When people think of greyhounds, they tend to think of extremely fast racing dogs chasing artificial rabbits around a track. Few people think of greyhounds as pets, and that is too bad, because they make excellent companions.
Most greyhounds are either not fast enough for a career at the races, or reach retirement at around five years of age. A small percentage will go to stud, race overseas, or retire with their owner. Of the rest, the lucky ones will be fostered out and then rehomed.
There are non-profit organisations that aim to place retired greyhounds into homes, such as the Greyhound Adoption Program (GAP NSW), and Greyhound Rescue. They usually place the greyhounds into foster homes, where the dogs learn how to adapt to living in a home. They introduce the greyhound to new experiences such as stairs, different floor surfaces, glass windows/doors, household noises, toilet training, etc. They assess the dog’s suitability to be rehomed, then place them with new owners.
Greyhounds and cats can be good friends.
Greyhound males weigh from about 30-36 kg, and are 67-72 cm in height at the shoulder. Females are smaller and can weigh between 22-30 kg, with a height of 62-68 cm. Greyhounds usually live to between 10 and 14 years of age.
They are low maintenance dogs. Their very fine, soft, and short coats don’t smell, are low-allergenic, and are easy to brush. They are intelligent, docile, and placid, and contrary to what most people think they don’t need a lot of exercise. They love lounging around the house and are happy to snooze for most of the day.
Greyhounds love to nap and make surprisingly good apartment dogs.
One or two twenty minute walks on the lead will make them happy; they don’t need to be exercised a lot at all. It is best to keep them on a lead at all times, unless in a fully fenced-off and secure area, as they don’t have any road sense, are very fast, and can easily be distracted and run off after something they see in the distance.
Greyhounds have a beautiful temperament; they are very gentle and placid. They are not barkers, and are not suited to being watch dogs. They find it difficult to sit, and rather either stand or lie down.
In NSW, all greyhounds need to be muzzled in public places unless they have passed the ”Greenhound Program”. A Greenhound is a greyhound that has successfully completed an approved greyhound re-training program and has passed the required assessment. Greenhounds do not need muzzling as long as they are wearing their green collar and are leashed under control of a responsible person. This only applies in NSW.
Greenhound collars mark well-trained Greyhounds in NSW.
Greyhounds are a breed without too many health problems. Unlike many other purebreds, they have been selectively bred for speed and performance, rather than for appearance alone. Therefore problems like hip dysplasia, skin allergies, heart and respiratory problems, and other issues common in purebreds are rare with greyhounds.
They do have a few special differences, compared to other dog breeds. For example, greyhounds can be more susceptible to complications from certain insecticidal treatments and certain anaesthetics. Therefore it is important to make sure your vet is familiar with the breed.
Because of their lack of body fat and undercoat and thin skin, they are very sensitive to more extreme temperatures. They need warm coats in winter, plenty of shade and water in the summer, and soft bedding to keep them healthy.
They can be prone to dental disease, and dental homecare is advised.
Greyhounds can develop “bloat”, a condition where the stomach first expands with gas and fluid, then can twist on its long axis, this is life threatening. All dogs can get bloat, but deep chested dogs like greyhounds are more prone. Exercise after dinner can increase the risk.
Overall, the Greyhound makes a lovely pet. They are low maintenance, very affectionate, non-destructive, quiet, generally healthy, and suitable for apartment living despite their size.
Greyhound can be very affectionate pets.
“Mischa”, Dr. Jackie’s 8-year-old Greyhound.