Are Greyhounds Good Pets? [Everything you need to know about Greyhounds as pets]
Many people have a love affair with Greyhound dogs. Heck, they are sleek, fast, and unique-looking animals that you probably have even seen an image of on the side of a bus!
The image of Greyhounds chasing a fake rabbit around a track may come to mind but have you ever wondered if they make good pets?
Or maybe even if you should adopt a Greyhound and bring one home? Are Greyhounds good household family pets?
The short answer is YES! Greyhounds can be great pets for many reasons.
Keep reading to learn everything you want to know about these amazing and interesting ancient dogs. If you are looking for a new pet, a Greyhound could be a great choice for you!
History of the Greyhound
Greyhounds (a type of sighthound) are fit athletic dogs that were originally bred to be hunting dogs. They were designed to chase foxes, hares (rabbits), and deer.
Greyhounds are the fastest dog breed in the entire world! They can easily reach speeds of 30 to 45 mph.
Due to their speed, Greyhounds eventually made a name for themselves in dog racing.
Because Greyhounds are race dogs, you can usually find them in shelters after they retire or in the care of a rescue organization. Most people don’t think of them as household pets.
You may not have met a Greyhound in life before, but just about everyone knows what they look like.
They are notorious for being aerodynamically built, sleek, long-legged, and fast runners. They are the Thoroughbreds of the dog world.
Greyhounds are an Ancient Dog Breed
The Greyhound is one of the oldest dog breeds around today. Greyhounds are believed to have originated in ancient Egypt.
They have been held as greatly valuable throughout history. Cleopatra, Queen Elizabeth I, and even General Custer had prized Greyhounds.
Due to Queen Elizabeth I’s interest in the breed, Greyhound racing became known as the “Sport of the Queens.”
Greyhounds in Modern Day
Greyhounds are still used in a variety of amazing sports. These sports include:
- Lure Coursing
When you say dog racing, most people think about Greyhound racing where the dogs speed around the track chasing a mechanical hare or fake rabbit.
History of Dog Racing
Current “20th and 21st-century,” dog racing is a new version of a much older version of dog course racing. Course racing was where the dogs hunted by sight versus scent.
In 1919 O.P. Smith initiated dog racing at the Emeryville racetrack in California. The sport was introduced to the English in 1926 and quickly became a well-popularized event.
Dog racing then began to spread to Ireland, Australia, Belgium, and also Mexico.
Dog Racing in the United States
In the United States, Dog racing began in California and soon spread as far as Florida by the mid-1920s.
During the late 20th century some people began an effort to eliminate dog racing, bringing up concerns over the dog’s welfare within the sport.
In the year 1990, multiple states began banning dog racing and as of the 21st century, only a few states continue to hold races. Florida was one of the more recent states to ban dog racing.
There are now sanctioning and governing bodies that oversee dog racing to ensure animal welfare.
There is a lot to love about Greyhounds. They combine the very best of refinement with friendliness and die-hearted loyalty.
Greyhound Dog Traits
- Greyhounds are generally known to be friendly with people and other animals.
- They are high-energy dogs.
- Greyhounds prefer daily walks.
- They love to sit on the couch and have snuggles.
- They do fine in apartments and small yards, but a fence is recommended.
- Greyhounds tend to be happy dogs and loyal companions.
- Greyhounds love to be with people all the time.
Most greyhounds weigh between 50 and 80 pounds and stand 27 to 30 inches tall so they are large dogs.
Don’t be fooled, Greyhounds are a sensitive breed and there is more to them than meets the eye. They are graceful and sweetly tempered dogs who love their families.
Just because they were born to race does not mean they can’t be gentle dogs!
Greyhound owners generally say that these dogs have two separate modes; all-out sprint using short bursts of energy and then the total opposite of being couch potatoes at times.
How to Care for a Greyhound
The first thing to keep in mind if you are considering one of these exquisite dogs as a pet is that they are sensitive and known to suffer from loneliness.
Greyhounds should not be left alone at home for endless hours each day. They love and want to be with their people as much as possible.
This is a great choice of dog for someone who has time to spend with them. If you work from home and can give them lots of attention a Greyhound may be the right dog for you!
Requirements of Owning a Greyhound
- Give them lots of love, belly rubs, and couch snuggles. (They are big ole’ cuddle bugs!)
- Having a large spacious crate for them to rest and be comfortable in.
- Lots of toys, and a safe place for them to play.
- Have a dog coat if you live in an area with cold weather. Greyhounds can get the shivers due to their short hair and thin fur coat.
- A long leash. Greyhounds should not be allowed to run freely without a secured area.
- A good socialization method as they can become timid without proper socialization.
