Greyhound

Table of Contents

greyhound portrait
Get ready to zoom into the world of Greyhounds, the sleek and stylish speedsters of the canine kingdom! With their streamlined bodies, unmatched agility, and hearts as big as their strides, these graceful athletes are truly a sight to behold.

Join us in this comprehensive guide as we explore everything you need to know about this breed, including their appearance, temperament, ideal environment, grooming, exercise requirements, training tips, dietary needs, health concerns, history, and more.

Best For

The Greyhound is a perfect match for those who appreciate elegance, athleticism, and gentle temperament. They make fantastic companions for families, singles, and seniors alike, thanks to their adaptable nature and low-maintenance grooming needs.

Overview

OFFICIAL NAMEGreyhound
OTHER NAMESEnglish Greyhound
ORIGINEngland
BREED GROUPHound Group
BREED SIZELarge
HEIGHT27-30 inches
WEIGHT60-70 lbs
LIFESPAN10-13 years
LIVING SPACELarge
SENSITIVITY TO COLD WEATHERHigh
SENSITIVITY TO WARM WEATHERModerate
GROOMING NEEDSLow
EXERCISE NEEDSModerate
TRAINABILITYModerate
BARKING TENDENCYLow
BITING TENDENCYLow
DROOLING TENDENCYModerate
SHEDDING LEVELLow
POPULARITY RANK129th
greyhound running
Photo: Bergadder/Pixabay

Appearance

The Greyhound’s striking appearance is a blend of elegance and athleticism, characterized by their slender, streamlined body built for speed and agility. Males typically stand between 28 to 30 inches tall at the shoulder, while females range from 27 to 28 inches. Their weight can vary widely, usually between 60 to 85 pounds, with females tending to be lighter than males.

The Greyhound’s body is lean and muscular, with a deep chest that provides ample space for their large heart and lungs. Their ribcage is broad and well-sprung, allowing for efficient breathing during high-speed pursuits. The back is long and slightly arched, leading to a tucked-up belly that highlights their svelte waistline. This elegant curve contributes to the breed’s flexibility and grace.

Greyhounds possess long, straight legs with well-defined muscles, enabling them to cover ground quickly and efficiently. Their feet are compact and somewhat hare-like, providing excellent traction for rapid acceleration.

The tail is long and thin, often carried low and slightly curved. It acts as a rudder to help balance the dog during high-speed turns and can also serve as a communication tool, expressing their mood and emotions.

The head is long and narrow, tapering down to a fine point. This aerodynamic shape, combined with their powerful neck, supports their remarkable speed. Their eyes are dark and lively, set obliquely in the head, giving them a keen, intelligent expression. The ears of a Greyhound are small and folded back like a rosebud when relaxed, but they can prick up when the dog is alert or excited.

The coat of a Greyhound is short, smooth, and close-fitting, making it easy to maintain. They come in a wide variety of colors, including black, fawn, blue, white, red, and brindle, as well as various combinations and patterns. Some Greyhounds may have small patches of white on their chest, paws, or tail tip, adding to their individual charm.

Overall, the Greyhound’s appearance exudes grace, power, and agility. Their unique physical traits are not only a testament to their racing prowess but also contribute to the breed’s undeniable allure.

two greyhounds racing
Photo: herbert2512/Pixabay

Temperament

Greyhounds are a unique breed with a personality that’s just as distinctive as their sleek physique. They’re often referred to as the “40-mph couch potato” and for good reason. While they’re known for their incredible speed, Greyhounds are surprisingly laid-back and love nothing more than to laze around on a comfortable couch.

They possess a gentle, noble temperament, and are often described as sweet-natured. They’re the kind of dogs who would much rather snuggle up with you on the sofa than get into a tussle at the dog park. Their placid demeanor makes them excellent companions, especially for those who prefer a more relaxed, low-key pet.

Greyhounds are also known for their independent spirit. They’re not overly clingy or attention-seeking. Instead, they’re happy to enjoy their own company, making them a great choice for people who value their personal space. However, this doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy affection. Once a Greyhound forms a bond with you, they’ll shower you with love and loyalty.

While they might be reserved around strangers, give them a treat or a gentle pat, and they’ll quickly warm up to you. They’re not inherently aggressive, and with proper socialization, they can get along well with other dogs and even cats.

