Greyhound Dog

Teresa Kho-Pelfrey, DVM
Written by:
Published: August 25, 2022
Greyhound Dog

The Greyhound is considered a sighthound, which means that they rely on speed and agility to track prey, unlike most other hounds that rely on scent and endurance. They have keen vision to detect motion and a light and lean body to sprint for the pursuit.

They have been a subject of fascination for artists, poets, and kings for thousands of years because of the lean “inverted S” shape of their bodies, which gives them the ideal figure for speed. Their independent spirit is balanced with their gentle and sweet-tempered personalities, which make them wonderful companions in the home.

Greyhounds are considered large breed dogs, standing between 27-30 inches tall and weighing about 60-70 pounds. Their narrow, aerodynamic features start at the head and continue the length of their bodies.

Caring for a Greyhound

Greyhounds have been bred for their speed and sight hunting abilities, so they have a high energy level and a hunting drive. They do not need constant exercise, but they do need routine exercise to keep them mentally stimulated and happy.

Greyhounds have a very strong prey drive, so they aren’t ideal for homes with cats or other small animals. When spending time outdoors a Greyhound should always be leashed, and off-leash time should be in a controlled and enclosed environment. Socialization can help with curbing the prey drive instincts, but it’s important to always be aware of your surroundings and potential triggers.

They do have a very gentle disposition with their people and make great companion dogs when their exercise needs are met. 

Greyhound Health Issues

Greyhounds are generally healthy dogs. They do have some inherited conditions that can’t be treated, but that can be detected with genetic testing. They are also predisposed to a few health issues that pet parents should be aware of.

Gastric Dilation and Volvulus

Greyhounds have a deep chest that curves into a trim and tucked waist. This predisposes them to bloat and gastric torsion, which can be life-threatening if not treated immediately.

Gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV) is a condition that can affect any deep-chested breed. Gastric dilatation (bloat) commonly occurs following a large meal that causes the stomach to dilate. The mixture of gas and food in the stomach can prevent digested food from exiting the stomach, which causes increases in its pressure and size.

In turn, this can cause issues with:

  • Blood returning to the heart from the abdomen

  • Loss of blood flow to the stomach

  • Possible rupture

  • Pressure on the diaphragm, preventing normal breathing

Signs of bloat or GDV in a Greyhound include:

  • Standing and stretching

  • Drooling

  • Distended abdomen

  • Retching without producing any vomit

  • General signs of abdominal pain

Seek immediate veterinary care if any of these symptoms are noted.

Certain interventions can help prevent this from happening, including a prophylactic stomach tacking (gastropexy) surgery that is commonly performed in deep-chested breeds.

You can also split meals into two or three smaller meals instead of one large meal a day.

Polyneuropathy

Greyhound polyneuropathy occurs as a result of a defect in the NDRG1 gene and is linked to nerve dysfunction. Greyhounds are affected by this condition when both parents carry the genetic defect for it.

Symptoms of polyneuropathy usually develop from three to nine months of age. Signs that owners should watch for include:

  • Muscle weakness

  • Lethargy or exercise intolerance

  • “Bunny-hopping” gait

There are no specific treatments for this disease, but genetic testing is available to screen for it.

Drug Sensitivity

Greyhounds are the only documented breed with a sensitivity to some anesthetic drugs. This is due to a deficiency in their cytochrome p450 enzyme, which is responsible for metabolizing the drugs. This can mean that they have a prolonged recovery period after undergoing anesthesia, such as for a dental cleaning or spay/neuter surgery.

This does not have any impact on the day-to-day care for a Greyhound’s family, but it is something that their veterinarian will be mindful of in the event of a procedure that requires sedation or anesthesia.

Delayed Postoperative Bleeding

Delayed postoperative bleeding in Greyhounds is another condition that warrants special attention from a veterinarian. It’s believed to be related to an issue with certain clotting factors in the blood, and is most often observed 36-72 hours following a surgery.

This does not typically affect the day-to-day care for a Greyhound’s family, but it is a condition to monitor for after a surgical procedure.

What to Feed a Greyhound

Greyhounds typically require diets that have higher calories and protein than other dogs. Choose a dog food that is formulated for high-energy dogs and is approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).

It is important that they are fed high-quality food that is appropriate for their lifestage (puppy food, adult food, senior food).

How to Feed a Greyhound

Most Greyhounds do not require any special feeding instructions. Typically, feeding two meals, in morning and evening, is well tolerated by this breed.

How Much Should You Feed a Greyhound

To find the right amount of food to feed your Greyhound, consult your veterinarian and the feeding instructions on the bag. Your veterinarian can account for your dog’s specific nutritional needs and lifestyle to make sure they are eating enough to maintain a healthy weight.

For a Greyhound, based on an average weight of approximately 60-70 pounds, this would be roughly 3 to 3 1/3 cups daily, divided into two meals.

Nutritional Tips for Greyhounds

For a Greyhound that is used for sporting activities, it’s beneficial to supplement them with glucosamine and chondroitin to help keep their joints healthy.

Additionally, omega-3 supplements can aid in protecting joint health and help keep their skin and coat sleek and soft.

