History of the Greyhound Breed
Believed to have originated in Egypt as a descendent of the Arabian Sloughi, and brought to Great Britain by traders as early as 900 A.D., the greyhound is considered to be the fastest dog in existence – able to reach speeds exceeding 40 miles per hour. Egyptian tomb carvings dating back to 2751 B.C. depict the greyhound capturing deer. The breed became well-established and valued in England because of its ability to catch small game (such as rabbits), therefore providing food for its owners. For approximately 400 years (1014 – 1400) the Forest Laws were in effect in England which prohibited commoners (but not nobility) from keeping healthy greyhounds close to royal forests. After the laws were repealed, the greyhound was still considered a dog of nobility because keeping it had become expensive. It was during the 1800s that coursing became an upper-class leisure time activity. The greyhound came to America with early American settlers, where it demonstrated its talent for open plains coursing. Eventually, coursing took place in closed areas and became available to the public. The greyhound began to be specifically bred for track racing around the same time it was first shown in the ring. Soon thereafter, the breed was divided into racing dogs or show dogs, and the two types were rarely interbred. Only recently have retired racers been saved from being destroyed by greyhound rescue groups that place the dogs with adopted families.
Size and Appearance of the Greyhound Breed
Built for speed, the greyhound features long, muscular back legs, straight front legs, and a streamlined body. Its back is muscular and strong, featuring a very flexible, arched spine. The feet offer great leverage with their long, narrow shape. Overall, the head is long and narrow, and it features a long, powerful muzzle with strong, even teeth. With a spirited and intelligent expression, the eyes of the greyhound are both dark and bright. The ears are small, generally folded back, and sit on the widest part of the skull. The neck is graceful and blends smoothly into the arched back. The long tail is curved slightly upward and is carried low. The short coat is firm and smooth, and it comes in a variety of color combinations including: black, blue, brindle, fawn, grey, red, and white.
Gentle, quiet, and affectionate, the greyhound makes a wonderful pet. Despite its reputation for speed, this breed in not considered to be a “high-energy” dog. In fact, when indoors, it will often curl up and take a nap. The greyhound is good with children but rough-housing with the dog should be discouraged. This dog is often compatible with other family pets, including cats, except for those few with an unusually high prey instinct. A retired racer adopted as a pet is often a welcome addition to the family. If raised from puppy-hood, the greyhound should be socialized from an early age to avoid timidity. This breed is loyal, friendly, and sensitive. Overbearing training techniques are discouraged. The greyhound is not prone to excessive barking and is generally easy to housebreak. This breed is even-tempered and graceful – a loyal dog that makes an excellent companion.
Greyhound Recommended Maintenance
The short coat of the greyhound is easily groomed and should be combed or brushed as necessary with a firm bristle brush. When bathing, use dry shampoo and only when absolutely necessary. The greyhound is considered to be an average shedder. Rubbing the coat with a chamois will result in a gleaming, healthy look. Trim the nails on a regular basis. As creatures of habit, it is best to provide the greyhound with a brisk, long walk at the same time every day. Opportunities to run free in a safe, open area are also important. This breed should have no problem living in an apartment as long as it gets enough daily exercise. It is generally not active when indoors. The greyhound is sensitive to the cold because of its thin skin, and a soft, warm bed should be provided. The greyhound can be prone to bloat and should be fed small meals two to three times a day as opposed to one large meal. This breed is sensitive to drugs, including pesticides.
Life span: 10 - 13 years
Major concerns: none
Minor concerns: esophageal achalasia, gastric torsion, osteosarcoma
Occasionally seen: none
Suggested tests: none
Note: Racing dogs retired from NGA (National Greyhound Association) commonly suffer from racing-related injuries of the toe, hock, and muscles. The greyhound is generally sensitive to anesthesia and prone to tail-tip injuries and lacerations.