One of the most remarkable traits of Greyhounds is their sensitivity. They’re incredibly perceptive and can pick up on human emotions with uncanny accuracy. If you’ve had a bad day, your Greyhound will likely be the first to know. They might nuzzle up to you, offering their silent support and companionship.

Despite their athletic build and racing background, Greyhounds are not high-energy dogs. They do enjoy a good sprint every now and then, but they’re quite content to spend most of their days lounging around.

In summary, Greyhounds are gentle, independent, and affectionate dogs with a sweet and sensitive soul. They’re the perfect companions for those looking for a low-maintenance, yet utterly loyal pet. With a Greyhound in your life, you’ll have a steadfast friend who will stick by your side through thick and thin.

greyhound jumping on the beach
Photo: Alexandra Robins / 500px/Getty Images

Ideal Environment

Physical Environment

The ideal environment for a Greyhound is one where they can enjoy a balance of relaxation and physical activity. They are adaptable dogs that can adjust to various living situations, including apartments, houses, and even rural areas.

Greyhounds are indoor dogs that appreciate the comfort of a warm bed and the company of their human family. They will gladly join you on the couch for a snuggle session or lounge around the house in their favorite spot.

However, they do need a securely fenced outdoor area where they can stretch their legs and occasionally indulge in their love for sprinting. It’s crucial to ensure that the enclosure has no gaps or weak spots, as Greyhounds are skilled escape artists with a strong prey drive that may lead them to chase after small animals.

Climate Adaptability

Greyhounds have thin skin and a short coat, which makes them sensitive to temperature extremes. In cold climates, they require extra precautions to stay warm, such as wearing a coat or sweater when going outdoors. It’s essential to monitor them for signs of discomfort and limit their exposure to frigid temperatures.

On the other hand, they can also be susceptible to heatstroke in hot climates. Make sure to provide adequate shade, fresh water, and avoid exercising them during the hottest parts of the day.

Other Pets

When it comes to other pets, Greyhounds can coexist well with other dogs, especially those of similar size or breed. As mentioned earlier, their prey drive may make them unsuitable for homes with small pets like cats or rabbits unless they have been raised together and are closely supervised.

In multi-dog households, Greyhounds often thrive when they have canine companionship, as they are social animals that enjoy the company of others.

greyhound playing with a ball
Photo: wenzlerdesign/Pixabay

Grooming

Greyhounds are known for their low-maintenance grooming needs, which makes them an appealing choice for many pet parents. Their short, sleek coat requires minimal care, and their fastidious nature means they tend to keep themselves clean. However, regular grooming is still essential to keep your Greyhound looking and feeling their best.

Coat Care

Greyhounds have a short, smooth coat that sheds moderately throughout the year. Weekly brushing with a soft-bristle brush or a grooming mitt is usually sufficient to remove loose hair and distribute the natural oils in their skin, keeping their coat healthy and shiny.

During seasonal shedding periods, you may need to increase the frequency of brushing to manage the increased hair loss. Greyhounds are not prone to developing a strong odor, so baths can be kept to a minimum – once every few months or when they get particularly dirty.

Dental Care

Like all dog breeds, Greyhounds require regular dental care to prevent plaque buildup, tartar formation, and gum disease. Brushing their teeth at least two or three times a week is recommended to maintain good oral hygiene.

You can use canine toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush or a finger brush designed for dogs. Introducing dental chews and toys can also help keep their teeth clean and promote healthy gums. Regular check-ups with a veterinarian will ensure any dental issues are identified early and treated accordingly.

Nail Care

Greyhounds have strong, fast-growing nails that need regular trimming or grinding to prevent them from becoming too long and causing discomfort or injury. Ideally, their nails should be trimmed every 3-4 weeks, depending on how quickly they grow and wear down naturally.

If you’re unsure about trimming your dog’s nails yourself, consult a professional groomer or veterinarian who can demonstrate the process or do it for you. Regularly checking and maintaining your Greyhound’s nails will help them stay comfortable and avoid potential paw problems.

Ear Care

Greyhound ears can be prone to wax buildup, which might lead to infections if not cleaned regularly. Check their ears weekly for any signs of redness, inflammation, or a strong odor, which could indicate an infection.

To clean your Greyhound’s ears, use a dog-specific ear-cleaning solution and cotton balls or pads. Avoid using cotton swabs, as they can push debris further into the ear canal and cause damage. If you notice any signs of infection, consult your veterinarian for appropriate treatment.

