Greyhounds are arguably one of the most loved and oldest dog breeds in the world. The origin of the greyhound, although contested, can be traced back to 4250 BCE in Egyptian images. A greyhound is genetically built for racing with a muscular, streamlined body that reaches high speeds in minutes. The dog has a long neck and characteristic ears that fold flat against the neck when the pet is relaxing. However, when the dog is at attention, the ears stand erect, ready to pick familiar cues. Additionally, the dog has a slightly arched loin, a deep chest, and a narrow waist that portrays its distinctive natural appearance.
Far from what many believe, a greyhound is a very gentle and quiet dog. It is a sweet, loving, and intelligent pet that can live well with other dogs and pets. The dog was trained to hunt in groups, and thus aggressiveness towards other dogs was eliminated. However, because of their strong prey drive and chase instinct, greyhounds may not be suitable for homes with smaller pets like rabbits.
If you are hunting for essential information on greyhounds, you have definitely come to the right place. This definitive guide will provide all the information on a greyhound breed, including the breed origin, characteristics, and caring and feeding tips.
Greyhounds’ existence can be traced back to the time of pharaohs. It is the oldest purebred dog whose records appear about 8000 years ago. During ancient times, Egyptians used to revere the dog as a god, and only a few members of the royalty were allowed to own it. Almost all sighthounds that dot our modern world today are descendants of the ancient Egyptian greyhound.
Unlike the common misconception, the term ‘greyhound’ doesn’t refer to the dog’s color. It was derived from the term “grei” meaning dog or first rank and ‘Hindi’, meaning hunter. Greyhounds have been great hunting companions of man, and because of its devoted loyalty, it was elevated to the courts of kings and rulers throughout ancient times.
Greyhound also appears in both Roman and Greek mythology. The dog was a favorite pet and companion of Alexander the Great. During the dark ages, when disease and famine had become prevalent in the world, the greyhound was saved from imminent death and extinction by priests who bred them for noblemen.
Until 1700, a commoner wasn’t legally allowed to breed and own a greyhound. The dog was a preserve of nobility. In September 1493, greyhound accompanied Christopher Columbus on his expedition from Spain. This period marked the first time the dogs were considered as a European pet in the New World.
Additionally, Shakespeare and Chaucer immortalized the dog in their literature work. Chaucer wrote about the dog in his 14th century Canterbury Tales. Shakespeare also mentioned greyhound in several literary works, including Henry V. These two writers contributed to the popularity of greyhounds across Europe and America. The dog became so popular and loved across the world that Fredrick, the Great Prussia King, asked in his final will to be buried beside his greyhounds.
During the renaissance period, greyhounds were popular companions for the royals; Queen Elizabeth I of England owned greyhounds. General George Custer, too had a pack of greyhounds numbering 14. The general never went to war without his pack of loyal canines. Other notable persons who owned the greyhound include Cleopatra, Teddy Roosevelt, Bo Derek, Prince Arthur, Queen Victoria, King Henry VIII, and Babe Ruth.
Greyhound history as a racing dog
The greyhound history as a racing dog can be traced back to 1912 when an American named Owen Patrick invented a mechanical lure that conveniently ran around an oval track. But it was not until 1923 that Miami Kennel Club in Hialeah, FL, adopted the lure method for its greyhound race activities. Greyhound is the fastest breed of dog that can reach speeds of 70km/hr. in short distances. Currently, the state of Florida is leading in greyhound racing activities with a total of 13 tracks. Almost all greyhounds available for adoption in the United States and Canada are retired racing dogs bred, raised and raced in Florida.
Typically, a greyhound is built for speed. The dog has a streamlined and muscular appearance that quickly cuts through the air to reach 70km/hr. The dog has a short and smooth coat that is easy to care for and maintain. The pet comes in a variety of colors, including white, fawn, grey, and red. The furry friend also has no body fat, and guardians must provide soft and warm places for the greyhound to rest and sleep. A male greyhound stands at 26 to 30 inches tall and weighs between 65 and 70kgs. His female counterpart is slightly shorter and weighs anything between 60 to 65kgs. The two sexes have a life expectancy of between 10 to 15 years.
Personality and temperament
Greyhounds are generally affectionate, friendly, and mild-mannered dogs. They love human companionship and get along with all members of the family, including young children. They are also quite friendly with other dogs of bigger sizes. However, because of their racing and training history, you should not trust a greyhound alone with smaller pets such as rabbits and cats until you have trained them to coexist.
Unlike what most people think, greyhounds are calm, quiet, and prefer to snuggle up somewhere warm all day long. Retired greyhounds are known to spend up to 18 hours a day sleeping. Greyhounds are not an aggressive breed; they quickly freeze and get sacred when challenged. Ideally, a greyhound appreciates it when they are treated lovingly and enjoy a quiet, relaxed, peaceful environment. Additionally, the pets are not excessive barkers and don’t display aggressive watchdog instincts often associated with other smaller breeds. This trait makes them great apartment pets.
