Greyhounds: Man’s Dog Version
In the beginning, greyhounds were raised as the “dog version” of human hunters. This breed of dogs hounded deer, hare, foxes, and other small forest animals. Greyhounds can run at a speed of up to 45 miles/hour, making them the “Ferraris” in the world of dogs.
It is not a surprise that greyhounds are considered as the “racers” among dogs. For this reason, it is likely to see retired greyhounds in the custody of rescue organizations and care shelters. If you think that this breed is for you, you can consider adopting them.
In the present day, greyhounds are very active participants of sports for dogs involving agility, conformation, lure coursing, and obedience. Aside from their racing speed and grace, pet parents adore them because of their mild, sweet nature. Greyhound fans are speedy in two things: sprinting extremely fast, and being an absolute potato in the couch. But these dogs are somewhat sensitive both to bad weather and abandonment.
This tells that greyhound are not the type of dogs that you can be left alone inside the house for extensive hours. Provide them with the care, exercise, and love they desire, and you will have an admiring hug buddy living with you.
Take a look at the characteristics and facts about Greyhounds!
- Dog Breed Group: Hound Dogs
- Height: 2 ft., 1 inch to 2 ft., 6 inches (tall at the shoulder)
- Weight: 50 to 85 lbs.
- Life Span: 12 to 15 years
- Adapts well to life in apartments
- Good for beginner owners
- Low sensitivity level
- Tolerates loneliness
- Tolerates cold/hot weather
- Affectionate with owner’s family
- Friendly to strangers, kids, and other dogs
Despite its destructive energy and big size, greyhounds can be quiet and docile apartment dogs. They can be moderately calm inside the room, low energy indoors, and polite to your neighbors. Apart from that, Greyhounds are also among the dogs that are just right to bring to training. They are relatively easygoing and tolerant enough to pick up from your inconsistencies. They are not hard to manage for a first-time dog owner as they are not assertive, highly sensitive, and independent thinkers. These dogs are considered to be in the line of low-sensitivity level breeds that can handle chaotic and noisy households, an inconsistent routine, and an assertive owner.
However, the breed tends to be more susceptible to uneasiness when left alone in the house by their owners. They can go barking the whole time and be destructive. It is definitely best to leave these dogs with a family member or bring them to work.
Unluckily, greyhounds have thin to no body fat or coat, making them vulnerable to cold weather and shivers. Their low-tolerance to such weather requires them to live inside during this time or wear warm dog jackets when taken out for walks. But on the brighter side, greyhounds are not vulnerable to overheating. It is fine to take them out on humid or warm days.
Greyhounds are themselves warm and affectionate towards the whole family of their owner. This is especially true when they are raised inside a household surrounded with many people, making them bond easily and feel more comfortable around humans. This friendliness usually extends to strangers, kids, and other dogs. As they are exposed a lot to people, they will welcome guests with nuzzles and wagging tails. They can definitely handle petting from heavy-handed kids and be relaxed around screaming, running children. Aside from being kid-friendly, greyhounds are dog-friendly too. They have a friendly attitude to play with other breeds, and they possess good dog social skills.
Size, Height, Weight
The breed is not the towering type that can seem intimidating. They are more on the leaner side, and can be just the right size for you. They are aerodynamic and athletic dogs. However, they also somewhat vary in size, depending on the type: Greyhounds that are trained for racing usually range from 25 to 29 inches tall while Greyhounds that are lined-up for shows are larger by a few inches – from 26 to 30 in height. For both types, males are typically heavier than females. Males weigh 65 to 85 pounds while females are 50 to 65 pounds in weight, considering that racing breeds lean toward the scale’s lower end.
In general, Greyhounds have a pleasing temper. Even though some of them can be unfriendly to strangers, they are usually non-aggressive and sociable. Feed them with treats, and they will likely turn into a loyal friend for life.
They are independent, intelligent, and also catlike in various ways. They can be sensitive and quick to act in response to the conflict in the house. They can also become timid or shy when mistreated, even if the act is not intentional.
Many factors affect a breed’s temperament. These include socialization, heredity, and training. Puppies with a good temper are often playful and curious, eager to come close to and be cuddled by people. These are the kinds of puppies that you need to choose — ordinary, don’t hide in the corner, and don’t beat up their siblings.
