Wise. It’s how I’d describe most greyhounds I’ve met. They seem to understand things in a way that defies science and logic… kinda freaky!
They’re also the fastest dog in the world. To pick a winner, greyhounds can reach running speeds of 35 miles per hour. Not bad when they go in for the commercial sport of racing.
When is a Dog Not A Dog?
“You’re sure this is actually a dog?”
Yes, you’ll even hear vets and techies joke that greyhounds aren’t dogs. Well no, they’re not actually a separate species! But they do have some one-of-a-kind traits that set them apart from other breeds.
Studies show the physical make up of the greyhound is unique. And you even need specialized info to work with these beautiful animals.
Greyhounds are sighthounds.
This is a group of dogs first bred to hunt and chase down prey. Greyhounds use their keen eyesight to hunt. They can detect their quarry at a great distance. Whereas other breeds hunt by smell (eg the beagle and coonhound).
Why the Long Face?
A greyhound can see better because of their skull shape and the placement of their eyes.
Normally, a dog’s eyes are close together. This gives depth perception, but limits peripheral (or side) vision.
Compare that to us mere mortals who can only see 180 degrees around!
Size it up. (Squirrel) Take action. (Chase)
Greyhounds can size up a situation and make choices by themselves, without being given a command.
Coursing for hunting
Independent thinking could have developed over thousands of years. This is because greyhounds have been trained in coursing, a method of hunting. Coursing asks the dog to make its own judgments on how to:
- Run down
- Retrieve prey
The Brainy Ones
Research shows that greyhounds have larger brains than other domestic dogs. Their brains are closer in size to a wolf!
Whatever the reason, there’s no doubt that greyhounds are an extremely intelligent breed.
Blood donors wanted?
Greyhounds make great blood donors because they have more red blood cells!
More red blood cells mean more oxygen sent to muscle tissues. So this could be a reason why greyhounds are superior athletes.
No paws for alarm
If you didn’t know any better you’d be worried…
So only use vets familiar with greyhounds, who know the difference!
We don’t want to think about it.
But we may face a time when anesthesia becomes necessary. A greyhound may have difficulty with anesthesia because their liver isn’t as able to break down some drugs.
So we always need to consult a vet who works especially with greyhounds.
Mars the Therapy Greyhound
The wisest dog I ever knew was a greyhound named Mars
He’d sit perfectly still and patiently watch me, his vet. No matter what I did. It might have been drawing blood, cleaning his ears or trimming his toenails.
Then, he’d hold up one paw for his reward.
Mars was a retired racing dog. He found a new life, living in the country. Mars became a wonderful companion for a woman with Alzheimer’s. He was calm, reserved and lived to please.
Mars just “knew” things
The live-in caretaker was amazed by how Mars just “knew” things. He would even wake the caretaker whenever his human was wandering around in the middle of the night.
Mars went on to spend many years taking care of his human. He always made her happy, even on days when she didn’t remember him!
Wanted: Touchy-Feely Dogs
4 Traits to look for in a Therapy Dog
Therapy organizations screen, train and certify therapy dogs.
Some dogs, like Mars, naturally have the ideal traits:
- Like to be touched
- Confident and calm in unfamiliar surroundings
- Don’t bark excessively without good reason
- Don’t have many fears or phobias
Meeting the Criteria
A greyhound is naturally quiet. They are smart, loving and gentle. Yes they do have a playful side! But you will often find greyhounds sleep more hours during the day than other dogs.
Emotional Support Dogs
Greyhounds are super helpful as Emotional Support for:
- Dementia patients
- Those with intellectual and physical special needs
- People suffering from PTSD or other trauma-related conditions
- Those with depressive disorders
Greyhounds have intelligence and a sense of duty. This is why you’ll find these dogs working in:
- Nursing homes
- Rehabilitation centers
- Assisted living facilities
No Mean Gene
Greyhounds are a great choice for families too.
They’re a stellar therapy dog. It’s these same qualities that make them perfect for small kids too. They just don’t have that mean gene.
But sure, they might not be the best guard dogs!
5 Tips for a Greyhound’s Exercise Needs
- Greyhounds are built for bursts of speed over a short distance.
