Greyhound: Dog Breed Characteristics & Care

History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners


The greyhound is the fastest dog breed on the planet, with the ability to run at speeds upwards of 45 miles per hour. The breed is known for its long legs and narrow, streamlined body which makes a greyhound a racer by design. The breed’s history traces back to the changing times of the Ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks, who probably had greyhounds or similar dogs.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Hound

HEIGHT: Male 28 to 30 inches, female 27 to 28 inches

WEIGHT: 60 to 80 pounds

COAT: Short and smooth

COAT COLOR: Black, blue, fawn, red, white, and various shades of brindle, or a combination of any of these colors

LIFE SPAN: 10 to 13 years

TEMPERAMENT: Even-tempered, intelligent, affectionate, athletic, quiet, gentle



Characteristics of the Greyhound

Greyhounds can make excellent companions for all kinds of people and even though these dogs are large, many do well with children. These dogs are extremely affectionate with their families and may prefer not to be left alone. They are rarely aggressive and respond well to strangers. Greyhounds are sensitive, requiring patience and understanding. It’s becomest for these dogs to live in a peaceful household and be spoken to with kindness.

Affection LevelHigh
Exercise NeedsHigh
Energy LevelMedium
Tendency to BarkLow
Amount of SheddingMedium

History of the Greyhound

Archaeological evidence of greyhound-like dogs dates back 8,000 years to the Middle East, making it one of the most ancient of dog breeds. Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans likely had greyhound-type dogs. By the ninth century, the breed could be found throughout Europe, and Spanish explorers brought them to the Americas in the 1500s.

Greyhounds were classically used for hunting and coursing. They were among the earliest dog show participants. The breed is typically not used for hunting in modern times, and live game coursing is illegal in many places. However, the traditions of racing and lure coursing continue.

The greyhound was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1885.

Greyhound Care

It helps to know when caring for a greyhound, that a racing dog has a very different life from the average companion dog. When a dog is not racing, it spends a lot of time in kennels and has usually never seen the inside of a typical home. The dog may be leash-trained but offers typically not been exposed to things like stairs and glass doors, so it will need a bit of extra training.


Contrary to popular belief, greyhounds are not usually hyperactive or overly energetic. Though excellent athletes, they can also be couch potatoes most of the day, and do very well living in apartments. They love to run, but a moderate level of daily exercise, about an hour a day time, should end up being enough to keep a greyhound motivated and fit.

Don’t allow a greyhound off-leash, however, as they are prey-driven and will bolt away after small animals. It’s best to have a fenced-in are usuallya where they are able to run around. When exercising your greyhound, remember that while they can tolerate hot weather, they will get chilled in cold weather because they lack body fat, so you may need to provide a sweater for your pup in the winter while going on a walk.


The greyhound’s short, smooth coat needs little grooming. The breed sheds at a low to moderate rate, so an occasional once-over with a soft brush or grooming mitt should be sufficient. The typical greyhound only needs occasional bathing. Trim their nails regularly, keeping them short to prevent slipping on slick floors.


Both proper training and socialization are both very important for greyhounds. Fortunately, most can learn and adjust well. Cats and other small animals may provoke their predatory instinct until they understand the animal is a family member.

Common Health Problems

Responsible breeders strive to maintain the highest breed standards as established by kennel clubs like the AKC. Dogs bred by these standards are less likely to inherit health conditions. However, some hereditary health problems can occur in the breed. The following are some conditions to be aware of:

  • Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus: This condition causes the tendency to produce gas and bloat, which can lead to stomach torsion and a medical emergency.
  • Hip Dysplasia: This inheritable condition leads to lameness and arthritis.
  • Osteosarcoma: One of the first signs of this aggressive bone cancer is lameness. It can be treated with amputation and chemotherapy.
  • Hypothyroidism: This thyroid condition can be treated with medication.
  • Sensitivity to Anesthesia: Greyhounds need less anesthesia than other dogs of the same size and the regular dose could be deadly. They metabolize barbiturates slowly.
  • Sensitivity to Insecticides: Greyhounds are sensitive to pyrethrin-based flea collars and sprays, requiring alternative products.

Diet and Nutrition

Male greyhounds need 2.5 to 4 cups of dry food per day, and females need 1.5 to 3 cups. Divide this into two meals-because they are prone to bloat, they are usually at risk of stomach torsion if they gulp their food or eat too much at once. It is common for them to gain 5 pounds after they retire from racing, but you should monitor your pet’s weight to ensure it doesn’t gain more than that. If your dog is putting on too much weight, discuss the proper diet with your veterinarian and get recommendations for feeding schedules, amounts, types of dog food, and exercise.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Greyhound

Though greyhounds can sometimes be obtained from a breeder as puppies, the majority of available dogs are retired racers. Adopting a retired racer is a wonderful thing to do. If you would like to share your life with this unique dog breed, take the time to do your research first. Talk to your veterinarian, other greyhound owners, greyhound rescue groups, and reputable breeders to find out more. If you do go through a breeder, expect to pay between $1,500 to $2,500 for a purebred puppy.

The most likely place to adopt a greyhound is from the breed-specific rescue group. Luckily, there are many resources where you can find a retired greyhound, such as:

  • Greyhound Welfare, Inc.
  • Adopt-a-Greyhound
  • Greyhound Pets of America
  • National Greyhound Adoption Program

The National Greyhound Association also offers a list of endorsed regional greyhound rescue groups on its website.

Greyhound Overview


  • Do not shed much or require a significant amount of grooming
  • Not in need of a lot of exercise, though they get spurts of energy once in a while
  • Docile dogs that are polite and sweet


  • Don’t make good watchdogs, despite their large size
  • Fast runners, so can’t be let off a leash
  • Can’t spend a significant amount of time outside in cold weather because of temperature sensitivity

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

Greyhounds are terrific dogs. If you’re interested in these dogs, check out some similar breeds to compare the pros and cons.

  • Whippet
  • Scottish deerhound
  • Redbone coonhound

There’s a whole world of potential dog breeds out there-with a little research, you can find the right one to bring home.


What is the difference between a greyhound and a Spanish galgo?

The greyhound is often confused with the Spanish galgo. The Spanish galgo translated means Spanish greyhound. These hounds are very much like greyhounds in all facets of their personality, but they are smaller dogs, developed in Spain, and bred for hunting versus racing.

When does a greyhound typically retire from racing?

Retirement usually begins between the ages of 2 and 5, depending on the dog. After this, the transition to companion life may take a few weeks. In some ways, it is almost like a second puppyhood. With a gentle and patient demeanor, you can help your Greyhound with this stage. Some retired racer adoption groups will have their dogs spend some time in foster homes to help acclimate them to the new lifestyle.

Why are there so many displaced greyhound dogs?

Most states in the U.S have banned greyhound racing, so there are thousands of greyhounds up for adoption. The most recent and largest influx of retired greyhounds came from Florida when the state shut down its many dog racing tracks.

By DogCareTips.Net

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