The Greyhound is a dog breed that fascinates people with its slender build, great speed and regal stance. Generally known as a racing breed, greyhounds as pets are great too.
Because of their sleek, light and extremely agile physique, Greyhounds are excellent for hunting fast prey out in the open and are classified as a sighthound, which means they are a breed which has been bred primarily for hunting and pursuing swift prey such as rabbits and deer, who are fast and agile and can escape their pursuers with speed. Sighthounds can also keep track of their prey visually, despite the speed and often swift changes of directions, because of their exceptionally keen eyesight. Greyhounds are considered the fastest breed, reaching speeds as fast as 40 – 45 mph.
One of the oldest dog breeds, there is evidence that the Greyhound dates back to ancient Egypt near the 9th century, and was first introduced to the United Kingdom from Scotland and other eastern European areas. Spanish explorers introduced the dogs to the Americas during their expeditions in the 1500s. The earliest recorded Greyhound stock was registered with kennel clubs in the United Kingdom between the 18th and 19th century. The name Greyhound is an English name derived from “hund” which means hound, and “grey” which translates fair dog, rather than a reference to the modern color grey.
APPEARANCE AND GROOMING
Greyhounds have very long legs that despite their slender appearance, are quite powerful, allowing them to sprint instantly if needed. Greyhounds appear in different colors including black, white, a brindle shade with streaks of other colors running through it, fawn or any combination of these colors. Their extremely slender build makes them striking and even a bit unhealthy looking at first glance, but their light weight of 60 – 80 pounds for males is a normal healthy weight for this breed. Females weigh between 55 – 75 pounds. The very short coat is smooth and sleek and requires very little grooming. Shedding is moderate to low, so an occasional bath will keep a Greyhound clean and healthy. Keeping their nails short is important so they don’t slip on floors. Males are approximately 28 – 31 inches high, while females are a little smaller, at 26 – 28 inches at the shoulders.
Because of their racing heritage and expert speed at chasing down hunting prey, people naturally think of Greyhounds as hyper dogs. On the contrary, Greyhounds are calm and gentle and can be socialized and trained to act as other non-hunting breeds. Generally, these dogs are adopted as full grown retired racers, rather than as puppies, from breeders, so training and socialization are needed in order for the dog to adapt to a more social lifestyle. Because they rarely live in homes, but rather kennels and racing facilities, the normal home environment with stairs, obstacles like furniture and doorways may be awkward for the retired Greyhound; however, this breed will conform with patience, training and love. Most retired Greyhounds are adopted by groups that train them to transition to a home environment before they are given to owners.
Greyhounds are obedient, cooperative, friendly dogs that can be extremely affectionate and actually prefer companionship rather than solitude. This breed gets along well with strangers and is not aggressive, so as a watchdog, their height and size may be intimidating, but it is not in their nature to take role as a guard dog. In fact, Greyhounds are gentle animals, who do very well with children and also other large dog breeds.
HEALTH AND EXERCISE
Because they have great speed, they do not have great endurance, so exercise does not need to be heavy or lengthy. One thing you will need to remember when your Greyhound is in a fenced yard, is to make sure the fence is at least 8 feet, as they will chase a squire or other small animal over a fence without even thinking, in a matter of seconds.
The lifespan of a Greyhound is approximately 10 – 14 years with proper care and exercise. Generally a healthy breed, one of the most common problems is tail injuries because of the thin and extremely long tail, which can become damaged when wagging against hard objects. With their friendly nature, Greyhounds wag their tales frequently, so it is important to check it often for scratches and scrapes that may become infected if left untreated.
Most Greyhound breeders work hard at maintaining high breed standards that have been established by top kennel clubs, so inherited conditions are minimal. As far as hereditary maladies, hip dysplasia (common in large breed dogs), hypothyroidism (low activity of the thyroid gland which may result in some growth retardation) and gastric dilatation-volvulus (stomach bloat), may occur.
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