Greyhound Temperament & Personality
Despite being a high-energy breed, greyhounds have a sweet temperament and a noble, gentle personality. Beneath their elegant build lies a soul of a “40 mph couch potato” that finds contentment in sleeping. They are not as intimidating as their large size looks. Greyhounds are affectionate dogs who can adapt to almost any style of living, from city apartments to country-side homes.
Apart from that, they are also the so-called “sprinting champions” in the world of dogs. Because of this, greyhounds became the center of attraction in history. Many royalties, artists, and poets have been fascinated by the breed. From their perfectly-structured lean shape to their high-speed sprinting drive, greyhounds have become the model that other hounds should follow.
Majority of the breed are former dog racers. As a matter of fact, there is a bigger number of ex-racer dogs in households than those who are current racers. Most pet owners find interest in adopting dogs that are retired track racers. There are fewer greyhound breeders than those who raise ex-racers as the latter are in need of pet parents.
You might want this kind of dog. The breed can be the perfect fit for you. Consider adopting and foster parenting now!
- AKC Breed Popularity: 145th of 196
- Height: 28-30 inches (males), 27-28 inches (females)
- Weight: 65-70 pounds (males), 60-65 pounds (females)
- Life Span: 10 to 13 years
- Group: Hound
- Suitable for beginner pet owners
- Easy to train
- Physically active
- Lower drooling potential
- Hassle-free grooming
- Non-hypoallergenic breed
- Quiet, gentle dog
- Affectionate to family
Greyhounds have a distinctive, strong build perfect for sprinting – from their narrow waist to their long head and neck.
The muscular, streamlined body has a smooth and short coat that makes it easy to groom and maintain. Although the breed name has “grey”, its coat has color variations such as brindle, gray, white, red, and fawn. With their short coat, they virtually have little to no fat in the body. So when raising this breed, owners should be mindful of soft areas where they can rest; otherwise, pressure sores may develop.
Size, Height, Weight
In general, greyhounds stand tall. Their height typically ranges from 26 to 30 inches which makes them look big. But they are not intimidating in reality. They slightly differ in terms of weight. Male Greyhounds weigh 65 to 70 pounds while females weigh less than the males at about 60 to 65 pounds.
Some people may see greyhounds as the scary type of dogs. Actually, they are quieter and gentler than they look, and have a pleasant disposition. But since they were initially bred as hunters and runners, greyhounds tend to be aggressive towards prey-looking animals, especially the smaller ones. Because of their strong desire to chase prey, they might not be the right breed for you if you have smaller pets at home. Even if they are naturally gentle, it is necessary to oversee their natural instinct to hunt in order to prevent accidents with others.
However, their aggressiveness does not extend towards children. They are often tolerant and would normally turn away rather than growl when annoyed. When they are resting from exercise or training, they find comfort in sleeping. In fact, they are not high-endurance dogs and need less time to exercise than other breeds. When they stay indoors, greyhounds would rather be lazy, social, and calm.
Also, it is important to not leave them alone inside the house for hours and have them accompanied by a family member as they are sensitive to loneliness. Greyhounds are also affectionate dogs, especially with their human family, though usually indifferent towards strangers. Socializing with different people and animals should be part of their training.
Being the “cheetahs” of the dog kingdom, greyhounds are energetic dogs and need lots of activities. Even though they enjoy sleeping and resting on the couch during the day, they have an innate energy and speed, especially when something catches their attention like a prey. With this, Greyhounds need exercise regularly and chances to run at full capacity. They should only be restraint-free when inside a strongly fenced yard as their urge to run after a prey may be stronger.
When putting a greyhound to training, it is important to understand the origins of their temperament genetically. As a coursing or sighthound, they were bred to go after something through the sense of sight rather than by smell. They are independent thinkers who can make their own decisions compared to other breeds that need instructions under training. During their puppyhood, Greyhounds should be taught how to socialize with other animals and kids. You can enroll then in short, sweet training classes to keep them from being bored. Never put them in harsh training as they need to be handled gently due to their sensitive personality. Greyhounds are more motivated to do activities together with non-assertive owners.
The story of Greyhounds can be traced back 5,000 years ago in Egypt. This is even before dog-like creatures and men-chasing games were depicted in early cave drawings and artifacts.
There are many versions of the origin of the greyhound’s name. One explanation suggests that the first greyhounds were mostly coated with color gray. Another suggestion says that their name originated from the combination of the Old English words “grei” and “hundr”, meaning dog and hunter respectively. It was also believed that the Greeks brought the dogs to England, which gave birth to the term “Greekhound”.
Regardless of their name’s origin, greyhounds in the present day are the same elegant dogs portrayed in the history of literature and art. They were connected with the royalties. As a matter of fact, an English law mandated that persons who are “mean” have no right to raise a greyhound.