Make sure to meet at least one of the parents to know if the puppies have good temperaments that you can be comfy with. It can also be helpful to meet the siblings or the other relatives to evaluate the puppy’s personality as a grown-up.
Certainly, greyhounds should socialize early. They should be exposed to different experiences, sights, sounds, and people while they are puppies. This helps guarantee a pleasant attitude for your Greyhound when he grows up into an adult.
Improve his skills in socializing through enrollment in kindergarten classes for puppies, allowing visitors to come close, strolling around the neighborhood, and playing with other breeds.
With their high energy level, greyhounds are always up for action. As mentioned above, they were initially bred to have the stamina to do a full workday of chasing or hunting. Their bodies require vigorous exercise and mental prompts by playing, examining new smells, and jumping. They can be playful as they have lots of energy. With a lack of exercise, greyhounds can gain weight, and release their repressed energy by chewing, digging, and barking, which you might not like. But despite being high-energy dogs, they have the right vigor and have a more restrained life approach, especially that they are usually trained.
As mentioned, greyhounds are the trainable type of dogs. They tend to be clever at making association on a prompt like “sit”, an action such as “sitting, and consequences – getting a treat for instance. Of course, they also need exercise and training for their brain. One way to give their brain a workout is by letting them play with dog toys.
Mouthiness is defined as the tendency of dogs to chew, nip, and “play-bite” (soft, painless bite that does not wound the skin.) As for greyhounds, they are the mouthy dogs that know how to use their mouths to hold their owners. They are trained to recognize that gnawing is okay as long as it is on chew toys and not on people and other animals.
Since they are originally bred as “hunting dogs”, greyhounds have natural craving to chase on animals. This is why some of them are leashed, and kept inside a fenced yard as there are many things, like prey-looking animals, that can trigger their instinct.
Greyhounds are not the sounding-off-often breed. But, they can howl from time to time as it is their trademark.
If you are looking for free-spirited breeds, you can go for greyhounds. They can range for long distances, taking after anything that grabs their attention or interest.
Greyhounds belong to an early breed that traces its ancestry to North Africa and the Middle East. These dogs have captivated the hearts of various cultures. They were even portrayed in Egyptian art, the only breed cited in the Bible, worshipped by poets from Rome, and acclaimed by Greeks.
During the Dark Ages, greyhounds extended their fame to Europe. They found their way into Europe during the era. Europeans valued them for their prowess in hunting to the point that anyone who was living within 10 miles of the forest of the king was forbidden from keeping a greyhound.
The breed’s popularity continued to expand until it reached England through the famous standing of racing and coursing (sport of chasing a prey). Colonists from Britain and explorers of Spain transported them to the lands of America, where they became popular too as they coursed coyotes and jackrabbits on the wide-open plains.
The greyhounds then became part of the first breeds that appeared in dog shows in America. In 1885, the American Kennel Club gave recognition to the breed. Later in 1886, the first officially organized coursing race was held, which led to the founding of the National Coursing Association in the year 1906. Up until today, greyhound racing is still popular in many states. Although it has controversial issues on the abandonment and selling to laboratories of dogs when they fail in the track, it has continued to flourish.
Racing dogs, as they are referred to, greyhounds are physically active. This means that they are less prone to health issues. However, genetic diseases are, of course, something that cannot be prevented. This is why it is important to buy puppies from reliable and responsible breeders, puppy stores, and mills that can show health clearances to make sure you are getting a healthy dog.
In the case of greyhounds, there should be a notice from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), certifying that the breed is cleared from von Willebrand’s disease, elbow dysplasia, hip dysplasia (with a score of fair or better), and hypothyroidism; certification for thrombopathia is from Auburn University, and from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) stating that there are no abnormalities in the eyes. Health clearances can be confirmed on OFA’s website (offa.org).
However, if you happen to buy a thin greyhound, don’t worry. They are usually like that in the physique. They are not prone to being overweight that can lead to problems in their health conditions.
Here are some health problems to look out for:
Osteosarcoma: This is a destructive cancer of the bones that generally affects giant and large breeds. Lameness is a sign of the disease, so if you notice it in your dog, have him undergo x-ray tests to ascertain if it is caused by cancer. The treatment of osteosarcoma is aggressive. It usually involves chemotherapy and limb amputation. But it is effective in extending the life span of dogs from nine months to two years. Fortunately, dogs are very good in adapting to a three-legged life and do not endure the pain of chemotherapy side effects like humans who may experience inconveniences like hair loss and nausea.
