The Greyhound is a large size sighthound of ancient origins, bred for coursing game and for dog racing sport known as Greyhound racing. It is described as affectionate, especially with their own pack, generally quiet, easy-going, and calm. It is a tall slender dog with long powerful legs, smooth coat, deep chest, and flexible spine that can reach race speeds of 64kph or more. Racing track Greyhounds are smaller and lighter than show ring Greyhounds. A racing Greyhound can reach a maximum speed of 70kph within 30 metres. This athletic breed is one of the dolichocephalic dog breeds, meaning its skull is relatively long compared to its breadth. It has a very short fur that is very easy to maintain. Coat colours vary and can either be black, white, red, blue, fawn, fallow, brindle or any of these colours broken with white. Males have an average height between 71-76cm while females stand between 69cm and 71cm.
The modern Greyhound was developed in Britain during the Middle Ages but history tells us that the Greyhound is one of the ancient breeds of dog. Although modern literature depicts the Greyhound as close relatives of the Persian Greyhound or the Sloughi, it is actually not closely related to these breeds but is much more related to herding dogs. The first sighthound in known in Europe and probably the ancestor of the Greyhound, the “vertragus” suggests that it probably originated with the ancient Celts from Eastern Europe. These Greyhound-type dogs were bred since that time and spread throughout Europe. The first purebred Greyhound pedigree was registered in private studbooks during the 18th century. Historically, these dogs were used to hunt in the open using their eyesight (sight hound) and some believe that they were brought to the British Isles during the 5th century BC from mainland Europe by the Celts. In the Middle Ages, it was decreed that only royalty and nobility could use Greyhounds for hunting. The first Greyhould racing was held on July 24, 1926 on an oval racetrack at the Belle Vue Stadium in the UK.
The Greyhound is affectionate, gentle, intelligent, quiet, and a fast runner. It can be reserved toward strangers but is generally affectionate with its own pack. The Greyhound is easy-going and calm, often seen sleeping on the couch all day. Pet owners often describe this breed as a “70-kilometer-per-hour couch potato.” It thrives well in a happy, quiet home and can live comfortable well with children, as long as the children are taught how to properly handle such a large dog. The Greyhound can also live with other house animals, even small ones especially if it is socialised with them at an early age. It is a highly adaptable breed and can be a wonderful apartment dog as well because it does not require much space and can sleep all day long. Because of this calm and docile temperament, it is more recommended as an apartment dog compared to small but active breeds.
Training this intelligent and calm breed is easy. In most race tracks, the Greyhound is typically housed in a crate, therefore, crate training a Greyhound is relatively easy. Lead training is also a necessity because the Greyhound must not be allowed to wander off-lead. Its strong prey drive, agility, and speed can quickly bring him into trouble or accident especially in the city. The primary use of the Greyhound in the UK was for coursing deer but modern times saw the dog specialised in lure coursing and racing which is a popular sport in the United Kingdom. They excel in artificial lure sports and in flyball.
Grooming the Greyhound is a no-brainer and it is one of the best reasons why owners choose to have the Greyhound as a pet. Grooming takes just a few minutes each day with a rubber brush or a grooming mitt. Bathing is a non-issue because the Greyhound has very little “doggy odour” and does not require frequent bathing. A mild dog shampoo is recommended when bathing the breed. Check ears for infection or allergies. Do not use a flea collar on a Greyhound because it is sensitive to chemicals and pesticides.
The Greyhound is generally a healthy and long-lived breed with a typical lifespan 9 to 11 years with rare hereditary illness. It is sometimes prone to the following medical predisposition:
The Greyhound’s lean physique makes it unsuitable to sleep on hard surfaces and may develop painful skin sores if left to sleep on such surfaces. Greyhounds also cannot metabolise barbiturate-based anaesthesia so it is best to call a veterinarian who is familiar with the breed. It is also sensitive to insecticides. It does not have an undercoat like other breeds so it is susceptible to extreme temperatures such as extreme hot or cold.
Although the Greyhound will be content relaxing and laying around the house all day, it still needs a moderate amount of exercise to burn off its reserve energy. Greyhounds are not built for stamina but they are built for speed. They are sprinters and no long distance runners. As such, they cannot tolerate strenuous exercises. Just a quick run in the yard or a nice walk along the sidewalk is enough to burn the dog’s conserved energy. A long run may be harmful to the dog if it is not conditioned, particularly if it is a senior. Early morning or evening walks are the safest times to take the dog on an exercise.
Children and Greyhounds go perfectly together very well. However, small children should be taught how to behave properly around the Greyhound as the dog’s sheer size can easily knock small children down. Do not try to disturb a sleeping Greyhound because it may growl when startled which can be mistaken for aggressiveness. The Greyhound does very well with other dogs regardless of size but due to its strong prey instinct, it can be a serious cat chaser at times.