Beneath the sleek and speedy exterior lies a couch potato at heart.
- Dog Breed Group
- Life Span
- 12 to 15 years
Adaptabilitybased on 6 ratings
Trainabilitybased on 6 ratings
Health & Groomingbased on 6 ratings
All-around friendlinessbased on 4 ratings
Exercise needsbased on 4 ratings
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Greyhounds were originally bred as hunting dogs to chase hare, foxes, and deer. Canines in this dog breed can reach speeds of 40 to 45 miles per hour, making them the Ferraris of the dog world. Not surprisingly, Greyhounds made a name for themselves as racing dogs and are still used in racing today. They also participate in many other dog sports, including lure coursing, conformation, obedience, and agility. Beyond their grace and speed, people love them for their sweet, mild nature.
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Whether or not you've seen one in the flesh, you know what a Greyhound looks like. The iconic hound with the aerodynamic build epitomizes speed with his narrow head, long legs, and muscular rear end. We've all seen images of this sprinter, if only through seeing it plastered on the side of a bus, but many of us don't truly know the breed.
One of the most ancient of breeds, Greyhounds probably originated in Egypt and have been prized throughout history. Historic figures who were captivated by this breed include Cleopatra, Queen Elizabeth I of England, and General Custer, who raced his dogs the day before he set off on his fateful trip to Little Big Horn. The patronage of the two queens led to Greyhound racing being dubbed the "Sport of Queens."
Aside from its royal fans, there's a lot to love about the breed. The Greyhound combines a stately appearance with a friendly attitude toward people and other dogs. Loyal and affectionate with his family, he's not aggressive toward strangers, although he will let you know — through a bark or a subtle pricking of his small, folded ears — that someone's approaching your home.
Greyhounds have a reputation for high energy levels, but in reality their favorite pastime is sleeping. Designed as sprinters, not distance runners, they'll be satisfied with a daily walk, although active people find they make good jogging or running partners. In fact, Greyhounds do fine in apartments or homes with small yards--although they need a solid fence to keep them from chasing animals they might see as prey, such as squirrels, rabbits, or trespassing cats.
Regardless of their strong prey drive, there's no doubt that this is a wonderful breed that deserves many belly rubs. Whether you bought your Greyhound from a show breeder or adopted him from the racetrack, you'll find yourself regarding this breed with the same respect that others have given it throughout its long and glorious history.
- Although a Greyhound puppy is an adorable addition to your family, many sweet adult Greyhounds are available for adoption after their racing days are over. Every year, many "retired" racing Greyhounds are abandoned, euthanized, or sold to laboratories, but they can adapt wonderfully to home life and give you many years of companionship. Before you put your name on a waiting list for a Greyhound puppy, check out the world of Greyhound rescue.
- Because of their thin coats, Greyhounds can get the shivers. If you live in a cold climate, buy a warm coat for your dog to wear in snow or rain.
- A Greyhound should never be allowed to run off leash except in a securely fenced area. Greyhounds have a strong prey drive and will take off after a rabbit or squirrel before you even see it.
- When Greyhounds aren't socialized — exposed to many different people, places, and situations — they can become timid and have problems adapting to changes in schedule or environment. Take the time to socialize your dog or puppy.
- Greyhounds are generally a loving breed and affectionate to their people. Usually this friendliness extends to strangers, but they can be aloof with some or all strangers.
- Although many believe that this breed is made to run and has the destructive energy to go with it, that couldn't be further from the truth. Greyhounds are generally docile and quiet, and they're world-class nappers. They do well in apartments and homes with small yards because of their low indoor energy.
- Muzzling Greyhounds, especially retired racing Greyhounds, is a common practice. Greyhounds will nip at other dogs and can hurt smaller dogs and animals if their prey drive takes over. Many rescues recommend muzzling adopted Greyhounds, at least until they get settled into their new homes and you have a better idea of their temperament.
- Greyhounds are low to average shedders depending on the time of the year and the individual dog, and they require minimal grooming. The lack of a heavy coat leaves their skin vulnerable to scrapes, tears, and nicks.
- To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they're free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments.
The Greyhound is an ancient breed that originated in the Middle East and North Africa and has won the admiration of many different cultures. Greyhounds have been mentioned by Greeks, depicted in art by Egyptians, praised by a Roman poet, and are the only breed of dog mentioned in the Bible.
