About This Breed
Greyhounds are the fastest sprinters among all domesticated dogs. They were initially bred as sighthounds and hunting dogs for foxes, hares, and deer. These champion runners of short distances can reach a speed of 40–45 miles per hour, which makes them the top-preferred racing dogs.
They have a unique 270-degree vision, which makes them capable of spotting a running rabbit or squirrel from half a mile away.
However, these regal-like pups are actually not good companions for joggers and long-distance runners. In fact, they have medium exercise needs and will much prefer spending most of the day and night sleeping in their beds or on the couch right next to you.
Their sleepy, relaxed, and sweet tempers have earned the Greyhounds the nickname “40 mph couch potatoes.” Other appreciators of this ancient breed describe them as almost feline-like due to their noble and graceful behavior.
The dogs of this breed have a recognizable aerodynamic build, with narrow skulls, inverted s-shaped chests and waists, powerful rears, and pads on the feet that are shock-absorbing.
They come in a wide variety of colors and are very loyal pets, suitable for all owners, from families to single-parent households and seniors.
Greyhounds are excellent performers in various dog sports. But they are also very sensitive dogs that do not like to be left alone for long and do not do well in extreme weather conditions.
Highlights/In a brief
- Temperament: gentle, sweet-tempered, regal-like, independent
- Height at the shoulder: 28-30 inches for males and 27-28 inches for females
- Weight: 65-70 lbs. for males and 60-65 lbs. for females
- Life expectancy: 10-13 years
- Breed Group: Hounds
Even if you have not seen a dog of the breed in the flesh, chances are that you can easily recognize a Greyhound when you see it. At the least, you have seen one on the logo on the side of the Greyhound busses.
With its inverted S-shaped torso, long legs, narrow head, and muscular rear, it is an outstanding dog with exceptional stature, sprinting abilities, and vision.
The dogs of this large breed are 27 to 30 inches tall at the shoulders and weigh 60 to 70 lbs. Female dogs and racing greyhounds are typically in the lower height and weight range, while males and show greyhounds tend to be a few inches higher and a little heavier.
They are athletic and have very little fat, making them lean and fast. At the same time, this lack of natural insulation and their short coats make them susceptible to extreme hot and cold temperatures.
The firm, short, and smooth coats of the Greyhounds can come in a wide variety of colors and color combinations, from white to black, blue or red, brindle, bicolor, tan, and fawn.
Rough estimates show that the dogs from this breed can come in 18 primary and 55 color combination colors.
The colors can vary and include black, blue fawn, blue, blue brindle, red, red brindle, white, white and black, white and red, black brindle, white and blue, white and black brindle, white and blue brindle, white and blue fawn, and white and red brindle.
An interesting fact is that despite the name of the breed, Greyhounds that are gray are the least common color nowadays. The reason is that it was believed that the gray-colored pups were the slowest runners of all, and they were gradually bred out over the years.
Greyhounds may look like determined and fierce hunters and runners when they are pursuing a small animal or are on the racing track. But they are actually usually very sweet and mild-tempered dogs that make superb companions and couch potatoes.
Even though they have very strong sight-hunting and chasing instincts, with the right training and care, greyhounds can become perfect companions for seniors, families, and empty nesters.
The dogs of this breed tend to be more sensitive than others and are prone to separation anxiety. They can also become overly shy and timid, especially if they haven’t been appropriately socialized from an early age or if they have been mistreated, whether intentionally or not. Experts of this breed even claim that Greyhounds can sense and react to tensions at home too.
So, make sure to expose your pup to many different people, well-behaved dogs, situations, sounds, and sights from a very early age. And be careful not to hurt your Greyhound pet emotionally or physically.
Dog parents should be especially patient and careful when adopting a rescue greyhound from a shelter. Make sure to give them the time and space to get to know their new environment and to get settled, which might take a while.
Good For Novice Owners?
Greyhounds are not the top-recommended choice for first-time dog owners because of their increased sensitivity, mild temperament, and independence, as well as their strong prey drive.
Family, Children, And Other Pets
Although they are gentle and delicate with children, even the youngest ones, Greyhounds are better suited to families with older children who know how to interact with and behave with dogs.
Remember to teach your kids how to interact with dogs, especially not to try to take away their food or approach them while eating or sleeping.
If your children are young, never leave them with the pup unsupervised.
As for other pets, keep in mind that Greyhounds are usually very good and tolerant of other dogs. However, due to their hunting instincts, they may perceive smaller animals like cats, mini dogs, and others as prey, especially if they run away from them. So, supervise them at all times and train them properly to prevent injuries or deadly incidents.
Some experts advise keeping rescue Greyhounds, who once were racing dogs, muzzled at least until they get to know the environment and get settled.
Overall, the dogs of this breed are very loyal and friendly to their humans and are not usually aggressive towards strangers either.
Because they are sighthounds and coursing dogs, Greyhounds can be hard to train for people with little or no experience with dogs like this.
