There are all kinds of dog lovers all over the world. To tell you the truth, there’s practically as many different types of people that love being around dogs as there are different types of dogs. Some people seem to fall in love with virtually every type of pooch in existence and others have a tendency to be more particular about the types of dogs they want to be around. Some of them are partial to a particular breed or they want their dog to look certain way or be a certain color. Others are looking for a particular temperament. Some people enjoy having a dog that has some spunk while others want one that will be calm and docile at all times. Of course, it’s always important to consider whether or not a particular dog will fit well into a family that has children or other pets.
People that are interested in a specific type of dog often fall in love with that dog because they have had one or more at some point in their lives and they discovered something special about that particular breed. Some people have had border collies their entire lives and other people have a fondness for German shepherds. Whether you love pitbulls or chihuahuas, every dog needs a good home and plenty of love. The greyhound is no exception. When most people think about a greyhound, they think about a dog that is bred for little else but racing. In fact, most people don’t really know very much about greyhounds aside from the fact that they race. The question is, what happens to the greyhounds that don’t race or the ones that are retired?
It’s important to remember that greyhounds are, first and foremost, a living, breathing creature that needs to be loved and appreciated just like every other breed of dog. Some people will argue that they love to race and others will tell you that the only ones that love it are the humans that force them to do it. While greyhounds obviously enjoy running, they probably don’t really enjoy the rest of their life during their racing careers, as they are typically locked away in a crate and have little, if any, human contact.
Now that you know a little bit about the history of the greyhound, stop and think about anything else you might know about this particular breed. If you’re like most people, you’re not coming up with a lot. It’s actually rather shocking how little most people know about the greyhound. The reason this is so unfortunate is because people get the wrong idea about this dog. They know it is a large dog that runs fast and they base everything else about it off of those two factors. However, there is so much more to the greyhound. If you really want to know what it would be like to have one as a pet, keep reading below. If you’re one of the fortunate individuals that already owns a greyhound, you can obviously identify with most of the things on this list.
1. They’re not just for racing
Believe it or not, there are some greyhounds that don’t race. While it is true that most of them are bred for these purposes, the number of race tracks in the United States are rapidly disappearing. As a result, there are a few breeders that are beginning to undertake programs that breed greyhounds strictly as pets. In addition, there are a lot of greyhounds that are retired and are looking for good homes. If you only see a creature that races when you look at a greyhound, you’re missing out. They can make good family pets and great companions, just like any other dog.
2. Greyhounds are sort of an all-inclusive breed
You might think of greyhounds as being a very specific breed but that isn’t quite right. In fact, greyhounds are usually technically defined as any dog that’s sleek, built for running, and is able to run fast. The truth is, greyhounds from different parts of the world, including the English greyhound and the Italian greyhound, are all grouped together into a single breed, if you will. Therefore, the breeding history of greyhounds is not quite as stringent as that of some other breeds like border collies or German shepherds. In addition, whippets, which look like miniature greyhounds, are actually descended exclusively from greyhounds. These were the dogs that didn’t reach the proper size or weren’t considered acceptable for racing or chasing prey like the other greyhounds. Eventually, people decided to breed these so-called “rejects” together and before you know it, the whippet was born. That’s why it looks virtually identical to the greyhound, only somewhat shorter.
3. Their spine is very flexible
Greyhounds are different in a lot of their physical characteristics. One of the things that makes them so unique is that their spine is flexible enough to allow them to virtually bend in the middle during mid-stride. This is how they achieve some of their speed. Greyhounds are so flexible that they can fully extend from nose to tail and then, all before their feet touch the ground, they end up with their back feet in front of their front feet as they bend their hindquarters to generate power. When their feet touch the ground, they push off and before you know it, they’re completely out of sight. In addition to this physical difference, they also don’t tolerate some flea and tick medicines well, nor do they handle anesthetic very well. Furthermore, their blood work can be quite different than virtually every other breed of dog, with the exception of the whippet. Therefore, they have been known to give veterinarians that weren’t familiar with the breed a real scare.
4. They’re fast
Obviously, a dog that’s bred for racing is going to be fast. Generally speaking, greyhounds can average about 40 miles per hour. That’s on par with a lot of race horses. If you stop and think about it, it’s rather miraculous that any dog can run this fast. If you’ve never seen one do it, it’s really the epitome of what they frequently call “poetry in motion.” It’s absolutely beautiful to watch a greyhound running at full speed.