Behavior and Training Tips for Greyhounds

Greyhound Personality and Temperament

Greyhounds tend to have higher energy levels and prefer to keep an active lifestyle, physically and mentally. That means that their families need to routinely provide them with high-energy activities and exercise outlets.

Training this breed can sometimes be difficult, as they are bred for independent pursuit for hunting and prefer to make decisions rather than be told what to do. Patience while in the training phase is important.

While Greyhounds can be shy with strangers, they are very affectionate with family members. Their independent nature can sometimes give them an aloof, cat-like demeanor, but most are willing to befriend anyone who presents them with a treat. Despite being bred for high-energy activities, Greyhounds are typically very calm dogs at home and tend to not get overly excited about new people or environments.

As long as they get their routine exercise, they are great couch potato dogs that love to lay around with their people. Greyhounds can be patient with children and are more likely to walk away from a child than snap, but they do require their own space, which can often be invaded by young children.

Greyhound Behavior

Greyhounds have been bred to hunt based on sight, which means that their strong hunting drive can be highly responsive to small, fast-moving objects or animals. In other words, Greyhound dogs tend to have very high prey drives and are not great options for families with small pets in their homes such as cats, bunnies, hamsters, or guinea pigs. 

This also means that Greyhounds should be kept on a leash when out on walks unless they are in a controlled and enclosed environment. While some Greyhounds can be socialized to like small animals, their natural prey drive is quite strong.

Greyhounds are a less vocal breed than most and generally aren’t considered loud or consistent barkers—although many have been known to communicate with their people through a unique crying or whining sound.

As long as Greyhounds are offered ample exercise, they enjoy a little “alone time” and tend not to exhibit destructive behaviors such as digging or inappropriate chewing.

Greyhound Dog Training

Interestingly, it can be difficult to train Greyhounds to “sit” as this is not a natural position for them. Their body shape and muscle tone in their back and hind end make sitting not a comfortable or natural position for them. Many Greyhounds will learn this command by balancing on their tail.

Greyhounds can be seemingly stubborn with training because of their tendency to prefer independent thought over commands. However, keeping training sessions brief will help prevent boredom. They have a gentle nature and a sensitive side; they prefer a positive training approach over a harsher one. Patience and consistency paired with reward-based training methods will provide the best outcomes for this breed.

Find out what motivates your Greyhound—whether it be treats, toys, praise, or exercise—and use that as a tool for positive reinforcement and encouragement during training sessions.

Fun Activities for Greyhounds

  • Fetching a ball or toy

  • Lure courses

  • Walking

  • Running in an enclosed area

  • Socializing with other dogs

Greyhound Grooming Guide

When it comes to grooming, the Greyhound is pretty low maintenance. Aside from occasional baths and nail trims, they do not require much routine grooming.

Skin Care

Skin care for the Greyhound can vary depending on the individual’s needs. Luckily, the breed does not generally have sensitive skin and problems are rare.

Coat Care

With their short, smooth coat, Greyhounds require minimal coat care beyond routine bathing.

Eye Care

Routine cleaning with a soft, damp cloth will help prevent normal tearing from building up around the eyes.

Ear Care

Routine ear cleaning with a veterinary-approved ear cleanser is important in maintaining healthy ear canals. This should also be done any time a Greyhound is in water, such as after swimming or bathing, because trapped moisture can lead to ear infections.

To clean the ears, fill the ear canal with the cleansing solution, massage at the base of the ear to loosen up any debris, and then gently wipe any excess cleanser with a cotton ball. It’s not necessary to remove all of the cleanser from the canals, and cotton tip applicators such as Q-tips are not recommended for cleaning the ear canals.

Considerations for Pet Parents

Greyhounds thrive best with a family that is able to offer ample physical and mental stimulation while limiting exposure to small animals that may trigger their prey drive within the home. While they are a very affectionate breed with their people, they do also value some undisturbed “me time,” which may be best provided in a home without young children. 

Greyhound FAQs

Is a Greyhound a good family dog?

Greyhounds are affectionate family dogs, but they sometimes prefer older children over young children who may be more boisterous and unpredictable. Ensuring that they have their own space where a child cannot pester them can help remedy this issue. 

Are Greyhounds smart dogs?

The Greyhound is an intelligent dog that can sometimes come off as stubborn if the training style is against their sighthound instincts, which favor independent thought. To help maintain their interest during training, it’s best to keep sessions short and find what motivates them the most, such as a treat or a toy.

What are the drawbacks of a Greyhound?

The Greyhound’s predisposition for bloat and gastric dilatation and volvulus can be very worrisome to pet parents.

Additionally, Greyhounds have a very strong prey drive, so they aren’t ideal for homes with cats or other small animals. When spending time outdoors a Greyhound should always be leashed, and off-leash time should be in a controlled and enclosed environment. Socialization can help with curbing the prey drive instincts, but it’s important to always be aware of your surroundings and potential triggers.

What are some good features of a Greyhound?

Overall, Greyhounds tend to be healthy dogs with gentle personalities. They are a great option as a companion dog.

Featured Image: iStock.com/Himagine


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