The champion sprinter of dogdom, the Greyhound is a gentle, noble, and sweet-tempered companion with an independent spirit. For thousands of years these graceful hounds have been an object of fascination for artists, poets, and kings. Greyhounds are the essence of the dog breeder’s credo ‘Form follows function.’
From the narrow, aerodynamic skull to the shock-absorbing pads of the feet, Greyhounds are perfectly constructed for high-speed pursuit. The lean beauty of the Greyhound’s ‘inverted S’ shape, created by the deep chest curving gently into a tightly tucked waist, has been an object of fascination for artists, poets, and kings for as long as human beings have called themselves civilized. Greyhounds are the template from which other coursing hounds have been struck.
Prehistoric art depicts doglike creatures and men chasing game, but the Greyhound story begins properly in Egypt some 5,000 years ago. The hounds of the pharaohs 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 haughty hounds was an extension of their ruler’s divine majesty. And ever after, from the Macedonia of Alexander the Great to the Moscow of the Tsars, nobles looked a bit nobler with an elegant hound by their side.
Temperament: Independent / gentle / noble
Height: 27-30 inches
Weight: 60-70 pounds
Life Expectancy: 10-13 years
Greyhounds are overall very healthy dogs, although there are a few conditions the breed can be prone to. As are most deep-chested breeds, the Greyhound is susceptible to bloat and gastric torsion, a sudden and life-threatening enlargement of the stomach that is sometimes accompanied by twisting. Owners should be aware of the symptoms of bloat and seek medical attention immediately if they occur. A condition called Greyhound neuropathy seems to be isolated in the breed. Other disorders that can occur include cardiac and eye conditions. Responsible breeders screen their stock for conditions that can affect the breed.
Recommended Health Tests From the National Breed Club:
- Cardiac Exam
- Ophthalmologist Evaluation
- Greyhound Polyneuropathy NDRG1 DNA Test
The Greyhound’s short, smooth coat requires little grooming beyond regular baths and weekly rubdowns with a damp cloth or hound glove. His firm, 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 weekly for any buildup of wax or debris resulting in an infection and cleaned if needed. The teeth should be brushed regularly,’ daily if possible, with a toothpaste formulated for dogs.
The Greyhound is the cheetah of the dog world. While perfectly happy to lounge around the house all day, he is capable of amazing speed and energy when faced with potential prey’¿or the chance to chase a tennis ball or a coursing lure. Greyhounds require a regular schedule of exercise time and opportunities to (safely) run full-out. They must only be allowed off leash in a securely fenced area, as they may not be able to resist the urge to run off in pursuit of perceived prey.
Training a Greyhound can be frustrating for anyone who does not understand the genetic origins of the Greyhound temperament. As a sighthound, or coursing breed, the Greyhound was developed to pursue game 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 than *for* you. They are very affectionate with their families, though they tend to be reserved with strangers.
Feed the Greyhound a high-quality dog food appropriate to his age (puppy, adult, or senior). The breed typically requires somewhat higher calories and protein than some dogs. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet.