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Other names English greyhound
Country of origin See History section
Weight Male 65-70 pounds
Female 60-65
Height Male 27 to 29 inches
Female 25 to 27 inches
Coat Fine, smooth
Litter size 6-8 pups
Life span 12-15 years

The greyhound is a breed 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 soft and intelligent breed that often becomes attached to its owners. It is the fastest breed of dog.[1] A combination of long, powerful legs, deep chest, flexible spine and slim build allows it to reach speeds of around 70 kilometres per hour (43 mph).[2]




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.[3]


[[File:|thumb|Illustration of greyhound skeleton]] 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,[4][5] 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.[6]


Although greyhounds are extremely fast and athletic, and despite their reputation as racing dogs, they are not high-energy dogs. They are sprinters, and although they love running, they do not require extensive exercise. Most are quiet, gentle animals. An adult greyhound will stay healthy and happy with a daily walk of as little as 20 to 30 minutes. Greyhounds have been referred to as "Forty-five mile per hour couch potatoes."[7]



Until the early twentieth century, greyhounds were principally bred and trained for coursing. During the early 1920s, modern Greyhound racing was introduced into the United States and introduced into The United Kingdom (Belle Vue) in 1936 and Northern Ireland (Celtic Park) on April 18, 1927 and immediately followed by Shelbourne Park in Dublin very soon after.[citation needed] The greyhound holds the record for fastest recorded dog.

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[8][9]


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 specialised as competition hare coursing dogs[10]. Some greyhounds still fulfill their live coursing function, although artificial lure sports like lure coursing and racing are far more common and popular.

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.[11] 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.[12] Rescued 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).[13]

Greyhounds bark very little, which helps in suburban environments, and are usually as friendly to strangers as they are with their own family.[14] 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.[citation needed] 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.

Greyhound adoption groups generally require owners to keep their greyhounds on-leash at all times, except in fully enclosed areas.[15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22] This is due to their prey-drive, their speed, and the assertion that greyhounds have no road sense.[23] Due to their strength, adoption groups recommend that fences be between 4 and 6 feet, to prevent them being able to jump.[15]

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.[24] Greyhounds are one of the easiest dogs to take care of. They are extremely loyal and will only do what you tell them to do. If you were to take a greyhound for a walk, the greyhound would walk right next to you because of how they grew up. When in racing, greyhounds are trained to walk around in a circle next to their trainer for people to place bets on them. This is the reason why greyhounds are so loyal to their owners.

Greyhounds are very sensitive to insecticides.[25] 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.[26]

It is often believed that greyhounds need a large living space, however, they can thrive in small spaces. Due to their temperament, greyhounds can make better "apartment dogs" than some of the smaller hyperactive breeds[citation needed].


In the late 20th century several greyhound adoption groups were formed. The early groups were formed in large part out of a sense of concern about the treatment of the dogs while living on the track. These groups began taking greyhounds from the racetracks when they could no longer compete and placing them in adoptive homes.[citation needed] Prior to the formation of these groups, in the United States over 20,000 retired greyhounds a year were euthanized; recent estimates still number in the thousands, with about 90% of National Greyhound Association-registered animals either being adopted, or returned for breeding purposes (according to the industry numbers upwards of 2000 dogs are still killed annually in the US while anti-racing groups estimate the figure at closer to 12,000.).[27]

Accidents and disease are also common killers among racing greyhounds. In 2005, an epidemic of respiratory failure killed dozens of dogs and left over 1200 quarantined in the U.S., particularly in Massachusetts, Colorado, Iowa and Rhode Island[citation needed].

The vast majority of greyhounds in the USA are bred for racing (registered with the National Greyhound Association or NGA), leading American Kennel Club registered dogs about 150:1[citation needed]. Each NGA dog is issued a Bertillon card, which measures 56 distinct identifying traits with the Bertillon number tattooed on the dog's ear to prove identity during their racing career.[citation needed]

Not all dogs bred for racing are able to do so, due to speed, temperament, or physical problems. Most NGA greyhounds finish racing between two and five years of age. Some retired racing greyhounds have injuries that may follow them for the remainder of their lives, although the majority are healthy and can live long lives after their racing careers are over.[citation needed]

There are currently two online databases to easily lookup or search for all past and present registered dogs: and Dogs can be searched by their Bertillon number, race name, and other attributes. Data includes dog photos, race statistics, and pedigree.

Health and Physiology

Greyhounds are typically a healthy and long-lived breed, and hereditary illness is rare. Some greyhounds have been known to develop esophageal achalasia, bloat (gastric torsion), and osteosarcoma. Because the greyhound's lean physique makes it ill-suited to sleeping on hard surfaces, owners of companion greyhounds generally provide soft bedding; without bedding, greyhounds are prone to develop painful skin sores. The typical greyhound lifespan is 10 to 13 years.[28]

Due to the unique physiology and anatomy of greyhounds, a veterinarian who understands the issues relevant to the breed is generally needed when the dogs need treatment, particularly when anaesthesia is required. Greyhounds cannot metabolize barbiturate-based anesthesia as other breeds can because they have lower amounts of oxidative enzymes in their livers.[29] Greyhounds demonstrate unusual blood chemistry, which can be misread by veterinarians not familiar with the breed; this can result in an incorrect diagnosis.