5. Their speed is virtually instantaneous
While the record for the fastest accelerating dog in the world goes to their shorter cousin, the whippet, there is certainly nothing to sneeze at when it comes to the acceleration speed of a greyhound. The truth is, they accelerate so fast that you hardly even notice that any time has passed at all. It typically takes them about six steps to get to top speed. That’s not very long. By the time you realize what’s going on, they’re already in the next zip code. You know this if you have a greyhound because there have undoubtedly been times when it saw something on the horizon and decided to take off after it. They seem to be famous for this. If you’ve ever tried to chase one down, you know it’s a losing bet. Even if you’re driving a car, don’t be surprised to look out your window and see your own dog passing you.
6. Greyhounds are gentle dogs
Some people get the wrong idea about greyhounds. In fact, some have a misconception that they’re hyper and even difficult handle but that is something that very rarely happens. More often than not, greyhounds are among some of the most gentle dogs you will ever run across. Just because they’re able to run with abandon doesn’t mean that they have behavioral issues. In fact, most people that already own greyhounds will tell you that they are gentle giants. These are intelligent dogs that really do like to form a deep bond with their family members. As a result, they actively try to please you and they don’t like to do anything that ends up with you being frustrated at them. They’re usually even gentle around small kids, making them a good fit for just about any family.
7. They’re smart
If you spent any time around the greyhound, you know how smart these dogs are. Again, some people that don’t know the breed well have a tendency to get the misconception that they’re not very bright. This is probably because the only thing they know about them is that they race around the track chasing a fake rabbit. With that being said, any Greyhound owner will tell you that these misconceptions are completely false. Greyhounds are extremely intelligent dogs that know what you expect of them. They’re also able to read people fairly well, so they usually know who they want to associate with and who they want to avoid almost right away. Once they settle into a particular family routine, you don’t usually have to worry about correcting them or even leaving them in a room by themselves for a while. They don’t usually have a tendency to bark or tear anything up unless they’re puppies that haven’t been properly trained yet.
8. They make great family pets
As previously mentioned, these dogs make excellent pets for the entire family. Greyhound owners already know this. You know how affectionate these dogs can be and that they thoroughly enjoy both giving and receiving affection from virtually every member of the family. You also know that just because they are large dogs doesn’t mean that they can’t be gentle with young children. Typically, the greyhound can be socialized to fit into most families. Of course, it always depends on the personality of the individual dog in question. With that being said, greyhounds don’t usually pose a problem in the first place.
9. They’re actually very easy going
When you’re watching greyhounds race on a track, their adrenaline is pumping and they’re particularly hyper. As a result, many people get the idea that these dogs are always that way. It simply isn’t the truth. The dogs can be hyper while they’re racing because that’s how they’re trained to run. However, they are easily some of the calmest and most laid-back dogs of any breed that you might ever consider owning. The truth is, they don’t require much from their people. As long as you love them and treat them gently, they’re usually happy with a few minutes of running in the yard a couple of times a day. The rest of the time, they would just assume sleep or snuggle up to you as anything else.
10. People often have the wrong idea about them
This is something that has already been touched on several times, but it’s important enough to bring it up again. There is nothing worse than judging a dog based on popular misconceptions that don’t have anything whatsoever to do with the way a particular breed actually behaves. This happens to a lot of individual breeds and the greyhound is no exception. People see them racing with muzzles on and they see how excited they get and they automatically think that these dogs are actually aggressive towards people. In reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Most greyhound owners spend a good chunk of their lives trying to get this point across to people so that others will understand how gentle and loving these dogs really are.
11. They love to run
The greyhound does love to run, but not in the way most people think. Greyhounds are bred to sprint. While they’re excellent when it comes to speed, they don’t have the endurance to run long distances. Greyhound owners already know this, but most of them learn it by letting their dogs out to run for hours at a time, only to go retrieve them and find them curled up in the shade. Most greyhounds are perfectly happy with a chance to run off the leash once or twice a day, for as little as 15 to 20 minutes. After that, they’ll usually be more than happy to come inside and lay down.
12. They can be hyper when they’re young
If you have a puppy that hasn’t yet been properly trained or socialized, you could be dealing with a dog that is hyper in much the same way that adults are hyper when they race. With that being said, this is true of virtually any breed of dog. Puppies in general have a tendency to be hyper. They have a ton of energy and they want to explore everything, just like human babies. The problem is, they explore everything by putting it in their mouth and sometimes this can get them into trouble. If you want to avoid the hyperactivity, get them in a solid training program and make sure they get plenty of exercise. It’s just as important to ensure that you spend some quality time with them every day. Create a special bond with them and before you know it, you won’t have to worry about what they’re breaking or tearing up next.
