At a glance
The Greyhound is the fastest dog on the planet, and is well-known for their racing background and streamlined physique. However, what is often overlooked is their sweet nature and their ability to be loving household pets. Today, many groups work to educate and promote the adoption of retired racing dogs, and also work to stop the sport (and business) of track racing. The greyhound’s origins date back to thousands of years ago, when they were often bred to help with game hunting.
- Names – English greyhound
- Group – Hound Group (AKC); Hounds (KC)
- Size – large
- Life expectancy – 9 – 15 years; an average of 10 to 12 years
- Cost of ownership – medium to high
- Ease of ownership – high
- Aggressive tendency – low
- Amount of Exercise – medium
- Amount of Grooming – low
- Ease of Training – medium
- Obedience level – high
- Suitable for Children – high
- Amount of Care Required – medium
- Susceptibility to Health Problems – medium
Greyhounds possess the symmetry and strong build that embody speed, elegance and grace. Long, straight forelegs and muscular hind legs, help them cover plenty of ground at great speed when they are engaged in what is known as double suspension gallops.
- Bitch: 60 to 66 pounds (27 to 30 kg)
- Dog: 66 to 71 pounds (30 to 32 kg)
- Bitch: 27 to 28 inches (68 to 71cm)
- Dog: 28 to 30 inches (71 to 76 cm)
- Color – approximately thirty recognized color forms, of which variations of white, brindle, fawn, black, red and blue (gray) can appear uniquely or in combination
- Coat – short, smooth, velvety to the touch
- Shedding – low
- Allergies – medium
- Causes Allergies – low
The Greyhound has a very sensitive nature and makes wonderful companions for the single owner and even families with children who are taught how to properly respect and interact with pets. Beyond racing, the breed’s talents enable it to excel in sports like sighting, agility, and watchdogging. The Greyhound is an extremely graceful and slim dog, making him an exceptional running companion. This breed will wonderfully blend into a home environment, a show or sport life. That said, there is no question that this dog craves human attention and has a great desire to be part of the family.
- Separation Anxiety – medium
- Barking tendency – low
- Aggressive tendency – low
- Compatibility Other Animals – medium
- Suitable for Children – high
- Watchdog suitability – medium
Despite the breed being known as a racing dog, greyhounds are not high-energy dogs. They are simply sprinters that love running, but this doesn’t mean that they require extensive exercise. In fact, most greys are affectionate, gentle, and quiet. The minimum amount of exercise that will keep them mentally and physically fit are a leash walk 3 to 4 times a day and an occasional trip to the dogpark. Greyhounds have been referred to as “Forty-five mile per hour couch potatoes.”
Greyhounds are fairly quick to learn training and most commands. Nevertheless, greys can also be highly distracted and will choose to ignore you and your calls if they spot an interesting quarry! Greyhounds are also kennel trained, meaning they learn not to mess their crates in the kennel, but to wait for “turnout” to relieve themselves. This makes house training a relatively simple process.
- Obedience – The Greyhound’s sensitive nature makes obedience training necessary and time-consuming. Training is meant to shore up confidence, but Greyhound owners need to have lots of patience and gentleness to avoid accidentally stressing the dog.
The breed requires only a moderate amount of exercise. A high fenced garden will help a lot since these dogs are great jumpers. They must never be allowed off the lead in public places, unless the dogs happen to be very well-trained, since their high prey drive makes them want to go after anything that moves, or has a resemblance to what they consider as quarry.
- Energy – Low
- Amount required – Two 20 minute walks a day will usually suffice.
The athletic needs of the dog can be satisfied by a variety of choices, such as a chance to run or by a longer walk on leash. He loves to run and chase things outdoors, which means he can easily run into danger at great speed unless exercised in a safe area. It is best to keep this canine indoors, since it is not generally amenable to living outside, even if it is well suited to kennel life. Furthermore, Greyhounds appreciate creature comforts and therefore look forward to soft bedding and warmth. The coat does not require much attention, needing only the occasional brushing to remove dead hair.
You may feed your Greyhound any high quality dry dog food. Dry dog food is often superior to soft or canned food in terms of health. In the recreational industry, Greyhounds are given a very soft diet. Their diet, though high in protein and necessary nutrients, is unfortunately not helpful to their teeth. However, switching a retired racer to dry dog food usually reverses the ill effects of the sports diet. Greys that have sensitive digestive systems might do well with diet foods such as Fit & Trim, Cycle, etc. These foods are high in fiber with lower fat content and are more easily tolerated. Examples of food that you may want to use as treats for your dog are veggies, bread, rice, and pasta.
A dog straight out of the race kennel may need to put on some weight, i.e. 3 to 5 pounds. To do this, feed the dog around 8 cups of dry food a day for the first few weeks or months. In case there is further need to adjust to eating dry food, try combining a part of a can of dog food with water and adding it to the dry food. Alternatives are pasta and broth, rice and broth, or soups. Continue with these amounts until no hip bones can be seen. You may also choose to lower the amount of food to 4 to 6 cups, or until the proper weight is reached. Generally speaking, a good weight to aim for (that has no danger of excess weight) is a pet weight of 5 pounds added to the dog’s race weight. A good body proportion is evident when the last rib or two and the hip bones of the dogs are not so noticeable to the eye.
The Greyhound possesses a coat that is among the easiest to look after. In fact, an occasional brush over is sufficient.