- A muzzle may be needed if you adopt a retired Greyhound racing dog. They may be prone to nipping if they were raced due to their strong prey drive.
Muzzles may not be needed for life but mainly in the initial adoption and acclimation phase.
Greyhound Exercise Requirements
Being born to race you might expect that Greyhound dogs have unique exercise needs and that is true! However, they don’t need a lot of exercise to be happy and healthy.
Plan on giving them a good hour of exercise each day though. This is important if you have a Greyhound in your home.
Adopting a Greyhound
Almost everyone wants a puppy, but did you know that there are over 17 million dogs and cats that are killed in shelters EACH YEAR? That number is nauseating.
There are many adult Greyhounds available that are at risk of perishing in a shelter every year.
They are either abandoned or even sold to laboratories for medical experimentation.
Greyhounds deserve a loving home and if you have the ability to adopt, it is a great way to give a loving animal another chance as well as to save a life.
Check out your local Greyhound rescue first to see what dogs are available before contacting a breeder. You may be surprised and find your next loving companion!
Should You Adopt a Retired Racing Greyhound?
Adopting retired racers is a great way to become a Greyhound owner. Plus, former racing dogs are usually the first on the “kill list,” at animal shelters.
This is probably due to the misguided impression by some that their unique training could make them unsuitable for being good pets.
Greyhounds coming from the track will need an adjustment program to get used to their new life, but this is an extremely rewarding and heart-warming process.
There are many Greyhounds looking for loving, lifelong homes right now.
How to Adopt a Greyhound Dog
The process of adopting a Greyhound will vary based on where you live but here are some basics.
Greyhound Adoption Process
In order to be eligible to adopt a Greyhound you must meet the following basic requirements.
- 21 years or older.
- Show proof of home ownership or rental agreement allowing a large dog. (Letter from the landlord stating Greyhounds are OK.)
- Any other dogs must be spayed or neutered. (Unless dogs are shown or you are a registered breeder. May ask to see titles/contracts.)
- All pets in the household must be UTD on vaccination status.
- No children under age 12.
- You must fall within the legal pet limit in your area.
- Be able to handle the financial responsibility of a dog.
- Usually, there is a $500 adoption fee.
- Be willing to do a phone interview and home inspection.
- Follow-ups occur within the first 6-month time period of adoption.
How Much Does it Cost to Adopt a Greyhound?
If you adopt, most organizations will charge around a $50 adoption fee to process paperwork and then ask for some type of donation in the $250 to $500 range.
How Much Does it Cost to Buy a Greyhound From a Breeder?
The price you will pay a breeder for a Greyhound puppy can vary greatly by the breeder but expect to pay between $1000 and $3500.
Greyhound Health Problems
No matter your choice of obtaining your Greyhound, either by purchasing from a reputable breeder or by adoption, make sure you take the proper steps to ensure you have a healthy dog.
There are many kind-hearted people who will take on a dog with known health conditions that may be too great for them to handle.
Make sure you are well educated about health risk factors and susceptibility for Greyhounds to ensure you are properly caring for them.
How to Find a Healthy Greyhound
- NEVER buy a dog from an irresponsible breeder or a puppy mill.
- Stay away from pet stores- they purchase from puppy mills.
- When choosing a breeder look for one who does genetic testing on their dogs to ensure the health and well-being of the animals.
Report breeders who are irresponsible. You can find information on filing a report on an unscrupulous breeder here are the Humane Society of the United States.
Picking a healthy Greyhound is always a good idea. Remember, no dog is immune to health issues but with proper care, most Greyhounds will be a healthy breed of dog and live a happy life.
Common Greyhound Health Issues
- Bleeding disorders
- Joint disease
- Back problems
- High blood pressure
- Eye problems
- Extra teeth
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Hip dysplasia
- Kidney disease
- Hair loss
- Dental disease
- Genetic predispositions to sometimes be reactive to anesthesia
- Cancer. Specifically Osteosarcoma in Greyhounds
With proper care and nutrition, Greyhounds have a great life expectancy of around 12-13 years!
Some people have a widespread belief that Greyhounds are high-maintenance pets and live short lives but this is not true.
Greyhound Training Tips
Training a Greyhound is a fun and rewarding process. Greyhounds are exceptionally intelligent dogs, and the training options are endless.
Here are some great ideas on how to successfully train your dog at home. You can also enlist the help of a professional dog trainer as well.
How to Train a Greyhound
- Step one is to take an adequate amount of time to figure out how your dog thinks and reacts. The more you understand about Greyhounds, the easier the training process is.
- Remember, if you rescued your dog from the racing industry they have been trained in a certain way. This will impact how they think and react.
- Coming from a rescue, a racing Greyhound will have had a lot of positive and negative experiences being in a controlled environment but no “real-life normal dog experience.”
