The Kangaroo Dog is a purpose-bred Australian sighthound that is considered a "type" of dog rather than a purebred. The breed is maintained purely for hunting game by sight, and little interest is shown by breeders in joining the ANKC. However there is some discussion among a small group of hunters on starting a working registry which focuses on the working ability of these dogs rather than solely on their looks.
Hunting sighthounds such as Greyhounds and Scottish Deerhounds accompanied early settlers as they spread across Australia, providing meat for their masters by catching game animals such as emus, kangaroos and wallabies. They also protected the early pioneers' sheep flocks against dingoes.
The best of these dogs were bred together, to combine the qualities of each breed to create a running dog that could cope with Australia's harsh and rugged conditions. The Greyhound was used for its speed and fantastic eyesight, while the Deerhound blood added tougher feet, a thicker coat, a more powerful body and excellent stamina. There is evidence that other running and working dog breeds such as Borzoi, Whippet, Saluki and Irish Wolfhound were added into the mix, but the majority of the heritage comes from greyhound and deerhound lines.
From these breeds two separate yet similar types emerged, the smooth-coated Kangaroo Dogs, and the rough-coated Australian Staghounds. Both types are noted for their great speed, excellent stamina and powerful bodies.
Although quite rare, "roo dogs" still persist as a type in rural communities where hunting rabbits and foxes remains a popular pastime. Apart from being bred to continue the type, Roo Dogs are also often cross-bred with molosser and bulldog breeds to add speed and stamina in some lines of hog dog.
The smooth-coated Kangaroo Dogs are better suited to warmer parts of Australia as they have less protection from the elements. Because they are generally more greyhound-like than their staghound cousins and lack the thick protective coat, they are also prone to skin tears when hunting dangerous game such as dingoes and feral pigs, and despite their powerful stature are probably more suitable for smaller game such as rabbits, foxes and hares. The hunting of native animals such as kangaroos with sighthounds is now strictly illegal.
The ability of Kangaroo Dogs to use their scenting abilities while hunting is variable from bloodline to bloodline, although most seem to have an average nose and rely much more on sight to hunt their prey. Staghounds or Kangaroo dogs with an infusion of Great Dane or Wolfhound tend to display better scenting abilities.