The Greyhound is a dog breed with an interesting and prestigious past. Their history can be traced back 5,000 years to ancient Egypt where they were popular pets among pharaohs, who relied on their speed and agility for hunting.
Ever since, they have held a high profile as the dogs of nobles, and they’ve been featured in countless works of art and literature—including the Bible and Homer’s “The Odyssey.”
Need one of these fleet-footed sweethearts in your life? There are many Greyhounds out there in need of a home, including Greyhounds who retired from racing.
But before adopting a Greyhound into your family, it is important to know what to expect when it comes to their care. Just like with any dog, you should always do a little research before bringing them home.
What to Expect of the Greyhound’s Temperament
Most people think of the Greyhound breed as reserved and gentle, and experts confirm that this is typically the case.
“I have never met a Greyhound who was mean or surly,” notes Dr. Larry Morrisette, veterinarian and owner at Life Care Animal Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota. “My experience with Greyhounds is that they are well-behaved, calm and good with small children.”
“Greyhounds are curious but can also be shy when it comes to new people and situations,” explains Dr. Travis Arndt, veterinarian and director at Animal Medical Center of Mid-America in St. Louis.
In his 21 years of experience, Dr. Arndt has also worked quite a bit with retired racing Greyhounds, which he says will typically be more reserved than those without a racing past. “It can take them a little longer to trust individuals, but their deeper personalities do emerge,” he says.
Introducing Your New Greyhound to Your Home
When you first bring a Greyhound home to meet your family, “short, controlled introductions to children and other pets are necessary to keep the interaction positive for all,” explains Dr. Arndt.
As for how well they get along with other pets, our experts note that this can differ on a case-by-case basis. “It is sometimes said that cats or pocket pets will trigger their ‘chase’ instinct, though that was not my experience,” Dr. Morrisette says.
Dr. Arndt agrees that in his experience, Greyhounds have done fine with other pets due to their laid-back nature.
“It is a common misconception that Greyhounds can’t live with cats,” says Dr. Arndt. “Like any other breed, some do well with cats and some do not, but the majority can be taught to live with feline friends.”
What to Expect of Greyhound Energy Levels
Because Greyhounds have these relaxed, mellow personalities, they are often considered to be a good option for pet parents who don’t have a very active lifestyle or access to a private outdoor space for exercise. But Greyhounds are an anomaly in that they are also a very fast breed of dog, and they love to run.
“Greyhounds are sprinters and couch potatoes,” explains Dr. Morrisette. “They love short bursts of fast running, stretching out their long legs in huge bounds. Most of them do not care for long hikes, though exceptions do exist.”
“While they don’t need a lot of exercise, it is still important to allow your Greyhound to run and play,” Dr. Arndt adds. “Because they have been bred to chase a lure, games like fetch or chasing a remote control toy are fun. Greyhounds also do well in agility, which can provide both mental and physical stimulation.”
What Type of Environment Do Greyhounds Thrive In?
Given what we know about their personalities, it’s no surprise that Greyhounds do best in calm and quiet environments. “They like people but usually avoid loud noise and commotion if they can and should have a quiet spot to curl up,” especially when you have guests over, says Dr. Morrisette.
Dr. Arndt adds that if you have the means to adopt two Greyhounds, the breed really thrives with a companion.
Like with all dogs, Dr. Arndt advises pet parents to set a regular routine early on. This consistency, along with their own established sleeping space, will ease their transition into your home.
Dr. Arndt strongly recommends having a fenced yard for Greyhounds so they can roam freely while staying safe in an enclosed area.
Our experts emphasize that because Greyhounds have low body fat and very short hair, they do not do well in cold climates. While this doesn’t mean those in cold places cannot adopt a Greyhound, these pet parents will need to keep them indoors and bundle them up on walks.
“When going outside on chilly or cold days, Greyhounds must wear a dog sweater or jacket to keep warm,” Dr. Arndt says.
Health Concerns With Greyhound Dogs
When adopting any purebred dog, it is always a good idea to be informed about health issues common to the breed. This allows pet parents to implement preventative care and give their canine friends the best possible lives.
Dr. Morrisette says that Greyhounds tend to have bad teeth. “Brushing is very helpful, but most will need their teeth cleaned annually. Also, like many long-legged breeds, they have an unfortunate rate of osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer,” says Dr. Morrisette.
Also, when it comes to retired racing Greyhounds as pets, Dr. Arndt warns that they may “suffer from arthritis due to wear and tear from running and their activity level.” It will also be easy for them to put on weight since they are transitioning from a very active lifestyle to one that might not be as active.
Greyhounds Need Regular Vet Visits
“Making sure your Greyhound has regular veterinary visits is very important and is the best way to prevent or catch medical problems early on,” says Dr. Arndt. “Visiting the veterinarian every six months is recommended for all pets for this very reason.”
The veterinarian you take your Greyhound to must be familiar with their unique needs. For example, Greyhounds are very sensitive to some types of anesthetics and can overheat when they get nervous (when they’re at the vet’s office, for example). In addition, the normal ranges for their blood work are a little different than most other breeds of dogs.
With the help of your veterinarian, Dr. Arndt also advises that parents of retired Greyhounds “consider a therapeutic diet aimed at supporting their musculoskeletal system.”
Those who have owned Greyhounds can attest to the magical way they touch lives. Just ask Dr. Morrisette, who says of his own Greyhound, “I loved Lily’s gentle presence; she radiated calm.”
By: Maura McAndrew
Featured Image: iStock.com/bradlethebdon