Greyhounds found their way into Europe during the Dark Ages. They were so respected for their hunting prowess that the laws of the time protected royal game reserves by forbidding anyone living within 10 miles of the king's forests from owning a Greyhound.
The Greyhound's popularity continued to grow in England, thanks to the popularity of coursing (the sport of chasing prey) and racing. Spanish explorers and British colonists brought them to the Americas where they thrived as well, coursing jackrabbits and coyotes on the wide-open plains.
The Greyhound was one of the first breeds to appear in American dog shows, and the American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1885. The first official coursing race took place in 1886, and the National Coursing Association in the United States was founded in 1906. Greyhound racing took off and is popular today in many states, although it's a controversial sport because so many dogs are abandoned, euthenized, or sold to laboratories if they don't do well at the track.
The Greyhound is a sleek, athletic dog. There are two types, which vary somewhat in size: Racing Greyhounds are usually 25 to 29 inches tall, and show Greyhounds are slightly larger, at 26 to 30 inches in height. In both types, males typically weigh 65 to 85 pounds, females 50 to 65 pounds, with racing dogs tending toward the lower end of the scale.
Greyhounds generally have a wonderful temperament, being friendly and non-aggressive, although some can be aloof toward strangers. Give them a treat, though, and they're likely to become a friend for life.
They're intelligent and independent, even catlike in many ways. They do have a sensitive side and are quick to react to tensions in the home. They can become shy or timid with mistreatment, even if it's unintentional.
Temperament is affected by a number of factors, including heredity, training, and socialization. Puppies with nice temperaments are curious and playful, willing to approach people and be held by them. Choose the middle-of-the-road puppy, not the one who's beating up his littermates or the one who's hiding in the corner.
Always meet at least one of the parents — usually the mother is the one who's available — to ensure that they have nice temperaments that you're comfortable with. Meeting siblings or other relatives of the parents is also helpful for evaluating what a puppy will be like when he grows up.
Like every dog, the Greyhound needs early socialization — exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences — when they're young. Socialization helps ensure that your Greyhound puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog.
Enrolling him in a puppy kindergarten class is a great start. Inviting visitors over regularly, and taking him to busy parks, stores that allow dogs, and on leisurely strolls to meet neighbors will also help him polish his social skills.
Greyhounds are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they're prone to certain health conditions. Not all Greyhounds will get any or all of these diseases, but it's important to be aware of them if you're considering this breed.
If you're buying a puppy, find a good breeder who will show you health clearances for both your puppy's parents. Health clearances prove that a dog has been tested for and cleared of a particular condition.
In Greyhounds, you should expect to see health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for hip dysplasia (with a score of fair or better), elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand's disease; from Auburn University for thrombopathia; and from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) certifying that eyes are normal. You can confirm health clearances by checking the OFA web site (offa.org).
- Anesthesia Sensitivity: Sighthounds, including Greyhounds, are sensitive to anesthesia and some other drugs. A normal dose for any other dog of his size can kill a Greyhound, probably because of the breed's low percentage of body fat. Choose a veterinarian who's aware of this sensitivity and knows how to dose your Greyhound. If you can't find a vet who's knowledgeable about sighthounds, be sure to alert any vet who treats your dog to this sensitivity.
- Hypothyroidism: Hypothyroidism involves low levels of the hormone produced by the thyroid gland. A mild sign of the disease may be infertility. More obvious signs include obesity, mental dullness, lethargy, drooping of the eyelids, low levels, and irregular heat cycles. The dog's fur becomes coarse and brittle and begins to fall out, while the skin becomes tough and dark. Hypothyroidism can be treated with daily thyroid medication, which must continue throughout the dog's life. A dog that's getting daily thyroid treatment can live a full and happy life.
- Osteosarcoma: Generally affecting large and giant breeds, osteosarcoma is an aggressive bone cancer. The first sign of osteosarcoma is lameness, but the dog will need x-rays to determine if the cause is cancer. Osteosarcoma is treated aggressively, usually with the amputation of the limb and chemotherapy. With treatment, dogs can live nine months to two years or more. Luckily, dogs adapt well to life on three legs and don't suffer the same side effects to chemotherapy as humans, such as nausea and hair loss.
- Gastric Torsion (Bloat): Bloat is caused by the sudden influx of gas and air in the stomach. This causes the stomach to distend and twist and can cause death in a dog if it is not treated promptly. Usually the twist must be repaired surgically.
