The greyhound is a dog breeds of hunting dog that has been primarily bred for coursing game and racing, but with a recent resurgence of popularity increasingly as a pedigree show dog and family pet. It is a gentle and intelligent breed that often becomes attached to its owners. A combination of long, powerful legs, deep chest, flexible spine and slim build allow it to reach average race speed speeds of in excess of 18 meters per second (59 feet per second) or 65 kilometres per hour (40 mph).

Greyhound Appearance

Males are usually 71 to 76 centimetres (28 to 30 in) tall at the withers and weigh around 27 to 40 kilograms (60 to 88 lb). Females tend to be smaller with shoulder heights ranging from 68 to 71 centimetres (27 to 28 in) and weights from less than 27 to 34 kilograms (60 to 75 lb). Greyhounds have very short hair, which is easy to maintain. There are approximately thirty recognized color forms, of which variations of white, brindle, fawn, black, red and blue (gray) can appear uniquely or in combination.

Greyhound Anatomy

The key to the speed of a greyhound can be found in its light but muscular build, largest heart, and highest percentage of fast-twitch muscle of any breed, the double suspension gallop and the extreme flexibility of the spine. "Double suspension rotary gallop" describes the fastest running gait of the greyhound in which all four feet are free from the ground in two phases, contracted and extended, during each full stride.

Greyhound Temperament

Although greyhounds are extremely fast and athletic, and despite their reputation as racing dogs, they are not high-energy dogs. In fact, a typical greyhound race lasts only 30-35 seconds. They are therefore sprinters, and although they love running short distances, they do not require extensive exercise. Most are quiet, gentle, affectionate animals. They do require enough exercise to keep them healthy both mentally and physically, with regular walks and occasional trips to the dog park. Greyhounds are referred to as "Forty-five mile per hour couch potatoes."


Aside from professional racing, many greyhounds enjoy success on the amateur race track. Organizations like the Large Gazehound Racing Association (LGRA) and the National Oval Track Racing Association (NOTRA) provide opportunities for greyhounds and other sighthound breeds to compete in amateur racing events all over the United States.


The original function of greyhounds, both in the British Isles and on the Continent of Europe was in the coursing of deer, much later they specialized as competition hare coursing dogs. Some greyhounds still fulfil their live coursing function, although artificial lure sports like lure coursing and racing are far more common and popular.

However to many purest breeders of racing greyhounds the sport of coursing is still vitally important.This is the case particularly in Ireland where many of the world’s leading breeders are based. A bloodline that has produced a champion on the live hare coursing field is often crossed with track lines in order to keep the early pace (i.e. speed over first 100 yards) that greyhounds are renowned for prominent in the line. Many of the leading sprinters over 300 yards to 550 yards will have bloodlines that can be traced back through Irish sires within a few generations that won events such as the Irish Coursing Derby or the Irish Cup. In Ireland the ICC (Irish Coursing Club) oversees about 80 live hare coursing meetings per year. Both the American Kennel Club and the American Sighthound Field Association sponsor lure coursing events in North America.

Greyhounds as pets

Greyhound owners and adoption groups generally consider greyhounds to be wonderful pets. They are pack-oriented dogs, which means that they will quickly adopt humans into their pack as alpha. They can get along well with children, dogs and other family pets. Retired racing greyhounds occasionally develop separation anxiety when re-housed or when their new owners have to leave them alone for a period of time (the addition of a second greyhound often solves this problem).

Greyhounds bark very little, which helps in suburban environments, and are usually as friendly to strangers as they are with their own family. The most common misconception concerning greyhounds is that they are hyperactive. In retired racing greyhounds it is usually the opposite. Young greyhounds that have never been taught how to utilize the energy they are bred with, can be hyperactive and destructive if not given an outlet, and require more experienced handlers. Rescued Greyhounds, however, have been taught to chase after small, furry things, and may be confused or need guidance on how to deal with small animals such as kittens, rabbits, and other small furry objects.

At the race track, greyhounds are housed in crates for upwards of 20 hours per day, and most know of no other way of life than to remain in a crate the majority of the day. Retired racers therefore make excellent pets, because crating them (even in small apartments) is usually quite easy.

Greyhound adoption groups generally require owners to keep their greyhounds on-leash at all times, except in fully enclosed areas. This is due to their prey-drive, their speed, and the assertion that greyhounds have no road sense. Due to their strength, adoption groups recommend that fences be between 4 and 6 feet, to prevent them being able to jump.

Greyhounds do shed but do not have undercoats and therefore are less likely to trigger people's dog allergies (they are sometimes incorrectly referred to as "hypoallergenic"). The lack of an undercoat, coupled with a general lack of body fat, also makes greyhounds more susceptible to extreme temperatures, and most sources recommend that greyhounds be housed inside.

Greyhounds are very sensitive to insecticides. Many vets do not recommend the use of flea collars or flea spray on greyhounds unless it is a pyrethrin-based product. Products like Advantage, Frontline, Lufenuron, and Amitraz are safe for use on greyhounds and are very effective in controlling fleas and ticks.

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