ALL DOG BREED PROFILES

Greyhound

Greyhound dog
John Walton
Written by John Walton

According to the FCI (Fédération Cynologique Internationale), the Greyhound is part of the Sighthound Group, more specifically included in the Shorthaired Sighthounds. This classification is different than the American Kennel Club’s, which categorizes the Greyhound in the Hound Group.

This type of dog is the fastest of all Greyhounds because of its physiognomy. It has a big and strong heart, as well as an athletic and muscular body. Possible future owners of a Greyhound should pay attention to its origins, study its pedigree and learn as much as possible about its parents’ character. After all, such dog usually stays around between 10 to 12 years.

Breed Characteristics

AdaptabilityAbove Average
TrainabilityHigh
Health and GroomingHigh
All Around FriendlinessHigh
Exercise NeedsAbove Average

Dog Breed Group: Hounds
Height: Generally 2 feet, 1 inch to 2 feet, 6 inches tall at the shoulder
Weight: Generally 50 to 85 pounds
Life Span: 10 to 12 years

The Greyhound belongs to a breed of dogs that descends from prehistoric times, when it was used as a hunting dog. It has an innate instinct to follow animals such as rabbits and squirrels. If it sees a rabbit running, a Greyhound will probably run after it and ignore everything else around it.

It is a very intelligent, fast, lively, strong, perseverant, reserved, proud and brave dog. A standard copy is distinguished by its great endurance, being able to jump on long distances at high speed. As for its general physical characteristics, it manages to impress thanks to its vigorous constitution, well balanced and proportionate body, beautiful musculature, deep chest, strong and supple limbs and healthy paws.

The Greyhound is a perfect companion dog because it is very loyal to its owner, gentle and affectionate when living in intimacy. If it is kept outdoors in a cage, it becomes sad, so it should be close to its family and receive love constantly.

The name “Greyhound” supposedly has 3 origins. The first one claims that this dog breed’s name comes from the old English word “grei”, which means dog, and “hundr”, which means hunter. The second theory sustains that it comes from Latin, while the third talks about its Greek origins. Regardless of its name’s origins, the Greyhound is undoubtedly one of the dog breeds that has physically speaking remained unchanged since approximately 4000 years ago. Its figure can be admired on various Egyptian tombs and on Assyrian monuments.

Main Highlights
  • The drawings and engravings found on Egyptian tombs and Assyrian monuments attest the fact that the Greyhound has been around since approximately 4000 years ago. In Egyptian hieroglyphics, a Greyhound that keeps its tail up means “courage and victory”, while a Greyhound that keeps its tail down means “defeat and fear”.
  • The Greyhound is tall and has a special physical conformation that allows it to run very fast.
  • It is intelligent, with an exceptional swiftness and great vivacity, as well as with remarkable strength, endurance and perseverance. It is also slim, brave, proud and sometimes reserved.
  • King David said about the way a Greyhound moves that it is as gracious as a woman’s or a horse’s movements.
  • It was used to hunt deer and wolves, as well as for various competitions that involve running due to its exceptional speed.
  • Nowadays, this dog breed is used for company and less for hunting or racing.
  • The Greyhound is among the fastest dogs in the world. It can reach 40 mph easily and, on a short distance it can even run with 43 mph. It only takes it 20 seconds to run that fast. The only other mammals that can run so fast on short distances are the cheetahs, which can reach 67 mph.
  • The Greyhound was standardized by the British, being registered by the FCI as number 158. All its morphological elements, namely elongated head, rose petal type of ears, long and flexible neck, angulation, shape of abdomen and arched tail, all contribute to its perfect athlete body.
  • The heart of a Greyhound is 50% bigger and of the same weight as the heart of a German Shepherd. In other words, the Greyhound has a big heart, both literally and figuratively.
Breed History

The Greyhound is an ancient dog breed found in almost all countries and on all continents. It is often seen as a symbol of wealth and aristocracy. The first evidence of the Greyhound’s origins was discovered in some tombs from Egypt and dates between 2900 and 2750 BC, which means almost 4000 years ago. The drawings clearly depict the unmistakably shape of this dog breed.