Skin Care

Greyhounds have thin skin that is more susceptible to scrapes and cuts. Regularly inspect your dog’s skin for any signs of irritation, injury, or parasites like fleas and ticks. If you observe any abnormalities, consult your veterinarian for advice and treatment.

Accustom your Greyhound to grooming from a young age, so they become comfortable with the process. Always use gentle, positive reinforcement to make grooming a pleasant experience for both you and your dog. Be patient and take your time, ensuring you handle your Greyhound carefully to avoid causing discomfort or injury.

greyhound on a couch
Photo: Alina Skazka/Pexels

Exercise

Greyhounds are often misunderstood when it comes to their exercise needs. While they are renowned for their incredible speed and athleticism, they are also known as “45-mile-per-hour couch potatoes” due to their generally laid-back nature. Striking a balance between relaxation and physical activity is essential for the well-being of your Greyhound.

Exercise Amount & Types

Greyhounds do not require excessive amounts of exercise, but they still need regular opportunities to stretch their legs and engage in physical activities. A daily walk or two, lasting around 30 minutes each, is usually sufficient to keep them happy and healthy. These walks should ideally be on a leash, as their strong prey drive can cause them to take off after small animals if given the chance.

In addition to daily walks, Greyhounds enjoy occasional opportunities to sprint and exercise their natural athleticism. Providing them with a securely fenced area where they can run off-leash is ideal. The enclosure must be safe, with no gaps or weak spots, to prevent your Greyhound from escaping.

Keep in mind that Greyhounds are sprinters, not endurance runners, so these sprinting sessions should be short and sweet – usually just a few minutes is enough to satisfy their need for speed.

Dog Sports

Greyhounds can also participate in various dog sports and competitions, such as lure coursing, agility, and obedience trials. These activities provide mental stimulation and offer an excellent way for you and your dog to bond while keeping them physically active. Training for these events requires patience and positive reinforcement, as Greyhounds can be independent thinkers.

Exercise Precautions

When exercising your Greyhound, it’s crucial to be mindful of their sensitivity to temperature extremes. In cold weather, they may need a coat or sweater to stay warm during outdoor activities. In hot climates, avoid exercising them during the hottest parts of the day and always provide access to fresh water and shade.

greyhound's face up close
Photo: Paul O’Sullivan/Getty Images

Training

When it comes to training, Greyhounds are intelligent dogs with an independent streak. They can be trained effectively, but their unique temperament may require a slightly different approach than other breeds. Understanding their character and employing positive, patient methods will ensure a successful training experience for both you and your Greyhound.

Greyhounds are eager to please and respond well to gentle guidance and positive reinforcement. Using rewards like treats, praise, or play will motivate them to learn new commands and behaviors. It’s crucial to avoid harsh training methods, as these can damage their sensitive spirit and hinder the training process.

Consistency is key when training a Greyhound. They may occasionally test boundaries, so it’s essential to establish and maintain clear rules and expectations. Be patient and persistent, reinforcing desired behaviors while gently correcting undesired ones. This approach will help your Greyhound understand what is expected of them and develop a strong bond with you.

Socialization is an important aspect of training for any dog breed, including Greyhounds. Exposing them to various people, animals, and environments from a young age will help them become well-rounded, confident adults.

Regularly attending puppy classes, visiting dog parks, and engaging in other social situations will teach your Greyhound how to interact appropriately with others and navigate new experiences.

It’s worth noting that Greyhounds have a strong prey drive, which can make it challenging to train them to be off-leash around small animals like cats or rabbits. While some Greyhounds can coexist peacefully with smaller pets, especially if raised together, it’s essential to monitor their interactions closely and be prepared for the possibility that they may not be able to resist their natural instincts.

greyhound with a man
Photo: PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay

Diet & Nutrition 

A well-balanced diet is essential for maintaining the health and well-being of your Greyhound. As a large, athletic breed, they have specific nutritional requirements that need to be met to support their unique physique, energy levels, and overall health.

What to Feed & How Much

When selecting a diet for your Greyhound, look for high-quality dry, wet, or raw food options that follow the guidelines set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). These guidelines ensure that the food contains the appropriate balance of protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals to support your dog’s overall health.

The amount of food you should feed your Greyhound depends on their age, weight, activity level, and individual metabolism. As a general guideline, adult Greyhounds typically require around 2-3 cups of dry food per day, divided into two meals.