Greyhound have an inborn drive to chase prey, and owners need a solid fence to keep their dogs from taking off after small animals. Underground electronic fencing is not recommended with this breed, as their desire to chase is far stronger than any fear of a temporary shock.
Greyhounds should also be kept on leash during walks. That strong prey drive will have them ignoring commands if something interesting catches their eye. And with their speed, they can easily outdistance a distraught owner and become lost.
Greyhounds can become overweight, which is bad for their health. It's common for a retired racing Greyhound to gain roughly 5 pounds after retirement, but he shouldn't be allowed to gain any more than that. Because he's tall, provide him with raised feeding dishes to make dining more comfortable.
Training your Greyhound, whether adopted as an adult or bought as a puppy, should begin as soon as he's home. Greyhounds can have a stubborn streak and often approach training with a "what do I get out of it?" mentality. They're independent and need a confident, consistent owner.
However, they also have a sensitive side, which makes harsh training the worst fit for the breed. They do better with patience, consistency, and training methods that use rewards rather than punishment — they like food rewards best.
Greyhounds sometimes have difficulty with the sit command as it's not a natural position for them, and you will often see them sort of balancing on their tail.
Greyhounds need to be exposed to many different people, places, and situations — a process that trainers call socialization — to prevent them from becoming timid or fearful. Many obedience schools offer socialization classes, which are also a wonderful start to obedience basics.
Other ways to socialize your Greyhound include visits to dog-friendly public places and stores, walks in the neighborhood, and inviting people to your home. Introduce new social situations gradually.
Recommended daily amount: Males, 2.5 to 4 cups of high-quality dry food a day, divided into two meals; females, 1.5 to 3 cups.
NOTE: How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don't all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you'll need to shake into your dog's bowl.
Keep your Greyhound in good shape by measuring his food and feeding him twice a day rather than leaving food out all the time. If you're unsure whether he's overweight, give him the eye test and the hands-on test.
First, look down at him. You should be able to see a waist. Then place your hands on his back, thumbs along the spine, with the fingers spread downward. You should be able to feel but not see his ribs without having to press hard. If you can't, he needs less food and more exercise.
For more on feeding your Greyhound, see our guidelines for buying the right food, feeding your puppy, and feeding your adult dog.
Coat, Color and Grooming
Greyhounds have a short, smooth coat that's easy to care for. Despite their name, they can be any color, including fawn, black, red, blue, gray, or white. They can also be various shades of brindle, a striped pattern that gives them the look of having just streaked across the African savanna, or white with at least one other color, known as particolor.
Despite their short coat, Greyhounds shed. Brush them daily to keep shedding at a manageable level. Your Greyhound will love being massaged with a rubber curry brush, also known as a hound mitt. Use a dry dog shampoo when you bathe him to keep his coat clean and smelling great.
Keep ears clean and free of debris with a moist cotton ball. Never insert anything into the ear canal; just clean around the outer ear.
This breed's teeth need the most dedicated care. Greyhounds tend to have poor dental health, so regular brushing is a must if you want them to have sweet breath and no ugly tartar buildup.
Trim his nails once or twice a month if your dog doesn't wear them down naturally to prevent painful tears and other problems. If you can hear them clicking on the floor, they're too long. Dog toenails have blood vessels in them, and if you cut too far you can cause bleeding — and your dog may not cooperate the next time he sees the nail clippers come out. So, if you're not experienced trimming dog nails, ask a vet or groomer for pointers.
His ears should be checked weekly for redness or a bad odor, which can indicate an infection. When you check your dog's ears, wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner to help prevent infections. Don't insert anything into the ear canal; just clean the outer ear.
Begin accustoming your Greyhound to being brushed and examined when he's a puppy. Handle his paws frequently — dogs are touchy about their feet — and look inside his mouth. Make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you'll lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and other handling when he's an adult.
As you groom, check for sores, rashes, or signs of infection such as redness, tenderness, or inflammation on the skin, in the nose, mouth, and eyes, and on the feet. Eyes should be clear, with no redness or discharge. Your careful weekly exam will help you spot potential health problems early.
Children and other pets
Greyhounds can be patient with children and have been known to step delicately around toddlers, but they do best in homes with older children who know how to act around dogs. They're more likely to walk away from a teasing child than to snap at him.
As with every breed, you should always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party. Teach your child never to approach any dog while he's eating or sleeping or to try to take the dog's food away. No dog, no matter how friendly, should ever be left unsupervised with a child.
