Greyhounds are often regarded as the “gentle giants” of the dog world. But are Greyhounds actually good pets? They’re long been shrouded in misconceptions. With a variety of stereotypes surrounding their racing pedigree, we’ve set out to debunk some of the myths around their suitability for house life.
In this article, we explore the reality of living with these graceful canines, shedding light on their temperament, and care requirements. Let’s take a big leap into it!
History of Greyhounds
The history of Greyhound dogs is a tale that spans thousands of years, with origins shrouded in antiquity. They’re the oldest purebred dog, with the first records appearing in ancient Egypt when only royalty were allowed to own them. They were highly revered and often depicted in ancient art.
These sleek and elegant hounds were introduced to Europe by the Phoenicians and later became favored hunting companions of nobility across the continent. Renowned for their remarkable speed and agility, Greyhounds were instrumental in coursing games such as hare and deer hunting.
Over the centuries, they transformed from hunting dogs to racing champions. Modern Greyhound racing gained popularity in the early 20th century. However, the questionable and downright inhumane treatment of these racing dogs has permanently tarnished public opinion of the sport, and spurred numerous legislative bans on the practice and the closure of racetracks. Today, Greyhounds are cherished companions and continue to hold a special place in the hearts of dog enthusiasts around the world.
7 Myths and Misconceptions About Greyhounds
There are several myths and misconceptions about Greyhounds. Whether you’re already in love with the breed or considering adopting one, keep reading to learn the truth behind these pups. You might be surprised or learn that a Greyhound might be a great fit for your household.
1. They Were Well Taken Care of As Racers – FALSE!
When adopting a retired Greyhound racer, you may think you’re getting a perfectly cared for and well-trained dog. Unfortunately, the reality is they’re not taken care of like million-dollar racehorses are. Greyhounds often never have seen the inside of a house, gone up and down stairs, or received love and affection before retirement and rescue. This makes them in need of loving homes that can show them what it means to be loved and to be a dog. If you’re looking to make a HUGE difference in an animal’s life, a greyhound may be a wonderful cause for you.
So, there are lots of things that may seem strange to them. For example, the sound of a vacuum, a mirror, or having access to things that aren’t meant for them like a book on your table. In addition, they’ll need to be trained to do things like go potty outside and possibly even how to play.
2. They Are Athletes, Need Lots of Exercise – FALSE!
Even though Greyhounds are known for racing, they’re actually big couch potatoes. If you want to adopt one of these gentle giants, you won’t need to be a dog athletic coach. In fact, I tried to take a Greyhound for a run once and I ended up dragging her for about 10 feet and gave up! I settled into her lazy walking pace and we had a great time together. But like with any dog, they still need some exercise incorporated into their daily routine.
3. Are Energetic & Hyper – FALSE!
Again, Greyhounds are couch potatoes. They love to lay around all day, every day. Once in a great while they’ll get a spurt of energy, but then they’re good for another few days or weeks! Check out this cute video for proof:
4. They Are Big, So Not Good For Apartments – FALSE!
Well, they are bigger-sized dogs, so that part of this myth is true. But Greyhounds are actually good pets for apartments because they’re so low-energy.
However, if you have stairs, you’ll need to train them how to go up and down. Climbing stairs requires certain muscle movements and the breed isn’t anatomically wired for such motion with their long legs. So, they need to develop muscle memory to balance themselves while doing stairs. However, once they learn it, they can take a flight of stairs in just 2 or 3 bounds. Piece of cake!
5. Can’t Get Along With Small Animals – FALSE!
Many think that because Greyhounds chase a fake rabbit for a living they don’t like small animals. You do need to be careful since they’re a sighthound and may still have a prey drive. However, many are safe with small animals. My mother-in-law’s Greyhound loved their little Dachshund.
It’s important to get to know and observe your dog if you’re adopting. If you know little about the dog, ease into socializing it with your smaller pets and implement positive reinforcement to help them get to know each other.
6. They Wear Muzzles, So Must Be Aggressive – FALSE!
Greyhounds tend to have a stigma of being aggressive because they’re often seen wearing muzzles in photos on race tracks. On the contrary, they’re usually very gentle and docile. This is one of the characteristics that makes Greyhounds good pets. They’re not likely to bite or exhibit aggressive behavior unless they are provoked or feel threatened, which is true for most dog breeds.
Also, if you think a Greyhound is going to be a good guard dog because of their size, that’s also a myth. While they may bark to alert their owners to unusual sounds or visitors, they lack the protective instincts and aggression associated with breeds traditionally used for guarding and protection. Instead, greyhounds are more likely to seek affection and attention from you.
7. Greyhounds Aren’t Cuddly – FALSE!
Most Greyhounds may seem quiet and stand-offish at first, but they actually love attention. They just show it differently than some other breeds.
