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Greyhound Dog Breed information: Facts, Traits, Pictures & More

Are you considering a Greyhound for your next family pet, but aren't sure what to expect? While these pups were popular as racing dogs for decades, they have become increasingly popular as family companion pets. Find out everything you need to know about the breed, including personality traits, puppy costs, exercise needs, and more!

Michelle Schenker

Last Updated: September 28, 2021 | 19 min read

Greyhound Dog standing tall in lawn

With their lightning-fast running speed, Greyhounds have made a great name for themselves as the fastest dog in the world. They run at around 45 miles per hour, which is an incredible feat. Greyhounds have been around since ancient times, both as a royal status symbol and as the fearless companions of hunters. This has made them much beloved for countless generations. Many Greyhounds still partake in the hunt, with their impressive agility scoring the win in the fields and forests. The Greyhound is a fantastic athlete, and does well in competitive agility, obedience, and lure coursing.

More commonly these days, Greyhounds make wonderful family pets. They are very sweet dogs who are highly affectionate. They thrive best in homes where they can get lots of attention and will be patient and content even among kids. You will quickly find that this breed is full of surprises. Truthfully, the Greyhound is actually more content to laze around on the couch than to be in constant exercise– plus points if it means cuddling with family.

In this article, we will detail everything you need to know about this spectacular dog, especially if you plan on bringing one into your life. We’ll outline their breed history, plus their temperament, appearance, and what you must need to know about caring for them. Learning about them thoroughly will help you give your Greyhound the best life possible. Ready to get started? Let’s get off to the races.

Greyhound
    • weight iconWeight50-85 pounds
    • height iconHeight27-30 inches
    • lifespan iconLifespan10-15 years
    • color iconColorsGray, Fawn, Blue, Silver, Black, Cream, Red, White, or any Combination
  • Child Friendliness
  • Canine Friendliness
  • Training Difficulty
  • Grooming Upkeep
  • Breed Health
  • Exercise Needs
  • Puppy Costs

Breed History

Tan Skinny Dog Running Fast
The Greyhound was bred in Ancient Egypt to be hunters, guard dogs and pets.

The Greyhound’s story is a difficult one to begin, particularly because they emerged so long ago. It is surmised that the Greyhound is one of the oldest purebred dogs in the world. Greyhound bones have been found in Mesopotamian graves dating back to the Ubaid Period in 5000 BCE. They’ve been revered in Ancient Egypt as a hunting companion, guard dogs, and pets for many centuries. In truth, they were the favored dogs of the pharaohs and stayed at their sides during their masters’ rule. Greyhounds themselves were revered enough to be buried side-by-side with their pharaohs, as well as their other masters of noble blood.

It is said that Greyhounds are descendants of the very first sighthounds. These sighthounds had seen renown in Ancient Greece and Rome. Scholars believe that the dog Argos, from Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey, was defined in ways that clearly depicted a sighthound. Argos had recognized Odysseus in disguise even 20 years after he had been away from home. Greyhounds had their place in both courts and fields as valued companions. However, the Greyhound’s storied past came with its challenges, too. After some centuries had passed, the Middle Ages brought about a terrible famine that nearly drove the Greyhound to extinction. Somehow, they remained resilient, and with the help of priests who bred them for the nobility, the Greyhound population stabilized.

Greyhounds were brought to the United States by people migrating from Europe. They were recognized by the AKC in 1885, along with 14 other breeds. Over time, as the world industrialized, hunting fell out of favor with the upper echelon. Greyhounds still had a place in the world with coursing and later racing. Owen Patrick Smith brought the sport to America in the early 1900s with his invention of the artificial lure, revolutionizing Greyhound racing. The popularity of Greyhound racing soared throughout the 20th Century, though it had begun to decline in England in the 1970s. In 1991, Greyhound racing reached its peak, being the sixth most popular spectator sport. However, since then, the sport has declined significantly.

Throughout the history of Greyhound racing, there have been many opposed to it– and for good reason. Many of them are injured in the races; from 2008 to 2018, at least 15,000 Greyhound injuries were reported. Many of these dogs die. These dogs are also kept in confinement for long hours, in cages not big enough for proper movement. Greyhounds bred for racing who aren’t deemed profitable are also often euthanized. These are just some of the reasons Greyhound racing is losing its favor in the States.

We hope these final tracks come to a close in the near future. With all the racers being retired, we urge you to check your shelters to see if there is someone you can adopt. Despite contributing to canine overpopulation, Greyhounds are the 142nd most popular dog in America, according to the AKC’s list of 195 breeds. Bringing one of these dogs home is like owning an incredible piece of history. It’s your job to return them to the status of beloved canine companion, pampered like in the palaces of the pharaohs and kings.

