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Greyhound Factsheet

About Greyhounds


Class:   Sighthound - specialised in hunting by sight rather than scent.


Typical Size 
The shoulder height of an adult greyhound male is typically between 71 to 76 cm (28 to 30 inches) while the females generally tend to be between 68 to 71 cm (27 to 28 inches).


Typical Weight  
27 to 40 kg (70 to 100 pounds) for the male and 27 to 34 kg (60 to 75 pounds for the female).

Temperament  
Greyhounds have a soft, quiet, gentle and intelligent temperament and are very friendly towards people. They often become very attached to their owners and make ideal pets. Many people think that due to their racing pedigree greyhounds require a lot of exercise. Wrong! Although they do love running they do not require extensive exercise and are quite happy with a daily walk of as little as 20 minutes. Greyhounds are often referred to as "40mph couch potatoes". If nothing interesting is going on they are often to be found asleep on the sofa, a fact to which many a dedicated Greyhound owner can testify.
 

Colour:  
There are approximately thirty recognised colours for this breed ranging from white, brindle, black, fawn, red and grey (blue). These colours can appear uniquely or in any combination. They have very short hair which is fine. In medieval periods many Lords and Royals requested they be bred to colour variants which would allow them to more easily identifiable during hunting for sport.


General 
The greyhound is the fasted breed of dog on the planet due to its long powerful legs, deep chest, flexible spine and slim muscular build. They have the highest percentage of fast-twitch muscle of any breed and can reach 65 km/h (41mph). In fact only the cheetah can beet them for speed in the animal kingdom. They are known as sprinters but are not known as endurance runners. Their short hair and low body fat can often leave them feeling the cold during walks or when outside in kennels and having a suitable greyhound coat is recommended to people choosing them as pets.

Greyhounds are generally considered to make wonderful pets. Being pack-oriented they quickly adopt humans into their pack as alpha and get along well with children and other family pets. Some greyhounds can live quite comfortably with cats but others can not. They are very friendly to human strangers. Retired or rescued racing greyhounds can often develop symptoms of separation anxiety and a second greyhound often solves this problem. Because they tend to bark very little they make good house companions without too much complaint from the neighbours.

History/Origins  
The greyhound breed can be traced back to ancient Egypt (4,000BC) where they can seen in hieroglyphics on tomb walls. Being sight hounds they were primarily used for hunting in the open where keen eyesight was needed.

It is believed that the greyhound breed was introduced to the United Kingdom in the 5th or 6th century BC from mainland Europe through the Picts and other hunter gatherers. They were bred originally to hunt large game such as antelopes, wolves and deer. The name 'greyhound' does not refer to the colour of the animal but is an Old Saxon word for 'running dog'.

Greyhounds have hardly changed over centuries because they have been bred solely for speed and to chase than for any cosmetic reasons. This was well suited to their roll in coursing until the early twentieth century.

During the 1920s modern greyhound racing was introduced into the US and then later in 1936 to Belle Vue, England. Since then Greyhound race tracks have sprung up in many parts of the country such as:

Belle Vue, Brighton & Hove, Brough Park, Crayford, Hall Green: Harlow, Henlow, Kinsley, Mildenhall, Milton Keynes, Monmore Green, Nottingham, Oxford, Perry Barr, Peterborough, Pool, Portsmouth, Reading, Romford, Shawfield, Sittingbourne, Sheffield, Stainforth, Sunderland, Swindon, Walthamstow, Wimbledon and Yarmouth


Exercise   
It is a common misconception that greyhounds are hyperactive animals that require extensive exercise periods but this simply isn't the case, especially with older ex-racing dogs. They spend most of their time on the sofa asleep given the chance and are often more than happy with a 20-30 minute walk a couple of times a day. Remember when he lived in a racing kennel he would often sleep for twenty hours a day as there was little else to do. If however you feel like a long half day hike your greyhound will be more than happy to keep you company.