- They don’t need much exercise
- Greyhounds just need to be able to get out and run for a brief time
- A fenced yard is ideal
- It’s best if the fence is tall enough to stop them from jumping over.
What if your other Dog is a Toy Poodle?
Greyhounds are a breed with a strong prey drive.
So what if your other dog is a toy poodle?
You may need to have caution if another pet is small enough to be mistaken as prey! Especially if you’re adopting a greyhound that has been raced.
2 Tips for Greyhounds Living with other Pets
- Cats and pet rabbits will need to be kept separated, until your dog is trained to live with them. If it runs, a greyhound will most likely chase it!
- Do free-roaming cats in your area stray into your yard? You may need to give your neighbors a heads up.
Other dog breeds often face skeletal problems, like hip dysplasia.
BUILT FOR SPEED
What allows a greyhound to reach such astonishing speeds?
- Supple spine
- Flexible joints
- Slim build
Risk of Bone Cancer in Greyhounds
Bone cancer (or osteosarcoma) is one of the most serious health risks greyhounds face. This may be found on the long bones of the legs.
Symptoms of Bone Cancer can include:
- Possible swelling.
Treatment options for Bone Cancer in Dogs
Treatment varies, depending on how advanced the cancer is. Survival statistics are improving! There are many studies exploring new treatments.
Yes it’s heartbreaking to consider.
But for now, it’s common for these dogs to undergo chemotherapy and limb amputation.
Friends with Special Needs
It’s a horrible thing, to face the decision to remove a dog’s leg. But most dogs seem to do quite well. They happily hop along on three legs – leaving the worrying to their owners!
3 Issues an Amputee will Face
- Climbing stairs
- Walking long distances
- The opposite healthy leg now bears double the weight. So that leg may get tired more easily.
2 Types of Mobility Devices for Dogs
Mobility devices can be a huge help. There are two main types:
1. Wheeled carts
- Like a wheelchair for a person
- Can be placed either in front of the dog, or behind.
2. Manual slings
- Used underneath the dog
- Have a handle for you to help support the weight
- Most useful for dogs with rear limb amputations
- Good for helping an amputee up the stairs.
A Greyhound to Call Your Own
Are you thinking of bringing one of these magnificent dogs into your family?
You can find greyhounds through a few different sources:
- Many greyhounds come to people’s homes from the dog racing industry.
- You can also buy puppies from private breeders, but they may be quite a distance away. Unless you live in Florida!
NEWS FLASH: Off the Track!
Florida is the biggest dog racing state. But from December 2020, they will be starting to ban the sport!
Breed Rescues Needing a Home
In states where racing is legal, there are still many dogs in need of a home. Right from puppies through to retired veterans.
- Some dogs just don’t “have what it takes” to win
- Some greyhounds are seen as “unsuitable” for race training
- Many are the “leftover” brothers or sisters from a litter.
National Greyhound Association
Puppy registration and ownership transfers are handled by the National Greyhound Association (NGA).
- Breed rescues often work in partnership with racetracks.
- You can search the internet with your state and the keywords “greyhound adoption.“
The American Kennel Club
The American Kennel Club, or AKC, also registers greyhound puppies. AKC places more emphasis on conformation than speed. The breed standard is taller and more angular than NGA registered dogs.
The Greyhound Club of America
The Greyhound Club of America is a national affiliate of the AKC who:
- Maintain a breeder referral list
- Host several shows throughout the year.
Titles and Awards for Greyhounds
The Greyhound Club of America also have titles and awards for specialty skills awarded through the AKC:
- Lure coursing
- Tracking etc.
3 Tips when Shopping for a Greyhound Puppy
1. Ask for a history of bone cancer (osteosarcoma)
As many as 55% of cases have some kind of genetic link.
2. Don’t pick a puppy based on price
Breeders will often have different prices for puppies in the same litter. It may be a good idea to actually go see the puppies. Then you can choose the one with the personality and traits that best suit your needs.
3. Know your goal
Do you want to compete in dog shows? Then you’ll really need a puppy that conforms to ideal AKC standards.
Or are you just looking for a family pet? Then you’ll have more options.
THE TAIL END
Greyhounds are a breed set apart. They’re incredibly gentle, intelligent souls who we can’t help but love. You’ll be truly thankful for this companion to share your life’s journey – the wise greyhound!