Breed Group: Hound

Temperament and Behavior

The most common misconception about the Greyhound is that they are a high energy breed when in fact, the opposite is true. Once out of the puppy stage at about three years of age, they are usually couch potatoes. Built for a sprint not a marathon, a full grown Greyhound does well with little more than a twenty or thirty minute walk per day, on-leash of course. They are a sighthound that has incredible vision. Once prey has been identified as within range (up to half a mile away), his hunting instincts take over and the case is on. They continue to enjoy a short run or two on a weekly basis in a securely fenced area; but beware, they can be escape artists. Inside, adults are generally calm, mild, reserved dogs that even do well in apartments. After making the transition, retired racing dogs make a good pet. They prefer calm living conditions and soft-spoken people. Excessive tension or frequent yelling in the home will upset this sensitive breed. Outside, when not on a sprint, an adult Greyhound is only a little more active than inside, but no more so than an average dog. Though they are frequently not playful enough to make a good playmate for a child and with a tendency to shy away from rough play, a Greyhound typically prefers older, well-behaved children to the rest of the family. As a result, the breed is not normally a good choice for families with small children. The breed gets along well with many other animals; however, its natural sight hound instincts may lead it to give chase to smaller pets and males may jostle with other males. They are naturally reserved with strangers and even though not an avid barker, they make a pretty good watch dog. But their tendency to freeze when challenged prevents them from making a good guard dog. Like most sighthounds, they startle easily if touched unexpectedly. Many hoard food or toys.

Physical Characteristics

Greyhounds are large dogs that average between 27-30 inches tall and weighs 50 to 90 pounds. Sleek and built for speed, they have a deep chest and extraordinary flexibility in its curved spine. There exist approximately thirty recognized color patterns for Greyhound with variations of white, fawn, brindle, black, red, blue and gray. The colors can appear as solid or in combinations. The breed has extremely short hair making for easy coat maintenance. Their lack of undercoat is responsible for the breed’s light shedding and extreme sensitivity to cold and dislike of hot temperatures. Owners are advised to house their Greyhound indoors and use a sweater when taking the dog outside in chilly weather.

Trainer's Notes

Greyhounds need early socialization to gain confidence. Greyhound puppies not exposed to people and sounds at an early age can develop an undesirable fear of noise and timidity. The Greyhound is a highly sensitive breed that must be handled very gently in obedience training with more praise than correction. They are not a dog for a first-time dog owner.

Photo © by Neurodoc available under the CC BY-SA 3.0



While not on the list of breeds most susceptible, Greyhound owners as well as any owner of a deep-chested dog should be familiar with Bloat, a life-threatening digestive disorder. Esophageal Achalasia, another digestive problem, also affects the Greyhound. They are also susceptible to Cancer, especially of the bone. As are sighthounds in general, they are also very sensitive to anesthesia. They require soft bedding to prevent pressure sores. Greyhounds can live to 12 years of age.


Greyhounds are ranked 134th in popularity by the American Kennel Club with fewer than 200 registered in a typical year. But this considerably under reports their numbers as racing dogs are not registered with the AKC but with the National Greyhound Association.

Breed History

The Greyhound is a sighthound, a hunting dog which relies on its sight to pursue game over open terrain, referred to as coursing. The Greyhound has been used for companionship, coursing, and hunting for more than 7,000 years and is thought to have originated in the deserts of the Middle East. Held in the highest regard from the earliest of times, ancient Pharaohs rated the Greyhound first among all animals as both pets and hunters and the birth of a Greyhound often ranked second only to a birth of a son. Such reverence for the breed is witnessed in many examples of pottery, art renderings and hieroglyphs found in ancient pyramids. The Greyhound was introduced in the U.S. in the late 1800s to assist farmers in controlling the hare population, which was responsible for devastating crops of all types. As the breed’s popularity grew, so did competition events such as coursing and racing. Greyhound racing, as known in the U.S., did not gain fashion until the advent of the mechanical rabbit in about 1912 which made track racing possible.

Additional Information

The fastest dog, the Greyhound has the ability to run at speeds up to 45 mph and can outrun a horse in a sprint. However, their speed pales in comparison to the cheetah, the fastest land animal, which can attain a top speed of 70 mph. Notable Greyhound owners include the Egyptian Pharoh Cheops who built the great pyramids, George Armstrong Custer, Bo Derek, Charles Osgood, Sir Walter Scott, Rutherford B. Hayes, Louis XI, and Richard II. The breeding of dogs is separated into show and racing stock. The AKC national breed club is the Greyhound Club of America.

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