Temperament

Tan Skinny Dog Standing in Field of Flowers
The Greyhound is known to be very friendly, affectionate and a bit shy.

There are plenty of good things to be said about the Greyhound. The AKC describes them as “gentle, independent, [and] noble”. These dogs are friendly and affectionate, never aggressive. They also have their moments of needing to be still and quiet, which may paint them as being a bit cat-like.

While they may be the fastest runners among dogs, Greyhounds are actually quite content to not exercise too vigorously. As long as you give them something to do in the home, they will be happy. This makes them a good choice for many different kinds of families, even those that do not have time to bring their dogs out for very long walks.

Greyhounds have a very sensitive nature, so take care not to be unkind to them. They are prone to being timid when they get nervous, so they will need a calm and patient owner to assuage their fears. Their gentleness is precisely what makes them great pets for the family. They are very sweet dogs who do great with kids and other pets. However, if you have smaller animals in the home, they may not be too compatible.

Greyhounds, having been bred for the hunt, will have a high prey drive. Smaller animals can thus be seen as quarry to them, and so they may chase them all around the house. If you can manage to get past this, you’ll find they are very loving dogs who may need more attention than most. This breed is susceptible to developing separation anxiety, so ensure they are not left alone for extended periods of time.

Greyhounds do not make very good watch dogs because they do not bark very often. While you may not be able to count on them to let you know when new people are around, these dogs are usually happy to meet new people. If not, they are still almost always polite.

Eager to please if given the right motivations, this sighthound can be trained to do a wide variety of tasks. This is why they are well suited to working as service dogs. Their personable characteristics also allow them to do great as therapy dogs for people who need canine companionship.

Size and Appearance

Tall Skinny White Dog Standing on a Rock in a Field
Tall and aerodynamic, this dog has a very unique look.

Greyhounds have an iconic look that makes them instantly recognizable. They are tall, athletic, and sleek, with a perfectly aerodynamic body that allows for great running speed. Greyhounds are a medium-large dog with gorgeous bone structures standing at around 28 to 30 inches at the shoulder for males, while females stand at 27 to 28 inches. Males weigh anywhere from 65 to 85 pounds, whereas females weigh 50 to 65 pounds.

Greyhounds’ heads are long and narrow. It is wide between the ears. Their muzzles are good and long, described by the AKC as “powerful without coarseness”. They have even and strong teeth. A Greyhound’s ears are small, folded, and thrown back, though they can usually prick up when they are excited. Their eyes are intelligent and bright, of a dark brown color. Noses and lips are both black.

It’s neck is long and muscular with a slight arch that widens gradually into their shoulders. With no sizable difference between the neck and head diameter, a harness is a better choice than a standard collar. Their shoulders are also muscular, placed obliquely. They have deep chests that are wide enough for maximum speed; the ribs are fairly well-sprung. Their backs are well-defined with good muscular features. Their loins are well-arched, giving them the famous “inverted S” shape.

The tail is long and tapered, curving slightly upward. Their forequarters are straight, neither turned in nor out, with strong pasterns. They have very long hind legs that give them their champion running abilities. Their hindquarters are strong and powerful; they are well let down allowing for a stance that slants upwards. Their hocks are close to the ground. Greyhounds’ feet are hard and close-toed, somewhat like a hare’s.

If you are seeking a slightly smaller dog with similar characteristics and personality, you might consider its smaller cousin, the Whippet.

Coat and Colors

Two Skinny Spotted Dogs Face to Face
The Greyhound has a very smooth fine coat that comes in a variety of different colors.

Greyhounds have thin coats, with short hair that runs over their bodies. The coat is smooth and fine and lends itself well to grooming. Their thin coats mean that they are ill-suited to colder temperatures, so be sure to keep them warm when the winter comes. Unfortunately, despite lack of coat density, Greyhounds are not hypoallergenic.

It is interesting to note that the AKC doesn’t particularly have a standard for the Greyhound’s coat color. As such they can come in a variety of colors and patterns— truly no two are alike. Greyhounds can come in any of the following colors: gray, blue, black, fawn, silver, red, cream, and white. Combinations of these colors are also seen, especially with white. You may also see Greyhounds in a brindle patterning, where dark flecks of color are seen on a tawny coat.

Exercise

Skinny Tall Brindle Dog Running with Toy
Known for their speed, these race dogs are surprisingly low energy and love to cuddle.

While they are truly the champion runners of the dog world, Greyhounds have medium-low energy requirements. They will not need strenuous activity and will much prefer taking a walk with you than doing anything too exhausting. However, given how fast they can run, you must always keep your Greyhound on a leash, as they will very quickly outrun you and get lost. Training them to do well on a leash is imperative, so be sure that this is done as early as possible.