Pharaohs that time owned hounds that were trained to hunt, run after, catch, and even kill fast-running wildlife in Egyptian deserts. To the subjects of the pharaoh, the exceptional beauty of greyhounds was a symbol of their ruler’s divine majesty. Then, nobles from the Macedonia of Alexander the Great to the Moscow of the Tsars, owned elegant hounds that made them look nobler.
For many years, greyhounds were raised to chase and hunt their prey. Being high-speed runners, they can sprint over a speed of 40 miles per hour. Aside from being sprinters, they are also known for their grace and athletic side that can anticipate the prey’s every move.
With gentle handling and breeding, greyhounds can be the most affectionate, intelligent buddies for life. They can also enter racing and dog shows with their lean beauty. But in the past, they became mostly home pets, especially the ex-racers, as they have a pleasant disposition.
Although greyhounds can be prone to a few health problems, they are overall healthy breeds. Like any other dogs with deep chests, greyhounds are vulnerable to gastric torsion and bloat. Gastric torsion is a life-threatening and abrupt stomach enlargement that comes, in some instances, with twisting. It is necessary for pet owners to be aware of the signs of bloat. If symptoms persist, they should immediately seek medical help. There is also a health condition that seems to be common among greyhounds. It is called greyhound neuropathy. Other health problems include eye and cardiac conditions. It is important to make sure that the breeder you are planning to buy from ensures the conditions of the breed through undergoing some health exams.
Here are some health tests recommended by the National Breed Club:
- Cardiac Exam
- Ophthalmologist Evaluation
- Greyhound Polyneuropathy NDRG1 DNA Test
How to Take Care of Greyhounds
Greyhounds are sighthounds. This means they have a strong drive to chase. However, there is still a possibility that they can live together with other pets. Just put in mind that there is a regular training for socialization. With that, greyhounds can be the perfect family dog as it is both clean and streamlined.
When it comes to cleaning them, you do not have to worry about shedding as they are on average level and have a short coat that doesn’t need intense grooming.
If you are planning to take your dog out fo a walk or run, make sure to bring him to a safe place. Long hours of exercise are not necessary unlike what most people assume. Actually, these dogs are sleepers, making them couch potatoes. They are a friendly breed that can be very affectionate towards your family.
Nutrition and Feeding
Feed your greyhound with high-quality dog food that suits his age – puppy, adult, or senior. These dogs usually need high quantities of protein and calories more than some dogs do. You can also feed them with human food that are safe for them. Most importantly, consult with a vet on your dog’s diet, weight, and overall health.
Remember that dogs with large appetites get benefits from a varied balanced diet that includes vitamins and minerals. As for greyhounds, smaller and more frequent feeding can lessen the risk of stomach problems and bloating.
Coat Color and Grooming Needs
One good thing about adopting greyhounds is that they are easy to groom. Brushing them weekly using a rubber curry brush or a hound mitt would suffice for their grooming needs. This can help take away dead hair and spread skin oils that make a shiny coat. It also keeps the dog’s hair off the clothing, floor, and furniture. Of course, you need to give them baths whenever needed. But, if you do well in brushing, your greyhound would not need regular baths.
For the rest of the grooming needs, you only need basic care. You can start with a hand glove or damp cloth to do rubdowns. Trim their nails also whenever necessary, especially when worn out easily. Long nails can bring discomfort to your dog. Most owners trim their greyhound’s nails every after a few weeks. Remember that greyhounds are sensitive dogs, so make sure to be gentle when grooming them, especially when it comes to trimming. Be careful not to cut too quickly and deeply as their nails have blood vessels. Once they have a painful experience, it will be hard for them to forget about it, and may behave aggressively during the next trimming session.
Brushing your dog’s teeth on a regular basis is also important for sweet breath and overall condition. Use a toothpaste that is specially designed for dogs. Greyhounds, particularly track dogs, are prone to periodontal disease. To lower the risk of dental disease, brush your dog’s teeth regularly and have a veterinarian perform a check up.
It is also important to check on their ears weekly to free them from debris or wax buildup. This may cause infection so clean your dog’s ears when necessary.
Children and Other Pets
Typically, many dogs are seen as children-friendly animals. However, the interaction between dogs and children still depends on how they were trained to approach each other. Each of them should be taught to respect and get along with each other safely. Additionally, kids should not be left alone with dogs. There should always be supervision in all of the two parties’ interactions to avoid harm and accidents.
When faced with other dogs, greyhounds, the track dogs in particular, can be unpredictable at times. This is understandable because it is not always that they come across other types of dogs. If you are taking care of other breeds of dogs or cats, understand your situation properly by discussing it with a greyhound breeder group to ensure that you are suitable to raise a greyhound.
Greyhounds that were once racers have all types of experiences that make them good companions once they retire from racing on tracks. It is nothing new for them to be transported, crated, and to interact with strangers. They rarely feel nervous and unstable when in unfamiliar situations. It is because groups that take care of the adoption of greyhounds make sure that their dogs battle initial fright on new situations before putting them into a new household.