Anesthesia Sensitivity: The sensitivity of Greyhounds to anesthesia and other drugs is high. Any other dog’s normal dosage for his size can even take a greyhound’s life due to the low body fat percentage of the breed. It is best to find a veterinarian who has enough knowledge on this kind of sensitivity and the proper dosage of the breed. If there’s no chance to find such a knowledgeable vet, inform the vet who is treating your greyhound about its sensitivity.
Gastric Torsion (Bloat): When there is an abrupt influx of air and gas inside the stomach, bloat can happen. This leads the stomach to twist and distend. In the worst case, it can even cause death in your greyhound if there is no early treatment. Typically, the twist should be treated through surgical procedures.
Hypothyroidism: This disease happens when the thyroid gland secretes low hormones. Hypothyroidism can be detected when there is mild occurrence of infertility. Other visible signs are mental dullness, drooping of the eyelids, obesity, lethargy, and irregular and low levels of heat cycles. This causes the dog’s skin to turn dark and tough, while the fur becomes brittle and coarse, eventually falling out. Intake of thyroid medication every day is the treatment for this disease, which should be maintained for the rest of the dog’s life.
Taking Care of Greyhounds
A daily walk would be enjoyed by greyhounds as they can sometimes have low energy. Without regular exercise, they may behave aggressively to displace boredom.
If you are an owner of a greyhound, it is advisable to keep your dog inside a fenced yard to prevent them from chasing other animals. They have an innate desire to chase prey-looking animals. But, underground fencing that is electronic is not suggested as the fear of shock is only temporary. The breed’s drive to run after smaller animals is stronger.
When taking your Greyhounds out for walks, you should keep them under restraint. They might not pay attention to your instructions due to their strong desire to chase preys that might have caught their attention. They can also outrun you, especially if you are distressed because of their fast speed.
When it comes to health, it is important to watch your greyhound’s weight as he can become overweight too. This is very common among greyhounds that are retirees from racing. The limit of the weight they can gain is set at 5 pounds. And with their tall height, serve their food in elevated dishes to make them comfortable while eating.
Regardless of how you got your greyhound, the moment he steps in your home, training should start. Take note that he can be persistent and usually takes training with a “what do I get from it?” mindset. Definitely, a confident, consistent, and independent owner is what he needs.
But, greyhounds can be sensitive as well. This means that training them harshly is not the best fit for them. They can perform better with consistency, patience, and training ways that use treats as rewards than punishing them.
So when they sometimes show difficulty picking up your “sit” command, be patient as it is not usual for them to be in such position. It might take them extra effort to balance on their tails.
Although greyhounds can adapt to apartment living, they still need exposure to the outside world where they can experience situations, people, and places to improve their socialization skills. This is a training method that helps greyhounds avoid being fearful and timid. Several dog schools propose socialization and obedience classes as part of the obedience training.
You can also bring your dogs to public stores and places, let them stroll in the neighborhood, and invite visitors to your house. These ways introduce new situations to your greyhounds that can be good training for socializing.
Generally, it is easy to train your greyhounds at home. They will do a good job in training if you give them a regular exercise schedule.
Nutrition and Feeding
When feeding your greyhound, it is important to consider the recommended amount for his meals daily. For males, it is suggested to serve them with 2 ½ to 4 cups of good-quality dry food. Divide the meals into two. If you are taking care of a female greyhound, feed them with 1 ½ to 3 cups of food only.
Remember also that the amount of food your dog should eat is dependent on his activity level, build, age, metabolism, and size. Individually, greyhounds differ in the food intake they need. The dog food quality also matters – high-quality dog food leads to your dog’s better nourishment.
Measure the food your greyhound eats to keep him in a nice shape. Do not leave food in his bowl all the time and feed him twice per day only. If you are uncertain of his weight type, let him undergo the hands-on and eye test.
Check if you can see his waist from the top view. Also check his ribs if you can touch but not see them by putting your hand on his back without pressing hard. If you cannot feel his ribs, this means that you should cut some portions of his food, and give him more time to exercise.
Refer to guidelines that will help you in buying and feeding the right food to your dog.
