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Greyhound, the Racing Dog

Updated on October 5, 2014
Greyhound OB
Greyhound OB | Source


The Greyhound is a dog largely bred for racing and dog show competitions now. They are tall, slender; with neck slightly arched and long, and with a wide, deep chest. They are built for speed and were originally used primarily for hunting and racing. Greyhounds when not running tend to sleep. They can be good pets and even apartment dogs, but they do need some exercise.

There is some new popularity in dog breed shows competitions. The breed is split between show lines to conform to a written standard and racing lines that are bred for speed. The AKC recognized the breed in 1885.

Unfortunately there is a need for people to adopt greyhounds that are retired from Greyhound racing.


Greyhound running brindle
Greyhound running brindle | Source

Adopt a Greyhound

I heard some years ago that Greyhounds are put down when they are retired from racing. It seems to me to be a bit ungrateful of owners, who the dogs have served well. However, Greyhounds can be adopted. April is “adopt a Greyhound Month.”

Greyhounds do make great pets for the right people. Despite their fame for running , they do not require a lot of activity. When they are used for racing they actually spend most of their day in crates. At home they will spend more time sleeping than running. Like other dogs they do need exercise, but not as much as one might think.


Greyhound Racing


The Greyhound Project would like to show you what good pets Greyhounds can be after being retired from racing.

There are many rescue groups in North America, Australia and Europe to place these dogs that are gentle andloving dogs. They are not hard to housebreak. They’re already crate trained from the track. It’s best if they find an even-tempered, gentle but firm and loving owner who will consistently communicate the rules of the house.

I’ve heard it said that greyhounds have two speeds: forty miles and hour or zero.

Appearance and Anatomy

The males are usually 28 to 30 inches tall at the withers. That is, the highest part of the back at the base of the neck. They weigh 60 to 88 lbs.

The female are usually 27 to 28 inches and weigh 60 to75lbs.

The Greyhounds have very short hair and it is easy to maintain. They come in a variety of colors and combinations.

The breed gets its speed because it is built light and muscular with a large heart and the highest percentage of fast-twitch muscle of the dog kingdom. It has extreme flexibility of the spine, according to Wikipedia. They further refer to “Double suspension gallop” which is the fastest “running gait” of the greyhound, in which all the dogs’ feet are free from the ground, both when they are contracted and extended going at full stride.

This dog is the fastest dog in the world and can reach speeds as fast as 40 miles per hour.


According to Greyhounds are brave, devoted, intelligent, laid-back, charming and loving. They tend to have reserved behavior toward strangers and even toward their master. They might not obey orders if they think they are stronger minded than the person giving the orders. They also won’t respond well to harsh discipline. The owners need to project an attitude of natural authority. Socialize them well to keep them from being timid.

They are not aggressive dogs. They do wear muzzles when racing to avoid injuries in a race from dogs nipping each other during or after a race when they are excited. They literally have thin skin, which can tear easily. Sometimes they wear muzzles if they have a high prey drive in order to protect small animals.




Generally they are  healthy and long lived and rarely have hereditary illness. Some have been known to develop esophageal achalasia bloat and osteosarcoma. They should not sleep on a hard surface because of their thin physique and soft bedding is advised to avoid skin sores. Their lifespan is about 10 to 13 years.

A vet with knowledge of greyhounds is advised if you have a greyhound. The breed is sensitive to some anesthetics. The Greyhound's blood chemistry is different form other breeds which could lead to wrong diagnosis. They are also sensitive to insecticides, so some vets suggest that owners avoid flea collars and sprays. Products such as Advantage, Frontline, Lufenuron and Amitraz are effective and safe for greyhounds, according to Wikipedia.

They have a higher level of red blood cells than other breeds. Red cells carry oxygen to muscles and lungs.

Greyhounds do not have undercoats and are less likely to trigger allergies. They should be housed indoors because they are not able to withstand weather extremes.



The primary use of Greyhounds originally was for coursing deer. They specialized in competition hare coursing later. They still do coursing but artificial lure coursing and racing are more popular. In Ireland coursing is still important and many leading breeders are there. Most of purebred greyhounds are whelped in Ireland.

Depictions of Smooth coated sighthound type dogs   have been found in ancient Egypt. Thus the breed has been reputed to have its origins there. DNA analysis, however, indicates that the breed s not closely related to these breeds, but rather, to herding dogs. The probable origin of the Greyhound is more likely with the ancient Celts from Eastern Europe.

Modern purebred pedigree Greyhounds come from Greyhound stock which was recorded in the 18th Century private and in the public 19th Century studbooks.

The sighthounds are historically used mostly for hunting in the open. They may have been introduced into the area we know now as the United Kingdom in the 5th and 6th Centuries B.C. from Celtic Europe. Some hunter-gatherer tribes of what is now Scotland were thought to have large hounds similar to the deerhound before the 6th Century B.C.

from the Celtic mainland of Europe.

