One of the most ancient breeds that still brings a world of happiness to their people is the Greyhound. This large breed from the Hound Group is by what many consider to be “the Cheetah of the dog kingdom.” Moreover, they certainly are the fastest dog breeds out there, with some estimates clocking the breed at 45 miles per hour.
Can you say fast? And it was that trait breeders sought after centuries ago. A dog with stamina and quickness.
So we know the breed is ancient and fast—what else do they bring to the dog enthusiast’s table?
Here is what you need to know about the Greyhound.
One of the great privileges when it comes to writing about breeds is learning about each breed’s back story. With the Greyhound, their story is as fascinating and murky as any other breed. Historians believe that Greyhounds are possibly the oldest “purebred” dogs today. Some estimates have the dog going as far back as 5,000 years ago in ancient Egypt.
There are whisperings from historians that a breed resembling the Greyhound began appearing in Iran in 4,000 B.C. According to the Great Greyhound website, the Greyhound appears on a funerary vases. This claim was also confirmed by the Gulf Coast Greyhound website, which also substantiates a dog appearing in temple drawings around 6000 BC. in Turkey. Remarkably, according to these writers, these dogs were first feral dogs rummaging through trash. But the people of the Middle East quickly found out that these dogs were remarkable guard dogs. This gave the breed a purpose.
It’s not clear at what point in time when hunters began breeding the Greyhound as coursing dogs. It is likely during the mid 1800’s, when coursing became a popular sport. It is likely that the breed began coursing in the late 1700’s in England. In fact, the Bay Area Greyhound website claims that a Greyhound with the name, King Cob, is the progenitor of all existing Greyhounds today. Additionally, we do know that the famous George Custer had an English Greyhound during the civil war. And according to America Comes Alive, George Custer while stationed in Texas during the civil war had one by the name of Byron. Custer was a big fan of coursing and during the 1880’s, it was the sport of coursing that would help generate recognition for the breed. In 1885, the breed was given recognition by the American Kennel Club.
Greyhound Racing would also fuel the breed’s popularity going into the 20th century. This much is true during the 1920’s. While the sport of dog racing traces back to England around the 1870’s, it was in American, where the sport took off. The first dog racing professional event took place in California in 1919. That was four years after the Greyhound was given recognition by the UKC. From there and on, the breed’s popularity would fall under the sport and gambling tent. Unfortunately, most of the racing Greyhounds came with a laundry list of health problems. They became worn down and utterly useless for racing or coursing.
However, thanks to the many kennel clubs, rescue societies and adoption agencies, a resurgence of interest in the Greyhound continues to take place. Today, the American Kennel Club ranks the breed 151st of 194 breeds in popularity. That said, the breed is slowly and surely becoming more of a companion staple in the dog kingdom.
Greyhounds are rather tall with a low amount of body fat. The American Kennel Club lists the breed as a large dog. Moreover, a male should stand between 28 to 30 inches. A female can range between 27 to 28 inches.
With regards to weight, a male can weigh between 65 to 70 pounds and a female should weigh between 60 to 65 pounds.
Personality and Temperament
The Greyhound is a medium to high energy breed. Obviously, they have the endurance and stamina to run around and compete if the need arises. And yes they do enjoy stretching out those forelimbs and hindquarters quite frequently. Yet, inside, the Greyhound is a mellow dog, that is capable of turning the switch off and relaxing. It really depends on what kind of dog you want from this breed. If you breed them into racing or coursing dogs, they are more than happy to oblige. As the fastest breed on earth, at least that’s the claim made by the AKC, the breed is a prime candidate for sighthound activities. In fact, the sport of coursing utilizes the ability to see and not smell in order to track their game. The Greyhound has wonderful vision, with some accounts claiming they can see from a half mile away.
Aside from their racing ambitions, the Greyhound isn’t a very vocal dog unless they deem it necessary. They can be a bit stubborn or independent, as the Stanley Coren’s, “Intelligence of Dogs,” has the breed 86th most intelligent. That means they obey commands at least 50 percent or better of the time. So yes, the potential of a working dog is there, and yes the breed will listen.
With children they are brought up with, the breed does fine with supervision. The breed should do fine with other dogs if you raise them together. Strangers can expect a fairly friendly dog, that may be a little stand off at times but is sociable enough. This obviously doesn’t make them the best at guarding but watching is something more up their alley.
All in all, this is a sweet and loving dog. They may like to run, but they are friendly and compassionate with family. The breed will feed off a close relationship with their people. Naturally, they will want to be a part of the family’s endeavors.
The American Kennel Club lists the Greyhound as a relatively healthy breed with a few hiccups to be mindful about. Of course, when you buy this breed, you should purchase from a reputable breeder. The breeder should be able to provide you with the proper documents and health clearances. Additionally, you should schedule regular veterinarian visits to maintain proper health.
If all goes well and you take charge in your dog’s health, the Greyhound can live between 10 to 13 years. Thyroid issues are a low concern for the breed, yet the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals had 96 evaluations and found just 74% of Greyhounds with normal thyroid glands. Along the Gordon Setter, this ranks them 81st on their survey.
Bloat is a serious concern that mostly large or rapid growing breeds need to contend with. Bloat or Gastric Torsion is when the stomach distends or twists inside due to an excess of air or gas. This can be excruciating for the dog, but even worse, Bloat can be fatal. That’s why it is important to feed your dog properly and maintain a proper balance of food.