- Ease of grooming – high
- Amount of grooming – low
If you are looking for a champion racer, what you should know is that race winnings among racing greyhounds give a breeder clear signs of which greyhounds are the most correctly and highly adapted specimens that should be bred compared to the entire population. The pedigree and performance records of the breed furthermore point out which families of racing greyhounds are compatible with other families of racing greyhounds. All this amounts to an ongoing process of selectivity and of breed perpetuation and athletic adaptation, at a supremely functional and conformational sound level.
During the first few days after the greyhound puppies’ births, the dam should be fed as much as she wants; this may mean increasing her food intake 3 to 4 times of what she normally eats. Some may eat 6.6 lbs. of meat, plus kibble/bread, milk, etc. each day, yet still lose weight, especially if she has a large litter and a good milk flow. A breeder will have to guarantee a balanced diet using a large amount of calcium (2 teaspoons DCP or equivalent per 500grams of meat). Observe her nipples and mammary glands for any signs of insufficient milk, redness, swelling or paid with abnormal milk (mastitis). The dam may also suffer from low blood calcium levels if she shivers, and if she is abnormally clumsy, this can indicate milk fever.
With regard to the puppies, they should feel warm to the touch. They should drink from the teat, pushing on the mammary glands with their front feet. They fall asleep after feeing only to wake up a couple hours later, cry, are licked by the mother (to stimulate them to urinate and defecate), feed again, and fall back asleep.
Among the most critical details to ensure is that all puppies drink well within the first 24 to 48 hours, and pups need to be checked for any remarkable behavior. The puppies and the mother must be housed in a 5′ x 6′ whelping box which allows free entrance and exit. The room itself needs to be climate controlled (heated and air conditioned). The puppies remain in the whelping box until they can climb over the 12″ high sideboards – usually this occurs at about 4-5 weeks. The whelping box should preferably have bumper rails, which helps prevent the female from crushing the puppies against the sides of the box. The rugs should be replaced twice per day and the box wiped down using a mild bleach solution. Puppies cannot see or hear until they are about 2 to 3 weeks old.
- Litter size - 6 to 8 puppies; average of 8
Greyhounds are typically a healthy and long-lived breed, and hereditary illness is rare. Owners of companion greyhounds may need to provide their dogs with soft bedding, since the greyhound’s lean structure makes lying on hard surfaces uncomfortable. Without bedding, greyhounds are susceptible to painful skin sores.
Other medical issues unique to greyhounds include sensitivity to anesthesia and a proneness to lacerations and tail-tip injuries. Due to the unique physiology and anatomy of greyhounds, a veterinarian who understands the health issues relevant to the breed is important, particularly when issues of anesthesia or blood chemistry are involved.
- Life expectancy – 9 – 15 years; average of 10 to 12 years
- Susceptibility to illness – low
- Common health problems – skin irritations of the tail, short spine, injuries, esophageal malformations, sensitivity to drugs.
The basic information that greyhound owners need to keep in mind is that tall fences in the yard are a must in order to discourage overexcited dogs from scaling the fence in order to pursue other dogs or “quarry.” Moreover, Greys do not require much physical activity, since moderate exercise/leisurely walking is often enough, nor do they need extensive grooming. Other requirements of this breed include general physical care and attention, a soft bed, protection from cold, and the security of a leash when outside to prevent them from taking off after other animals.
Greyhounds will thrive in small apartment spaces provided there is enough exercise, as they are not very active indoors. However, a house with a yard is an ideal living environment. Keep in mind, Greyhounds can be bothered by the cold, so outdoor excursions in cold climates need to be complemented by a coat.
- Good with Children – Greyhounds are good companions for children who know how to properly play and respect the animal.
Greyhounds are thought to have come from the Arabian Sloughi or from Eurasia, and were brought to England by traders before 900 AD. Centuries before this, they were used in the hunting of deer and wild boar. The dog breed could pursue and bring down the quarry without stopping. Nowadays, the dog can also make dangerous attempts at taking out domestic animals, such as cats and geese. The Greyhound has also been put to immense commercial use in professional dog racing (where they chase mechanical rabbits). Retirees from the racing career are mostly exterminated. Greyhound Rescue groups, which are gaining influence, select the most even-tempered, gentle racers for placement into homes and have achieved excellent success.
- County or origin – ancient Eastern Europe or Eurasia
- Group – Hound Group (AKC); Hounds (KC)
Did you know…
- Some celebrity owners and their Greyhounds include:
- Actress Sigourney Weaver’s Baci (Italian for “kisses”)
- King Richard II’s Mathe (which meant “gift of the Lord”)
- Bart Simpson cartoon character from “The Simpsons” and his dog Santa’s Little Helper
- Author JK Rowlings’s Sapphire
- 19th US President Rutherford B Hayes’ Grim
- Famous Greyhound owners:
- Actress Bo Derek
- Matt Groening, cartoonist-creator of “The Simpsons”
- Musician Trent Reznor
- Baseball icon Babe Ruth
- Singer Frank Sinatra
- Gangster Al Capone
- TV personality Ed Sullivan
- Actor Dean Martin
- Actor Leonard Nimoy
- Interesting facts
- Greyhounds are the only breed of dog mentioned in the Bible (Proverbs 30:29-31 KJV).
- Greyhounds have a larger heart, lungs and more red blood cells than other canine breed, which results in larger quantities of oxygen moving more quickly from the lungs to the muscles.
- Greyhounds are mentioned or featured in 11 of Shakespeare’s plays.
- Greyhounds come in 19 different principal colors and in over 55 different color combinations.