Greyhound: Athlete by Day, Couch Potato by Night


Greyhound: Athlete by Day, Couch Potato by Night

In the modern world, the Greyhound is known as a sleek racing phenomenon. Able to reach speeds of 45 miles an hour, this athlete is truly a joy to behold. However, you might be surprised to know that this lovable dog is really lazy at heart – fond of endless napping and time with the family. Although famous for short-distance bursts of top-speed acceleration, outdone only by the cheetah and pronghorn (similar to an antelope), the Greyhound is actually a sprinter, not a distance runner. Should you choose to adopt this loving and cuddly gem of a dog, you only need to take it for a normal daily walk as you would any dog. It does not require a taxing run on a world-class jogging track. While sometimes erroneously associated with other sighthounds like the Saluki and Sloughi, the Greyhound genetically is more historically related to herding dogs.


This ancient breed comes from North Africa and the Middle East. A favorite of such notables as Roman poet Ovid, Cleopatra, General Custer, and Queen Elizabeth I, the Greyhound is the only breed of dog mentioned in the Bible. Evidence of the Greyhound was first discovered in Egypt, where carvings from 2900 to 2751 BC were found in ancient tombs. As docile as these dogs may appear, they were fearless hunters of every kind of prey, including fox, stag, deer, and its favorite, the hare. The Greyhound was firmly established in England by the time of the Saxons.

This refined, elegant dog has always been a favorite of aristocracy and royalty who in some cases mandated exclusive ownership. It made its way to Europe during the Dark Ages and was so revered for its hunting ability during that time that any commoner living within 10 miles of European royal hunting grounds could not own a Greyhound.

The breed was introduced to America in the 1500s by Spanish explorers who used to them to repel their perceived “enemies,” the Native Americans. Even George Washington had a favorite Greyhound companion, Azor, during the American Revolution.

The Greyhound is also among the first of the breeds to be recorded for show in the United States, with the Westminster Kennel Club featuring 18 of them in 1877. They made the American Kennel Club studbook in 1885. Today, it is a member of the AKC’s Hound Group.


Lovely, lean, and graceful, the Greyhound is probably the epitome of the "running dog." Tall, slender, long and slender, the Greyhound truly is aerodynamically built for the job of running. With the power of a small automobile, this impressive canine can reach speeds of 45 miles an hour, and most importantly, can run for long distances without getting tired. Such traits contributed to its excellent hunting skills, one of its main jobs historically. The Greyhound has a deep, wide chest tapering to a narrow, fine belly, and has long straight legs, long, finely arched neck, an exquisitely shaped head, and rather dainty rose-shaped ears. The short, sleek, fine fur can be of any color.

There are actually two different types of Greyhounds: that of the American Kennel Club and that of the National Greyhound Association. The AKC type is generally taller, narrower, and has a long arched neck, longer legs, deeper chest, and a more arched back.

The NGA type is not "aesthetically" the classic Greyhound as described above. Its muscles appear almost "knotted" under the smooth, short coat. However, this type is actually a better racer with faster speeds than the classic AKC type. In adulthood, the Greyhound will reach 27 to 30 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 60 and 85 pounds.


Racing gem aside, this dog is a wonderful, docile, exceedingly devoted pet that will be highly attuned to your moods. The Greyhound is so sensitive that all you must do is change the inflection of your voice to "punish" this delicate and gentle creature. It might seem unusual but a Greyhound can live quite comfortably in an apartment. Having perfected the art of napping, this dog will do so while curled peacefully at your side. Although the Greyhound will need some exercise and a daily walk, the demands for physical activity are relatively low considering its famous "profession." Many have said that the Greyhound is actually "cat like" both in its personality and behaviors: Wise, quiet, and quite independent.

Although Greyhounds are naturally gentle and relaxed, adult greyhounds that have been adopted after retiring from racing may be a bit snappish upon entry to your home. Most organizations recognize this and will recommend that you muzzle your new pet until it becomes acclimated to its new surroundings. However, Greyhounds are never considered dangerous. It is a gentle breed that does not generally fight, nip or bite.

One thing that may be problematic with the Greyhound in the house is its tendency to chase small prey animals, a result of its strong hunting instincts. Pets like mice, rabbits, and birds may not be safe around your Greyhound of any age.

Proper Environment

This dog is easily able to tolerate small spaces and has no need to have a lot of room to run. A daily walk will suffice. Greyhounds tend to have little body fat as well as little fur to speak of, so make sure you buy a "doggie coat" or sweater for chillier temperatures.


Greyhounds are generally healthy dogs, but can suffer from hypothyroidism, dysplasia of the hip or elbow, von Willebrand disease (like hemophilia in humans), osteosarcoma, anesthesia sensitivity, and bloat. While all disease must be treated, bloat is especially dangerous if not taken care of within an hour of onset. If you notice your dog trying to vomit but failing, acting depressed, or with a hard and distended belly, consult the vet immediately. Surgery is usually recommended.

Average lifespan is 10 to 12 years.


With smooth, short hair, the Greyhound needs little grooming. Brush regularly to remove loose hair and help prevent shedding, and bathe with dry shampoo if necessary. Your pet sheds an average amount.


AKC Meet the Breeds®: Get to know the Greyhound.

Retrieved June 30, 2014.


Retrieved June 30, 2014.


Retrieved June 30, 2014.


Retrieved June 30, 2014.

Greyhound (English Greyhound).

Retrieved June 30, 2014.

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