Both Romans and Greeks appreciated the Greyhound dogs due to their ability to hunt a variety of small and large animals, including deer, rabbits, foxes, wild boar and even bears. Inevitably, the nobility from various European countries filled their shelters with many copies of Greyhounds that they also kept close as companion dogs.

In 1016, in England was issued a law which forbade common people to hunt with Greyhound dogs. Thus, the nobility and the royal family were the only ones who had the right to hunt with a Greyhound dog. Ordinary people were not allowed to own such dogs, and those who were wealthy enough to own one were not allowed to hunt in the royal forests. This law was applied for 400 years.

As soon as fox hunting was not fashionable anymore and the size of the royal forests was reduced, people started hunting rabbits. However, this time they were testing the dogs’ abilities by making them fight each other and hunt the rabbits at the same time. For 200 years, in England, hunting rabbits was a national sport. Furthermore, the first dog race was held in 1876, in London. This new sport became popular overnight and was especially interesting since the jockeys were monkeys.

The Greyhound dogs arrived in America before 1776, which is exactly when the first Europeans set foot on American soil. Around 1800, these dogs were used for hunting and 77 years later they were recognized by the Westminster Kennel Club. 50 years later, dog racing also became popular in America. The locals loved the mechanical rabbit used as bait in order to motivate dogs to run. These days, dog racing is not encouraged mainly because certain owners choose to kill the dogs that are no longer useful for racing.

In parallel, since the nineteenth century, dog breeders started to think more about the physical aspect of a Greyhound, not only about its ability to run very fast. The aesthetic factor was appreciated in beauty exhibitions that were organized during the 1920s. The judges were first the same people that were experts in dog racing, but 40 years later, the judges changed with people who were specialized in assessing the physical features of Greyhounds.

Size

Since Greyhounds are used for racing or for competitions, their height and weight varies. If Greyhound dogs are trained for racing, their standard height is between 25 and 29 inches. As for their weight, it is lower than the average. More specifically, if a dog trained for competitions weights 65 to 85 pounds in case it is male and 50 to 65 pounds in case it is female, a dog trained for racing weights 65, respectively 50 pounds. As for the height of competition Greyhounds, it ranges between 26 to 30 inches tall.

Personality and Character

The Greyhound dog is described as the fastest laziest dog in the world. It is a sweet, gentle, affectionate, adaptable, docile, loyal and intelligent dog. It is athletic and extremely fast, but it is not energetic all the time. It has bursts of energy and then it likes to sleep a lot. In fact, the Greyhound dogs love to sleep all day when they have the chance. They are obedient fact which makes them excellent pets.

The Greyhound’s character is, or at least it should be, perfect. An intelligent dog, very attached to its owner that knows how to observe what is happening around it is close to perfectly. In addition, it is a very quick learner and highly sensitive. It is often said that the Greyhound is like a sponge because of its ability to change its mood according to its owner’s mood. It is so easy to influence, that its owner should be careful not to cause damage to its psyche.

Easy to tame and obedient, these types of dogs like the company of their owners and of people in general. Although they are athletic dogs, they don’t need to be left alone all day in a yard in order to run freely. They mostly run when they are stimulated by a prey, not just to consume their energy. They aren’t destructive either, but they can become sad a lot easier than other dog types.

Health and Potential Problems

The Greyhound is generally a healthy dog breed. Among the diseases that may occur in case of this dog breed are:

  • Progressive retinal atrophy. This is an eye disease that involves the gradual deterioration of the retina. In early stages, dogs lose night vision, and as it gets worse, they also lose their ability to see during the day.
  • Expansion or gastric torsion. Also called the “volvulus syndrome”, this disease is characterized by the rapid accumulation of air in the stomach. Therefore, the stomach is inflating and the normal digestion process is stopped.
  • Hypothyroidism. This affection refers to low thyroid levels and it occurs when they drop considerably.
  • Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD). It is a condition that occurs in large dogs that develop too quickly and some of the cartilage in their joints is not formed properly. Abnormal cartilage may grow, which can be removed surgically.
  • Sensitivity to anesthesia. The Greyhound is sensitive to anesthesia because it has too little fat. Therefore, any administered meds take a longer while to work in its case. The vet and other specialists must test its resistance or reaction to anesthesia.
Care Features

Regarding the Greyhound’s need of activity, it must be moderate and repeated daily. A few walks per day are enough for such a dog. However, if it rains outside, the Greyhound prefers to stay indoors and sleep all day.

