Breed At A Glance


Quiet, gentle and surpringly low energy

Life Expectancy
10-12 years

Average Height
Males 28-30 inches; Females 27-28 inches

Average Weight
Males 65-70 lbs; Females 60-65 lbs

Coat Color
Varies widely

Coat Length/Texture
Smooth and short, with no undercoat

Shedding Propensity
Consistent year round

Also known as English Greyhound

General Temperament

The Greyhound is a reserved and quiet breed, and for the most part, they are gentle and even-tempered. They bond well with family members and are friendly with strangers; in fact, they rarely even bark, making them unsuitable as watchdogs. Greyhounds are highly intelligent and function best within a well-established daily routine. They are also very sensitive, and although they generally do well with other dogs and children, they do not like to roughhouse and as such may not do well with small children. Rescued Greyhounds (that is, Greyhounds rescued from being euthanized after their racing career has ended) can sometimes develop separation anxiety when first introduced to their new families or when they are left alone for long periods. In many cases, the addition of a second Greyhound can help tremendously. Proper socialization during puppyhood is essential for a Greyhound’s confidence and to prevent timidity or nervousness.

Despite their racing and coursing history, Greyhounds are quite lazy indoors. They are sometimes described as “40 mile-per-hour couch potatoes.” They are sprinters by nature and can be perfectly happy with a simple 30 minute walk or jog every day, making them adequate apartment dogs. In fact, they are often better suited for apartment dwelling than some of the more active small breeds. The hunting instinct in this breed is quite strong and individuals have been known to take off after any small and quick-moving prey on a moment’s notice. For this reason, it is suggested that they always be kept on a leash when not in a fenced enclosure, and such enclosures should be at least 4-6 feet tall. Additionally, they often will see smaller house pets (cats, rabbits, etc.) as prey.

Given their intelligence and sensitivity, Greyhounds need gentle and consistent training techniques. They will become skittish and neurotic if the training is aggressive or heavy-handed. Retired racing Greyhounds are usually easy to housebreak, as they are already crate-trained prior to becoming a part of the family.

Breed History

The history of the Greyhound spans the globe and goes back thousands of years. Bas-relief on ancient Egyptian tombs built as far back as 4000 BC depict smooth-coated Salukis that looks very similar to the modern Greyhound. The breed also appears in various Celtic, British, Irish, and Scottish pictures and literature dating from the 9th Century. The Greyhound was also developed as a sight hunter in the arid and semi-arid lands of North Africa and the Middle East, and the Arabs selectively bred him for increased speed. In America, Greyhounds can be traced back to the 1500’s, brought in by Spanish explorers.

Throughout the years, it was used on practically all kinds of small and large game, from foxes to deer, but the hare is the Greyhound’s natural prey. The English sport of coursing (hunting by sight instead of scent) has roots in ancient Greece, and is a sport valued for the contest more than the catching of the prey. This led to the wagering sport of Greyhound racing when the mechanical rabbit was invented in 1912.

Body Structure and Composition

The Greyhound is a sleek, contoured dog built for speed with a very deep chest and a flexible, curved spine. The head is long and the muzzle quite tapered. The extraordinarily deep chest allows for greater heart and lung capacity during sprints. Additionally, a Greyhound’s nostrils are larger than in other breeds, making breathing easier during said sprints. The front legs are straight, and the hindquarters are very powerful and muscular. Greyhound tails are long and carried low, and have a slight upward curve at the end.

Medical Information

Hereditary illnesses are rare in Greyhounds, although their lean physique and thin skin can be somewhat problematic for the breed. They are sensitive to anesthesia as well as insecticides, including flea collars and flea sprays (products such as Advantage, Frontline, Lufenuron, and Amitraz are safe to use to control fleas and ticks). Sleeping on hard surfaces can be uncomfortable, and without soft bedding, Greyhounds are prone to develop painful skin sores.

A Greyhound’s deep chest makes them quite susceptible to bloat, also known as Gastric Dilation Volvulus (or GDV). Excess gas can become trapped in the dog’s stomach, causing “bloat” or distention of the stomach and chest cavity. In some cases, the stomach can also become twisted (volvulus or “torsion”), which either causes or is caused by the bloat. GDV is an emergency condition requiring immediate veterinary treatment. It is suggested that serving the dog two or three smaller meals per day from a raised platform, as opposed to one large meal in a bowl on the floor, can help to prevent this condition.

The combination of minimal fat, thin skin, and no undercoat makes life in extreme temperatures (both hot and cold) unpleasant for the Greyhound. They can do well in colder climates if they wear a sweater, but should generally be considered “indoor dogs” as a general rule in all climates.

Anecdotal Information

A widely recognized greyhound in popular culture is the fictional character Santa’s Little Helper from the animated series The Simpsons. Homer Simpson reluctantly adopts the dog after losing a bet on him at the local dog track.

Greyhound Bus Lines has used the dog as it’s namesake since 1926, connoting the speed at which they can get their customers to their destination.

The Greyhound is the mascot of several colleges and universities in the United States, including the University of Indianapolis, Loyola College, Eastern New Mexico University, and Moravian College.

A racing Greyhound named “Mick the Miller” was the first to win the English Derby in successive years, and the first greyhound to run a 525 yard course in under 30 seconds.

A Greyhound named Cindy earned Guinness World Record’s Highest Jump by a Dog by clearing a 5.5 foot hurdle.

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