Petkeen is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commision. Learn More
The Greyhound is a large purebred from the UK and for that reason is also called the English Greyhound. It was bred mostly for hunting fast prey of small and large size like hare, deer and foxes but was later popularly used in coursing and racing too. As athletic as it is and while most commonly used today still as race dogs (it is the fastest dog in the world), it does also make a good companion dog. As well as racing and coursing it does well in shows at events like agility, conformation, other dog sports and obedience.
|The Greyhound at A Glance|
|Other names||English Greyhound|
|Average weight||60 to 70 pounds|
|Average height||27 to 30 inches|
|Life span||10 to 13 years|
|Coat type||Short, fine|
|Color||Blue, black, grey, white red|
|Popularity||Not popular – ranked 152nd by the AKC|
|Intelligence||Average intelligence – needs 25 to 40 repetitions to understand new commands|
|Tolerance to heat||Excellent – can handle hot climates even extremes|
|Tolerance to cold||Low – not good in even slightly cold weather, extra care needed|
|Shedding||Above average to heavy – expect hair tol be around the home|
|Drooling||High – prone to slobber and drool a lot|
|Obesity||High – prone to weight gain so watch its food and exercise|
|Grooming/brushing||Easy to brush but needs regular care|
|Barking||Rare – not prone to a great deal of noise|
|Exercise needs||Quite active – needs plenty of daily exercise|
|Trainability||Moderately easy – can have stubborn moments|
|Friendliness||Excellent with socialization|
|Good first dog||Moderate – not great with new owners, needs experienced ones|
|Good family pet||Excellent with socialization|
|Good with children||Excellent with socialization – best with older children|
|Good with other dogs||Very good with socialization|
|Good with other pets||Moderate to good with socialization but have a high prey drive|
|Good with strangers||Good with socialization but can be wary|
|Good apartment dog||Good to very good when adult aged they are calmer indoors but as puppies a yard is handy!|
|Handles alone time well||Low – very sensitive and do not like being left alone|
|Health issues||Fairly healthy but some issues include anesthesia sensitivity, hypothyroidism, bloat, cancer|
|Medical expenses||$485 a year for pet insurance and basic medical care|
|Food expenses||$270 a year for a good quality dry dog food and dog treats|
|Miscellaneous expenses||$245 a year for miscellaneous items, license, toys and basic training|
|Average annual expenses||$1,000|
|Cost to purchase||$1,100|
|Rescue organizations||Several including the Greyhound Project, Greyhound Relocation and Adoption Canada and Greyhound Pets of America|
|Biting Statistics||Attacks doing bodily harm: 1 Maimings: 1 Child Victims: 1 Deaths: 0|
The Greyhound’s Beginnings
The Greyhound’s ancient ancestors have beginnings that are though to trace as far back as Ancient Egypt. Dogs with a Greyhound appearance can be found in carvings in tombs dating 2900 to 2751 BC. However DNA analysis in recent years suggests they are more closely related to herding dogs from Eastern Europe. It is known that Greeks and the Romans later on also had their version of the Greyhound hundreds of years later. The English greyhounds beginnings are more likely to come from the 5th and 6th centuries when Celts brought them over. It was a hunter and bred to hunt small and large game like rabbit, fox, deer, stag, hare and on occasion even bear!
The dogs spread across Europe and into the early 11th century there were laws in England being passed that allowed only nobles and royalty to hunt with them not commoners. Serfs were not allowed even to own them, and if a freeman owned them they had to lame their dogs if they lived near royal forest. This mutilation was carried out by dog mutilators for another 400 years. During the Elizabethan times when royal forests were smaller, large estates were much less so and there were fewer large scale organized fox hunts, the main prey for the Greyhound was the hare. This is what led to a very popular sport in the 1800s and now called Hare Coursing and it was at this time that Greyhound racing became popular too. Modern day greyhounds can be traced back to stock registered in the 18th century.
The Greyhound came to the US with explorers in the 16th century, with settlers in the 17th and 18th centuries and then more were imported in the 19th century too. They were also at first primarily used as a hunting dog. In the mid to late 1800s it was one of the first dog breeds to appear in dog shows and it was recognized by the AKC in 1885. There as in England and Europe, it also became popular as a racing dog and in course luring. When the mechanical hare lure was invented in the 1920s this lead to it becoming more popular. However as a result of its success in coursing and racing it is less commonly kept as a companion dog and there has been a huge number of aging or injured Greyhounds being abandoned.
New Lease on Life
This drew the attack of dog lovers and many rescue groups focused on saving older retired Greyhounds to prevent them from being abandoned or put down just because they were not doing well at the races. A lot of greyhounds that are no longer wanted in racing or coursing still have a good 8 to 10 years of life left in them and can be great companions. Despite this though there are still a large number of greyhounds with a bleak future or no future at all when they can no longer compete. There are now two types of Grey hounds being bred, those for racing and those for shows. It is ranked 152nd in popularity by the AKC.