A Greyhound should never be taken out without a leash on. If such dog manages to get away from its owner, it might run too far without even realizing. Since it is able to detect animals such as a squirrel from a very long distance, it can start running in order to catch it with about 40 mph. It is the second fastest dog in the world, so extra caution is needed.

Using retractable leashes is not recommended for this dog breed. This is because such dog is able to reach maximum speed in 20 seconds, so you might lose control over it. Also, if you tie it to a pole while wearing a retractable leash, it might want to chase something and without knowing, the length of the leash will not be enough anymore and the shock might break its neck.

The Greyhound is a very sensitive dog when it comes to temperatures too. Its coat is short, so it cannot regulate its body temperature. Extreme heat or cold are not good for it. It is definitely an apartment or house dog, even if it likes to spend time outdoors in the company of its owner.

Greyhound dogs are obedient and should be treated gently at all times. They are never aggressive and tend to freeze when a dog growls at them. They have no fighter instinct either, but they rely on their speed to get away in case of danger. If they are treated harshly, these dogs may suffer from serious psychological problems. Therefore, consistency and gentleness are needed for training.

The Greyhounds may be very quick learners or they may take months of practice to learn certain commands. In general, the training of such dog should be easy, even for people who have never owned a dog before. In addition, socialization is very important since they are shy dogs and their shyness may turn into fear.

Feeding Schedule

The Greyhound is a large dog and its body shape influences the stability of its stomach. Therefore, it is recommended to divide the quantity of its food in 2 or 3 smaller meals. A larger quantity of food may cause stomach torsion if it is ingested fast. In terms of nutrition, there are no specific requirements for this dog breed unless it is very active. In case of a dog that is used for racing, food intake is slightly different than for a companion dog. An active dog needs more fat and more carbs in order to have the needed energy.

Coat, Color and Grooming

The coat of a Greyhound dog can be any color including black, brown, red and even variants when the predominant color contains white markings. Its coat is very short, smooth and has very little care requirements. Its molting rate is moderate, so brushing it once a month is more than enough.

A rubber-grooming glove is ideal for this dog. As for bathing, once every 2 months should be enough, especially if it is kept in a house or apartment. It has dry skin and little odor, so it is prone to dandruff if it is washed too often.

The Greyhound has sensitive ears, so extra care is needed when it is bathed because water should not get inside its ears. Its owner should check its ears once per week to make sure that everything is in order. Also, cleaning the outer ears canals is recommended.

As for teeth and nails, the Greyhound needs regular teeth cleaning appointments as well as nail trimming appointments. Specialists do it better, but dog owners could also learn how to take care of a Greyhound’s teeth and nails.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

Greyhounds are extremely fast and some of them, around 20%, will kill cats and other pets as a result of catching them after chasing them. Only about 10% of all Greyhounds are peaceful and don’t feel any instinctual need to chase small animals. Some of these dogs could also be trained not to run after a small animal or to get along with cats. In case of dogs, it rarely presents problems.

The Greyhound has generally good relations with children, although it’s not too fond of playing inside the house. It rapidly accommodates with families that have children, as long as the children are taught to treat it properly and respect it. Just like most dogs, this dog doesn’t like to be teased either.

Greyhound dogs are not special just because their amazing ability to reach 40 mph in 20 seconds, but also because they are sensitive. Such dogs may not know what empathy is, but they definitely know how to apply it. This quality is rare in people, not to mention in dogs. Moreover, it is the type of dog that can be both active and lazy, so it is not too pretentious in terms of exercising. Feeding it is not a problem either, so the Greyhound might really be the perfect dog for certain types of people who can offer them what they need.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.

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