The Greyhound is a distinctive breed of dog, generally associated with Greyhound racing. Their long legs and aerodynamic bodies allow them to reach speeds of 40-45 miles per hour when track racing!
They are fascinating to watch when running flat out. At two points in their stride, all four feet will be off the ground. It’s called the double suspension gallop and makes them appear as though they are flying.
Unfortunately, the life of racing dogs is generally hard and leads to a myriad of health problems. There are dedicated Greyhound rescue groups and adoption groups that locate adult Greyhounds and save them from becoming dog food.
It’s these organizations that many people deal with to find their next pet, and end up looking after an aging Greyhound. The good news is that they can make excellent family pets, you just need to know these top facts about your Greyhound dog first.
The Greyhound Dog History
Originally the Greyhound was bred as a hunting dog. Its natural prey drive and speed allowed it to chase a succession of small animals, such as hares, foxes, and even deer.
As hunting has become less popular and the variety of hunting dogs has expanded, the Greyhound has found other niches in which it excels. Lure coursing is perhaps one of the most well-known. The Greyhound can chase a mechanical hare or rabbit, giving them the thrill of chasing the prey that Greyhounds love without endangering them or any wild animals.
You may be interested to know that the Greyhound is considered to be the oldest purebred dog in existence. Some records indicate they existed in the time of the Pharaohs, approximately 8,000 years ago. They were held to be god-like, you needed to be royalty to own one!
In fact, this tradition continued until approximately 1700, before this year the only people that could own a Greyhound were nobles.
Now you know you have chosen a great and noble dog, you should be aware of the traditional characteristics of a greyhound dog. If you are planning on getting one it will help you prepare. If not and you already have one, it will help you to identify when something is wrong with your pet.
Greyhounds are fast but they only have two settings; all-out speed and couch potato. These dogs have a lot of energy to burn and you need to be prepared to walk, run, and play with them. Purchasing a selection of toys is essential. Try a dog ball to get them running, or this rope toy to burn some of their energy.
Greyhounds generally have short and smooth coats. They are known to have a pleasant temperament, usually making great family pets. You will find them friendly and affectionate with you, children, and even strangers. Although it’s true they can be a little aloof with strangers they generally respond very well to a treat. They are also generally good with other cats and dogs.
Check The House
While a house with a good-sized garden is the best option for Greyhounds, they can live happily in an apartment, providing you give them plenty of exercise. Surprisingly they will actually be content to spend much of their time sleeping next to you. As befitting their athletic builds, their energy comes in short sharp bursts. Be ready for it!
But, the Greyhound dog is not tolerant of cold weather, this is because their coat is short and they feel the cold, they are also not happy when left alone, especially for long periods.
The good news is that they are intelligent, making them very easy to train. Shedding is minimal thanks to their short coat but they will drool a lot and need plenty of grooming.
A healthy adult male Greyhound should weigh between 65-70 pounds, a female 60-65 pounds. They are usually between 28-30 inches tall and have the characteristic long face, known as dolichocephalic. If looked after the average lifespan is 10-13 years.
Known Health Issues
An inactive Greyhound is likely to gain weight. You can help to avoid this by using a slow feeding dog bowl and carefully regulating the amount of food your dog eats.
Unfortunately, that is not the only health issue that can befall these beautiful dogs.
Bone cancer, also known as osteosarcoma, is a common issue in Greyhounds. It strikes the leg bones and is most common when your Greyhound is middle-aged. Unfortunately, it is often not detected until it has already spread through its body. While chemotherapy can reduce the issue or even cure cancer, it is often expensive and not a successful option.
Bloat is a gastrointestinal condition that appears suddenly and can kill your Greyhound within a few hours. If this occurs you will need to get them emergency medical treatment.
Greyhounds have an array of common health issues that are directly linked to their racing past. Of course, the following are much less likely if you have not taken on an ex-racing Greyhound.
- Tick related infections, such as Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
- Bacterial infestations in their intestines, such as e-coli or salmonella
- Dental issues causing infection and disease
- Osteoarthritis – generally a result of racing which strains their limbs
- Protozoal Infections – mainly giardia and coccidia
- Hair loss- this is usually a result of stress rubbing when they are confined to cages
- Vasculopathy – a condition that blocks flow in small blood vessels. Limbs become swollen, ulcers may appear, and your Greyhound dog may develop kidney disease
Thanks to the strong prey instinct your Greyhound can escape from a garden that has not been properly secured. They can also disappear when you let them off their leash. Once locked into a chase they become oblivious to anything around them, increasing the chances of being hit by a car.
Of course, they can also quickly move out of sight, making it difficult for you to locate them. They may even find themselves lost in the process. That is why many owners prefer to keep their Greyhound on a lead.
Greyhounds are prone to developing eye diseases like cataracts, pannus, vitreous degeneration, and even progressive retinal atrophy. Monitoring them will help you to spot signs of eye issues early and have them treated.
Heart disease is a common concern with Greyhounds, especially retired racing ones. The stress of racing likely causes damage to the heart muscles but more research needs to be completed to confirm this.
If you are interested to read more about the health of dogs, please click the link here.
Looking After Your Greyhound Dog
Whether you opt for a Greyhound puppy to take to dog shows or a retired racing Greyhound, you need to care for your dog properly. It is worth noting that although the puppies are sweet there are plenty of retired Greyhounds desperately in need of a home
This means grooming it regularly. It does not malt much, regular grooming prevents hair from getting everywhere in your home. You will also need to invest in a good dog coat. The short hair means that Greyhounds feel the cold easily, considering you will be walking them every day, they are going to need a coat!
Your dog will need approximately 40 minutes walking a day. However, remember that this is a dog that can reach 45 miles per hour, your walk needs to include a space where they can run. But, they do have a strong prey instinct, make sure they return when called or you may find yourself watching them disappear after a small animal. If in doubt keep them on the leash while training them.
This is not an aggressive breed, it has been bred out of them. They are more likely to walk away from a situation than snarl, growl, or attack. However, it helps to socialize them, especially when they are puppies.
If you don’t your dog is likely to be timid and shy, potentially making it unpredictable. A lack of socialization will also make it difficult for your dog to adapt to any changes. This could be an issue if your schedule changes. Especially if this includes separation. The anxiety can trigger a more destructive streak in the dog. Fortunately, this is completely avoidable by socializing them properly.
Purchasing A Greyhound
If you are looking for a Greyhound puppy you must go to a reputable dealer. There are plenty of people looking to make a fast buck by selling you poor-quality Greyhounds. A reputable dealer will make sure that the parents don’t suffer from genetic diseases that can be passed onto the puppies.
They will also be able to verify the temperaments to make sure you get a good family dog.
Check out the breeder and always visit them at their home, a fenced area is a good sign. This will allow you to meet the parents and assess their living conditions. The better they are the more likely it is that you will have a quality puppy. As well as testing for genetic diseases they will make sure your dog is chipped and vaccinated before you collect it.
The Final Woof
In comparison to many other dogs, you may be surprised at how easy it is to keep this dog breed happy. The key is in socializing it and always allowing time to play. Your dog will thank you for it and be better behaved.
Remember, the average Greyhound is a calm, well-tempered dog that deserves a place in your home. Take your time choosing the right one, it will be a friend for life.