Retired racing greyhounds make wonderful pets. Surprised? Many of you just imagine a long, lean running machine attired in a racing jacket and a muzzle? Perhaps you surmised, “They must wear that muzzle to sheath those teeth! And all that energy! Racing greyhounds must need to run all day, every day just to calm down even a little!” Actually, racing greyhounds wear muzzles as a state requirement and have all that energy because they are about to do what they were bred for – a quick sprint around the race track. Unlike most sporting dogs, who were bred to be able to run all day, greyhounds are capable of expending enormous amounts of energy in a few minutes; but after the race, it’s back to the business of kennel life: a drink of water, a turn in the exercise pen, and a three-day rest in the kennel before racing again.
Greyhounds belong to a family of dogs known as sighthounds, so called because they hunt with their eyes rather than with their noses. In fact, greyhounds can see a moving object up to half a mile away. They are one of the oldest, if not the oldest, breeds of dog known to man. Their image is found on the walls of tombs of Egyptian royalty. Their name in Britain seems to stem from the Saxon word Greu which means running dog. For centuries common Brits were not allowed to own dogs. This to prevent poaching of game and thus spoiling the “sport” for the wealthier class. Indeed, prior to the signing of the Magna Carta (the inspiration for our own Bill of Rights), destruction of a greyhound was considered a serious crime.
From their very beginnings, greyhounds have been bred to outrun their prey. Traditionally they were walked on a lead until game was sighted and then they were released. From that moment on, they pitted their grace and intelligence against that of their quarry. The necessity of making their own hunting decisions has made them self reliant and quick witted. Subsequently, the prestige of owning the fastest running dog led gentlemen to race their dogs against each other. Often with a substantial bet on the outcome. If, in the context of the race, a dog interfered in any way it was put down immediately. Centuries of this type if genetic selection have created a very peaceful dog.
While many may think that the retired racer is not a good choice for the family dog, their long history says otherwise. They possess a calm and gentle nature and are easily walked on a leash. They do well in small houses, needing only their special soft spot upon which to sleep and rest. They need no more exercise than any other breed of dog. They shouldn’t be left alone for more than six hours without a potty break. A more loyal and devoted companion you will not find anywhere. They are known as watch, not guard, dogs. They are gentle and intelligent and not given to fits of barking. They are genetically healthy dogs who have a life expectancy of 12 – 14 years. Clean, easy to care for, intelligent and entertaining. Rarely bark, or lick and are sensitive and extremely loving.
Before you go on…
Please consider these questions carefully. If in all honesty, you have to answer “no” to one or more, adopting a greyhound wouldn’t be in the best interest of you or the dog right now.
Am I willing to share my home with a greyhound? Greyhounds are house pets and people animals who should be walked on the lead or off the lead only in enclosed areas. A greyhound is so quick that one allowed to roam free won’t live long if there’s traffic anywhere near. A greyhound must never be chained up or left neglected in a yard to be miserable, bored and lonely.
Do I have the time to explicitly follow instructions for helping a greyhound adjust to life in a home? Greyhounds learn quickly, but they need you to teach them where to go to the bathroom, how to climb stairs, stay alone, get along with other pets, adjust to a new diet, etc.
Am I a firm but gentle disciplinarian? Greyhounds are sensitive creatures who want to please. They will not respond to a loud voice or threatening manner. Violence will be fatal to your relationship. Any dog will make “mistakes” at first. Can you be patient with him?
If you can answer “yes” to all these questions, you’ll have one of the smartest, most devoted pets you’ll ever know.