The Dog You See Today
This is a large breed weighing 60 to 70 pounds and stands 27 to 30 inches tall. Some can get up to 90 pounds though and it is worth noting that AKC show dogs are 10 to 20 pounds heavier than race dogs. It is a lean and tall dog built to be fast and agile with a long neck that is slightly arched. It has a muscular back, a contoured body and a deep chest. Its front legs are straight and its back legs are powerful and muscular too. It has feet that are hare like and its tail has a slight curve and is carried low. The name Greyhound does not actually reflect its color. It can be grey but it can also be white, brindle, fawn, blue, red and black. The coat is smooth, short and fine. Greyhounds have a long and narrow head and a long muzzle that tapers to the nose. Its eyes are dark but bright and its rose ears are semi pricked when excited and folded and held back otherwise.
The Inner Greyhound
The Greyhound is a very alert dog and will bark to let you know if there is anyone trying to break in. It is not known to have very protective instincts though so cannot be depended on to act in your defense and is not likely to scare anyone off. It is an affectionate, happy, friendly and sweet dog so it really does make a good family dog. It can become very attached to its owner. It is not the best breed though for a new owner, experience will be needed, and it also still needs plenty of activity even if not being raced though not excessive amounts, this is a sprint dog not a marathon racer.
Greyhounds are a very sensitive and quiet dog. It does not bark much and it does not like homes where there is a lot of shouting or tension. Likewise it will not do well under someone who uses physical punishment and scolding to control it. It does have an independent side and it is intelligent but it is well mannered and adjusted when raised well. With strangers it can be wary and socialization is important to make sure that does not turn to shyness and timidity.
As well as being devoted to its family it can have a very charming side and is certainly brave of heart. When indoors it is calm and laid back, but when outside it presents a lot stamina and loves the stimulation. Because raising Greyhounds wear muzzles some people think this means they are aggressive but this is not at all the case. Those muzzle are to prevent them nipping at each other just after the hare has been taken out and they are all still very excited. This is a safe dog to have in the home, whether you get one from a puppy or adopt an ex-race dog.
Living with a Greyhound
What will training look like?
This is a moderately easy dog to train for those with some experience, but it would be more difficult if you are new to them. Results will be gradual and it is important that while you remain in control and firm so that you are the clear pack leader, you are not aggressive or too negative towards it. That could cause psychological problems. Be positive and use treats, praise and encouragement to motivate and reward it. It does have an independent side to it but with the right approach this should not pose too much of an issue. Be warned that some have trouble with the sit command because it is not a position they naturally adopt! In terms of housebreaking some are easily house trained and some are not at all. Be patient, keep a regular schedule and use crate training to help.
Early socialization is very important to ensure it does not become overly timid. It is a dog that is sensitive and needs exposure to different people, animals, sounds, locations and other dogs so that it becomes used to them. It will make it a lot more confident as it grows from a puppy to an adult and it will be a lot happier.
How active is the Greyhound?
A lot of people assume that since this is also used as a race dog that it is a super highly active dog that might not suit their home. While it is a fairly active dog it is in fact not the most active breed, it loves it naps and cuddles on the couch and while some daily exercise is an absolute must, it will not equate to hours a day. Take it for a couple of brisk 20 minute walks a day, give it some play time somewhere, let it have some safe time where it can run off leash a few times a week and it will be happy. It can even adapt to living in an apartment if needed. If there is a yard make sure it is well fenced in, this dog does like to chase off after things, if it sees something it will go after it if it can get out. It is the fastest dog breed so make sure when out walking it is on a leash or it will be gone should it sight prey to chase down. It should also be given daily opportunities for mental stimulation to prevent boredom.
Caring for the Greyhound
Greyhounds are a low maintenance dog and have a coat that is very easy to groom. It does shed a moderate to frequent amount though so there will be some hair around the home, and a need for regular vacuuming. Brush it regularly though using a hound mitt or firm bristled brush and that can help remove the loose hair and lower how much is on you and the furnishings. Only bathe it when it really needs one and in between baths consider doing dry shampoos. Bathing too often even when using a proper dog shampoo can still dry out its skin.
Other needs are the usual things a dog owner has to do to maintain its good health. Its ears should be checked routinely for infections signs, look for discharge, redness, irritation or wax build up. They should not have anything inserted into them for cleaning, rather you need to use either a warm damp cloth or a cotton ball with dog ear cleanser solution. Its nails should be clipped when they get too long if they are not worn down naturally with its activity. Take care if you opt to do this yourself as their nails are not like ours. Use proper dog nail clippers and do not cut into the quick of the nail where there are blood vessels and nerves. It will cause a lot pf pain and bleeding. Finally do not forget to look after its teeth and gums. Brush at least two to three times a week.
Feed it 1 1/2 to 4 cups of a good quality dry dog food a day, but split that into at least two meals so that it does not have issues with bloat. They do gain weight easily so make sure you measure the food. If you are dealing with an adopted retired racing Greyhound it is not uncommon for them to put on about 5 pounds but do not let it gain more than that. A nice idea given its height is to give it feeding dishes that are raised so it is more comfortable for it to eat. How much it eats can depend on various factors like its metabolism, level of activity, health, size, age and build.