My mother-in-law’s greyhound would lean on you and chatter her jaw when she was happy and feeling affectionate. Occasionally you’d get a tail wag, and that was a HUGE compliment! Again, they’re gentle, slow-moving giants who will show you unconditional love and want to snuggle on the couch with you all day long.
8. After They’re Rescued, They Aren’t Good With Being Left Alone – FALSE!
After being rescued, Greyhounds generally handle being left alone quite well. They’re known for their adaptable nature and they often transition smoothly into new homes. However, like most dogs, they may experience separation anxiety initially. It’s important to gradually acclimate them to alone time. Start with short intervals and gradually extend the duration you’re gone as they become more comfortable. Providing them with a comfortable and secure space, along with some toys and enrichment, can help ease any anxiety. With time, patience, and a consistent routine, most rescued greyhounds can thrive and become content when left alone for reasonable periods.
Suggested Reading: You can teach an old dog new tricks, learn how!
What Are the Characteristics of a Greyhound Dog?
Greyhounds are a breed known for their elegance, grace, and speed (when they want to be). Physically, they’re tall and slender, with a deep chest and a narrow, aerodynamic build that allows them to run at incredible speeds. However, as we’ve learned, even though they can run fast they prefer to be lazy.
Their short coat is typically smooth and can come in a variety of colors. Greyhounds are known for their gentle and calm demeanor, making them excellent family pets. They’re also incredibly affectionate and bond closely with their owners. While they’re generally good with young children, you’ll likely find they bond more closely with an adult in the household.
Some other characteristics you’ll notice when spending any amount of time with them is that their snouts are very long and pointy. Often, their tongue will fall out of their narrow mouths and flop off to the side for a goofy look. Additionally their long legs need to go somewhere, so when they lay down the legs often splay out in all directions, oftentimes up in the air. So while “elegance” and “grace” are often associated with this breed, don’t feel put off if you’re more of a goofy snuggle type of person – these dogs can easily do that too!
Are Greyhounds Good Pets?
Yes, Greyhounds are good pets. They have a friendly disposition and will thrive with the right owner. One that can help them learn stairs, attend to the amount of affection they need, and have the space for a large dog.
Greyhounds can be wonderful, loving, and loyal companions for those who appreciate their unique blend of beauty and temperament. Adopting a retired racing greyhound can also be particularly rewarding, as it gives these dogs a second chance at a loving home and fulfilling life.
Are Greyhounds High Maintenance?
Greyhounds are generally considered low-maintenance dogs. They have a short coat that requires minimal grooming. They shed, so regular brushing will easily help manage shedding. In general, they’re easy to care for in terms of their physical needs.
Training a greyhound can be a bit more challenging than with some other breeds. While they’re intelligent, they have an independent streak and may be less eager to please. So, consistent and patient training is necessary.
They’re not known for barking. In fact, they tend to be rather quiet. Some can be somewhat whiny or vocal in expressing their needs or desires. Picture your Greyhound whiny at you from the couch to bring a treat and cuddle with them!
Despite these considerations, many people find that the unique and endearing qualities of Greyhounds more than makeup for any potential challenges in their care and training.
How To Rescue A Retired Greyhound
Rescuing a retired greyhound can be a rewarding and compassionate endeavor. However, you typically won’t find these dogs in your local humane society. Since these dogs come from such an extremely different upbringing, Greyhound-specific rescue organizations are best suited to pulling them out of tracks and handling the adoption process. Often, they’ll even send these dogs to prison training programs to give them some basic training before sending them into homes.
To begin the process, start by researching and reaching out to local Greyhound rescue organizations in your area. Even if you have no nearby racetrack, many organizations rescue from out-of-state and transport them to local rescues across the country.
Be prepared to complete an application and undergo a screening process to ensure that you’re a suitable match for the dog’s needs. Once approved, ask to meet and interact with the Greyhounds available for adoption. It’s essential to ask questions and discuss the dog’s history and any specific needs or requirements they may have.
Upon finding the right match, you can then complete the adoption paperwork, pay any adoption fees, and provide a loving and stable home for your new furry family member. Remember that rescuing a Greyhound is a lifelong commitment. So, ensure you have the time, patience, and resources to provide them with a comfortable and loving environment for the rest of their days.
Suggested Reading: The best websites for pet adoption and fostering.
Myth Debunked: Greyhounds Can Be Very Good Pets!
Phew, we debunked that myth! We’re happy to report that Greyhounds can be very good pets. They’re called gentle giants for a reason. If you have the opportunity to adopt or spend time with one, be sure to soak in all the love it’s willing to provide.
Which debunked myth in this article surprised you the most? Share in the comments below.
This post was written in loving memory of the retired greyhound Lyza, who was rescued from a racetrack in Arkansas in 2015. Lyza was the biggest, sweetest couch potato! She loved her bed, her people, her little Dachshund sister, laying in puddles and shallow pools, and slow walks on the beach. She was a certified therapy dog who visited hospitals and brought her calm joy to patients. Everyone who met her loved her instantly.
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