- Greyhounds are suspicious dogs by nature. Try to make new experiences positive.
- Greyhounds can freeze and turn into statues when they become nervous or stressed.
When they act like this, give them a lot of patience as their brains are not in “learning mode.”
Greyhounds are very quick in their reaction times along with having the tendency to startle easily. Once startled, they tend to bolt or run.
- The way the Greyhound’s body is built makes it very easy for a collar to slip off of its head/neck. Ensure you have a well-fitted collar or use a dog harness to increase safety.
- A fenced yard is absolutely imperative for off-leash activity or training sessions with a Greyhound.
- Use your dog’s history and prior training to your advantage to gain a better understanding of them.
- If your dog does things you do not want them to do, try to figure out what it is that is causing this behavior.
- Influence them away from negative behaviors and towards more positive behaviors using rewards for the good behavior and verbal warnings for the bad.
- Use your Greyhound’s natural interest and ability to incorporate training methods and techniques. Understanding how they think will help you train them better.
- Incorporate running and chasing activities into your training program. Make it fun for you and your dog!
- Greyhounds love to be rewarded. Use things that pique their interest as a reward mechanism as long as it is safe to do so.
- Pay attention to the items, things, or desires your dog has that may captivate them. Incorporate these things into your training program as positive reinforcement.
Grooming Requirements for a Greyhound
Grooming your Greyhound is going to be a much easier task than with most dogs. They require little in-depth grooming due to their thin short coats.
Greyhounds are low shedders, depending on the time of the year and your climate.
Keep in mind, that the Greyhound’s short coat can leave their skin very susceptible to cuts and knicks.
Are Greyhounds Hypoallergenic?
While no dog is truly hypoallergenic, a Greyhound has short fur and does not shed too much so that should cause fewer problems for allergy sufferers than with some other breeds.
A Greyhound is not hypoallergenic though.
Greyhound Diet Requirements
It is ideal for your Greyhound to have wet and dry food in their daily diet.
Most professionally prepared, high-quality dry dog foods are fine.
Avoid cheap commercial dog foods as they often just have a lot of fillers that don’t provide much nutrition.
Safe Foods for Greyhounds to Eat
- Raw and cooked vegetables
- Professionally prepared dog food
- Professionally prepared dog treats or chews
Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Greyhound
- Apple seeds
- Any stone fruit
- Macadamia nuts/ any type of nuts
- Raw potatoes
- Salty foods
- Tomato plants
- Uncooked yeast products or bread
Related Greyhound Questions
Do Greyhounds Bark a Lot?
The Greyhound is well known for being a quiet dog. They normally don’t bark much.
But keep in mind if you have another dog in the house that does bark your precious Greyhound may learn a bad habit!
Should I Buy Pet insurance for My Greyhound?
Insurance is a great idea for ANY pet, let alone a Greyhound. It will help cover the costs of vet bills if the need arises and depending on the type of insurance, it may help cover other expenses.
Check with your renter or homeowner’s insurance company to see if they offer additional coverage for your Greyhound.
There are also medical discount plans available such as Pet Assure.
Can I Take My Greyhound and Let Them Run Loose Outside?
Many people love to take their dogs to a park or out in the country and let them run free. Greyhounds love new environments too and love to run, but they are very cautious dogs.
Keep that in mind when taking them places as they could get very excited and simply run away. We highly recommend that you always keep your Greyhound on a leash!
Do Greyhounds Like Strangers?
Most dogs like strangers and Greyhounds are no exception. They are affectionate dogs, even to strangers, if socialized properly but keep in mind they may act unpredictably at times.
Is a Whippet a Greyhound?
YES! Whippets are descendants of ancient Greyhounds. Whippets are pretty much just smaller animals in comparison to their larger Greyhound cousins.
A Whippet tends to be a medium-sized dog in the 15 to 40-pound range. They are also a great canine companion if you want a Greyhound, but need a smaller pet.
What is an Irish Greyhound?
Irish Greyhounds are famous for being working dogs (racers) and not so much considered a family pet.
Unlike in the USA, Greyhound racing in Ireland is still very popular so there are many ex-racing Irish Greyhounds that are available for adoption.
What is an Italian Greyhound?
An Italian Greyhound is often referred to as a miniature Greyhound. They look very similar but if you are in the know you can see the differences.
These small animals (sometimes considered a toy breed) were officially listed as a breed by the American Kennel Club (AKC) way back in 1886!
What is Greyhound Month?
Glad you asked! April has been designated as Adopt a Greyhound Month every year to encourage the adoption of these wonderful dogs.
Retired racing Greyhounds (or ones bought from a breeder) can make excellent pets. Amity Pets thinks Greyhounds make a good choice for adoption with the right person.