Greyhounds are an ancient breed of dogs, known as sight hounds. Similar breeds are seen in Egyptian pyramid drawings. Greyhounds have herding ancestry and possible relationship to other English/Celtic breeds like Wolfhounds and Whippets
By the 18th century, farmers used dogs to limit populations of rabbits and hares. Because of speed, farmers often casually raced their dogs. In the early 20th century, the mechanical lure was invented which led to the development of dog racing tracks and pari-mutuel betting on dogs. Until the mid-1980’s when adoption groups began forming, most greyhounds were killed when their racing usefulness had ended.
Greyhounds are clean, short coated dogs. Typically they are 25-30 inches tall at the withers with females weighing 50-65 lbs; males 70-85 lbs. The average life span is 10 to 14 years.
Greyhounds do best in a quiet, calm environment. They usually fare better with respectful children 8 years and older. Most greyhounds do fine with other medium to large breed dogs. Some can live peacefully with toy dogs and cats or other small animals.
10 Reasons to Adopt a Grey
1. You know what you’re getting when you adopt an adult dog: Regardless of breed, adult dogs make good adoption choices. When you adopt an adult dog, you get to see the adult personality and temperament. The temperament a dog has as an adult is often different than what you would have seen in the same dog as a puppy. You know exactly what size the dog is going to be.
2. Adult dogs require less work than puppies do: As cute as puppies are, they are a lot of work. Aside from having to be house trained, puppies teethe, chew, and need much more exercise and attention than adult dogs.
3. Retired racers are great housemates: Retired racers are low-maintenance. They require minimal grooming; their exercise needs are low to moderate for a dog of their size. They’re compliant and have a personality that helps them adapt quickly to a new lifestyle. Most Greyhounds are naturally laid-back, well mannered, and sensitive. Plus, they’re intelligent and respond well to the right training methods.
4. Retired Racers adapt to a variety of lifestyles: A retired racer isn’t perfect for every family, but he can fit perfectly into almost any lifestyle, as long as you take the time to pick the right retired racer and teach him what he needs to know to be a valued family member. Retired racers are adaptable and do well in loving homes with families who understand their needs.
5. Greyhounds are gentle and quiet: Many people have only seen photos of Greyhounds racing, with muzzles covering their faces and think they’re aggressive. The muzzles are used to help protect racing Greyhounds from injury and to determine the winners of close races. Outside of the racetrack, however, Greyhounds are usually quiet, gentle, docile, and compliant. If you’re looking for a watchdog, choose another breed. They blend well into families with well-mannered children. Most Greyhounds love the company of other dogs, and many live happily with cats as well.
6. Greyhounds don’t need much exercise: Because they’re bred to race, many people feel greyhounds need lots of room to run and constant exercise. Greyhounds aren’t marathon runners; they’re sprinters. At the track, they only race once or twice a week. In homes, however, they romp for short bursts and then turn back into couch potatoes. While a fenced yard is best, a daily walk or two and a chance to run in a fenced yard or field from time to time are sufficient.
7. Greyhounds are very clean: The light, short coat of most greyhounds, makes grooming a breeze. They shed only lightly. Many Greyhounds groom and clean themselves much like cats do. Their coats aren’t oily, so they aren’t as prone to doggy odor as some breeds are.
8. Retired racers are healthy: Retired racers are free of many of the inherited ailments that plague other breeds. For example, hip dysplasia is virtually unheard of among Greyhounds. Their average life expectancy is longer than that of most large breeds–12 years or more.
9. You can find the racer that is right for you: With thousands of retired racing Greyhounds available each year, you can find a racer to fit your needs, younger, older, cat – tolerant. There is a retired racer waiting to race into your life and into your heart.
10. Greyhounds are fun: When you adopt a SA Greys dog, you’ll find a community of like-minded greyhound adopters that host a variety of fun events like reunions, play dates and ice cream socials and have nifty tee shirts, calendars and social media sites.
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Adapted from Retired Racing Greyhounds for Dummies by Lee Livingood
Greyhound Myths and Facts
Since Greyhounds are not common in the general public, as are Labrador Retrievers, or Poodles, and apart from seeing the picture on the side of a passenger bus, most people have no inkling of what Greyhounds are all about. This leads to some bizarre misperceptions in how people view these wonderful creatures.
To attempt to defuse some of the mystique and mythology around Greyhounds, we have assembled some of the most common erroneous perceptions about Greyhounds.