Coat Color and Grooming Needs
The smooth, short coat of greyhounds is not hard to care for and groom. Even with the word grey in their name, greyhounds come in different colors such as white, blue, fawn, red, black, and also gray. They are also printed animals with several brindle shades, an African savanna look from a pattern of stripes, or a combination of white and another color, called particolor.
Greyhounds also shed even though they have little to no coat. To manage shedding, you have to brush their coat every day. They also love a massage using a hound mitt brush. When bathing them, a dry shampoo for dogs will make their coat smell great and clean.
Use a cotton ball that is moist enough to keep their ears debris-free and clean. Do not put anything else inside the ear canal. Cleaning should only be done around the area of the outer ear.
Speaking of ears, there should be a weekly check-up on their ears to avoid bad odor and redness that may lead to infection. Wiping their ears with cotton damped with a pH-balanced cleaner can also help avoid infections.
The part that needs the most committed care is the greyhound’s teeth. The breed’s dental health is said to be poor. They need their teeth to be brushed regularly to prevent buildup of tartar and ensure pleasant breath.
For their nails, a once or twice per month trimming is needed to avoid painful problems. If their nails click when walking on the floor, it means that they’re long already. Remember that there are blood vessels in their toenails, so be careful in cutting too far as it can lead to bleeding. When this happens, it would be hard to make your dog cooperate for the next trimming. It would be better to see a groomer or vet for trimming pointers.
Making a good experience out of grooming by giving rewards and praise. It can make the whole grooming process easy to handle, especially when they grow into adult dogs.
Children and Other Pets
Greyhounds can be the best choice if you want a breed that is patient enough to deal with children and delicate when around babies. They do well at home, especially with children who can act right when dogs are around. When they encounter teasing kids, they would probably walk away than bark or bite them.
Of course, it really depends on how the kids approach dogs. It is best to oversee any contact between kids and greyhounds. Teach children the right way to touch dogs to avoid accidents. Warn kids about not going near dogs while they are sleeping or eating. It is not advisable to leave dogs with children unsupervised.
Greyhounds can also be friendly to their fellow dogs. But it can be hard for them to do well with smaller pets as they may see them as prey. Although there are greyhounds that have a lower desire to chase prey than others, it still better to watch your dog when around small animals. Their instinct can still be stronger that may lead them to injuring other pets.
Most people buy greyhounds without first understanding the breed. There are rescued greyhounds that need fostering or adoption. Here is a list of groups that rescue greyhounds:
- Greyhound Pets of America
- Greyhound Relocation and Adoption Canada
- Greyhounds Galore
- The Greyhound Project
- Greyhound Club of America
More about the Breed
You may or may not have seen a greyhound in real life. But you know what it looks like. This iconic breed of hound with a sleek build embodies speed through the muscular hindmost end, long legs, and thin head.
Greyhounds are one of the earliest breeds. Most likely, they come from Egypt and have been treasured all throughout the years of history. Some notable historical figures who were said to be fascinated by greyhounds are General Custer, who had his dogs compete a day before his momentous Little Big Horn trip, Queen Elizabeth I of England, and Cleopatra who led the racing of greyhounds to be dubbed as the “Sport of Queens.”
Apart from the royal fans of the breed, there is a lot more things to adore about it. Greyhounds possess a combination of noble appearance and a people and dog-friendly attitude. These dogs are loyal and not destructive to strangers. They will bark or subtly prick their ears to let you know that someone is coming to your house. At the same time, they are also affectionate towards the family they have grown with.
Greyhounds are known for being high-energy dogs. But, as a matter of fact, their favorite leisure activity is sleeping. Originally bred as racers, not as distance runners, they will feel fulfillment from an everyday walk. Some people who are physically active find these breeds as good running buddies. In fact, Greyhounds can adapt to apartment living or small yards in houses. However, they need to be fenced to prevent them from chasing prey-looking animals like trespassing cats, squirrels, or rabbits.
Their fierce prey drive is not a minus to how great a breed greyhound is. Regardless of which show breeder or racetrack you got your greyhound from, you will give this breed the same amount of love, care and respect that other dog enthusiasts have given throughout history.
Pet, H. (n.d.). Greyhound Dog Breed Information and Personality Traits. Retrieved from Hill’s Pet: https://www.hillspet.com/dog-care/dog-breeds/greyhound
Time, D. (n.d). Greyhound. Retrieved from DogTime: https://dogtime.com/dog-breeds/greyhound#/slide/1