13. Sometimes they chase smaller pets
As previously discussed, greyhounds make a great choice for virtually any family. However, there may sometimes be one exception. Certain greyhounds have a tendency to chase smaller pets, so if you have a smaller dog like a chihuahua or a cat, you may spend most of your time trying to keep it away from your greyhound. This is something that you have to watch because each dog responds differently. Some greyhounds really couldn’t care less if you have smaller pets running around and others will go after them every time. If they do, you have to work to discourage this behavior in the greyhound while simultaneously keeping the other pets safe. Therefore, most greyhound owners know that if they’re going to have smaller pets running around, they need to make sure that the greyhound they’re choosing doesn’t really have a very strong instinct for catching prey.
14. Greyhounds are loyal
Greyhound owners know that these dogs are among some of the most loyal animals they will ever meet. This breed has a tendency to bond so deeply with its people that once that bond is created, there is virtually nothing that can break it. As such, they can become slightly over protective of their people, especially children. Greyhounds have a tendency to stick with the people they love through thick and thin, regardless of the circumstances at hand. This is one of the things that makes Greyhound owners so proud of them and it’s easily one of the reasons that people come back again and again when it comes to owning greyhounds. After they own their first one, they really can’t imagine not having one.
15. They were originally bred to chase deer
Most people only think of greyhounds running around a track chasing an imitation of a rabbit. Granted, that is exactly what most greyhounds are bred to do today but there was a time when they were actually bred to chase deer. This explains their speed. Any dog that’s been bred to successfully chase down a deer has to be fast, not to mention agile. As a matter of fact, greyhounds can run over virtually any type of terrain and they don’t have a problem clearing obstacles, either. That is one reason that owners keep such a close eye on them. If they manage to get out of the confines of their yard and they’re not attached to a leash, they can be completely out of sight in a matter of seconds. The problem is, a greyhound that is chasing something only focuses on what it is after. It may not realize exactly where it has run or how to get back after the fact.
16. They’re big dogs
While the greyhound is certainly not the largest dog in existence, they’re big enough. On average, most greyhounds tend to be right about three feet at the shoulder, so you can imagine how big this dog will be if it decides to stand up on its hind legs and put its paws on your shoulders. In addition, they usually weigh somewhere between 80 and 90 pounds. This is definitely big enough to knock you squarely off your feet if they run into you. While that’s not usually a problem, greyhound owners know that if the dog decides it wants to chase something, they have to get its attention fairly quickly because a dog that large running at 40 miles an hour can do a lot of damage to anything, or anyone, it crashes into.
17. They won’t think twice about running out into the road
Greyhounds are very smart, but they all seem to have something in common. They have absolutely no common sense when it comes to learning to avoid traffic. Greyhound owners frequently experience this problem and the only way to combat it is to make sure the dog is always in a fenced in yard or is always on a leash. Greyhounds are infamous for getting loose and the first place they go is right into the road. Sometimes it’s because they’re chasing something and sometimes it’s because they just seem to gravitate toward the most dangerous place they can possibly go. Either way, this can be tragic for the dog and the people that love it. That’s why greyhound owners don’t let their dogs run free off a leash. For them, it’s always a walk on a leash or running in a confined space.
18. They clear fences easily
As you might have guessed by now, greyhounds don’t have any trouble getting over a fence, either. People that own them know that in order to keep them confined, they need a fence that is about seven feet tall to ensure that the dog isn’t going to jump right over the top of it.
19. They’re sensitive dogs
Greyhounds, like whippets, are more sensitive than most other breeds. They have a tendency to jump if you touch them and they’re not expecting it and they like to be handled with a gentle touch. They’re highly sensitive to both the way that you physically touch them as well as the way you act towards them. They don’t like being yelled at or harshly criticized. When it comes to greyhounds, they respond much better to gentleness and patience. In fact, the gentler you are, the better your dog tends to respond. This is really true for all breeds, but it’s especially true for greyhounds.
20. They need to live indoors
This one usually shocks people that don’t spend a lot of time with greyhounds. Again, it comes back to people thinking about them running around the track. They do like to run, but they also like to spend most of their time inside with their people. Greyhound owners know that they would far prefer to curl up on a soft bed and sleep or snuggle with their favorite person as opposed to doing much of anything else.