Greyhounds have higher levels of red blood cells than other breeds. Since red blood cells carry oxygen to the muscles, this higher level allows the hound to move larger quantities of oxygen faster from the lungs to the muscles.[30] Greyhounds have lower levels of platelets than other breeds.[31] Veterinary blood services often use greyhounds as universal blood donors.[32]


's Night hunt (Ashmolean Museum)]] The breed's origin is romantically reputed to be connected to ancient Egypt, where depictions of smooth-coated sighthound types have been found which are typical of Saluki (Persian Greyhound) or Sloughi (tombs at Beni Hassan circa 2000BC). However, analyses of DNA reported in 2004 suggest that the Greyhound is not closely related to these Oriental breeds, but is a close relative to herding dogs.[33][34] Historical literature on the first sighthound in Europe (Arrian), the vertragus, the probable antecedent of the Greyhound, suggests that the origin is with the ancient Celts from Eastern Europe or Eurasia. All modern, purebred pedigree Greyhounds, are derived from the greyhound stock recorded and registered, firstly in the private 18th century then public 19th century studbooks, which ultimately were registered with Coursing, Racing, and Kennel Club authorities of the United Kingdom.

Historically, these sighthounds were used primarily for hunting in the open where their keen eyesight is valuable. It is believed that they (or at least similarly-named dogs) were introduced to the area now known as the United Kingdom in the 5th and 6th century BC from Celtic mainland Europe although the Picts and other hunter gatherer tribes of the Northern area (now known as Scotland) were believed to have had large hounds similar to that of the Deerhound before the 6th century BC.[citation needed]

The name "greyhound" is generally believed to come from the Old English grighund. "Hund" is the antecedent of the modern "hound", but the meaning of "grig" is undetermined, other than in reference to dogs in Old English and Norse. Its origin does not appear to have any common root with the modern word "grey" for color, and indeed the greyhound is seen with a wide variety of coat colors. It is known that in England during the medieval period, lords and royalty keen to own greyhounds for sport, requested they be bred to color variants that made them easier to view and identify in pursuit of their quarry.[citation needed] The lighter colors, patch-like markings and white appeared in the breed that was once ordinarily grey in color. The greyhound is the only dog mentioned by name in the Bible; the King James version names the Greyhound as one of the four things stately in the Proverbs.[35] However, in the modern version of the Bible this has been changed to strutting rooster, which appears to be a more correct translation of the Hebrew term זַרְזִיר (zarzir).

According to Pokorny[36] the English name "greyhound" does not mean "gray dog/hound", but simply "fair dog". Subsequent words have been derived from the Proto-Indo-European root *g'her- 'shine, twinkle': English gray, Old High German gris 'grey, old', Old Icelandic griss 'piglet, pig', Old Icelandic gryja 'to dawn', gryjandi 'morning twilight', Old Irish grian 'sun', Old Church Slavonic zorja 'morning twilight, brightness'. The common sense of these words is 'to shine; bright'.


Cultural references to greyhounds

Simpson's Santa's Little Helper

A widely recognized greyhound in popular culture is the fictional character Santa's Little Helper from the animated series The Simpsons.

The character, Santa's Little Helper, exhibits many of the intellectual and behavioral characteristics of the typical greyhound as a pet. He is portrayed as affectionate, tolerant of other household pets (notably cats), loyal, and not overly active.

Greyhound Bus

The Greyhound Bus Lines bus company, in keeping with their logo which sports a racing greyhound, occasionally airs television commercials starring a talking computer-generated greyhound. The greyhound in these commercial shorts is often noted for his dry, deadpan wit. In holiday season commercials, the greyhound also sings about fare discounts, the song being set to a Christmas carol.

  • In Animorphs, Eirc, when out of hologram, is described as 'a greyhound standing on hind legs.'


The greyhound is often used as a mascot by sports teams, both professional and amateur, as well as many college and high school teams.



  • Greyhound was the name of several roller coasters in the United States and Canada. None of these rides operate today.
  • In Australia, racing Greyhounds are commonly known in slang terminology as "Dish Lickers" (e.g., "I just won 50 bucks at the Dish Lickers").