There are some dogs from this breed that have never experienced loneliness or being alone. This makes them comfortable whenever there are other dogs in the house. But they might also suffer from anxiety when separated from their owners. Include this aspect when discussing with the group that handles the adoption. This will help you decide if the dog you will adopt can fit with your way of living.
Begin your dog’s training the moment you bring him to your home when he’s still a puppy. Even at an age as young as eight weeks, he can already soak up all the things you will train him with. Do not wait for months to pass by until he is older or it you will have difficulty in dealing with his strong will.
As much as possible, enroll him in a kindergarten class for puppies when he is at least 10-12 weeks old. This can be a good training for socialization. But bear in mind that a lot of training classes for puppies need certain up-to-date vaccines such as for kennel cough. Many vets highly suggest limiting the exposure of your dog to the public and other dogs until vaccines such as parvovirus, distemper, and rabies have been taken completely. In line with trainings that are formal, you may start at home by engaging him with other family members and friends to practice his socialization skills.
You don’t have to worry if you are planning to adopt dogs from a breed rescue group or a shelter as there are so many available options. Here is how you can start.
- Use websites
- Websites such as the Adopt-a-Pet.com and Petfinder.com can help you search for a greyhound in your area as fast as possible. These sites will ask for your specific requests (feeding needs, for instance) for the Greyhounds in your country area. You can visit AnimalShelter to look for rescue organizations. There are also available sections for “pets looking for homes” in local newspapers.
- Another good way to look for a dog to adopt is by scrolling through social media platforms. You can post on Facebook about your interest in the breed in order for a large audience to help you find one for you.
2. Talk to Local Experts
- Engage in chitchats with pet enthusiasts in your area regarding your interest in greyhounds. They can be groomers, vets, and dog walkers. When facing a dilemma on making a decision about letting a dog go, that pet pro will ask for opinions from reliable associates.
3. Reach Out to Breed Rescue
- Many people who adore Greyhounds love all types of Greyhounds. This is why breeder clubs are associated with rescue organizations who are compassionate in caring for homeless breeds. You can go to the Greyhound Club of America’s Rescue Network to ask help in looking for a dog that can become the right buddy for your family. You can also go online to search for other rescue groups for greyhounds in your place.
- The best thing about groups that rescue breeds is their knowledge and advice on the dog’s health conditions. Oftentimes, they also offer adoption opportunities. With this, you could take a greyhound home so you will have an idea on the experience of fostering one.
4. Key Questions to Ask
You are now aware of the topics to talk with a breeder. However, it is also important to seek answers to these questions from a staff of a shelter or a rescue group. Here are some:
- What is the dog’s level of energy?
- How does he behave around other pets?
- How does he behave towards visitors, children, shelter workers, and strangers in general?
- What kind of personality does he have?
- How old is he?
- Was he trained in the house?
- Did he ever bite anyone?
- Does he have health condition problems?
Regardless of where you bought your greyhound from, ensure a good contract with the breeder, seller, rescue group, or shelter that explains both sides’ responsibilities. For instance, an Adopters Bill of Rights is offered by Petfinder that you understand the appropriate and normal things for your dogs once you take them home. Make sure that you and the staff who handles the adoption process understands your recourses and rights.
Whether you got your pet as a puppy or adult, take him to a veterinarian right after the adoption. The veterinarian can tell problems and advise you in setting up a regimen to prevent any more health condition issues.
Reach these organizations to connect with other people who adore greyhounds as you do.
- Greyhound Club of America
- AKC Breed Clubs
More about the Breed
- AKC recognized greyhounds in 1885 together with 14 other breeds.
- Greyhounds are the racehorses in the dog world with their fast running speed.
- Theories about the origins of the name “greyhound” suggest Graius which means Grecian, the old British dog, and the past gray dominance.
- Greyhounds were the first ones to appear in American shows and have 18 entries in the catalog of Westminster Kennel Club in 1877.
- General George A. Custer was one of the most celebrated greyhound owners in history. He was known for coursing hounds and traveled with a pack of hounds at about 40.
- The natural quarry of greyhounds are the hares.
- The Tomb of Amtem in the Valley of Nile had the first knowledge on Greyhounds. Egyptologists regard this as part of the Fourth Dynasty that reigned from 2900 to 2751 BC in modern technology.
- The United States’ 19th President, Rutherford B. Hayes owned a greyhound he called Grim.
- The greyhound has small ears; dark eyes; a narrow, long head; a muscular, long neck that is arched slightly; a muscular, broad back; a fine, tapering, long tail; a smooth, short coat in any pattern or color; and a deep chest.
Pet, H. (n.d.). Greyhound Dog Breed Information and Personality Traits. Retrieved from Hill’s Pet: https://www.hillspet.com/dog-care/dog-breeds/greyhound
Time, D. (n.d). Greyhound. Retrieved from DogTime: https://dogtime.com/dog-breeds/greyhound#/slide/1