The Greyhound belongs to a family of hunting dogs called sighthounds. The slender, long-legged sighthound hunts by spotting the movement of a prey animal across a vast distance, then running the animal down with lightning speed.
The Greyhound, though, is a unique sighthound developed more for track racing than for hunting.
With their quiet dignity and independence, Greyhounds are calm and quiet indoors, moving lightly and gracefully rather than toppling your lamps. They are comfort-loving dogs who want to snuggle on a soft couch or under a warm blanket.
The fastest of all breeds (a Greyhound can outrun a horse in a sprint), once he has exploded into his powerful driving gallop for a short time, he is content to sleep for the rest of the day.
Which brings up an important requirement for owning a Greyhound – you should have a good-sized, fenced area in which he can spring all-out at least once every few days. Greyhounds are not built for endurance, they are sprinters , so they don’t want or need hours of jogging exercise.
This sensitive breed prefers peace and quiet and soft-spoken people. He does not do well in an environment with chronic tension or loud voices. Most Greyhounds are politely reserved with strangers, and prefer to lean against their owner’s leg rather than approaching people they don’t know.
Greyhounds are peaceful with other dogs who are medium to large in size. But because of their heritage, they can be a serious chaser of stranger cats and tiny dogs. However, many individuals can learn to coexist with these smaller pets.
Greyhounds are nonaggressive (they tend to freeze when challenged or attacked) and they can be touch-sensitive (startling when touched unexpectedly). Because they are so docile, they must be trained with a very light hand and much more praise than correction.
This quiet dog seldom barks. (But many individuals take great delight in stealing and hoarding food and toys!)
If you want a dog who…
Has a tall, slender, elegant build
Has a sleek easy-care coat that comes in many colors
Is extremely athletic and graceful – can run swiftly and jump
Has a calmness and quiet dignity that is often likened to a cat
Is polite with people and other dogs
A Greyhound may be right for you.
If you don’t want to deal with…
Providing a safe area where he can occasionally gallop
Instincts to chase other living creatures that run
Potential for fearfulness or timidity if not socialized enough
An independent “what’s in it for me?” attitude toward training
Emotional sensitivity to stress and abrupt changes in schedule
Slowness to housebreak
A Greyhound may not be right for you…
Keep in mind that the inheritance of temperament is less predictable than the inheritance of physical traits such as size or shedding. Temperament and behavior are also shaped by raising and training.
If you want a puppy, you can avoid some negative traits by choosing the right breeder and the right puppy. Unfortunately, you usually can’t tell whether a puppy has inherited temperament or health problems until he grows up.
If I was considering a Greyhound, I would be most concerned about…
Providing enough running exercise. Greyhounds don’t need miles of running, but they also can’t get by with a small yard and leashed walks around the block. They’re content to be couch potatoes, yes, but only if they have regular access to a large area where they can gallop for a bit .
See if there is a dog club in your area that offers an activity called lure coursing, which is chasing a mechanical lure in a controlled setting. This is an appropriate outlet for the full-speed galloping behaviors that are “hardwired” into your Greyhound’s genes.
Chasing other animals that run. Greyhounds are usually fine with the pets in their own family. But they are lightning-fast, and individuals with a strong prey instinct could seriously injure or kill any small running animal.
The independent temperament.
Sighthounds are very different from other kinds of dogs. They won’t try to haul you around on the leash like many other breeds do; instead they might display passive resistance by bracing their legs and refusing to move at all. Greyhounds are independent thinkers who don’t particularly care about pleasing you, so you need to rely on establishing the right leader-follower relationship where your Greyhound understands that you mean what you say.
Be honest… is there tension in your home? Are people loud or angry or emotional? Are there arguments? Greyhounds are extremely sensitive to stress and can end up literally sick to their stomachs, with severe digestive upsets and neurotic behaviors, if the people in their home are having family problems. Sighthounds are peaceful dogs who need a peaceful, harmonious home.
Should you consider a Greyhound if you have young children? It depends on the individual dog and the individual children. These sensitive dogs often feel overwhelmed by the loud voices and quick movements that children can’t help making – and stress and shyness may be the result. Personally I prefer to recommend Greyhounds for adult-only homes.
© by Michele Welton