is a breed of dog used for hunting and racing. It is one of
the fastest land mammals; its combination of long, powerful legs, deep chests
and aerodynamic build allows it to reach speeds of up to 72 km/h (45 mph).
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Dogs (males) are usually 71 to 76 cm (28 to 30 inches) tall at the withers
and weigh around 29 to 36 kg (65 to 90 pounds). Bitches (females) tend to be
smaller with shoulder heights ranging from 68 to 71 cm (27 to 28 inches) and
weights from 27 to 31 kg (50 to 75 pounds). Greyhounds have very short hair,
which is easy to maintain. There are approximately thirty recognized colour
forms, of which variations of white, brindle, fawn, black, red and blue (grey)
can appear uniquely or in combination.
Although greyhounds are extremely fast, they are not high-energy dogs. They
are sprinters, and although they love running, they do not require extensive
exercise once they leave the track. Most are quiet, gentle animals. Greyhounds
are often referred to as "Forty-five mile per hour couch potatoes."
Greyhounds can make good pets because of their mild and affectionate
character. They can get along well with children, dogs and other family pets
(though are sometimes not safe with smaller pet animals). Greyhounds are
generally loyal, tractable dogs with developed intellects, although their
territorial instinct is weak and they make poor guard dogs. Their talents
include sighting and coursing. They do not have undercoats and therefore are
less likely to trigger people's dog allergies (greyhounds are sometimes
incorrectly referred to as "hypoallergenic"). Most greyhounds that live as pets
are adopted after they retire from racing.
Most companion greyhounds are kept on a leash because their hunting
background has instilled a strong desire to chase things (prey drive).
Greyhounds can live in an urban setting but require moderate exercise on a
regular basis. They enjoy walking and running outside.
An adult greyhound will stay healthy and happy with a daily walk of as little
as 20 to 30 minutes.
A greyhound painting by Alfred Dedreux
Popularly, the breed's origin is believed to be traced to ancient Egypt,
where a bas-relief depicting a smooth-coated Saluki (Persian Greyhound) or
Sloughi was found in a tomb built in 4000 BC. Analyses of DNA reported in 2004,
however, suggest that the greyhound is not closely related to these breeds, but
is a close relative to herding dogs.
Historically, these sight hounds were used primarily for hunting in the open
where their keen eyesight is valuable. It is believed that they (or at least
similarly-named dogs) were introduced to England in the 5th and 6th centuries BC
from Celtic mainland Europe.
The name "greyhound" is generally believed to come from the Old English
grighund. "Hund" is the antecedent of the modern "hound", but the meaning of
"grig" is undetermined, other than in reference to dogs in Old English and
Norse. Its origin does not appear to have any common root with the modern word
"grey" for colour, and indeed the greyhound is seen with a wide variety of
According to Pokorny's Indogermanisches Woerterbuch (p. 441-442) the
English name "greyhound" does not mean "gray dog/hound", but simply "fair dog".
Subsequent words have been derived from the Proto-Indo-European root *g'her-
'shine, twinkle': English gray, Old High German gris 'grey, old',
Old Icelandic griss 'piglet, pig', Old Icelandic gryja 'to dawn',
gryjandi 'morning twilight', Old Irish grian 'sun', Old Church
Slavonic zorja 'morning twilight, brightness'. The common sense of these
words is 'to shine; bright'.
Until the early twentieth century, greyhounds were principally bred and
trained for coursing. During the early 1920s, modern greyhound racing was
introduced into the United States and introduced into United Kingdom and Ireland
In the late 20th century several Greyhound adoption groups were formed. The
early groups were formed in large part out of a sense of concern about the
treatment of the dogs while living on the track. These groups began taking
greyhounds from the racetracks when they could no longer compete and placing
them in adoptive homes. Previously, in the United States over 20,000 retired
greyhounds a year were killed; recent estimates still number in the thousands,
with about 90% of National Greyhound Association-registered animals either being
adopted, or returned for breeding purposes (according to the industry numbers
upwards of 2000 dogs are still killed annually in the US).
Accidents and disease are also common killers among racing greyhounds. In
2005, an epidemic of respiratory failure killed dozens of dogs and left over
1200 quarantined in the U.S., particularly in Massachusetts, Colorado, Iowa and
The vast majority of greyhounds are bred for racing, leading registered
American Kennel Club dogs about 150:1, and as such each dog is issued a
Bertillon card, which measures 56 distinct identifying traits, and the Bertillon
number is tattooed on the dog's ear, so as to ensure that the dog who races is
in fact the dog it is claimed to be. However, not all National Greyhound
Association registered dogs race. There are several reasons why some greyhounds
- The dog is too slow.
- The dog has physical defects.
- The dog does not have the required temperament.
- The dog is not raised in a country where racing is popular.
- The dog is bred for showing instead of racing.
Most greyhounds finish racing between two and five years of age. Some retired
racing greyhounds have injuries that may follow them for the remainder of their
Due to the unique physiology and anatomy of greyhounds, a veterinarian who
understands the issues relevant to the breed is generally needed when the dogs
need treatment, particularly when anaesthesia is required. Greyhounds
demonstrate unusual blood chemistry, which can be misread by veterinarians not
familiar with the breed; this can result in an incorrect diagnosis. Also,
greyhounds have much less fat than other dogs, and therefore cannot metabolize
anaesthesia as quickly. Female greyhounds are sometimes administered hormone
supplements during their racing career; these can lead to an elevated risk of
cancer. As well, greyhounds have higher levels of red
blood cells than do other breeds: since red blood cells carry oxygen to the
muscles, this helps the breed's speed. Veterinary blood services often use
greyhounds as many are universal blood donors.
In the media
- Simpson's Santa's Little Helper
- The most widely recognized greyhound in popular culture is the fictional
character Santa's Little Helper from the Fox Broadcasting Company's animated
series, The Simpsons.
- The character Santa's Little Helper exhibits many of the intellectual and
behavioural characteristics of the typical greyhound as a pet. He is portrayed
as affectionate, tolerant of other household pets (notably cats), loyal, and not
- Don Quixote
In the novel Don Quixote, by Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, the
protagonist imagined that his flea bitten mutt was a fine greyhound.
An additional peculiarity of greyhounds is that they have a hinged spine,
which is unique in the animal world. As a result, greyhounds have a small
"divot" in their back, set just behind their shoulder blades.
The racing gait of the greyhound is a double suspension gallop, in which all
four feet are off the ground twice during each full stride.
The key to the speed of a greyhound can be found in its streamlined shape,
large lungs, heart and muscles, the double suspension gallop and the flexibility
of the spine.
hunting in C 1460
- The Greyhound is the mascot of the following college sports teams:
- Assumption College
- University of Indianapolis
- Loyola College in Maryland
- Eastern New Mexico University
- The OHL hockey team in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada is called the
- There is an indoor football team based in West Virginia called the Ohio
- Greyhound was the name of several roller coasters in the United States and
Canada. None of these rides operate today.
- In Australia, racing Greyhounds are commonly known in slang terminology as
"Dish Lickers" eg. "I just won 50 bucks at the Dish Lickers".
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My greyhound is called Buster and
he is really fast