The Greyhound is an ancient breed that originated in the Middle East and North Africa and has won the admiration of many different cultures. Greyhounds have been mentioned by Greeks, depicted in art by Egyptians, praised by a Roman poet, and are the only breed of dog mentioned in the Bible.
Greyhounds found their way into Europe during the Dark Ages. They were so respected for their hunting prowess that the laws of the time protected royal game reserves by forbidding anyone living within 10 miles of the king’s forests from owning a Greyhound.
The Greyhound’s popularity continued to grow in England, thanks to the popularity of coursing (the sport of chasing prey) and racing. Spanish explorers and British colonists brought them to the Americas where they thrived as well, coursing jackrabbits and coyotes on the wide-open plains.
The Greyhound was one of the first breeds to appear in American dog shows, and the American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1885. The first official coursing race took place in 1886, and the National Coursing Association in the United States was founded in 1906. Greyhound racing took off and is popular today in many states, although it’s a controversial sport because so many dogs are abandoned, euthenized, or sold to laboratories if they don’t do well at the track.
Size: The Greyhound is a sleek, athletic dog. There are two types, which vary somewhat in size: Racing Greyhounds are usually 25 to 29 inches tall, and show Greyhounds are slightly larger, at 26 to 30 inches in height. In both types, males typically weigh 65 to 85 pounds, females 50 to 65 pounds, with racing dogs tending toward the lower end of the scale.
Exercise: Greyhounds that are kept as pets should have regular opportunities to run free on open ground in a safe area, as well as daily long, brisk walks, where the dog is made to heel beside or behind the person holding the lead. In a dog’s mind the leader leads the way and that leader needs to be the human. Greyhounds love a regular routine.
Temperament: The Greyhound is brave and devoted. Intelligent, laid-back, charming and loving, its character is often undervalued because of its reserved behavior toward strangers and even its master. Greyhounds are sensitive to the tone of one’s voice and will not listen if they sense that they are stronger minded than their owner, however they will also not respond well to harsh discipline. Owners need to be calm, yet possess an air of natural authority. Socialize well to prevent timidity. As a rule, they are gentle and even-tempered—both racing lines and show lines. Most Greyhounds have a definite prey drive. It is instinctive for these dogs to chase anything that moves quickly. They are extremely fast and some will kill cats and other domestic animals, although this is not the majority (only about 20% of ex-racers are too “keen” on chasing prey to ever be safe with small animals). About 10% are immediately okay due to low prey instinct, and the rest can be trained to leave cats and other small pets in the home alone. They seldom present difficulties with other dogs and are normally good with children, though they do not usually like roughhouse play, and would not be a good choice for young children who are looking for a playmate. Indoors, these dogs are calm and sociable to a point where they can even be considered lazy. They bond strongly with their own people, have tremendous stamina, and do not bark much. Show lines tend to be of a different body style than racing lines, and are often more angulated. Racing lines are bred for performance, but often a good by-product is that they are friendly, outgoing dogs that make wonderful pets when their racing days are over. Greyhounds are not particularly vigilant. Show lines tend to be a bit heavier and bred more for temperament than racing lines, which are bred for speed. However, racing lines also make wonderful pets. There are hundreds of adoption groups all over North America, Europe and Australia to place these gentle, loving dogs when they retire. Retired racing Greyhounds are not usually difficult tohousebreak. They are already crate trained from the track, so it doesn’t take them long to learn that they are not to “go” in the house. The Greyhound needs an even-tempered, gentle but firm loving owner who knows how to consistently communicate the rules of the home. A Greyhound that knows his place in his pack and what is expected of him is a happy Greyhound.
Health: Prone to bloat. It is better to feed them 2 or 3 small meals rather than one large one. They are sensitive to drugs, including insecticides. They are also prone to hypothyroidism, Osteosarcoma, and Anesthesia Sensitivity.
Description: The Greyhound is a tall, slender dog. The head is long and narrow, wide between the ears, with a long tapering muzzle. There is no stop. The small rose ears are held back and folded, and are semi-perked when they are excited. The eyes are dark in color. The slightly arched neck is long. The legs are long with the front legs being perfectly straight. The chest is wide and deep. The long tail tapers with a slight upward curve. The short, fine coat comes in all colors.
Coat, color, and Grooming:
Greyhounds have a short, smooth coat that’s easy to care for. Despite their name, they can be any color, including fawn, black, red, blue, gray, or white. They can also be various shades of brindle, a striped pattern that gives them the look of having just streaked across the African savanna, or white with at least one other color, known as particolor.
Despite their short coat, Greyhounds shed. Brush them daily to keep shedding at a manageable level. Your Greyhound will love being massaged with a rubber curry brush, also known as a hound mitt. Use a dry dog shampoo when you bathe him to keep his coat clean and smelling great.
Keep ears clean and free of debris with a moist cotton ball. Never insert anything into the ear canal; just clean around the outer ear.
This breed’s teeth need the most dedicated care. Greyhounds tend to have poor dental health, so regular brushing is a must if you want them to have sweet breath and no ugly tartar buildup.
Trim his nails once or twice a month if your dog doesn’t wear them down naturally to prevent painful tears and other problems. If you can hear them clicking on the floor, they’re too long. Dog toenails have blood vessels in them, and if you cut too far you can cause bleeding — and your dog may not cooperate the next time he sees the nail clippers come out. So, if you’re not experienced trimming dog nails, ask a vet or groomer for pointers.
His ears should be checked weekly for redness or a bad odor, which can indicate an infection. When you check your dog’s ears, wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner to help prevent infections. Don’t insert anything into the ear canal; just clean the outer ear.
Begin accustoming your Greyhound to being brushed and examined when he’s a puppy. Handle his paws frequently — dogs are touchy about their feet — and look inside his mouth. Make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you’ll lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and other handling when he’s an adult.
As you groom, check for sores, rashes, or signs of infection such as redness, tenderness, or inflammation on the skin, in the nose, mouth, and eyes, and on the feet. Eyes should be clear, with no redness or discharge. Your careful weekly exam will help you spot potential health problems early.
Lifespan: About 10-12 years.