Owning a Retired Racing Greyhound

"Thoughts of a Greyhound" by Kathleen Gilley is an essay worth reading - it really makes one think about a Greyhound's life before their forever home and what their thought process may be, it possibly lead the reader to be a better dog owner in general!

Why Should You Adopt a Greyhound?

Greyhounds are a gentle breed of dog.  They are an affectionate, quiet and low-shedding breed.  They tend to get along well with other pets and children of all ages.

Many people think that Greyhounds need many hours of exercise or that they are "hyper-active", this is untrue (with very few exceptions, and even those calm down quickly).

Because of what they are bred for - running short distance races - they are sprinters, not long distance runners.  Yes, they do need playtime and on-leash walks, but not hours and hours of this; they would rather spend hours sleeping on the couch!

Greyhounds are not "hypoallergenic" - no dog truly is no matter what their fur type is.  However, many people with allergies to dogs have no problems owning a Grey as their coats are so short with little to no undercoat - their skin also produces less oils, so "dog-smell" isn't an issue.  Some Greys will affect people less than others, and there is often an adjustment time getting used to the new allergen in your home -as there would be with any new allergen - but Greys are another option for the allergic.

They rarely bark so they are not suitable for a watchdog, they might even snore at an intruder.
 
Greyhounds generally stand between 26 and 29 inches tall and weigh between 50 and 80 pounds.  They come in many different colors and in different combinations of those colors.  Females do tend to be smaller than the males.  Most ex-racers are between 2 and 5 years old when they go into rescue - but Greys are long-lived for large dogs; 12 - 14 years is common, often longer!

No matter what age a Greyhound is when adopted they will bond tightly to their new family - the affection they give is very rewarding!
Things to Seriously Think About Before You Adopt:

When Greyhounds come off the track they have almost never been in a house so everything is new to them.  Stairs, vacuums, large windows, food on counters, doorbells, small children running around, riding in the car (some are used to that from going to meet & greets), shiny or carpeted floors, and much more.  So you have to introduce these new things slowly and give your new Greyhound family member time to adjust to different situations. Greyhounds are used to being on a schedule after years of living in kennels; if you give them a regular daily routine for feeding and pottying they will quickly adapt to it.

One of the biggest things Greyhounds must learn is to be housetrained.  They are kennel trained, which means at the race track they were in their kennels (crates) - then in the turn-out pen where they potty, or on the track to race - then right back into their kennels.  You should have a good-sized crate for your Greyhound when they come home.  For the first couple of weeks they need to be in your sight or in their crate.  That way you can keep an eye on them and see when they are about to go and get them right outside to do so.  And praise, praise, praise for pottying outside.  Pick a phrase like "go potty" and have them associate that with going outside to do so.  Then the dog will learn to go on command that way.

After a couple of weeks you can start to leave the crate door open for your dog to go in and out, giving them their first freedom in the house.  If they slide back and do relieve themselves in the house, start all over again.  Greyhounds learn very quickly, be gentle as well as firm and consistent; they will learn anything you want to teach them.  Being a gentle and soft dog all you will ever need to to correct them is a sternly said "No."

Speaking of soft; because Greyhounds have thin skin and little body fat they need access to soft bedding for whenever and wherever they lay down.

Greyhounds have very little hair and almost no body fat so they get cold - or overheated - very easily.  Greyhounds are indoor dogs, they absolutely cannot ever be kept as outside pets - no matter what season. Warm coats are strongly advised for any extended time spent outside in the colder months.  And if they walk where salt has been laid to prevent ice - like city sidewalks in the Winter - their feet need to be washed off when they come inside so the salt does not abrade their foot pads raw.

Greyhounds are sight hounds, which means if they see something possibly worth chasing their instincts will kick in and they will give chase.  You cannot catch a Greyhound as they can easily hit over 40 M.P.H. in their first few strides.  Because of this they need to be kept on lead or in a fenced-in area.  If you want to give them a bit more freedom in an unfenced area, some have found that holding them on a long training-style lead attached to a harness works well.

Do not ever "hitch out" your Greyhound; they have very delicate bones and if they ran to the end of the hitch at top speed they will badly hurt - and possibly break - the bones in their neck.

DO NOT USE retractable a.k.a. flexi-leads.  EVER.  Retractable leads are hard to keep a hold of, especially if your hound spooks or bolts.  Even the soundest happiest hounds can and will do this on occasion - and that heavy handle clattering after them will do nothing but make them run further, faster, and with more fear!!!  Greyhounds will easily run their paws to shreds, this is why their race tracks are covered in sand.  Actually, retractable leads are not a great idea for almost all dogs - it's a rare dog and owner that they will work properly for; it takes a dog that is not easily spooked and a leash-holder who has excellent responses and strenth to use a retractable successfully.

A Martingale-style collar, a good harness and a regular lead are best for walking your Greyhound. (The writer of this page highly recommends harnesses from 2Hounds because of the Martingale-type structure and because the straps are covered where they could chafe the most - greyt for thinner-coated dogs!)