depending on the length of the course. After each go-round, the results are analysed and the races are re-drawn so that dogs that have won their races are matched with other dogs that have also won, and so on. After the final race of the day, the points are added up and the meet winners are decided. Dogs that do well will accumulate points towards an Oval Race Champion (ORC) title.
Whippets break from the starting box at the start of a race.
Whippets are slipped from their leashes as the huntsmaster calls ‘Tally ho!”
Whippets are also raced on straight, 200 yard courses sponsored by the North American Whippet Racing Association (NAWRA). The rules are similar to those of the oval-track racing, except that the track is shorter and straight, and only purebred, registered Whippets may participate. Straight racing for non-whippet sighthounds is offered by the Large Gazehound Racing Association (LGRA).
In order to participate in sighthound racing trials, dogs must be registered (AKC or CKC) purebreds of an eligible breed, be trained to wear a muzzle and use a starting box, and be physically fit.
This Scottish Deerhound is flying along a temporary track in pursuit of an artificial lure.
Field Champion (FCh) — To earn the title of Field Champion, the dog must have one first placement (2 seconds) and a total of 100 points.
Field Champion Excellent (FChX) — The Field Champion Excellent title is earned after five first placements and 300 points.
Oval Racing Chamption (ORC) — Can be earned by all Sighthounds, awarded by the National Oval Track Racing Association (NOTRA).
Supreme Oval Racing Champion (SORC) — Can be earned by all Sighthounds, awarded by the National Oval Track Racing Association (NOTRA).
Oval Track Racer (OTR) — — Can be earned by all Sighthounds, awarded by the National Oval Track Racing Association (NOTRA).
Oval Track Racer of Merit (OTRM) — — Can be earned by all Sighthounds, awarded by the National Oval Track Racing Association (NOTRA).
Race Champion (RCh) — Awarded to whippets for straight racing by the North American Whippet Racing Association (NAWRA).
Supreme Race Champion (SRCh) — Awarded to whippets for straight racing by the North American Whippet Racing Association (NAWRA).
The dogs are judged in: Follow, Enthusiasm, Agility, Speed, and Endurance.
Follow — “maintaining a path of reasonably close proximity to the lure’s course.” (15 points)
Enthusiasm — “lively, single-minded interest.” (15 points)
Agility — “ability to move quickly and easily. Nimbleness.” (25 points)
Speed — “the rate of motion or progress. Credit is given to the dog which levels out low, stretching, and really drives.” (25 points)
Endurance — “stamina or physical and mental concentration.” (20 points)
Scores are based on the above criteria.
Basenjis just catching up to the lure at the end of a course.
A pair of afghans course in an open field.
- An Introduction to Lure Coursing — From the Canadian Sighthound Field Association
- The Sport of Lure Coursing Explained — From the ASFA
- A Beginner’s Guide to Lure Coursing — PDF File available for download from the ASFA
Coursing Clubs & Associations
Note: For additional club listings, see the individual Sighthound breed pages.
- Canadian Amateur Racing Association (C.A.R.A.)
- Canadian Sighthound Field Association
- Alberta Lure Coursing Association
- Aspen Grove Sighthound Association — Holds 200 Yard Amateur Straight Racing Meets for Sighthounds in Alberta.
- The Ontario Lure Coursing Association
- Ontario Racing Association
- American Sighthound Field Associaiton (ASFA)
- National Oval Track Racing Assocation (NOTRA)
- NOTRA Other Breeds Racing
- Large Gazehound Racing Association (LGRA)