MYTH Because greyhounds are fast, they are hyper.
FACT Nothing could be further from the truth. Greyhounds are laid-back, quiet dogs, that have earned the well-deserved name of 45 mile per hour “couch potatoes”
MYTH Greyhounds need lots or exercise.
FACT Most Greyhounds are satisfied with a 15-20 minute walk once or twice a day and, an occasional off-leash run in a secure, enclosed area.
MYTH Being super athletes, they would love to be a jogging or hiking partner.
FACT Greyhounds are sprinters by nature. They run races of 5/16 or 3/8 mile every 3-4 days. While some Greyhounds may enjoy a short run, long distances are better left to other breeds.
MYTH Greyhounds do not like other dog breeds.
FACT Nearly all Greyhounds get along with other medium to large size dogs, but may need some time to learn about other breeds. Their entire lives have been spent kenneled with their own kind, whom they readily recognize.
MYTH Greyhounds cannot live with small dogs or cats.
FACT Some Greyhounds have high prey drives that make them incompatible with small animals. Nearly 3/4 do well with small dogs and about 1/2 with cats. Birds or other small animals will require some additional precautions. Greyhounds should be muzzled, leashed and closely supervised when meeting and adjusting to small dogs and cats. We small animal test all of our dogs.
MYTH It’s okay for Greyhounds to run off leash.
FACT Greyhounds should never be off leash unless they are in a secured, enclosed area. They can see moving objects up to a ½ mile away and can reach speeds of 35 mph in 3 strides and 45 at top speeds. You’ll never catch them, but a passing car in their path might.
MYTH Because of their large size, Greyhounds make excellent watch or guard dogs.
FACT Typically, Greyhounds rarely bark or show any aggression to strangers. More likely, an intruder would be viewed as a new friend to share a couch.
MYTH Greyhounds must be vicious as they are often seen muzzled at tracks.
FACT Greyhounds are typically very non-aggressive dogs that avoid confrontation. Muzzles are used in racing to prevent injuries to the Greyhounds very thin skin which can be torn in the excitement of a race. They also help with photo- finishes. Muzzles should also be used when a number of Greyhounds are running together, again, to prevent injuries.
MYTH Greyhounds and children do not mix.
FACT While some Greyhounds would rather stay away from children, many do quite well, especially with children about 8 years and up. It is most important that a child is respectful to the Greyhound. They are not rough and tumble dogs or dogs that will necessarily engage in a lot of interactive play with children or adults. If you’re seeking a very active dog, another breed may be a better choice.
MYTH Since Greyhounds come from race – track environments, they can live outside.
FACT Greyhounds do not have much body fat or an undercoat, so they are not well- suited to temperature extremes, hot or cold. We require our dogs to live inside. A Greyhound is happiest with a soft, comfy dog bed, a couch or your bed, if you let them.
MYTH Greyhounds are very aloof dogs
FACT While all their personalities are different, a recently retired Greyhound may take some time adapting to new surroundings and family life. You’ll have the joy of watching your dog’s personality blossom as they learn new things and develop trust and caring for their new home and family.
MYTH Since they have lived a track life, they are difficult to housebreak.
FACT With some direction and consistency, most Greyhounds housebreak quite easily. At the track, they have periodic turn-out times to relieve themselves. Keeping a consistent schedule is the best way for them to learn. It is especially important to let them out when they first get up, shortly after meals and before bedtime. They may come to view the entire house as a large crate to not be soiled. I n time, they will adapt to their family’s schedule.
MYTH Greyhounds need to live with other dogs to be happy.
FACT Some Greyhounds may suffer severe separation anxiety and will need a canine companion. Many do just fine as only dogs. Others may even enjoy the company of a friendly cat if they are left home alone during the day. The most important things you can provide your new Greyhound are quality time and patience to adjust to its new life. If your schedule demands, that you be away, 10 or more hours every day, getting a dog may not be in the best interest of any breed.
MYTH Crating a dog is cruel.
FACT Greyhounds at racetracks and racing kennels are often crated for 18-22 hours a day. We would never support this, but short periods of crating can be essential for the newly homed Greyhound. Crating can assist with house-breaking, inappropriate chewing or other destructive behaviors and can protect small pets while you are away or at night. Periods of 4-5 hours or all night are reasonable. Greyhounds are used to being crated and most do quite well. Some of the shyer dogs, especially, may find a crate to be a safe haven and go there on their own.
