From ancient times, hunting dogs were developed to be sighthounds - dogs that found their prey by sight rather than smell and could run down their target with astonishing speed. Greyhound-like dogs have existed since antiquity in Egypt, Greece and the Roman Empire…
Two Greyhounds Pose For The Camera
By the time of the Saxons in Britain, Greyhounds were prized by the poor and the nobility; not only did they put food on the table, but they were exciting sporting dogs. Early American colonists brought Greyhounds with them; they proved to be exceptionally well-suited for speeding after prey on the open prairies. Two centuries later, Greyhounds were recognized by the AKC in 1885. In 1926, Greyhound track racing became enormously popular, and his destiny as the fastest-known dog breed in the world was sealed.
What makes the Greyhound so fast? His body construction allows him to run at speeds up to 45 mph. He’s lean but well-muscled, with a narrow body and a deep chest that contains his large heart and lungs. His head is long and narrow, with folded back ears . Long-legged and arch-backed, he can extend his body in a full-length stretch and a double suspension gallop. His tail is long and thin, his coat short. With his large, far-seeing eyes he can move at top speed, never losing sight of his target. In short, the Greyhound is built for speed, and lots of it!
In temperament, the Greyhound is mellow, calm and affectionate. He’s known as “the worlds fastest couch potato,” having no exceptional energy or exercise needs. Indoors, he’s very well-behaved towards children and other pets. Outdoors, he will give chase to anything that moves! The Greyhound is fairly reserved with strangers but isn’t a particularly good watch or protection dog; all that excitement takes too much energy! He’s a social dog, particularly with people. As a companion dog, the Greyhound’s docile and affectionate temperament make him a delight to live with. But be prepared to find him sprawled on your bed snoozing the day away!
Racing Greyhounds are easily trained in lure coursing, their primary function. Although he’s a natural athlete, he doesn’t excel in agility trials because of his can’t-be-bothered nature. Once on the racetrack, however, he is pure grace and speed. When he gives chase, he can’t be called off regardless of whether his target is a mechanical or real rabbit! He instinctively does what he was bred and built to do.
Unfortunately, life on the racetrack is fairly short for the Greyhound; like race horses, he’s prone to sports injuries from flat-out running. He has no genetic propensity for major illnesses, but his sporting life often results in toe, hock and muscle injuries. Out of his 10-13 year lifespan, he may only race about five of those years. The National Greyhound Association operates a retired racers’ rescue organization, where dogs that can no longer race are adopted into loving homes. Prior to the establishment of rescue groups, retired or injured Greyhounds were frequently euthanized. Adopting a Greyhound is a little challenging; he will need to be trained in housebreaking and socialization skills. Unaccustomed to household living, he doesn’t really know how large he is and sees no problem with parking himself in your lap. Once he’s a member of your household, expect him to need both snuggle time and running time!
The Greyhound is a big, gentle clown whose sleek beauty and conformation has changed little in nearly 5,000 years. On the racetrack or snoring on your bed, he is a delightful dog!