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2nd only to the Cheetah and a species of Antelope as the world's fastest land animals (and indeed the fastest breed of dog), the Greyhound is a phenomenal athlete of the animal and canine world. The greyhound was developed as a Sighthound to be used to course over short distances to catch prey. It is capable of reaching over 45 miles per hour when running at top speed.
Ancient Egyptian tomb drawings and Greek and Roman mosaic's illustrate a dog very similar in stature to the modern Greyhound. Sighthounds, because of their superior vision, have been used for centuries to help humans catch their quarry and also for their sporting prowess and this is most evident in the case of the Greyhound. The true origins of this breed are lost in the sands of time. However, it is thought to be the Romans who introduced a Greyhound type dog to Britain and the breed has retained its place as one of the most popular breeds of dog, favoured by royalty and nobility, prized because of its athleticism.
Average height to withers: Males are between 28-30 inches, with females between 27-28 inches.
Average weight: Males between 27-40kg with females slightly less at 27-37kg.
A dog of distinctive appearance, the unique physical makeup of the Greyhound is what makes it one of the fastest things on 4 legs. Tall, lean and graceful, the anatomy of the Greyhound is light yet muscular with the largest heart in the dog kingdom and a very flexible spine making the Greyhound capable of long, flowing and extended strides which can accelerate the dog from a stand to its top speeds in an amazing 6 strides.
The head of a Greyhound is fine and tapered, flowing into a graceful and long neck, powerful but slender legs and a deep ribcage to accommodate the large lungs and heart. The tail is whip like and reaches the hock of the hind legs.
They Greyhound has a very short coat and is usually fine skinned, meaning a nip from another dog ruptures the skin easily. The colours of this breed come in many variations including fawn, brindle, black, grey, white and another colour, and these can appear on its body in many patterns or as a solid block of colour.
There is a misconception that Greyhounds are vicious as they race in muzzles, but in reality, they are no more of a risk than any other dog. The muzzles seen during racing are there because, at the end of the race when no dog has caught any quarry, the high levels of energy amongst competitors can cause rough house play and, as mentioned previously, it just takes the smallest nick on this breeds fine skin to put a racing dog out of action for weeks with stitches to a small injury. The muzzles therefore prevent this.
There are many retired Greyhounds who have found places in family homes after their racing carrier is over. They make wonderful pets and are usually very gentle and loyal towards their families. Some dogs which have retained their high prey drive would be unsafe to house with smaller pets such as cats and may not be suitable to let off the lead in spaces where they could cause other animals or themselves injury.
Another misconception is that they need fantastic amounts of exercise - again nothing could be further from the truth. Greyhounds, especially ex racers, are use to spending hours in crates or kennels and will adapt quite happily to long sleeps in a cosy basket by the fireside! Once outside on walks and when let off the lead in a safe area, the Greyhound will amaze you with its phenomenal bursts of speed but it is usually very happy to have a couple of walks a day. As puppies, this breed can be hyperactive, but when bought up in a domestic environment the owner is able to teach and socialise the dog and this energy can be channelled positively, moulding it into a first rate member of the family. As quite sensitive dogs, they respond best to gentle commands and language but they can become very reliant on their owners, making separation anxiety an issue on occasion.
Greyhounds are a very healthy breed and will live up to 13 years. Hereditary conditions are rare but these dogs can be susceptible to bloat. Bloat is a medical emergency that can cause horrible pain and proves fatal in an estimated 40% of all cases. It is a gastric dilation of the stomach caused by an unusual accumulation of gas/liquid. This can be dangerous enough in its own right, but sometimes it leads to a second stage called volvulus, which is a stomach twisting or torsion. This shuts the stomach off from the rest of the body and prevents any of the accumulated gas or fluid within to escape. The stomach continues to expand, setting off a catastrophic series of events that in most cases can only be averted with emergency surgery.
This breed is also usually sensitive to some barbiturate based anaesthesia, so it is important your vet understands the physiology of Greyhound if treatment is needed for any reason. They are also sensitive to some flea treatments and flea collars are not recommended for use on this breed.
The Greyhound is a low impact dog to have around your house in terms of grooming, although due to its short coat and slender frame, it will need a coat on in colder weather. The exercise requirement is less than you may think but it will still benefit from a regular routine like all other dogs. Because of the Greyhounds slim body and thin skin, it does not sleep very well on hard surfaces, often causing skin sores if it does so for prolonged periods. As such, this dog needs and will appreciate a soft bed, somewhere warm where it can enjoy being part of the family.