The Greyhound is gentle, noble, and sweet-tempered with an independent spirit. They are sighthounds and one of the oldest breeds of dogs. Sighthounds are hunting dogs that pursue running game by sight rather than by scent. For thousands of years these graceful hounds with their inverted S-shape has been an object of fascination for artists, poets, and kings. The Greyhound story begins in Egypt some 5,000 years ago. They were designed to detect, chase, capture, and dispatch the fleet-footed wildlife of Egypt’s deserts. To the pharaoh’s subjects, the godlike beauty of these proud hounds was an extension of their ruler’s divine majesty.
Greyhounds range from 27 to 30 inches tall and weigh between 60 to 70 pounds. They are tall, sleek, curvy, powerful, smooth, and well-muscled. They stand over a lot of ground, and have a long, whip-like tail. Their legs are long and their feet have arched well-knuckled toes. Their skin and hair coat is soft and fine. Their heads and muzzles are long and narrow. The ears are tightly folded back during the chase or when resting and raised outward into a folded gull-wing when alert. Above all else, Greyhounds are fast. Their combination of skeletal and muscular structure, and the ability to focus completely on the object of the chase makes them the fastest breed.
Color was not considered important during ancient times because their ability to successfully catch game was far more necessary. The Greyhound’s short, smooth coat requires little grooming beyond regular baths and weekly rubdowns with a damp cloth or hound glove.
Greyhound’s life expectancy is 10 to 13 years. They have even, quiet temperaments with people. Because they have very little fat or coat to cushion them from the bumps, trips, and grabs of small children they are sensitive to this type of pain and may react quickly, so be very alert when Greyhounds and toddlers are near each other.
Greyhounds are social and like to have company, especially the company of another Greyhound so they can amuse themselves by running around the fenced backyard. Because they run fast, they will get very far away in a very short time. Unfortunately, they don’t respond well once they run after something interesting. Learning to stop or come back during a chase requires obedience classes and successful practice a fenced area. Greyhounds are independent because it does no good for a coursing dog to stop and turn back to you once the chase has begun.
Greyhounds are not good guard dogs because they weren’t bred to challenge people or be aggressive; although they can be quite barky and territorial if they see another dog or a stranger on the street outside of their fenced yard. Most will lie down and watch you do chores until you look like you are going to open the door, or start to fix supper. If you pick up a leash, or even as you get close to the place where the leash hangs, they will instantly jump up and run over, assuming you are ready to take them on a walk.
Caring for a Greyhound
Next, we’ll go into how you should care for a Greyhound.
Greyhounds, at every stage, need a lot of high-quality dog food throughout their life. They do need a lot of calories and a lot of protein because of their manner of running at extreme speed. Once they become older, you will need to modify the diet, yet allow them all the exercise they want. It is important to be consistent in the foods you give. Do not jump around from one brand to another; take time modifying the diet because quick changes will result in unpleasant and/or untimely elimination of offending matter, and will not result in the desired improvements.
While perfectly happy to lounge around the house all day, Greyhounds are capable of amazing speed and energy when faced with potential prey or, more realistically, the chance to chase a tennis ball. Greyhounds require a regular schedule of outside breaks and exercise time. They need this time to burn off built up energy. Allow plenty of opportunities to safely run off leash in a securely fenced area. Greyhounds spend a lot of time sleeping or lounging around. They conserve energy for the chase; expend almost all the energy they can, then rest up until it’s time for another chase.
Training a Greyhound can be frustrating. As a sighthound, or coursing breed, the Greyhound was developed to pursue by sight rather than by scent. They course game independently of humans, making decisions on their own, unlike other types of hunting breeds that require a bit of direction. A Greyhound should be socialized from an early age with small animals and children. Keep training lessons short and sweet, as the Greyhound will become bored very easily. With his mild, sensitive personality, he needs a gentle approach in training, never harsh. Greyhounds are more interested in doing things with you rather than for you.
Greyhounds are overall very healthy dogs, although there are a few conditions the breed can be prone to. They are susceptible to bloat and gastric torsion, a sudden and life-threatening enlargement of the stomach that is sometimes accompanied by twisting. A condition called Greyhound neuropathy seems to be isolated in the breed. Other disorders include cardiac and eye conditions. Recently, a recessive gene mutation that interferes with nerve impulse transmission was discovered in the Greyhound. The disease which occurs when a dog carries two of these genes is fatal. That mutant gene can be identified through DNA analysis of a sample of blood or saliva. If you are thinking of buying a puppy, please ask the breeder whether the parents have been screened for the Greyhound Neuropathy gene and at least one of the parents is certified “clear” and neither parents are affected.
His strong, fast-growing nails should be trimmed regularly if not worn down naturally, as overly long nails can cause the dog discomfort. The ears should be checked at least weekly for any buildup of wax or debris that could result in an infection, and cleaned if needed. The teeth should be brushed regularly, daily if possible, with a toothpaste formulated for dogs.
- Italian Greyhound
While you’re here, be sure to check out our dog product reviews!