Skin appearance and Shedding
Greyhounds don’t shed often because they have extremely short coats and no undercoat. Taking care of the pet is easy and less costly. You should occasionally bath your dog; however, due to their susceptibility to extreme weather, they shouldn’t be bathed too often. They are susceptible to heat and cold, and there is a need to provide added insulation form both elements of weather. The dogs are incredibly lean and need appropriate body protection. Do not leave your greyhound in the sun for too long during a warm sunny day; likewise, provide warm clothing like a sweater during cold and frigid weather.
You need to familiarize yourself with the greyhound’s genetic origins and temperament before embarking on training. Because it is a sighthound, a greyhound was bred to pursue a target by sight rather than by scent. Unlike other breeds that require human guidance, greyhounds make decisions on their own. If you intend to achieve excellent training results, then you should socialize a greyhound with other small animals and children at an early age. The training sessions should be short and fun. They easily get bored and lose focus quickly. Because of their mild and sensitive personality, a greyhound needs a gentle approach in training. A greyhound will be more interested in doing things with you and not for you.
Typically, greyhounds are very healthy dogs. However, these dogs are susceptible to a few conditions. Because they are deep-chested breeds, they may be prone to gastric torsion and bloat. The conditions are life-threatening if not treated on time. Bloating results in the enlargement of the stomach, which is accompanied by twisting. It is crucial to be aware of the symptoms of bloat to seek medical attention early enough. There is also a rare condition called greyhound neuropathy though it is not common to several breeds. Other conditions to watch out for include cardiac and eye diseases. When adopting a greyhound, chose responsible breeders who screen their stock and isolate those with severe conditions.
As former racers, greyhounds may be prone to obesity once they transition to life off the tracks. To keep your greyhound at a healthy weight, you need to feed them meals full of proteins. Meals made of high-quality animal products are ideal for the general health of the dog. You also need to provide the exact amount of food per day according to the dog’s weight if you want the home to achieve an ideal weight. Additionally, you should adopt active exercise routines to the dog’s daily schedule. When outdoors with the dog, ensure you keep him on a leash. The dog can take off at a moment’s notice and maintain a high speed that is hard to catch up.
Greyhounds as pets
Greyhounds are some of the ideal family pets. They quickly get used to a new environment. Besides, the pet loves a quiet and relaxed home environment. They will do well in homes with children and small pets as long as they are well acclimated first. If you are looking for a loyal, dignified companion to play a quick game with or stretch out on a couch, then a greyhound should be your top choice.
Caring For the Greyhound
As a pet guardian, you should be willing to go the extra mile to ensure your pet stays happy and healthy. Caring for your pet means adopting practical-everyday strategies that involve several safe practices. Practice the following responsible greyhound care tips for a lifetime of a happy and healthy dog:
Scheduled veterinary visits
A sound care practice is not complete if it doesn’t involve regular visits to the vet. The greyhound should get a checkup up at least once in a year. However, when the dog is young, the trips to the vet should be more. As they age, your visits to the vet will depend on the pet’s vaccination schedule and general state of health. A trip to the vets with your greyhound can be a challenge. You should take your puppy on occasional joyrides in your car so that he doesn’t associate a car trip to vet visits.
If you want to avoid health troubles with your pet, ensure he receives all the necessary jabs at the right time. After adopting a greyhound, you need to schedule an immunization appointment with your vet. The first visit to the vet will yield an ideal vaccination schedule for the little pup. Vaccinations help to prevent common dog diseases such as rabies. If you are adopting a senior greyhound dog, ensure he has been vaccinated. Remember, you need to renew vaccinations for them to protect your pet effectively.
As mentioned earlier, a greyhound has a distinctive chase instinct and can leap through open doors or windows to chase small pets like rabbits and cats. If the unthinkable happens and you lose the dog, it will be a challenge getting him back if he doesn’t have proper identification. You should ensure the dog has a safe collar and a tag with all your contact information.
You should also consider micro-chipping your pet. Unlike the collar that can fall off, a microchip is an electronic device permanently located with the dog’s body. The device, which is implanted under the dog’s skin, can be read by a scanner to reveal all the crucial identification details. Ensure that you update your details in the collar and microchip whenever you change residence or phone number.
You need to provide your pet with fresh cold water and healthy food. The ideal pet food ensures that the greyhound is healthy and happy at all times. The most appropriate diet will also provide your dog with all the energy and nutrients they need. You need to research the essential ingredients for your pup before adopting him. The food should have the right balance of protein, carbs, and fats. It should also come with plenty of fiber that aids the digestive system. It is also essential to select an ideal food formula suitable for the dog’s age, health conditions, and activity level. In case you are in doubt regarding the kind of formula to adopt, consult your vet.
