History of the breed...
Greyhounds enjoy a rich heritage dating back over 4,000 years to Ancient Egypt where they were kept as companions and hunting partners. Explorers from Greece brought greyhounds back with them from Egypt and they were instantly incorporated into the Greco-Roman lifestyle. Greek and Roman gods such as Diana and Artemis had greyhounds as their companions of choice.
During the Dark Ages, a time of famine and disease, greyhounds were saved from extinction by monks who bred them for noblemen. During this period, ownership of a greyhound became the exclusive right of the nobility. Greyhounds were so highly prized that traveling noblemen would often present a greyhound as a gift to their hosts.
During the Renaissance, greyhounds were a favorite of royalty from Britain to Italy; from the courts of the Danes to the halls of the Ottoman Empire. Queen Elizabeth I was known to have over a dozen greyhounds. These graceful animals were also immortalized in Shakespeare and Chaucer’s written works and are the only listed canine breed recorded in the Bible.
Greyhounds placed through COGR are usually between 2 and 5 years old. These ex-racers are very intelligent and adaptable dogs who fit easily into their new home environment, following a brief adjustment period. They are eager to please and respond positively to any attention given them. The majority of ex-track greyhounds are quiet, clean, gentle, good-natured dogs who adapt and get along well with other animals and people. They seem grateful for their new homes and reward their new owners with never-ending affection. They do not require a great deal of space to run, as many people think, but they do need exercise. Inside the house, they enjoy curling up in the corner on a soft bed. Greyhound males stand 26 to 30 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh between 65 and 85 pounds. Females stand 23 to 26 inches at the shoulder and weigh 55 to 70 pounds. They come in many colors: black, white, several shades of brindle, fawn, red, or a combination of these colors. Many people assume these dogs are "grey" when, in fact, blue is the least common color of greyhound.
What kinds of pets do retired racing greyhounds make?
Greyhounds are affectionate, friendly dogs who thrive on the attention and human companionship and make terrific pets. Raised with their littermates where they competed for affection, greyhounds love becoming the center of attention as household pets. Greyhounds usually do not make good watchdogs; their friendly nature is not very threatening.
What is their life expectancy?
These purebred athletes enjoy many years of good health. With proper care, they have a life expectancy of 12 to 14 years.
Do greyhounds need a lot of exercise?
Greyhounds are the fastest breed of dog but they are sprinters without a lot of endurance. A retired racer is quite content to be a "couch potato" and spend most of the day sleeping. Exercising with walks and occasional opportunities to run around in a fenced area is all that's required. Greyhounds can never be trusted off-lead in an unfenced area!
Are retired racing greyhounds already housebroken?
While racing, greyhounds are "kennel broken," which means they are trained not to relieve themselves in their living area. They are clean dogs by nature and would prefer to relieve themselves outdoors when given a choice. These two factors, combined with specific advice from a COGR representative at the time of adoption, lead to an easy transition into life as a house pet.
Are Greyhounds good with children?
Many books on dog breeds describe the Greyhound as being too "high-strung" for children, which is entirely false. Most Greyhounds have a very quiet, calm disposition and are good with well-mannered children. However, any dog of any breed that has not been raised around children must be watched carefully, and all interaction between dogs and children, no matter how trustworthy the dog or the children, should be supervised by adults. Most Greyhounds have never seen children before leaving the track, and because very young children can behave unpredictably and in ways that are frightening or threatening to dogs, we generally do not recommend placing Greyhounds in homes with children under the age of 6. Again, exceptions may be made depending on individual circumstances.
How are they with other pets?
Greyhounds are friendly by nature and socialize well with most family pets as a result of encounters with other greyhounds in the racing kennel. There are ex-racing Greyhounds that live with birds, cats, rabbits, ferrets...it simply depends on the dog. It has been estimated that 70% of retired racers have no interest in chasing cats, 20% can be trained to live safely with cats, and 10% should not live in a home with cats. However, it’s important to remember that even if you have trained your Greyhound not to chase the family cat indoors, it may still chase the neighbor's cat, or even your cat outdoors. We get to know each and every dog as an individual and do our best to match the dog's personality to an ideal home environment.
Do Greyhounds make good watch dogs?
Probably because of their laid-back, non-aggressive nature, Greyhounds do not make particularly good watchdogs.
In fact, many owners have never heard their Greyhounds bark! Most Greyhounds love visitors and would not distinguish between those who are invited and those who are uninvited and unwelcome.
Why do Greyhounds need a fenced yard?
Greyhounds are basically like all other dogs, but because of their training and racing career, they have some unique characteristics. They are sighthounds (also called gazehounds), meaning that they hunt by sight rather than smell. Greyhounds are not vicious predators, but they do chase things that move by nature. They are sprinters and can run up to 45 miles per hour for very short periods (the average speed on a dog track is generally in the 30's). Some retired racers love to run; others take retirement very seriously and move as little as possible. Likewise, some dogs have a strong prey drive and chase squirrels and other small animals at every opportunity, where others would not give a cat a second glance. Even those dogs with a fairly healthy prey drive can be taught not to chase the family cat or Chihuahua. However, it is important to know that a dog responding to the ancient call to chase will probably be oblivious to its owner's calls to come. This is why a Greyhound can never be allowed to run loose except in a securely fenced area. Even Greyhounds which have been through obedience training should never be trusted off leash in an unfenced area. Potential adopters who do not have fenced yards should be prepared to take their Greyhound for a minimum of four on-leash potty walks and at least one longer walk (for exercise) daily, and will need to find a safely fenced area where the dog can run off-leash about once a week (or more or less, depending on the individual dog).
