The Greyhound is a very old European breed of dog, a sighthound which has been historically bred for coursing game and latterly Greyhound racing. Since the rise in large scale adoption of retired racing Greyhounds, particularly in North America from the end of the 20th century, it has seen a resurgence in popularity as a family pet.
Meet the 45 MPH Couch Potato
The Greyhound is a gentle and intelligent breed whose combination of long, powerful legs, deep chest, flexible spine and slim build allows it to reach average race speeds in excess of 40 mph. The Greyhound can reach a full speed of 43 mph within six strides (about 33 yards) from the boxes, traveling at almost 45 mph for the first 270 yards of a race. There are few mammals that can accelerate faster over a short distance, such as the cheetah, which can reach speeds of 68 mph over 3-4 strides from a standing start and pronghorn with an alleged top speed of 58 mph.
Males are usually 28 to 30 inches tall at the withers and weigh around 60 to 88 pounds. Females tend to be smaller with shoulder heights ranging from 27 to 28 inches and weights from less than 60 to 75 pounds. Greyhounds have very short fur, which is easy to maintain. There are approximately thirty recognized colour forms, of which variations of white, brindle, fawn, black, red and blue (gray) can appear uniquely or in combination. Greyhounds aredolichocephalic, with a skull which is relatively long in comparison to its breadth, and an elongated muzzle.
The Greyhound is not an aggressive dog, as some may believe due to muzzles worn during racing. Muzzles are worn to prevent injuries resulting from dogs nipping one another during or immediately after a race, when the ‘hare’ has disappeared out of sight and the dogs are no longer racing but still excited. The thin skin of the Greyhound can tear easily from a small nick from teeth, so even a minor skirmish can result in stitches and time out from racing. Greyhounds with a high prey drive occasionally wear muzzles outside the racetrack; owners aware that their Greyhound has a high tendency to chase small prey will protect the prey by applying the muzzle.
Contrary to popular belief, adult Greyhounds do not need extended periods of daily exercise, as they are bred for sprinting rather than endurance. Greyhound puppies that have not been taught how to utilize their energy, however, can be hyperactive and destructive if not given an outlet, and they require more experienced handlers.
Greyhounds as pets
Greyhound owners and Team Greyhound Adoption of Ohio consider Greyhounds to be wonderful pets.
Greyhounds are quiet, gentle, and loyal to owners. They are very loving creatures, and they enjoy the company of their humans and other dogs. Whether a Greyhound enjoys the company of other small animals or cats depends on the individual dog’s personality. Greyhounds will typically chase small animals; those lacking a high ‘prey drive’ will be able to coexist happily with toy dog breeds and/or cats. Many owners describe their Greyhounds as “45 mile per hour couch potatoes”.
Greyhounds live most happily as pets in quiet environments. They do well in families with children as long as the children are taught to treat the dog properly and with politeness and appropriate respect. Greyhounds have a sensitive nature, and gentle commands work best as training methods.
Greyhounds cope well as three legged dogs.
Occasionally, a Greyhound may bark; however, Greyhounds are generally not barkers, which is beneficial in suburban environments, and they are usually as friendly to strangers as they are with their own family. Greyhounds make great apartment dogs.
A very common misconception regarding Greyhounds is that they are hyperactive. In retired racing Greyhounds, this is usually not the case. Greyhounds can live comfortably as apartment dogs, as they do not require much space and sleep close to 18 hours per day. In fact, due to their calm temperament, Greyhounds can make better “apartment dogs” than smaller, more active breeds. Just be sure to reserve some extra space on the couch.
At most race tracks, Greyhounds are housed in crates for sleeping. Most such animals know no other way of life than to remain in a crate the majority of the day. Crate training a retired Greyhound in a home is therefore generally extremely easy.
Team Greyhound strongly recommends that owners keep their Greyhounds on a leash whenever outdoors, except in fully enclosed areas. This is due to their prey-drive, their speed, and the assertion that Greyhounds have no road sense. In some jurisdictions, it is illegal for Greyhounds to be allowed off-lead, even in off-lead dog parks, so it is important to be familiar with the relevant local laws and regulations. However, a good run at once a week may be important, especially for younger Greyhounds, and suitable areas can usually be found. Due to their size and strength, Team Greyhound recommend that fences be between 4 and 6 feet, to prevent them from jumping out.
Interested in Adopting a Greyhound? Fill out an Application today!