The wonderful Laura Temple Carroll once found herself with a litter of coonhound puppies to place (because she is the kind of awesome person who finds homes for strays all the time), but kept ending up with bad applicants who wanted to use them for hunting dogs. I had been down this road before, so I suggested that she change her Craigslist posting to include the word “snugglehound.” As we had hoped, a far better caliber of adopter presented itself immediately.
It’s not really rocket science to figure out why this is. People who want dogs for hunting don’t want a dog that prefers to nap on a sofa while their human watches television. But there are a LOT of people who want a snugglehound, it seems.
So what exactly is a snugglehound? Well, the title of “snugglehound” is bestowed on dogs whose ability to cuddle, snuggle and affectionately nap on or adjacent to his human(s) is exceptional. Any breed can be a snugglehound, although hound dogs often set the standard in this area because they have the seeming ability to become boneless when sleeping, giving the human being snuggled (sometimes known as the snugglee) the impression of being next to a warm chenille blanket.
How, might you ask, can an entire breed category be defined by a fondness for one particular behavior? It’s because this is their chief motivation for living. They have many joys in life, but it’s clear that they are happiest curled up next to a human. Some of them will even race upstairs immediately after dinner to camp out on the human’s bed until it’s snuggling time.
Snugglehounds can be any breed, any size, and any energy level. Their temperaments span the range from needy to placid. As long as they live to cuddle up next to a human (or another dog if no human is available), they fall into that category.
Snugglehounds are surprisingly stealthy. Sometimes humans can be sitting at their desk only to notice that there is a dog leaning against them in such a way that they have uninterrupted access from foot to hip. If a snugglehound is allowed to sleep in bed, a human need merely move slightly to find that their dog has suddenly come in contact with even more of their body.
In order to become a certified snugglehound, a dog should show some or all of these traits:
- The ability to do a lean-in drape where the dog is able to arrange his or her body so that there is absolutely no space between it and an extended expanse of a human’s body.
- An expression of blissful abandon while sleeping (many snugglehounds will blissfully snore).
- A pronounced love of soft things and warm places (many a snugglehound will run outside in the morning to go potty, then race back in to snuggle in its bed; still others will need to be dragged out since they would prefer to remain in a warm bed).
- Advanced snugglehounds will snuggle visitors to the home, including petsitters, extended family members and near-perfect strangers.
- Advanced snugglehounds have also mastered “self-snuggling sleep” which means that they will curl up into tiny balls while napping. Some dogs will do a perfect oval with their legs tucked in, while others, such as the dog pictured below at right, will leave their legs out, in a position that resembles a high-diver in mid-dive tuck. Both self-snuggles are equally acceptable.
Snugglehounds have passionate followings, and it’s not surprising. If you haven’t had a snugglehound in your life, consider that to be an item for your bucket list.