Greyhounds depend on their sight rather than their smell, and they make decisions and chase prey independently. This makes them different from other hunting breeds, which require directions from the hunters.
Although they are relatively large, Greyhounds can adapt well to living in an apartment or a home without a backyard. If you have a yard, make sure that it is securely fenced to prevent your champion sprinter from running off after a small animal or anything else in sight.
But keep in mind that due to its low-fat levels and its short coat, your Greyhound pup is very susceptible to very cold or hot temperatures. Make sure to minimize the time outside in the scorching summer and invest in a good quality winter coat for your pup.
Also, when they are young, greyhounds can easily be injured during rough games and play with more boisterous dogs or children. So choose play buddies who have the same gentle demeanor and lanky build as them.
Greyhounds are low-maintenance dogs that are very easy to groom. They shed only seasonally, which can easily be resolved with periodic brushing of their short coats with a soft and gentle glove or brush.
They do not drool, and they do not have a strong dog odor either.
You should train your pup to tolerate tooth brushing with a suitable dog brush and toothpaste every day or several times a week.
Also, the nails of your dog will need to be trimmed one or two times a month to prevent injuries and discomfort. But leave this nail trimming to your vet or groomer, or make sure to learn how to do it first to avoid hurting your furbaby.
You should also check your pup’s ears, eyes, skin, and body for any unusual signs, such as redness, swelling, tenderness, discharge, foul odor, and others.
Because of their short coats, Greyhounds can easily be scratched and injured when running through shrubs and brushes or playing with other dogs.
Despite being the fastest domesticated dogs, Greyhounds are low-energy pups. Of course, they do need daily walks, some games, and exercise to stay physically and mentally happy and fit. But they are short-distance sprinters rather than long-distance runners, so they are not the best jogging buddies.
During the rest of the day, they are much happier cuddling with their humans on the couch.
Because of their very strong prey drive, it is not recommended to let greyhounds off leash. The fact is that they can easily disobey any commands and even withstand an electric shock in their desire to reach their prey.
The dogs of this breed, especially retired racing dogs, are prone to weight gain and obesity. It is essential to feed your pup a complete and balanced diet suitable for its age, weight, health, and activity level and to practice strict portion control.
Due to their deep chests, greyhounds are predisposed to bloat and torsion. This is why you should provide them with raised water and feeding bowls and abstain from feeding them before exercising.
Bloat is a dangerous condition that can be deadly unless you get your pup to the veterinary emergency hospital right away.
The type of dog food you choose for your dog depends on its age, metabolism, weight, overall health, and activity level.
Feed your dog life-stage and breed-appropriate dog food. Choose food that is labeled “complete and balanced” and is in compliance with the requirements of the AAFCO. This will ensure that it is receiving the right mix and quantity of protein, fat, carbs, minerals, and vitamins. As well as the other supplements and water, it needs to be healthy, fit, and well.
Ask your veterinarian or animal nutritionist about the recommended calorie intake, and carefully control your pup’s portions and calories.
Naturally, a young racing Greyhound will need a lot more calories than an older couch potato.
Feed your pup twice a day rather than leave the food lying around all day long.
Do not feed your Greyhound one large meal at once, especially before going on a walk or exercising, to prevent painful and often deadly bloat.
As mentioned earlier, they may be the fastest of all dog breeds in the world, but they specialize in short-distance sprints only. During the rest of the time, they are champions at sleeping.
They do require daily walks on a leash, but will be perfectly happy to spend the rest of the day and night on the couch.
This makes them suitable for owners who are not so active themselves or for seniors.
Still, due to their powerful prey drive, Greyhounds can easily run away, get lost, or get into trouble if they are let off their leashes.
Greyhounds require patience and consistency from an experienced dog owner due to their stubbornness and independence.
Because of their sensitive nature, the training should be gentle, never harsh. Always use positive reinforcement and praise rather than shouting at or punishing the dog.
Also, these pups are very intelligent, so they can get bored very easily. This is why the training sessions should be brief and gentle.
Your pup from this fantastic breed will much prefer doing stuff with you rather than obeying commands and doing it for you.
Don’t get frustrated if your Greyhound doesn’t seem to want to obey your “sit” command because the sitting position is not a natural one for dogs of this breed and with this build.
As mentioned earlier, due to their sensitivity, socialization should begin as early as possible, and no harsh treatment should be applied if you want to prevent your pup from becoming anxious, timid, or shy. Expose it to different people, dogs, sounds, sights, and situations to get it used to them as early as possible.
Greyhounds are generally considered one of the healthiest dog breeds. These big dogs have a relatively long life span of 10 to 14 and more years and are lovely long-term pets and companions.
When purchased from a reputable breeder, you can be sure that your puppy has been responsibly bred and that it and its parents have been tested for several hereditary conditions that can affect them.