Greyhounds and Cats
Can cats and Greyhounds live together successfully? Some Greyhounds have extremely high prey drives that make then incompatible for living or interacting with any small animal. Generally, about half of all Greyhounds can live successfully with cats. Cats certainly present a different energy/smell to the newly homed Greyhound. There are some safeguards that must be taken.
A much higher number of Greyhounds do fine with small dogs, maybe 20 pounds and under. Most Greyhounds seem to recognize that a toy dog is still a dog, be it Chihuahua, Pom or Yorkie. Still, precautions need to be taken with the small dog as well.
First, all of our dogs are cat tested. This means that we have leashed and muzzled the Greyhound to be tested, taken it to a home with a confident cat that is used to living with dogs, and observed the Greyhound’s reactions. Upon seeing the cat, a Greyhound with a high prey drive cannot be distracted from looking at or even trying to go after the cat. The dog may stare intently, lick its lips, drool, bark, have body quivers or generally seem to be highly responsive. Usually these dogs fail immediately and are deemed “not cat tolerant”. A Greyhound that “may need work” to live successfully with a cat may have some of the same responses, but can be distracted. It may go back to focusing on the cat. A “cat tolerant” dog may be excited or curious upon first seeing the cat, but then usually will go on exploring the new environment. It may go back to the cat and sniff again, but generally can be distracted. A few Greyhounds may actually be frightened by the cat and try to get away. This does not necessarily mean it is cat tolerant. MOST GREYHOUNDS HAVE NEVER SEEN A CAT BEFORE TESTING.
Tests may be performed on more than one occasion to see if there is a different result or to confirm that a Greyhound appears to be “cat tolerant”. “Cat-safe” is not used as it assumes a 100% certainty and there is no totally fool-proof method. This is where the cautious foster or adopter comes in.
Upon arriving in a home with a cat, the Greyhound should first be allowed to explore its new surroundings with the cat secured in a safe room, maybe even for a day or two. When it is time to meet, the dog must be leashed and muzzled before meeting its new feline housemate. Again, the dog will want to sniff the cat and possibly want to pursue, if the cat runs away. This is a time for a sharp “no” to start training that chasing the cat is unacceptable. The resident cat may stand its ground or even swat or hiss at the dog. This is perfectly acceptable and continues to be so later if the Greyhound is bothering the cat. A Greyhound soon learns those sharp claws mean business and are a good deterrent. Initially, a Greyhound might not pay much attention to the cat as there are so many other new stimuli to deal with, or the dog may even be frightened of the cat. Leashing and muzzling the Greyhound may need to go on for several days to assure the cat’s safety. Every time the Greyhound remains calm in the presence of the cat, the dog should be rewarded verbally or with treats.
During the first few weeks, it is essential that cat and dog be keep separate in your absence or at night. This could mean crating the dog or securing the cat in a room that dog cannot enter. As things seem to be going OK, you might consider just muzzling the dog without leash when you are present. It may take several days or even weeks or months before you feel confident that your new Greyhound and your cat are living compatibly and can be trusted alone together. These same procedures should be repeated upon introduction of a new cat or another Greyhound.
Cats’ reactions can vary to the new “giant intruder” to its home. Some cats that are comfortable with dogs may go about their business as normal. Others may seek out high places for safety and observation or may even hide for a few days or even weeks. This is typical cat behavior to new stresses in their environment. As long as the cat is eating and using its litter box, things are probably fine. This may be a good time to give your cat some extra assurance and comfort away from the dog and maybe even engage in some interactive play.
While your Greyhound and cat may be the best of friends in the house, maybe even sleeping together, the outside can present new challenges. Your Greyhound might not recognize this is its inside pal and may be prone to go after it. Remember, lots of dogs chase cats, Greyhounds can catch them and the result will not be good. A Greyhound may also go after other cats outside, including those that may come into your yard. Hopefully, you can discourage the feline visitors for their safety. Don’t be surprised if your “cat tolerant” Greyhound wants to go after any cat it sees on its walks. The prey drive is more acute outside.
Some other precautions that you will need to take:
Never let your Greyhound chase your cat. It is a behavior best not encouraged for reasons previously stated. If this is an on-going problem, there are some good deterrents. A sharp no is often enough to get the Greyhound’s attention. Filling a soda can with some stones or coins and shaking it when your Greyhound is in pursuit, will usually stop it in its tracks or producing some other kind of noise will usually get the Greyhound’s attention. A squirt bottle with water may also work.