Greyhounds should be kept well hydrated at all times. The dogs need the right amount of water for their daily needs. The water should be clean and free from contamination. Additionally, ensure you change the water every two hours to keep it fresh. Alternatively, you can feed the dog with moister rich foods that ensure they are well hydrated.
Good hygiene practices
Proper hygiene is an important part of good pet care. The habits that will help keep your dog in pristine shape include regular bathing, brushing their teeth, trimming their nails, and combing their coats. As a responsible pet owner, you should schedule constant hygiene and grooming tasks in your calendar.
You should also provide your dog with a safe and cozy living space. Although Greyhounds are large animals, they surprisingly don’t require significant sleeping and living quarters. So long as you provide adequate space for a cozy, comfortable, and draft-free bed, you are good to go. The dog has a lean body with little fat, and thus there is a need to provide warm, comfortable clothing. You should also secure the gates, doors, and windows and remove any plants that may be poisonous to your pet.
An essential aspect of responsible greyhound care is to ensure the dog is well socialized to live with other pets and children. Socializing involves deliberate training that may take days before you achieve the desired results. Although training is ideal when the pet is still young, a senior greyhound can still be trained on socialization skills. The socialization will help your pet to live well with other pets. If you know nothing about training or you have little time to train the dog yourself, you can procure the services of a reputable trainer in your neighborhood. A well-trained pet is a happy and healthy dog.
Spaying your pet comes with a lot of benefits. For one, it leads to decreased feeding. It also prevents several health problems such as complicated pregnancies and the development of cervical or ovarian cancers. Spaying also prevents her from going into heat that results in straying in search of a partner. In a male greyhound, neutering will help prevent aggression and roaming. It also reduces the risk of getting testicular cancer. If you are considering spaying your greyhound, you should consult an experienced vet for faster recuperation.
If you are sharing an apartment with your furry friend, toilet training should be a top priority. Toilet training ensures that you are not welcomed by messes and foul smells when you arrive home. Training a dog to use a potty is not hard. Greyhounds are incredibly brilliant pets who respond well to basic training commands. A well-trained dog will quickly learn to use the bathroom when you are away. Potty training should involve safety strategies.
A greyhound will do well if fed on high-quality dog food that is appropriate to his age. The breed needs a diet high in calories and protein than the other breeds of dogs. Young puppies should be fed on higher quality ingredients and specialized diet formulas that guarantee better health. However, puppies are different, and thus there is a need to consult your vet on the puppy’s food, feeding schedule, and nutritional health.
According to AKC, a typical puppy feeding schedule involves the following:
- 6-12 weeks- growing greyhound should be fed ideal puppy food. It is a diet that is uniquely formulated to meet all the nutritional needs of a puppy. You should feed your dog at least four times a day.
- 3-6 months- once the puppy hits three months, reduce the feeding intervals from 4 to three a day. This food reduction will enable the pup to lose pudginess and bot belly
- 6-12 months- at six months, a puppy should be fed twice a day. You should also switch from nutrient-rich puppy food to maintenance food
- One year and above- feed the dog tow half portions each day. The body condition of the dog will determine the much food you feed on him. Remember to always stick to high quality, well balanced, and easy to digest diets. You should also ensure the food is rich in fiber for easy digestion.
According to the National Greyhound Adoption Program, a greyhound needs at least one hour of exercise each day. The dog needs to burn off some energy with a run or walk each evening or early morning. Although backyard exercises are suitable for the dog, you should schedule daily walks that provide more physical and mental stimulation. If you are a resident of an apartment with no yard, take your dog for 2 to 3 walks each day. You should also schedule a weekend run with your dog in the park near you. Additionally, the dog’s age and condition will also influence the exercise level to engage him in. A senior dog doesn’t need as much activity as the younger breed.
To avoid health issues common to obese dogs, ensure your greyhound stays physically fit and active. It is crucial to ensure the pet gets all the exercise it needs. You should create enough time to play with your dog. You also need to adopt regular walks with the pet. Besides, if you are leaving your dog all day long alone in your apartment, provide interactive toys that will keep the pet active and fit. Alternatively, you can hire a dog walker from your neighborhood.
Amazing facts about greyhounds
There are several interesting facts about greyhound that will blow your mind. They include:
- Greyhounds come in 18 primary colors and 55 different color combinations.
- Greyhound is the only dog breed to find a place in the bible. The dog is prominently mentioned in the book of Proverbs 30:29-31.
- Greyhounds are the second fastest animal across the globe after the cheetah. When running at high speeds, the dog spends over 75 percent running time in the air.
- During racing, greyhounds wear muzzles that protect them from injury and make it easy for moderators to identify the dog. The muzzle gives the wrong impression that the dog is aggressive
- Greyhounds cannot sit upright due to their body mass and built. They also have a 270-degree range of vision. Ideally, they can see objects behind them and those located in over half a mile away.
