The Greyhound

Greyhounds have a beautiful grace and vitality. They are one of the oldest breeds around with many examples appearing in both art and literature. They are sight hounds like the whippet, Afghan and borzoi. Beautifully proportioned, they are bred to chase anything that flees from them which makes it a bit hazardous to take them out without a leash.


The origins of the greyhound seem to be in ancient Egypt. Mummified remains of greyhound-like dogs have been found in the tombs of royalty. The saluki also hails from this region. The first complete description of the breed was given by the Roman, Ovid (43 BC to 17 AD). Like the Saluki, Scottish deerhound and Irish wolfhound, commoners were not permitted to own greyhounds so the dog remained a symbol of the aristocracy for many years. Because of their status, they were often given as gifts to visiting dignitaries. The greyhound reached America with Spanish explorers in the 1500s.

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Sight hounds have exceptional vision and great speed to outrun their prey. Selective breeding has resulted in a superb athlete that is graceful and fast. The chest is deep to ensure ample room for the heart and lungs, the legs are long and strong for speed. Sensitive and intelligent, they can reach speeds of 45 miles per hour.

Greyhound on beachCredit:

The sight hounds all have long, tapered heads. The greyhound has a barely noticeable bridge to the nose. The neck is long and strong. Small ears are folded back against the neck when relaxed and pricked when the animal is alert. The back is long and muscular, arching over the loin. There is a very definite tuck-up to the flank. The compact feet are small with well-arched toes. The long tail curves gently and the coat is smooth and short.

Greyhounds come in all colours including white, fawn, tan, rust, black, grey and brindle. They can also be patched. Because the coat is so short they do not require a lot of grooming. They keep themselves very clean and only need an occasional brush. Exhibition greyhounds should be between 26 and 30 inches at the withers. Average weights are between 60 to 85 pounds. Greyhounds live to about 14 years.

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When not racing, this breed is quiet and docile. They were bred to hunt in packs so like to be part of the family. They may be aloof with people they don't know but are affectionate and loving with their family. Some do not take kindly to small pets, especially furry ones! If socialised while young, they can easily be taught to tolerate other pets but once out and about, it is best not to put them to the test as they are easily distracted and inclined to become deaf once on the trail of a quarry. They are quick to learn and satisfying subjects to take to obedience training.

There are many greyhound adoption organisations and retired greyhound trusts that attempt to find new homes for racing greyhounds once they have finished their careers. Dogs taken from a pedigree dog rescue centre or from dog rehoming kennels make loving companions and thrive in a caring environment where they can be part of a family rather than being kept in kennels. However dogs off the race-course may have more trouble accepting other pets than dogs raised in a home from puppyhood.