Puppies may need smaller, more frequent meals as they grow and develop, while senior dogs may need adjustments to their diet based on their specific needs and activity levels. It’s essential to monitor your dog’s weight and condition, adjusting their food intake as needed to maintain a healthy body weight.

When planning your Greyhound’s diet, it’s essential to consult with your veterinarian, who can provide personalized recommendations based on your dog’s specific needs, age, and activity level. By providing your Greyhound with a balanced diet and monitoring their weight and overall condition, you’ll help them maintain optimal health and enjoy a happy, active life.

Treats & Water

Treats can be an excellent tool for training and rewarding your Greyhound, but it’s crucial to use them in moderation to avoid overfeeding. Treats should make up no more than 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake, and you should adjust their regular meals accordingly to account for any treats given.

Opt for healthy options like small pieces of lean meat, vegetables, or store-bought treats specifically designed for dogs.

Water is vital for your Greyhound’s health and should always be readily available. Provide your dog with fresh, clean water in a clean bowl, and change it regularly to encourage proper hydration. Monitor their water intake, especially during hot weather or after exercise, to ensure they are staying adequately hydrated.

Health

Greyhounds are generally a healthy breed with a life expectancy of 10-13 years. However, like all dog breeds, they can be prone to certain health issues. Ensuring a healthy diet, regular veterinary check-ups, and keeping up-to-date with vaccinations are essential steps to keep your Greyhound in optimal health.

Here are common health issues associated with Greyhounds:

Hip Dysplasia: This is a genetic condition where the hip joint doesn’t develop properly, leading to arthritis and pain. Regular check-ups and maintaining a healthy weight can help manage this condition.

Bloat (Gastric Torsion): Greyhounds are at risk for bloat, a life-threatening condition where the stomach fills with gas and twists on itself. Feeding smaller meals throughout the day and avoiding exercise immediately before or after eating can help prevent bloat.

Osteosarcoma: This breed is more prone to developing bone cancer (osteosarcoma) than other breeds. Early detection through regular veterinary examinations is crucial for the best prognosis.

Heart Disease: Greyhounds can be predisposed to certain heart conditions such as dilated cardiomyopathy and aortic stenosis. Regular check-ups and early detection are key to managing these conditions.

Dental Issues: Greyhounds are prone to dental problems, including periodontal disease and tooth loss. Regular dental care, such as brushing and professional cleanings, can help maintain good oral health.

To support your Greyhound’s overall health, provide them with a balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs. Consult your veterinarian for personalized dietary recommendations based on your dog’s age, weight, and activity level. Regular exercise is also important for maintaining a healthy weight and preventing obesity-related health issues.

Routine veterinary check-ups are essential for early detection and prevention of health problems. Your veterinarian can recommend a vaccination schedule to protect your Greyhound from common canine diseases, as well as provide guidance on parasite prevention and other health concerns.

greyhound running
Photo: herbert2512/Pixabay

History

The Greyhound is an ancient breed with a rich history that dates back thousands of years. Known for their incredible speed and elegance, these dogs have been revered by various cultures throughout time, serving as hunting companions, racing athletes, and cherished pets.

Greyhounds are believed to have originated in the Middle East, with evidence of their existence dating back to 4,000 B.C. Egyptian tombs from this period depict dogs strikingly similar to modern-day Greyhounds, suggesting that these early canines were highly valued by their human companions.

The breed’s name is thought to derive from the old English word “grei,” meaning dog or hound, rather than any association with the color gray.

As civilizations expanded and trade routes developed, Greyhounds began to spread throughout Europe and Asia. In ancient Greece, these dogs were admired for their athleticism and beauty, often appearing in art and literature. Greek philosopher Xenophon wrote about the breed in his treatise on hunting, praising their speed and agility in chasing game.

In medieval Europe, Greyhounds were highly prized by nobility for their hunting prowess. They were used to hunt deer, hare, and other game, with their keen eyesight and incredible speed making them unmatched in the field.

The popularity of the breed was such that they were often given as gifts between royalty, and it was even said that a Greyhound saved the life of King Edward III of England during a hunting expedition.

During the Renaissance, Greyhounds continued to enjoy favor among the elite, often appearing in paintings and tapestries alongside their noble owners. The breed’s elegant appearance and regal bearing made them a symbol of wealth and status, and they were often included in family coats of arms.