See also


  1. ^ Breeds Of Dogs, Greyhound: General Description Of Breed
  2. ^
  3. ^ American Kennel Club - Breed Colors and Markings
  4. ^ Snow, D.H. and Harris R.C. "Thoroughbreds and Greyhounds: Biochemical Adaptations in Creatures of Nature and of Man" Circulation, Respiration, and Metabolism Berlin: Springer Verlag 1985
  5. ^ Snow, D.H. "The horse and dog, elite athletes - why and how?" Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 44 267 1985
  6. ^ Curtis M Brown. Dog Locomotion and Gait Analysis. Wheat Ridge, Colorado: Hoflin 1986 ISBN 0866670610
  7. ^ Friends of Greyhounds: Greyhound Rescue and Greyhound Adoption in South Florida FAQ. Accessed April 15, 2008
  8. ^ - Large Gazehound Racing Association
  9. ^ - National Oval Track Racing Association
  10. ^ see p.246 Turbervile: A short observation ... concerning coursing
  11. ^ NZKC - Breed Standard - Greyhound - Hound
  12. ^ Livingood, Lee (2000). Retired Racing Greyhounds for Dummies, p. 19-22. IDG Books Worldwide, Inc., Foster City, CA. ISBN 0764552767.
  13. ^ Livingood, Lee (2000). Retired Racing Greyhounds for Dummies, p. 143-144. IDG Books Worldwide, Inc., Foster City, CA. ISBN 0764552767.
  14. ^ Branigan, Cynthia A. (1998). Adopting the Racing Greyhound, p. 17-18. Howell Book House, New York. ISBN 087605193X.
  15. ^ a b Greyhound Adoption League of Texas, Inc. - About the Athletes
  16. ^ Microsoft Word - SEGA_Foster_Manual_V7_FINAL_JUne_2006.doc
  17. ^ FAQ
  18. ^ Greyhound Adoption Program - Is a Greyhound right for you?
  19. ^ How Safe is an Off-Lead Run? [Adopt a Greyhound]
  20. ^ :: View topic - Leash Rules
  21. ^ Greyhound Angels Adoption
  22. ^ Mid-South Greyhound Adoption Option
  23. ^ GRV Clubs - GAP
  24. ^ Blythe, Linda, Gannon, James, Craig, A. Morrie, and Fegan, Desmond P. (2007). Care of the Racing and Retired Greyhound, p. 394. American Greyhound Council, Inc., Kansas. ISBN 0964145634.
  25. ^ Branigan, Cynthia A. (1998). Adopting the Racing Greyhound, p. 99-101. Howell Book House, New York. ISBN 087605193X.
  26. ^ Branigan, Cynthia A. (1998). Adopting the Racing Greyhound, p. 101-103. Howell Book House, New York. ISBN 087605193X.
  27. ^ Greyhound Racing Association media kit: The referenced industry figures do not include information about unregistered litters, nor outcomes for dogs after they finished as breeding dogs. The statistics vary depending on the reporting organization. According to the Greyhound Network News one page fact sheet estimates that of the 26,600 Greyhounds that were no longer racing in 2005, 45% of them were euthanized by either groups that could not adopt them out or by the dog breeders via farm culling.
  28. ^ Coile, Caroline, Ph. D., Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds, Barron's Educational Series, 2005, p. 77.
  29. ^ Blythe, Linda, Gannon, James, Craig, A. Morrie, and Fegan, Desmond P. (2007). Care of the Racing and Retired Greyhound, p. 416. American Greyhound Council, Inc., Kansas. ISBN 0964145634.
  30. ^ Blythe, Linda, Gannon, James, Craig, A. Morrie, and Fegan, Desmond P. (2007). Care of the Racing and Retired Greyhound, p. 82. American Greyhound Council, Inc., Kansas. ISBN 0964145634.
  31. ^
  32. ^ United Blood Services article about Greyhounds as blood donors.
  33. ^ Mark Derr (May 21, 2004). "Collie or Pug? Study Finds the Genetic Code". The New York Times.
  34. ^ Parker et al. (May 21, 2004). "Genetic Structure of the Purebred Domestic Dog". Science volume 304, pp. 1160–4.
  35. ^ Proverbs 30:29–31 King James version.
  36. ^ Pokorny, Indogermanisches Woerterbuch, pp. 441–2.

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Wikipedia has an article on:




A greyhound


Old English grīġhund, from an unclear first element (not related to grey) + hundhound’.


  • IPA: /ˈgɹeɪhaʊnd/




greyhound (plural greyhounds)

  1. A lean breed of dog used in hunting and racing.


Simple English

The buses that run in the United States and Canada are at Greyhound Lines

[[File:|thumb|Greyhound]] A Greyhound is a dog breed that is skinny, has long legs, and runs faster than any other breed of dog. It is one of the oldest breeds of dogs. For centuries, people have raced them in some parts of the world. Greyhound racing is a bit like horse racing in many ways. In recent years, many Greyhounds have been mistreated or killed especially after they get too old to race, but many rescue groups try to stop that and to help them be adopted by people to keep as pets.

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