- Greyhounds also come with stereoscopic visions. The vision is ideal in noticing moving objects. It is advisable to move your hand or body when you are calling a greyhound.
- Out of all the purebred dog breeds, most animal experts consider greyhounds the healthiest breed of dogs. The dog cannot develop hereditary health problems.
FAQS about Greyhounds
How often should I bath a greyhound?
Because greyhounds do not shed a lot and have very little doggy odor, they do not need frequent baths. The period in-between baths vary from owners to breeders to vets; however, it ranges between a regular schedule every three months to when necessary.
A greyhound’s grooming needs are minimal and take just a few minutes of your time.
Are greyhounds good with other dogs?
Greyhounds are social and have a friendly nature. They get along perfectly well with other dogs. However, they may not play with them. When introducing a greyhound to other dog breeds, a lot of caution needs to be exercised. It is recommended that you supervise their feeding if they are housed in a multi-pet household.
What is the average size of a greyhound?
Typically, male greyhounds are taller and weigh more than their female counterparts. A male greyhound stands at 65 to 75 cm and weighs anything between 30 to 45kgs. The female dog stands at 60 to 70 cm and weighs 25 to 35kgs.
Do female greyhounds make better pets than males?
Apart from their physical difference, there is little difference between a male and a female greyhound. Additionally, male greyhounds tend to be more affectionate and easy-going. Their female counterparts can be more stubborn and independent.
Are greyhounds good pets?
Yes, greyhounds are among the best and ideal pets in the world. They are well mannered, quiet, and require less attention and care. They are also the best apartment dogs because of the calm, loving, lazy, trusting, and intelligent nature.
How often does a greyhound poop?
Greyhounds may poop every 2 to 4 hours in new environments. Take the dog out whenever you notice them sniffing and walking in circles.
Are greyhounds good with children?
Retired racing greyhounds are suitable for children. The dog will walk away from a child who is overbearing rather than growling or biting him. Male greyhounds are better with children than female dogs. The female greyhound regards children as puppies and will seek to discipline them whenever a child is too boisterous or overbearing. When pushed to the limit, the female greyhound will growl or bark to a scare away the child. That said, you should never leave a small child alone with your greyhound. Additionally, before you adopt one, ensure you teach your children to be respectful of the dog.
Can I leave greyhound alone all day?
Yes, greyhounds can be left alone safely all day long. However, provide enough food and interactive toys that will keep the pet full and entertained. You should also potty train the dog if you want to avoid bad smells.
What are the typical colors of greyhounds?
Popular dog colors include black, fawn, and brindle. Other popular colors include white and blue. You will also find greyhounds that come in a combination of these colors.
Why are greyhounds so skinny?
Greyhounds are not skinny. The dog is not structurally built to withstand too much weight on their frames. Extra weight often results in several health problems that may shorten the life span of the dog. Many pet guardians make the mistake of overfeeding the dog to fatten them up and get rid of the skinny tag. However, overfeeding greyhounds should be discouraged.
How can I tell if my furry friend is happy?
A happy greyhound may nibble at your arm and other available skin with their front teeth. Although this action is often misinterpreted as aggression, it is an expression of great happiness.
Why do greyhounds wear thick collars?
Greyhounds wear thick collars so that they don’t easily slip through their small necks and head. Apart from a small head and neck, the pet also has less fur around its neck, and thin collars can easily slip out.
Do greyhounds need more exercise than other dogs?
No, greyhounds need just one hour of exercise each day. After an intense exercise period, the dog will couch down and sleep for long hours. The dogs are used to running very fast but for a short period. A greyhound is an excellent sprinter but a poor marathoner. When running with the dog, start with moderate speeds, which you will increase towards the finish line.
Can I let my greyhound run loose?
Never let your greyhound run loose. The pets can attain great speeds in seconds. And because they have little experience with cars, you need to keep your greyhound in securely fenced areas or on a leash.
What are the health problems associated with greyhounds?
Retired greyhounds are generally healthy because of their athletic background. However, some older dogs suffer from several health conditions, such as arthritis. You can treat the condition using glucosamine. Others may also develop tartar on their teeth. You should routinely brush the dog’s teeth several times a day and undertake regular dental checkups to deal with it. According to the Central Texas Veterinary, other conditions to watch out include obesity, infections, bloat, and cancer.
No. racing greyhounds are already house trained. Besides, they are an intelligent dog breed that responds well to basic training commands. Potty training the dog is easy and effortless.
Finally, greyhounds are an interesting dog breed with a rich history and an endearing temperament. Although they are mostly known as racing dogs, greyhounds are lovable companions with exceptional intelligence, compassion, and loyalty. This breed guide will help you become properly acquainted, whether as an existing owner or if you are contemplating adopting these svelte creatures as your companion.