- "Recon Lead in position, Kroot encampment in sight. Recon Two, commence infiltration, over. Recon Two? Recon Two, report status, over…"
- — Scout Captain Khorvah, Volg 91st Light Infantry
Kroot Hounds are an evolutionary dead end of the Kroot species, xenos who are allied with the T'au Empire. They are quadrupedal, canine-like Kroot who excel at running down prey. They are the size of a large dog, with a series of sensory ganglia running along their spine. They have wiry frames, just like the related humanoid Kroot species, and possess a toughness that belies their apparent fragility.
While Kroot Hounds are an evolutionary dead-end of the Kroot speces, they are not hunted to extinction by other Kroot as is common with such variant species. It is likely that the Kroot Hounds came into existence when a Kroot Kindred consumed too many quadrupedal animals and its body was phenotypically transformed by the Kroots' ability to mimick the genomes of whatever they consume into a quadrupedal form that became the first of the Kroot Hounds.
Kroot Hounds are capable enough to fight enemies larger and stronger than themselves. They are usually deployed in packs, and can have a Kroot Shaper amongst them to boost their fighting spirit. Using their agility, sharp claws and powerful jaws, they are able to wound or kill almost any opponent, even armoured Space Marines in certain instances. This, coupled with the fact that Kroot Hounds can take an incredible amount of punishment before being killed, means that Kroot Hounds can survive and deal terrible damage during prolonged melees, and will often survive long enough to run down the enemy should they try to flee.
Kroot Hounds are ferocious in battle and are notoriously bad-tempered as beasts. Even when not in battle, it is not unheard of for a Kroot Hound to turn on its Kroot handler if that handler is foolish enough to mistreat it or let his guard down. While the T'au value the strength and viciousness of their Kroot allies, they find the Kroot Hounds distasteful. Kroot Hounds are intelligent if bad-tempered, though it is unknown if they still retain the sentience of their original Kroot forebears.
Kroot Hounds serve many functions within Kroot society. They are often deployed as watch-beasts in Kroot settlements where they are able to detect the approach of even the stealthiest foe through the multiple sensory inputs gathered by the ganglia along their backs. Should any creature other than a member of the Kroot genus approach, the Kroot Hounds will emit a fearful shrieking and snarling sound sufficient to deter most infiltrators from pressing on. When accompanied by a handler, the Kroot Hounds can be trained to emit low sounds that do not alert the intruder to discovery, allowing the Kroot to set up and spring an ambush on their foe.
They are also used to patrol the area around a Kroot camp. If there are no T'au present, the Kroot sometimes set the hounds free in the knowledge that they will hunt as a pack, ambushing any they encounter. If there are T'au or other non-Kroot allies in the vicinity, the pack is accompanied by one or more Kroot handlers in order to avoid any "unpleasant" incidents.
Kroot Hounds also serve as guards for high-ranking Kroot such as Shapers and Master Shapers. The handlers must be fleet of foot indeed to keep up with their charges, for the Kroot Hounds are used to move swiftly around the flanks of the enemy and launch lightning-fast attacks upon exposed foes. When attacked by large numbers of Kroot Hounds, even the largest of foes can be dragged down and killed. Many an Imperial Guardsman has faced execution for fleeing in the face of an assault by these deadly pack hunters.
Kroot Hound Pack
Kroot Hound Packs are groups of humanoid Kroot and Kroot Hounds that work together. Often the Kroot attack and break the enemy's morale, while the Kroot Hounds are unleashed to harry the retreating foe. The pack numbers at least 10 Kroot, 1 Shaper and 5 Kroot Hounds, and can include up to 20 Kroot, 1 Shaper and 20 Kroot Hounds. The Kroot Hounds fight with their teeth, while the Kroot and Shaper are armed with Kroot Rifles. The Kroot may be armed with the T'au equivalent of Frag Grenades and possess the Hyperactive Nymune Organ.
- Codex: Tau (3rd Edition)
- Codex: Tau Empire (4th Edition)
- Deathwatch: Mark of the Xenos (RPG), pg. 23