Be aware of small cat toys that a Greyhound could ingest, which could be a choking hazard or create an intestinal blockage. Fuzzy toys may be especially appealing.
Feed your cat in an area inaccessible to the Greyhound. Cats and dogs have different nutritional needs and it could get quite expensive to continually have your Greyhound eating the cat’s food and irritating to the cat. It also may create some digestive problems for your Greyhound.
Make the litter box inaccessible to your Greyhound or cover it. Unfortunately, dogs taste buds differ greatly from people’s, so they may find “kitty crunchies” quite delectable.
If you are thinking about having a dog door, as your dog exits, your cat can, too allowing your cat to be outside alone with your Greyhound or allowing it to run off.
Always provide your cat with a safe space away from the dog. This may be more important in the beginning. Baby gates can be put up in such a way as to allow your cat access to safety, food and litter and prevent the Greyhound’s access.
As long as the Greyhound does not get a claw in the eye, a swat placed anywhere else, will most likely be a good deterrent for behavior your cat finds annoying.
You may find in time, the Greyhound and cat may have become best friends, sleeping together, amicably greeting each other, showing up for treat or feed time together and greeting you at the door together when you come home. If they just ignore each other that is fine, too. You’ll still have the delight of having rescued a Greyhound and the joy of having a cat in your life, too.
If you have other types of pets, birds (even large birds like parrots or cockatoos), guinea pigs, rabbits or pocket pets (mice, hamsters, gerbils), other precautions will need to be taken. Please discuss these with your adoption team. Safety of all your pets is of the utmost importance.
Greys and Children
While Greyhounds are not aggressive dogs, most have not been raised around children and might not have ever seen a child. Some may be nervous with small children, others may mostly ignore them and still others will relish the company of children.
Usually, respectful children about 8 years old and up do fine with Greyhounds. Younger children and toddlers should be carefully supervised with your Greyhound as well as any other breed of dog or other pet. Very young children (2 and under) should never be left alone with a dog (in fact, this rule should apply to all dogs, not just Greyhounds). The following rules not only apply to your own children, but grandchildren and neighbors as well.
During the first few weeks of your dog’s home life, a child and Greyhound should not be left together unattended.
A child should never jump on a Greyhound. They are not rough and tumble dogs nor do they have cushioning body fat. Nor should a child pester or taunt a dog that may want to be left alone.
A child or adult, for that matter, should never touch or disturb a sleeping Greyhound. They often sleep with their eyes open and may have a startle response, called sleep aggression, and could snap or bite.
Since Greyhounds are large and strong dogs, children should not walk them as the dog could easily get away and injure the child in the process.
If playing out in the yard together, a small child could easily get knocked down, so care must be taken. Elderly or frail people should be aware of this as well.
A young child cannot be the main caretaker of a greyhound or any pet. Even the most responsible child cannot be expected to meet all of a pet’s needs. Helping with feeding or giving treats might be a great way for a child and Greyhound to bond.
Childproofing your doors and gates is essential, so a child doesn’t inadvertently let a Greyhound escape. Locks placed out of a young child’s reach will provide extra security for your Greyhound and child alike. Children or not in the home, locks on gates can be the best answer for keeping your dog in your yard. If an unlocked gate blows open, your Greyhound will most likely be gone. This is probably the number one reason we are alerted about lost hounds. In this regard think about pool cleaners, gardeners or handy-people that may have access to your yard while you are gone, especially if you have a dog door. Always check gates before letting your Greyhound in your yard.
If you seek a dog as an interactive playmate with you or your children, a Greyhound will not likely be your best choice. Most Greyhounds do not play fetch or chase Frisbees with their adopters. Most greyhounds have the mantra “if it is not continuing to move, why would I chase it?” While they do like to run, after less than 5 minutes, most are done.
A child should not play in or enter a Greyhound’s crate as the dog may take ownership of it as its safe space. The same may be true of their beds.
It is vitally important that a child not try to take food or a toy away from a dog. Until you know your dog’s personality, this may initiate a growl, snap or bite. Adults, too, should learn proper ways to make exchanges with dogs for things dogs might value.
Children should put small toys and stuffed animals out of a Greyhounds reach or it may be destroyed or cause a hazard for the Greyhound. This could be true of other small pet toys as well.