Greyhounds are one of the oldest breeds of dogs, and appear in art and literature throughout history. In ancient Egypt, Greyhounds were mummified and buried along with their owners, and tombs were often decorated with Greyhound figures. Alexander the Great had a Greyhound named Peritas. The Greyhound is mentioned in the Old Testament (Proverbs 30:29-31), Homer (Odyssey, where the only one to recognize Odysseus upon his return was his Greyhound, Argus), Chaucer (The Canterbury Tales), and Shakespeare (Henry V and Merry Wives of Windsor). Greek and Roman gods and goddesses were often portrayed with Greyhounds.
There are many differing explanations for the origin of the term Greyhound. One writer suggests that the original Greyhound stock was mostly grey in color. Another says the term derives from the Old English "grei," meaning "dog," and "hundr," meaning "hunter." Another explanation is that it is derived from "gre" or "gradus," meaning "first rank among dogs." Finally, it has been suggested that the term derives from Greekhound, since the hound reached England through the Greeks.
Greyhounds have long been associated with royalty. In fact, from the 11th to the 14th century, English law decreed that no "mean person" was allowed to keep a Greyhound. Penalty for breaking this law was death!
Greyhounds are often tolerant of children, especially if they have been raised with them. Being non-aggressive, a Greyhound will generally walk away from a worrisome child, rather than growl or snap. However, even the gentle Greyhound has its limits, and should not be subjected to continuous harassment.
Although Greyhounds are the fastest breed of dog, they achieve their incredible speed in one all out sprint, and do not have a lot of endurance. A Greyhound is quite content to be a "couch potato" and spend most of the day sleeping. Since they don't have a lot of endurance, a Greyhound actually requires less exercise time than most dogs.
Greyhounds have a very strongly developed chase instinct. In spite of this, it is possible for Greyhounds to peacefully coexist with other pets, including cats, dogs, and even rabbits. Even after you've trained the Greyhound to not chase the family indoor cat, this does not mean that it won't chase the neighbor's cat, or even the family cat outdoors.
Greyhounds' livers metabolize toxins out of their bloodstream more slowly than other dogs of comparable size, so it is possible for harmful concentrations of these toxins to develop. Also, the breed has a very low percentage of body fat in proportion to its size.
Greyhounds are very sensitive to certain medications, including anesthesia. Before allowing your Greyhound to undergo any surgery, make sure that your vet is aware of the special anesthesia requirements for Greyhounds. In particular, barbituates are to be avoided. Do not be afraid to ask questions of your vet; not all are aware of a Greyhound's special anesthesia requirements.
Flea collars, and long lasting pesticides such as Hartz Blockade, can also be harmful or even fatal to Greyhound.
Products containing Pyrethrins are generally safe to use on Greyhounds, and given their very short coat, flea combs are especially effective. The human shampoo Pert Plus kills fleas on the dogs, although it has little or no residual effect. Lather, wait a few minutes, and then rinse.
As with other deep chested breeds, Greyhounds are prone to bloat, or torsion. Bloat is a life threating disease where the stomach flips over. Immediate medical attention is required to avoid death. Preventive measures include avoiding exercise just before and for an hour or two after eating; avoiding ingestion of large amounts of water immediately after eating dry kibble.
Symptoms include distended abdomen, repeated unproductive vomiting, pacing and restlessness. It can kill quickly, an immediate trip to the vet is in order. You may wish to discuss bloat with your vet, to set up in advance what to do should it happen to your dog. Your vet may also suggest other things you can do while driving to the vet's for emergency care to improve your dog's chances for survival.
Greyhounds are notorious for bad teeth. Your adopted greyhound will have received a complete dental cleaning before you take possesion of the dog. We strongly urge you to do a daily brushing of your grey's teeth to help prevent some dental problems. Please ask your adoption representative for suggested dental products.
For thousands of years Greyhounds have been bred to hunt by outrunning their prey. They were not intended to be solitary hunters, but to work with other dogs. Switching from hunting to racing has kept this aspect of their personality very much alive. The fastest breed of dog, Greyhounds can reach a top speed of 45 miles per hour, and can average more than 30 miles per hour for distances up to one mile. Selective breeding has given the Greyhound an athlete's body with the grace of a dancer. At the same time, the need to anticipate the evasive maneuvers of their prey has endowed the Greyhound with a high degree of intelligence.
The Greyhound has a long neck and head, with a barely noticeable stop, or bridge to his nose. The ears are small and usually folded flat back against the neck. The ears may stand semi- or fully erect when the Greyhound is attentive. This is called a "rose ear."
The back is long and muscular with an arch over the loin. The deep chest and narrow waist give the Greyhound its distinctive silhouette. The legs are long and powerful. The feet are small and compact, with well knuckled toes. The tail is long and curved.
The coat of a Greyhound is short and smooth. Greyhounds come in an endless variety of colors including white, fawn (tan), cream, red (rust), black, blue (grey), many shades of brindle, and with patches of these colors on white. There is virtually no body fat. In general, Greyhounds are very clean and do not require a lot of grooming.
Greyhound males stand between 26 and 30 inckes tall and weigh between65 and 80 pounds. Females are slightly smaller.