How is the Greyhound with children and other animals?
Around children the Greyhound is excellent when socialized and it does help to be raised with them. It is happy to play and its sweet and gentle disposition means it can put up with some things other dogs might not. Because it does not like to be startled though and is often touch sensitive it is best to have supervision around smaller children for your dog’s sake not the kid’s! Most are not dogs that like to roughhouse either, but they make great playmates otherwise and are very affectionate. Make sure children are taught how to approach and touch dogs in a kind way. While it does do better in a home with older children it will not snap at younger ones, but will try to get away.
It has a strong prey instinct and will be seriously driven to chase small pets like cats, rodents and such. With good socialization and a strong owner it can learn to live with them though. When adopting race Greyhounds about 20% of them have a prey drive that is too high to be trained to leave other pets alone. If you have other pets, screen the dog for compatibility and keep in mind that even if it learns to leave the other animals in the house alone, it will still view squirrel, strange cats and other critters outside as prey. With other dogs they they get along very well. In fact this breed is so non-aggressive that if challenged by another dog it is going to cower and freeze or run away. There is no fighting instinct in them.
What Might Go Wrong?
The life span of the Greyhound is 10 to 13 years and there can be a number of health issues linked to them. These include bloat, eye problems, arthritis, cancer, hypertension, chronic sesamoiditis, dental issues, hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, ventral comedone syndrome, anesthesia sensitivity and need soft bedding as they can be prone to skin sores.
When looking at reports of dogs attacking people and causing bodily harm in the US and Canada over the last 35 years, there is just one incident that involved a Greyhound. That victim was a child, it did lead to permanent disfigurement, scarring or limb loss, but there was no death. All dogs have the potential to bite, to become aggressive, sometimes for predictable reasons, sometimes not. There is no completely safe dog. However the Greyhound is truly one of the least aggressive breeds you can get and no caution needs to be exercised against them. It is prudent for owners to make sure they have a breed they can properly care for. When a dog has enough mental and physical stimulation, enough food, love and attention and the right training and socialization it is less likely to have a bad day.
Your Pup’s Price Tag
Puppy prices for Greyhounds are about $1100 for a pet quality dog from a respectable breeder. From a top breeder of show quality dogs that will probably triple in price. Both will likely involve being placed on a waiting list, though the top breeder’s is going to be longer than the other. But that wait should be accepted as necessary as this way is far preferable to getting a dog from somewhere like a puppy mill, pet store and backyard breeder. There are lots of Greyhounds that need homes, you can easily find them in rescues and shelters and there are many that are specifically directed at rescuing abandoned and mistreated race dogs. While you may not get a puppy you will get a dog that can still learn the rules of being a pet and be a great new best friend and family companion. Rescue and shelters dogs can cost between $50 to $400.
For items for your dog like a crate, bowls, bedding, leash and collar you will need to spend about $180. For medical initial needs like an exam by a vet, being micro chipped, spayed or neutered, blood tests, dewormed, shots and such you can expect to pay around $290.
Annual costs are part of your responsibility as a dog owner. It will need to be fed a decent quality dry dog food and dog treats and that will cost an estimated $270 a year. For basic health care like flea and tick prevention, check ups, shots, pet insurance, you can estimate a cost of $485 a year. Then there are other needs, basis training, miscellaneous items, toys and license for example. These miscellaneous yearly costs are an estimated $245. This gives a starting figure of $1000 a year.
Looking for a Greyhound Name? Let select one from our list!
The Greyhound while more famous as a courser or racer actually started out as a hunter and can now make an excellent family companion. It is not hyperactive, nor does it need a huge amount of daily exercise though it does need some. It actually loves to be lazy around the home with its family. It is a calm and quiet breed, very devoted and loyal. It does shed though, that shyness can turn to timidity without socialization and it needs lots of attention and company. There are a lot of Greyhounds that need people to give them a chance so if this is the dog you want still have a good look at the possibility of adoption and make a dog the happiest thing in the world.
Popular Greyhound Mixes
Beagle and Italian Greyhound Mix
|Weight||12 to 30 pounds|
|Height||13 to 15 inches|
|Life span||12 to 15 years|
|Barking||Occasional to frequent|
Italian Greyhound, Chihuahua Mix
|Height||8 to 15 inches|
|Weight||6 to 18 pounds|
|Life span||13 to 16 years|
Greyhound and Poodle Mix
|Height||9 to 15 inches|
|Weight||9 to 16 pounds|
|Life span||12 to 15 years|
Eager to please
Easy to train
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.
- The Greyhound’s Beginnings
- New Lease on Life
- The Dog You See Today
- The Inner Greyhound
- Living with a Greyhound
- Caring for the Greyhound
- How is the Greyhound with children and other animals?
- What Might Go Wrong?
- Your Pup’s Price Tag
- Popular Greyhound Mixes