Additionally, the breed may battle Osteosarcoma, which is common with breeds like Irish Wolfhound and the Great Dane. Osteosarcoma is the most common bone cancer or tumor found in dogs. According to Canna-Pet, this form of cancer is found in 8,00 to 10,00 dogs a year. It can spread rapidly and viciously if you do nothing. Moreover, some dogs face amputation due to this malevolent form of cancer. Lameness in the forelimbs and the dog’s hindquarters are common signs of Osteosarcoma.
Something less severe known as Pyoderma, which is a skin infection due to bacterial buildup or infestation, that can contribute to pus and lesions or at times hair loss is found with the Greyhound. Other breeds with short hair seem to face this skin infection as well including the Pug and Bulldog.
Other issues affecting this breed include corns, epilepsy, progressive retinal atrophy and cataracts. A bleeding disorder, Von Willebrands, may be seen with Greyhounds as well. Also, you may need to consult with your veterinarian about your dog’s sensitivity to certain anesthesia.
In theory, could you as an apartment dweller own a Greyhound? Absolutely, the next question ought to be, could you own a happy Greyhound? Again, absolutely. The idea is that most dogs can be happy in smaller spaces if you give them a couple of things. First, perhaps the most important, time outside to stimulate their mind and body. Regular exercise is detrimental for this breed. 45 minutes daily, or two short walks should suffice this rather mellow indoor dog. Second, you need to give them that mental stimulation.
You’ll need to provide them with affection and attention. A dog can get complacent if left to their own devices. If boredom sinks in and they feel as if they aren’t getting the attention they deserve, the dog is likely to act it out. So plenty of attention, companionship and moderate amount of exercise should suffice this breed living in a small space.
Otherwise, you should probably be an active person or with plenty of space. Early socialization and training is necessary for a breed like this. You’ll need plenty of patience with this dog. Positive reinforcement is always best when you are trying to train a high energy breed.
Since the Greyhound is a coursing breed, you’ll need to be mindful about their possibility of wandering off. The breed has the mindset to trace and chase a lead. Although most of their is done by sight, don’t let that fool you when it comes to wanderlust. This is an indoor dog, who shouldn’t be left outside for long periods of time. Nor should this dog be alone for long durations.
Pay attention to the sun as this breed does have sensitive skin and issues pertaining to the sun. Brush their teeth regularly, at least 23 times a week to remove tartar and other buildup. Trim their nails to protect them from overgrowth. Finally, inspect their skin, coat and ears for any sort of bacterial infection.
When it comes to food the Greyhound isn’t shy by any stretch of the imagination. You can expect to feed an active Greyhound around 4 to 5 cups of high quality dry food per day. More specifically, it is important for the reasons above, to break up their meals into two or three per day. Bloat is a fatal condition that you can prevent with proper practice. Exercise also helps eliminate the threat of Gastric Torsion.
For Greyhounds with typical energy requirements, they should get a caloric redemption of 1500 to 1688 per day. This pertains to dogs weighing 60 to 70 pounds. For the same weight class but a more active dog, you’ll need between 2500 to 2800 calories per day. Always consult your veterinarian about the proper diet for your Greyhound. Most people seem comfortable feeding their Greyhounds meat as the first ingredient with regards to dry kibble.
Steer clear of artificial preservatives and corn glutenate products. Strive for chicken, turkey, salmon, fish and beef. Mix in veggies and fruits regularly.
Most importantly, you should always provide your Greyhound with fresh drinking water especially if they are active and outdoor runners.
This coat is simple to care for and occasional brushing will maintain its integrity and reduce festering hair. The coat should be smooth and short. The texture should also be firm to touch. A good brush through once a week and a monthly bath should suffice the Greyhound’s coat.
There are plenty of coat color schemes available, according to the breed’s standard. Black, black brindle, blue, blue brindle, blue fawn, red, red brindle, white, white and black, white and black brindle, white and blue, white and blue brindle, white and blue fawn, white and red, white and red brindle.
There are four acceptable markings: black mask, parti-color, solid, ticked.
Fun Greyhound Facts
- The lovable cartoon, the Simpsons, features a dog that is a Greyhound. The name of the dog is “Santa’s Little Helper.”
- Did you know that the Greyhound is the only dog to make the Bible? It’s true, and the breed appears in the King James version, in the proverb; 30:29-31.
- It is said that up until the 1700’s, only the elite and ruling class could own Greyhounds. King Tut and Cleopatra allegedly had their own Greyhound type dogs. Dog during those ancient times were so cherished that when the dog would die, the people would honor them like gods by mummifying them. This is according to the Greyhound club of the U.K.
- Greyhounds were one of the first breeds to appear at the Westminster Kennel Club shows. Moreover, the first winner of Best in Show for the Crufts competition was a Greyhound.
- Aside from Custer, historians claim that president Rutherford B Hayes had a pack of hounds he would travel with, including this breed.
- National Geographic claims that the name “Greyhound” is a mistake in translation. The word “Greishund” means old dog instead of a dog with a grey appearance.
While most of their popularity is contingent upon the interest of dog racing, the one promising sign is the interest people are taking with the breed as companion dogs. This is good news considering a good deal of Greyhounds are finding themselves in adoption shelters.
As a companion. they are easy to care for, with a sweet and loving side you would expect from a dog. Except, this particular breed just happens to run and run very fast. Don’t let that fool you, they aren’t energy hounds and should do well with a home that can pay them the attention they and any dog deserves.