It is recommended that re-homed greyhounds be kept on a lead at all times due to their chasing-instinct, speed and the simple fact that they very often have no road sense whatsoever. Greyhounds are very good at slipping their collars which is why a wide special-purpose greyhound collar is often recommended. You should not be able to slip more than two fingers under a correctly fastened collar.

A muzzle for your greyhound is also a good idea to begin with at least. He will not mind this as the dog will be quite used to it if he is an ex-racer. To him it will just mean he is going out for a walk and it is always better to be safe than sorry because it is all that stands between him and his centuries of breeding to chase and grab. No matter how strong the bond between you and your pet Greyhound if he sees a squirrel or a cat he may want to give chase.


Training 
If your greyhound is a rescue he will probably not be house trained but rather 'kennel clean' which means he tries not to mess his bed area. At first he may not understand that the whole house his now his 'bed area' and his first instinct may be to scent mark his new surroundings.

When bringing your greyhound home for the first time walk him through his new home and outside to the garden. When he has been to the toilet make sure to give him lots of praise. Back inside the house keep an eye on him for any signs that he may need to go again such as scratching, circling, sniffing (especially after sleeping or eating). This is a good indication that he needs to go outside … be sure to let him out straight away and give him plenty of praise when he does his business. Be extra vigilant during the first few weeks and take him for plenty of short walks. If any accidents to happen inside clean the area thoroughly but do not punish him as this will only lead to confusion. After a period of time your greyhound will learn that your home is his kennel.

Stairs can often be a big hurdle to a re-homed ex-racing greyhound and remember to see things through the greyhound's eyes. At first everything will be strange to him including things like washing machines/tumble dryers etc. If you have patio doors be sure to put something in the way until he realises it is a door!

Health/Care 
Moulded plastic beds not best suited to greyhound because of their long legs and the fact that they like to stretch out sometimes. Instead a quilt or soft bed is usually best. It is probably worth mentioning that greyhounds sleep soundly and although they have a gentle and placid nature it would be better to tell the children to leave them alone when they are asleep. If they are woken up and don't realise where they are this is the one time a greyhound may snap.

Greyhounds do not have undercoats so although they shed they are less likely to trigger an allergic/asthmatic reaction than certain other breeds might.  Greyhounds are sensitive to insecticides and some vets may recommend not to use flea collars or sprays unless it is a pyrethrin-based product (consult your vet).

Greyhounds do not need large living space and can thrive in smaller spaces. Coupled with their placid temperament they can often make better "flat dogs" than some of the hyperactive smaller breeds.

Bald patches on a greyhounds thighs (particularly on black or darker dogs) is not uncommon and is not usually anything to worry about. If the skin should become sore you should consult your vet. If a greyhound is kept indoors a lot of the time you may find his nails will need clipping too.

A greyhound will typically live between 10-13 years, sometimes longer.

The litter size is usually 6-8 pups.
 

Feeding  
A dry complete dog food with no more than 20% protein content is fine to feed your greyhound on. To make the food more appetising you can soak this with a little water or gravy to make it more appetising for him. Lifting the food off the floor is a good idea as the greyhound is a tall dog and not only will this relieve any neck strain but also helps to avoid any ailments such as gastric torsion.

A greyhound that has been an ex-racer will have often been fed on sloppy food that can result in bad teeth and smelly breath. Try to give him chewy and crunchy treats to help remove any build up of tartar. It is always best to have them checked out by a vet if this is particularly bad. Brushing his teeth may also help. Being naturally thin a greyhound is usually hard to over-feed and will maintain a good body weight.  If the pin-bones on the top of his hips are covered by muscles he will be the ideal weight. If you can feel these bones sticking above the muscles he is usually underweight. You should be able to see the outline of the last two ribs only.


Greyhound Adoption  
There are many adoption agencies in the UK for greyhounds. Lots of ex-track dogs end up unwanted at the end of their running career and there are always plenty of them looking for a comfy retirement home. A quick Google search will yield numerous rescue centres and charities.

 

Please note this guide is intended for reference only. Always be sure to consult a vet or relevant professional for accurate individual advice suited to your pets.


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