Does electronic fencing work with Greyhounds?
No, electronic fencing is not suitable for use with Greyhounds. A Greyhound in pursuit of a small animal will run right through an electronic fence. Electronic fences also do not keep out stray dogs, stray cats, raccoons and other wildlife, or teasing children. Enough dogs have turned up in shelters and pounds wearing their electronic fence collars to convince us that electronic fencing is not a safe, reliable way to contain most dogs. We make exceptions to the fenced yard requirement for the right homes, but we do not place dogs in homes with electronic fencing.
Greyhounds' livers metabolize toxins from their bloodstreams more slowly than other dogs of comparable size, and they have a very low percentage of body fat in proportion to their size, so it is easier for harmful concentrations of toxins to develop. Additionally, Greyhounds are very sensitive to certain medications, including anesthesia. Make sure that your veterinarian is aware of a Greyhound's special anesthesia requirements before allowing your Greyhound to undergo surgery. Information on the use of anesthesia in Greyhounds can be obtained from the Small Animal Teaching Hospital of Colorado State University at Fort Collins, Colorado (303/484-9154).
Flea collars and long-lasting pesticides such as Hartz Blockade can be harmful or even fatal to a Greyhound. Additionally, products which release flea-killing chemicals into the bloodstream of the dog should be avoided, as should products such as Rabon, Bayon, ProSpot and Ex-Spot. Any product containing organophosphates such as Dursban cannot be used on a Greyhound, on a Greyhound's bedding, or in a house where a Greyhound lives.
The monthly pill Program, which renders flea eggs sterile after the flea bites the dog, is safe to use with Greyhounds, but it does not actually kill the fleas themselves. Advantage, which is applied monthly, is also safe for Greyhounds and does kill the fleas. Advantage has been found by some to be more effective for fleas on Greyhounds than Frontline , perhaps because Frontline is distributed by the oils in a dog’s coat and Greyhounds’ coats have very little oil. COGR uses Frontline, however, because it also kills ticks. Products containing Pyrethrins are safe for use on Greyhounds, as are products with d-Limonene. The human shampoo Pert Plus kills fleas on the dog but has little or no residual effect. In general, if a product contains Pyrethrins and the label states that it is safe for cats and kittens, it will be safe for Greyhounds.
Dewormers with an organophosphate base must be avoided. For hookworm or roundworm infestations, use pyrantel pamoate (the active ingredient in the non-prescription wormers Evict, Nemex, and Nemex2, and the prescription wormer Strongid-T). For tapeworms, Droncit is the most effective drug, but must be obtained from a veterinarian. Panacur, which also is a prescription wormer, is effective for whipworms, hookworms, roundworms and some tapeworms.
Like other deep-chested breeds, Greyhounds can be prone to bloat, or torsion. This is a life-threatening condition in which the stomach becomes twisted. Symptoms include a distended abdomen, repeated vomiting with no results, pacing and restlessness. Bloat is a very painful condition that can be fatal quickly; immediate medical attention from your veterinarian or emergency veterinary clinic is absolutely essential. You may wish to discuss bloat with your veterinarian so that you know in advance what to do should it happen in order to improve your dog's chances for survival. In order to prevent bloat, do not allow your Greyhound to exercise just before and for an hour or so after eating, and don’t let it drink large amounts of water immediately after eating dry dog food.
Because racing Greyhounds are kenneled with a large number of other dogs in a transient population, and often come from southern states where ticks are a problem year-round, they have a much higher than normal incidence of tick-borne diseases. It is estimated that 40-65% of racing Greyhounds are exposed to tick-borne diseases, and these percentages are supported by our testing results. The most common tick-borne diseases are Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichia and Babesia. These diseases are relatively uncommon in the "non-Greyhound" dog population, so many veterinarians have never seen a dog with Ehrlichiosis or Babesiosis, and the laboratories they use for their routine work may be unfamiliar with the required procedure for the blood tests used to detect the diseases. Further compounding the problem is the fact that the diseases present with a wide variety of signs and symptoms that are often somewhat vague and are frequently misdiagnosed. Symptoms and findings common to both erlichiosis and babesiosis include, but are not limited to, weakness; depression; anorexia; muscle wasting; seizures; intermittent fever; and protein in the urine. Because affected dogs should be treated as soon as possible, and because we do not wish ex-racers to facilitate the spread of tick-borne diseases, COGR has decided to test all of its dogs for tick-borne diseases, and treat as necessary.
How Else Can You Help?
If you are unable to adopt a greyhound, you can still help us:
Make a donation. We are a non-profit organization staffed by volunteers. Many times we dip into our own pockets to make ends meet.
We warmly appreciate contributions of money, supplies, bedding, and quality food.