The Greyhound is an old breed originally thought to be related to Egyptian dogs. Recent DNA analysis, however, shows that they’re more likely related to a dog used by the ancient Celts. They were introduced to the United Kingdom in the 5th and 6th century BC. Their name derives from the word “grighund.” “Hund” was a word for dog but the meaning of “grig” is unknown. The colour grey does not factor at all with the naming of this breed.
Greyhounds have been a favourite hunting dog for centuries. They belong to a group called “sight hounds,” which means they rely more on their eyes for information than their noses or ears. This made them best used for hunting in the open. They were primarily used for rabbit hunting, although foxes, stags, and deer were occasionally their prey as well. Their speed and endurance allowed them to hunt for a long time without rest, increasing their popularity. Since the 1920’s, most of this breed are bred for racing.
Above all else, the Greyhound is built for speed, though his nickname as a pet is “45 mph couch potato”. His body is slender and streamlined. His ribcage is large and his stomach is tucked in towards the spine. His legs are long and slender. His muzzle is long and his head is narrow. His tail will be long and tapered, with a slight curl at the end. He will stand between 71 and 76 centimetres high and weigh between 29 and 32 kilograms.
Despite what the name suggests, a Greyhound will not necessarily be grey. The coat may come in any colour and any combination. A small amount of brushing is necessary and some shedding should be expected.
Greyhounds are gentle, loving, and laid back dogs. They tend to be a little reserved with strangers and may even be quiet around their owners, finding the softest spot to hang out – your couch or bed. They can do well in a family environment where parents supervise all interactions. They will tolerate well-behaved children, however, they are not big lovers of horseplay, so if a small child is looking for someone to play with, he or she should look elsewhere.
This breed is bred for two purposes – racing or showing. In the US, about 25,000 racing greyhounds are bred every year. There are only about 250 show greyhounds. The over 300 US adoption groups work hard to place as many Greyhounds they can into loving, forever homes. The alternative for an unwanted greyhound race dog is not a happy one. If you do decide to adopt one of these dogs, keep in mind they need to be indoor dogs, as they do not have the fur or fat to protect them from the elements. They also need to be on leash, or in a fenced area when exercising, because their instinct is to chase anything that moves. About 20% have a strong prey instinct, and cannot be in homes with cats, and sometimes even other small animals. Rabbits would not consider them friends. However, they do love the company of other dogs, in particular other greyhounds.
Greyhounds are usually very healthy. They can be prone to arthritis and osteoarthritis because of racing wear and tear. Feeding with elevated bowls, a few smaller meals a day, will help prevent bloat, which large, deep-chested breeds can get. The average life expectancy for this breed is 12 to 14 years.
Training is not difficult with this breed. If you’re adopting a race dog, chances are good he’s received some training already. With consistency and diligence on your part in the first few days, he’ll be housebroken. Greyhounds are sensitive to tone of voice, so positive reinforcement is the best method for training. Harsh discipline will only result in an unhappy dog, and more negative behaviors.
Thousands of people around the world have adopted greyhounds. They all feel they have adopted the best dog in the world, and if you run into one, they will regale you with stories about their well-loved hounds.