The breed was originally brought to America by Spanish explorers in the 1500’s. It was one of the first breeds to be shown in dog shows.. Its natural quarry is rabbits or hare, but has been used for hunting stag, deer, fox, and wild boar.

In some versions of the bible the Greyhound is mentioned in Proverbs as one of the “four things stately. According to Wikipedia some newer translations has changed it to “strutting rooster.”




The Greyhound is an old dog breed that has been used for coursing and racing. More recently they have been used for dog shows. As hunters their speed, sight, and prey drive has allowed them to be used for hunting both large game such as deer and smaller game such as hare. Their lean build and large lungs give them advantages for speed in racing since they a can run as fast as 40 miles an hour. When not racing they sleep a lot, adapt well to living with families but require a fairly firm hand from owners.


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    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks for the comment. It did bother me that Greyhounds were put down after a career of racing. seems ungrateful.

    • Miss Lil' Atlanta profile image

      Miss Lil' Atlanta 6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      I agree with you dahoglund, I really do think that awarness for helping racing greyhounds has definitely grown for the past few years, but ofcourse there is still plenty more that can be done.

      Really nice hub by the way. Greyhounds are one of my favorite types of dogs

      ~ Miss Lil' Atlanta

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thank you for the comment.I think things are changing somewhat and I hope this article helps a little bit.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      dahoglund, greyhounds do make wonderful pets. I always hated the fact that they were put to sleep when their racing days are over. All of our pets are resue pets. They all deserve a good life. Rated up and awesome.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks for the comment. There is more awareness of the plight of greyhounds so I think more are being rescued.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      We have friends who over a course of years have adopted 3 greyhounds from rescue organizations and they loved them dearly. You are right in that they sleep a lot and make excellent pets. Sad to think of just using them as a means of making money and then discarding them like yesterday's newspapers. As an animal lover it really disturbs me. All of our animals have been rescue ones like yours. Rated up and useful.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I really appreciate the comment. I am glad that yu enjoyed the read.

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 6 years ago

      I really enjoyed learning about greyhounds. Thanks for the great hub! Rated up and awesome.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Hopefully more of these dogs will be rescued.Thanks for the comment

    • Jane Bovary profile image

      Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Greyhounds are fascinating to look at - they're so...streamlined.

      I was sorry to read they tend to get put down when their racing days are over...what a rotten deal. Also, I had no idea they had such charming personalities...usually when I see them, they're wearing a muzzle, so I assumed they might be a bit highly strung. Very informative hub dahoglund!

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids


      all of our dogs have been rescue dog.


      Thanks for commenting.I do hope the many are adopted

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 6 years ago from Wales

      Another great hub again on man's best friend. I have also heard it said that these dogs do make great pets and I hope that many of them do find happy homes.

      Thank you so much for sharing this great hub.

      Take care


    • Wealthmadehealthy profile image

      Wealthmadehealthy 6 years ago from Somewhere in the Lone Star State

      I have some friends who rescued three of these dogs from certain death. As with all animals, you are right, it makes no sense what so ever to put an animal down unless it is really really sick. The money these dogs make their owners is enough, certainly to provide for their care when done racing. I am sorry to be harsh here, but this looks like another form of greed. What do they do, put them down and then get a younger one to race again. I am a pro animal rescue person and love dogs, so once again, this story is really well written and informative, but sir, it irks me that this type of thing goes on. Wonderful read!!

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Sophia Angelique

      Yes, they are elegant.Thanks for commenting.


      Frog Prince

      No, I don't believe I ran across that information.It does annoy me that they put down perfectly healthy dogs and I am glad that efforts are being made to rescue such dogs.Thanks for your comment.

    • The Frog Prince profile image

      The Frog Prince 6 years ago from Arlington, TX

      Interesting article. As I was growing up, my uncle Charlie was the track vet at Derby Lane in Tampa. He could shed, and did shed, a lot of interesting facts, especially in the training aspect of racing dogs.

      They chase a stuffed rabbit and are taught in training to pursue that rabbit. Are you aware that if one catches that rabbit during a race that their racing career is over? Tragically, if that happens, they are usually then put down.

      They are magnificent dogs. Good article and well written. I thought I'd share another part of the story as told by the Derby Lane vet.

      The Frog

    • profile image

      Sophia Angelique 6 years ago

      @daho. Really nice hub, Daho. I think greyhounds are so elegant. :)

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I have never been to a dog race or a horse race for that matter.As far as I know they like to race. What I think is inhumane is putting them down when they no longer race. Thankfully there are now rescue organizations that are placing some of them. Thank you for the comment.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I would love to have a greyhound. Never could bring myself to watch them race though..just seems inhumane to me for some reason.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks for being the first to comment.I used to walk my dog along with a young guy who had a Greyhound. Unfortunately he lost his job as a music teacher and had to move to another city. i would have adopted a greyhound but we wanted a smaller dog.

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      They make great pets. I've never owned one but friends have and their greyhounds were always happy and outgoing with strangers.