Although Greyhounds do very well with other dogs, they can view smaller dogs, cats, or other small pets as prey, especially if the animals run from them. Some have a much lower prey drive than others, but it's always best to supervise your Greyhound around smaller animals. Instinct can overcome training, and Greyhounds have been known to injure or even kill smaller pets.
And even if they're best friends with your indoor cat, they may view outdoor cats that come onto their property as fair game.
Greyhounds are often purchased without any clear understanding of what goes into owning one. There are many Greyhounds in need of adoption and or fostering. There are a number of rescues that we have not listed. If you don't see a rescue listed for your area, contact the national breed club or a local breed club and they can point you toward a Greyhound rescue.
All Breed Characteristics
Measures how well this breed potentially adapts to different environments
Measures the amount and difficulty of training potentially required for this breed
Health & Grooming
Measures how much effort this breed potentially needs to keep a tidy hound and home
Measures this breed's potential to get along with other dogs and humans
Measures this breed's potential to require lots of physical activity
Adapt well to apartment living
Contrary to popular belief, small size doesn't necessarily an apartment dog make -- plenty of small dogs are too high-energy and yappy for life in a high-rise. Being quiet, low energy, fairly calm indoors, and polite with the other residents, are all good qualities in an apartment dog.
Affectionate with family
Some breeds are independent and aloof, even if they've been raised by the same person since puppyhood; others bond closely to one person and are indifferent to everyone else; and some shower the whole family with affection. Breed isn't the only factor that goes into affection levels; dogs who were raised inside a home with people around feel more comfortable with humans and bond more easily.
Amount of shedding
If you're going to share your home with a dog, you'll need to deal with some level of dog hair on your clothes and in your house. However, shedding does vary greatly among the breeds: Some dogs shed year-round, some "blow" seasonally -- produce a snowstorm of loose hair -- some do both, and some shed hardly at all. If you're a neatnik you'll need to either pick a low-shedding breed, or relax your standards.
Friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Some dogs may attack or try to dominate other dogs even if they're love-bugs with people; others would rather play than fight; and some will turn tail and run. Breed isn't the only factor; dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least 6 to 8 weeks of age, and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills.
Drool-prone dogs may drape ropes of slobber on your arm and leave big, wet spots on your clothes when they come over to say hello. If you've got a laid-back attitude toward slobber, fine; but if you're a neatnik, you may want to choose a dog that rates low in the drool department.
Easy to groom
Some breeds are brush-and-go dogs; others require regular bathing, clipping, and other grooming just to stay clean and healthy. Consider whether you have the time and patience for a dog that needs a lot of grooming, or the money to pay someone else to do it.
Easy to train
Easy to train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt (such as the word "sit"), an action (sitting), and a consequence (getting a treat) very quickly. Other dogs need more time, patience, and repetition during training. Many breeds are intelligent but approach training with a "What's in it for me?" attitude, in which case you'll need to use rewards and games to teach them to want to comply with your requests.
High-energy dogs are always ready and waiting for action. Originally bred to perform a canine job of some sort, such as retrieving game for hunters or herding livestock, they have the stamina to put in a full workday. They need a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation, and they're more likely to spend time jumping, playing, and investigating any new sights and smells. Low-energy dogs are the canine equivalent of a couch potato, content to doze the day away. When picking a breed, consider your own activity level and lifestyle, and think about whether you'll find a frisky, energetic dog invigorating or annoying.
Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise -- especially those that were originally bred for physically demanding jobs, such as herding or hunting. Without enough exercise, these breeds may put on weight and vent their pent-up energy in ways you don't like, such as barking, chewing, and digging. Breeds that need a lot of exercise are good for outdoorsy, active people, or those interested in training their dog to compete in a high-energy dog sport, such as agility.
Friendly toward strangers
Stranger-friendly dogs will greet guests with a wagging tail and a nuzzle; others are shy, indifferent, or even aggressive. However, no matter what the breed, a dog who was exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes, and shapes of people as a puppy will respond better to strangers as an adult.
Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. This doesn't mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases; it just means that they're at an increased risk. If you're buying a puppy, it's a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you're interested in, so you can ask the breeder about the physical health of your potential pup's parents and other relatives.
Good for novice owners
Some dogs are simply easier than others: they take to training better and are fairly easygoing. They're also resilient enough to bounce back from your mistakes or inconsistencies. Dogs who are highly sensitive, independent thinking, or assertive may be harder for a first-time owner to manage. You'll get your best match if you take your dog-owning experience into account as you choose your new pooch.
