Before you adopt
If you are reading this, you are probably thinking about adopting an ex-racing greyhound as your next pet, but if you have never had the privilege to meet a pet greyhound, there may be a few things about them which will surprise you.
Here you will find some information which may help you to decide if a greyhound is for you.
Contrary to popular opinion, greyhounds do not need a huge amount of exercise. Often known as the ’40 mph couch potato’, they’ll spend hours every day happily dozing in their beds – or better still, upside down on your sofa. Twenty minutes exercise twice daily is enough, although most will be happy with a little more if you like.
However, if you are looking for a running companion or a dog to take on regular, day-long hikes, a greyhound is not the ideal choice, since they are sprinters and most have little stamina.
Greyhounds need minimal grooming. They do not have a double, oily coat, so they moult less than most breeds and some people find they are less likely to trigger their allergies. If this is important to you, however, you should arrange to come and spend some time with the dogs to see for yourself.
Like any other dog, they will need their teeth kept clean and their nails trimmed, but on the whole they are easy to care for.
As a breed, greyhounds are very gentle and non-aggressive with people. Racing dogs are well used to being handled during their careers: they get dressed and undressed, they get washed and weighed, and they have their tattoo numbers checked each time they race. They are also used to travelling.
Greyhounds are sensitive dogs. Any vet will tell you that they tend to be ‘wimps’ who will yelp at the slightest thing, and most greyhound owners are familiar with their tendency to be drama queens. However, these dogs do have very thin skin, and can be injured by things which wouldn’t scratch a tougher breed. They are also vulnerable to extremes of heat and cold, and should not be exposed to bitter cold, or extremely hot weather. A warm, waterproof coat will be needed for winter.
In addition, there are some drugs (eg the older anaesthetics) and pesticides they can’t deal with. Before using anything on your greyhound, check with a greyhound expert or your vet.
Training and behaviour
Like all dogs, greyhounds will need a certain amount of socialising and training to become a well-behaved family member, but most ex-racers are clean in the house from the start.
Remember that up until the day they are adopted, greyhounds live in a kennel environment with their pack. They spend all day, every day, in the company of other dogs, and may need some time to get used to living in a house with all the unfamiliar noises, smells, and rules. Some greyhounds will not know how to go up and down stairs, some may freak out at the sound of a washing machine or vacuum cleaner, some are scared of large vehicles – but most easily adapt with time and patience.
Another thing to remember is that your new greyhound is unlikely ever to have been completely alone in his life. You may need to work on getting him used to being left behind when you go out. This takes a little patience, but again, most will adapt and snooze happily when home alone.
A note of caution
Greyhounds have been bred for thousands of years to chase small game, and they are very fast dogs. They are highly adapted to spot movement in the distance and to chase what they see, so until you know your greyhound, it is wise to be extremely careful around small animals, including cats and small fluffy dogs, and also around farm stock.
Special care will be needed if you have glass doors or full panel windows. Greyhounds, being sight-hounds, can have their chase instinct triggered by a small animal in the garden and may try to run clean through a glass door without seeing it. Hounds can severely injure or (rarely) kill themselves this way, because they can reach thirty miles an hour in a few strides. It’s a good idea to put a decorative sticker or two on the glass at the dog’s eye level.
Many greyhounds can live peacefully and happily with cats, guinea pigs, birds, ferrets etc, but some cannot. Also, remember that most racing greyhounds have never seen another breed of dog and may take a while to accept them, too, especially the smaller breeds.
For further information on the breed please visit some of our useful links, which you will find under the ‘Reading’ tab in the menu at the top of the page.