The modern era saw the rise of Greyhound racing, which originated in the United States in the early 20th century. The sport quickly gained popularity, as spectators marveled at the breed’s speed and grace on the track. This led to a surge in Greyhound breeding for racing purposes, with many dogs imported from Europe to bolster the American racing stock.

Greyhounds were officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1885, and their popularity as pets has steadily grown since then. Today, they are cherished for their gentle, affectionate nature and unique blend of athleticism and relaxation. Many retired racing Greyhounds find loving homes with families who appreciate their calm demeanor and minimal grooming needs.

Throughout history, the Greyhound has been admired and celebrated for its remarkable speed, grace, and beauty. From the tombs of ancient Egypt to the modern-day racetracks and family homes, these elegant dogs have captured the hearts of countless individuals, solidifying their enduring legacy as one of the world’s most beloved breeds.

Parent Club

The official parent club for Greyhounds in the United States is the Greyhound Club of America (GCA). Founded in 1907, the GCA is dedicated to the welfare of the Greyhound breed, promoting responsible ownership, breeding, and education about these remarkable dogs.

The club also organizes events and supports participation in various dog sports and activities. For more information on the Greyhound Club of America, visit their website here.

Breed Standard

A breed standard is a set of guidelines established by breed clubs or kennel organizations, defining the ideal appearance, temperament, and physical traits of a specific breed. It serves as a reference for breeders, judges, and enthusiasts to evaluate and maintain a breed’s unique qualities.

Covering aspects like size, appearance, and temperament, breed standards are used in dog shows and competitions to assess individual dogs against the ideal representation of their breed.

You can check the Greyhound’s breed standard set by the American Kennel Club (AKC) here.

greyhounds competing in a race
Photo: magdaloubser/Getty Images Pro

Acquiring

When considering acquiring a Greyhound, it’s important to prepare for your new companion by researching the breed and ensuring you can provide a suitable home. Greyhounds require a secure, fenced area for exercise, a comfortable space for rest, and a consistent routine for walks and feeding.

Rescuing a Greyhound can be a rewarding experience, as many retired racing dogs need loving homes. The American Kennel Club and the Greyhound Club of America (GCA) can help connect you with reputable rescue organizations that specialize in Greyhounds. These groups often provide valuable resources and support to ensure a successful adoption process.

Before welcoming a Greyhound into your home, make sure you’re prepared to meet their unique needs and provide a loving, safe environment. By choosing to rescue, you’ll not only gain a loyal and affectionate companion but also give a deserving dog a second chance at a happy life.

FAQs

Are Greyhounds friendly?

Yes, Greyhounds are known for their gentle and affectionate nature. They typically get along well with people, including children, and can be friendly towards other dogs. However, early socialization is essential to ensure a well-rounded temperament.

Can Greyhounds be left alone all day?

Greyhounds can tolerate being left alone during the day if properly trained, but like any dog, they thrive on companionship and interaction with their owners. It’s essential to provide mental stimulation and exercise before and after your absence to keep them content.

Do Greyhounds require a lot of exercise?

While Greyhounds are athletic dogs, they don’t require extensive exercise. A daily walk and occasional opportunities to run in a securely fenced area will typically meet their needs. Remember that they are sprinters, not endurance runners, so adjust exercise sessions accordingly.

Are Greyhounds hypoallergenic?

Greyhounds are not considered hypoallergenic, as no dog breed is entirely allergen-free. However, their short coat and minimal shedding may produce fewer allergens compared to other breeds, making them a better choice for some individuals with allergies.

Are Greyhounds good with cats and other small animals?

Greyhounds have a strong prey drive, which can make them challenging around small animals. Some Greyhounds can coexist peacefully with cats or smaller pets, especially if raised together, but it’s essential to monitor their interactions closely.

How easy is it to train a Greyhound?

Greyhounds are intelligent dogs that can be effectively trained with patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement. They respond well to gentle guidance and rewards but may require a slightly different approach than other breeds due to their independent streak.

Do Greyhounds need special grooming care?

Greyhounds have a short, low-maintenance coat that requires minimal grooming. Regular brushing with a soft-bristle brush or grooming mitt will help remove loose hair and keep their coat healthy. Additionally, they need routine dental care, nail trimming, and ear cleaning to maintain overall health.

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