Dogs who were bred for jobs that require decision making, intelligence, and concentration, such as herding livestock, need to exercise their brains, just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don't get the mental stimulation they need, they'll make their own work -- usually with projects you won't like, such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.
A vigorous dog may or may not be high-energy, but everything he does, he does with vigor: he strains on the leash (until you train him not to), tries to plow through obstacles, and even eats and drinks with great big gulps. These dynamos need lots of training to learn good manners, and may not be the best fit for a home with young kids or someone who's elderly or frail. A low-vigor dog, on the other hand, has a more subdued approach to life.
Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blasé attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog. You may be surprised by who's on that list: Fierce-looking Boxers are considered good with children, as are American Staffordshire Terriers (aka pit bulls). Small, delicate, and potentially snappy dogs such as Chihuahuas aren't so family-friendly.
**All dogs are individuals. Our ratings are generalizations, and they're not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together, period.
Potential for mouthiness
Common in most breeds during puppyhood and in retriever breeds at all ages, mouthiness means a tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite (a soft, fairly painless bite that doesn't puncture the skin). Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or "herd" their human family members, and they need training to learn that it's fine to gnaw on chew toys, but not on people. Mouthy breeds tend to really enjoy a game of fetch, as well as a good chew on a chew toy that's been stuffed with kibble and treats.
Potential for playfulness
Some dogs are perpetual puppies -- always begging for a game -- while others are more serious and sedate. Although a playful pup sounds endearing, consider how many games of fetch or tag you want to play each day, and whether you have kids or other dogs who can stand in as playmates for the dog.
Potential for weight gain
Some breeds have hearty appetites and tend to put on weight easily. As in humans, being overweight can cause health problems in dogs. If you pick a breed that's prone to packing on pounds, you'll need to limit treats, make sure he gets enough exercise, and measure out his daily kibble in regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time.
Dogs that were bred to hunt, such as terriers, have an inborn desire to chase and sometimes kill other animals. Anything whizzing by -- cats, squirrels, perhaps even cars -- can trigger that instinct. Dogs that like to chase need to be leashed or kept in a fenced area when outdoors, and you'll need a high, secure fence in your yard. These breeds generally aren't a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small dogs. Breeds that were originally used for bird hunting, on the other hand, generally won't chase, but you'll probably have a hard time getting their attention when there are birds flying by.
Some dogs will let a stern reprimand roll off their backs, while others take even a dirty look to heart. Low-sensitivity dogs, also called "easygoing," "tolerant," "resilient," and even "thick-skinned," can better handle a noisy, chaotic household, a louder or more assertive owner, and an inconsistent or variable routine. Do you have young kids, throw lots of dinner parties, play in a garage band, or lead a hectic life? Go with a low-sensitivity dog.
Dogs come in all sizes, from the world's smallest pooch, the Chihuahua, to the towering Great Dane, how much space a dog takes up is a key factor in deciding if he is compatible with you and your living space.
Tendency to bark or howl
Some breeds sound off more often than others. When choosing a breed, think about how the dog vocalizes — with barks or howls — and how often. If you're considering a hound, would you find their trademark howls musical or maddening? If you're considering a watchdog, will a city full of suspicious "strangers" put him on permanent alert? Will the local wildlife literally drive your dog wild? Do you live in housing with noise restrictions? Do you have neighbors nearby?
Tolerates being alone
Some breeds bond very closely with their family and are more prone to worry or even panic when left alone by their owner. An anxious dog can be very destructive, barking, whining, chewing, and otherwise causing mayhem. These breeds do best when a family member is home during the day or if you can take the dog to work.
Tolerates cold weather
Breeds with very short coats and little or no undercoat or body fat, such as Greyhounds, are vulnerable to the cold. Dogs with a low cold tolerance need to live inside in cool climates and should have a jacket or sweater for chilly walks.
Tolerates hot weather
Dogs with thick, double coats are more vulnerable to overheating. So are breeds with short noses, like Bulldogs or Pugs, since they can't pant as well to cool themselves off. If you want a heat-sensitive breed, the dog will need to stay indoors with you on warm or humid days, and you'll need to be extra cautious about exercising your dog in the heat.
Some breeds are more free-spirited than others. Nordic dogs such as Siberian Huskies were bred to range long distances, and given the chance, they'll take off after anything that catches their interest. And many hounds simply must follow their noses, or that bunny that just ran across the path, even if it means leaving you behind.
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