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Italian Greyhound sitting on a couch

Dog Breeds: Getting to know the Greyhound

It’s believed that Greyhounds were first drawn on cave walls more than 8,000 years ago! This is a breed that has stood the test of time and continues to be favored for its quiet disposition and gentle nature.

The Greyhound’s History

Greyhounds are an ancient dog breed: Drawings of dogs (resembling today’s Greyhounds) were found on cave walls and ancient Egyptian artifacts more than 8,000 years ago. The breed’s name, Greyhound, has varying explanations as to its origins. One explanation is that the name comes from Old English: grei, which means “dog” and hundr, which means “hunter.”

Another explanation is that the name Greyhound originated from the term Greekhound, because the breed arrived in England through the Greeks. The Greyhound remains a noble breed and its association with royalty gave rise to the law in the 11th to the 14th century in England that “no mean person” could keep a Greyhound.

Characteristics of the Greyhound

This breed is distinctive in shape and form with its muscular, streamlined body. Greyhounds have a long head and neck, a deep chest, narrow waist, and slightly arched loins.

For thousands of years, because of its speed, the Greyhound was bred to hunt prey, as they can reach speeds topping 40 miles per hour. They are athletic and graceful and can easily anticipate and out maneuver its prey. To this day, Greyhounds are used as racing dogs on the track—a practice many in the pet world abhor.

Greyhounds have short, smooth, easy-to-maintain coats. They are average shedders, whose coats come in a variety of colors including brindle, white, fawn, gray, and red. They require minimal brushing and infrequent grooming.

Greyhounds stand between 26 and 30 inches tall; males can weigh up to 70 pounds and females up to 65 pounds. They can live to be 13-years old.

The Greyhound’s Health and Personality

Greyhounds have virtually no body fat and that means he must be given a soft place to sleep and sit because pressure sores can develop. And know that if you live in an area of the country that is prone to frigid temperatures, your Greyhound will likely need a warm jacket and cannot be out of doors for any length of time because he has no body fat to keep him warm.

While healthy overall, this breed may be prone to certain genetic issues. First, they may experience adverse reactions tot anesthesia. Second, Greyhounds can suffer from bloat, which can develop into a more serious condition: gastric torsion (also known as Gastric Dilation and Volvulus Syndrome). It is important to watch for signs of gastric torsion, which include vomiting, abdominal pain and dissention, excessive drooling, and paleness.

Greyhounds are not given to digging or barking. They are typically less anxious than other breeds but can suffer separation anxiety and should be given something to quell their anxiety and keep them occupied so they don’t damage items in your home. Additionally, the breed has a sensitive personality and requires a gentle, positive approach when training.

Greyhounds as Pets

If you’re looking for a dog who doesn’t require a lot of exercise, the Greyhound may be the breed for you. Even though Greyhounds are known for their speed, their endurance is lacking. They enjoy short bursts of exercise, before making their way back to the comfort of a warm bed. (Many owners affectionately refer to them as couch potatoes.)

Greyhound owners know never to let their dogs off-leash unless they are in a high, fenced-in space because given its freedom the Greyhound will likely give into its urge to run and chase prey. This being said, this sight hound, and its strong instinct to chase can happily coexist with small pets in the household as long as there is sufficient introduction and socialization time.

This is a breed that will walk away from an annoyance rather than become aggressive. Because of this trait, it makes for a wonderful family pet for those with younger children in the household. Greyhounds, while gentle and non-aggressive, do have a strong prey drive and may not be well suited for homes with small pets such as rabbits or even cats.

Greyhounds are large, but streamlined, and can live as happily in an apartment setting as in a rural area. If you’re looking for an intelligent, low-maintenance, loving dog who is just as happy on a short walk as she is lying with you watching television, a Greyhound might be the ideal companion.  

Adopting a Greyhound

There are many Greyhound adoption organizations: These groups take in Greyhounds retiring from the racetrack. The organizations may rehabilitate them and later, offer them for adoption. If you’re looking for a Greyhound, that might be an ideal place to start.

Robbi Hess, award-winning author, is multi-petual: She shares her home with two Devon Rex kittens, three adult rescue cats, a mini poodle, a Goldendoodle, three lizards and two ferrets. When not caring for her pets, she is an editor, speaker, time management and productivity guru, content creator, social media manager and blogger. She writes at All Words MatterMy Divas Dish, and is the story editor and chief cat herder at Positively Woof.

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