These may include clearances for tests for hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, von Willebrand’s disease, hypothyroidism, thrombopatia, cardiac disease, polyneuropathy, and eye health by the Canine Eye Registry Foundation.
Avoid buying a puppy from an unverified breeder, pet stores, or puppy mills at all costs!
Here are the most common diseases and conditions that Greyhounds are susceptible to and which dog owners should be aware of so that timely actions are taken to prevent or treat them.
Due to their build and very low body fat percentage, Greyhounds and all other sighthounds are sensitive to anesthesia and several other medications. This is why, if your pup needs anesthesia for surgery or other procedures, choose a veterinarian with experience with such breeds. They will know how to adjust the dosage of the anesthesia to keep your pup safe.
This condition causes the thyroid of the dog to produce lower levels of the vital hormones that it needs. The common symptoms of hypothyroidism in canines include epilepsy, weight gain, infertility, irregular heat cycles, lethargy, drooping eyelids, mental dullness, and hair loss.
If diagnosed in time and managed properly, your pup can live a happy and long life with the help of daily hormone replacement therapy and thyroid treatment medications.
This is an aggressive bone cancer that affects mainly large and giant dog breeds. It usually starts with lameness and requires aggressive treatment. The treatment usually involves the amputation of the affected limb and chemotherapy.
Dogs can adapt pretty easily to life on three legs and do not suffer most of the nasty side effects of chemotherapy that humans do.
With the right and timely treatment, your pup may live for another couple of years or more.
Gastric Torsion (Bloat)
Like all other dogs with deep chests, Greyhounds are prone to this deadly twisting of the stomach. Bloat or gastric torsion happens suddenly with an influx of gas, causing distention and twisting of the pup’s stomach. The torsion stops the blood flow to the organ and can quickly lead to death.
The symptoms that your Greyhound may be bloating are a hard stomach, an arched back, unsuccessful attempts to vomit, salivation, a rapid heart rate, low blood pressure, lethargy, collapsing, or overall discomfort.
You should rush your furbaby to the veterinary clinic immediately if you suspect it is bloating because it requires immediate care, which is usually surgical repair.
You can minimize the risk of bloat by dividing up your pup’s food into two or more smaller portions and feeding it several times a day instead of once. Also, avoid feeding it right after or right before strenuous exercise.
Using a bowl stand can help your pup eat and drink more safely rather than having to bend down, which is also something that can cause bloat.
Greyhounds were one of the first dog breeds, as can be seen in historical artifacts from ancient Greece and Egypt. They are the only dog breed mentioned in the Bible as well.
The breed was developed and used for its amazing sense of sight and speed. These sighthounds were able to see and catch rabbits and other prey from miles away.
The breed was officially recognized by the AKC in 1885.
Using Greyhounds as racing dogs began in the 1900s in California and quickly spread to other states.
Every year, thousands of retired Greyhound racing dogs are adopted from shelters.
Since dog racing was abolished in several states, it is expected that the breeding of racing Greyhounds will diminish in the near future.
But while the breeding for racing may eventually slow down and die out, the demand for show dogs and greyhounds as pets is as strong as ever.
- With a record-breaking sprinting speed of 40–45 mph, greyhounds are the fastest dogs in the world.
- They are considered to be universal blood donors, as nearly ¾ of all Greyhounds have a universal blood type that can be donated to all other dogs.
- The Greyhound is the only dog breed that is specifically included and mentioned in the Bible.
- The breed is mentioned in 11 of William Shakespeare’s plays.
- They have 270-degree vision and can see prey and objects located even behind them or up to half a mile in front of them.
- Their vision is stereoscopic, which means that Greyhounds are used to spotting and watching for moving objects. This is why dog parents are advised to make movements when calling their pups.
- When they are sprinting, the dogs of this breed spend about 75% of the time entirely in the air.
- Dogs from this breed can lose up to 5 lbs. per race.
- Some of these dogs cannot sit at all because sitting isn’t natural for them.
- Their tails act as rudders during the races.
- These pups usually have a higher body temperature, a bigger heart and lungs, and more red blood cells than other dog breeds.
- Some believe that the Greyhound is one of the most ancient and healthy dog breeds in the world.
- Today, gray is the rarest color for a Greyhound. The reason is that it was believed that the gray ones were the slowest in races, and they have been bred out.
- Some of the most famous historical figures who owned a greyhound include Christopher Columbus, Queen Victoria, King Henry VIII, Cleopatra, Teddy Roosevelt, Al Capone, Bo Derek, Babe Ruth, Frank Sinatra, and Betty White.
- A happy Greyhound will often lie on its back with its legs up in the air.
- During “Custer’s Last Stand,” Custer sent all of his 40 Greyhounds away with one soldier to save their lives.
- Unfortunately, even though thousands of retired racing Greyhounds find loving forever homes, many more end up abandoned, sold to laboratories, or euthanized after they stop being used for racing.