Greyhounds have a high prey drive and are very happy to chase after any smaller creatures they come across. For the same reason, when letting your dog outside in the yard, make sure that the fence is well secured. Greyhounds are also prone to wanderlust, so the fence is non-negotiable.

Beyond this, just make sure that your Greyhound has plenty to do at home. Giving them toys and activities will help curb destructive behavior that may arise when they get bored. As long as they are physically and mentally stimulated, your Greyhound will have no trouble adjusting to apartment life, though they will also be fine in larger homes. The fact that they do not bark very often makes them well suited for urban living, as well as rural living.

Living Requirements

Gray Skinny Dog Laying in a Bed
Their short hair makes them susceptible to cold, so it’s best to keep them warm when the temperature drops.

Greyhounds are easily cold, so if you live in a very cold area, be sure to give your dog a nice sweater so that they can still enjoy taking walks outside. Ensure that your home is well equipped with a heater so that your dog does not get chilly. Warmer weather is fine for Greyhounds, though it is still important to give them plenty of shade and water in the summer months. It’s also worth mentioning that since your Greyhound is quite tall, their food and water dishes will need to be elevated.

Training

Skinny Brindle Dog Sitting

Be sure to take your sighthound’s sensitive nature into consideration during training.
Greyhounds take fairly well to training, though you should still take care not to upset them. As previously mentioned, these dogs are quite sensitive and will take any perceived harshness very personally. If you find that your dog is being stubborn, you should guide them patiently, but with firmness and confidence.

Establishing your role as their leader will help them understand that you are supposed to be taken seriously. Obedience training should begin the moment that they come home. It is worth mentioning though, that Greyhounds may have trouble with the “sit” command, as sitting can be an unnatural position to them.

Establishing a good rapport with your dog is essential to harmonious home life. The best way to do this is with positive reinforcement. Giving your dog lots of pets, praise, and treats can really help them stay motivated. After general obedience and leash training has finished, you can then move on to more complicated tricks. If you would like, you can even train your Greyhound to do things they do best, like competitive agility and lure coursing. As long as you have established a good relationship with your dog, this shouldn’t be too difficult to master.

Socializing your Greyhound is very important, as they can be prone to being shy. Like with obedience training, socialization begins from the very moment they become part of your family. teaching them to get used to new people, animals, places, and situations will do wonders for their mental health.

In case they are still timid around members of the family, it may be a good idea to introduce them gently over the period of a few weeks, and keep them separated when necessary. This is especially true for adopted Greyhounds. In case you have a Greyhound puppy, enrolling them in puppy kindergarten classes will be great for their self-esteem. This helps them learn how to behave appropriately around other dogs, and may lead to fewer mishaps when playing with the other dogs in your home.

Health

Skinny Gray and White Dog Standing in Grass
Always make sure to find a reputable breeder when considering any dog breed.

Greyhounds are fairly healthy dogs; you can further ensure their health by purchasing one from a reputable breeder. Good breeders will do all the screening necessary to guarantee a good bill of health for your dog. Greyhounds can live anywhere from 10 to 15 years. Taking care of your dog’s health will help you make the most of those years, and may even extend their time with you.

However, it is important to note that like all dogs, Greyhounds are still susceptible to illness. By understanding these illnesses ahead of time, you can really make a difference in the quality of your dog’s life. This will also help you know what to tell your veterinarian in case any symptoms arise. While not all Greyhounds will experience these illnesses, it’s still good to keep the information on hand. We have listed three common ailments that Greyhounds may experience below.

Hip Dysplasia

Since Greyhounds do a lot of running, it is important to understand the symptoms of hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is commonly obtained as a hereditary disease. Good breeders will always screen for this condition, so be sure to ask your breeder if your Greyhound is susceptible to it. Hip dysplasia is a condition where your dog’s thigh bone does not fit properly into their hip socket. This can manifest as limping, an unusual gait, or a strange posture. This condition is very painful and must be avoided at all costs. Treatment options exist, such as weight loss, anti-inflammatory drugs, and physical therapy.

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is a hormonal condition wherein the thyroid gland is underactive. Signs of the disease include weight gain, hair loss, skin thickening and darkening, lethargy, and irregular heat cycles. Your dog may also become infertile. This condition is lifelong, so it is important to keep an eye out for it. Hypothyroidism is treated with a daily thyroid medication that regulates your dog’s hormones. As long as medication is given regularly, your Greyhound should have no trouble living a happy and healthy life.

Gastric Torsion

Since your Greyhound has a deep chest, it is possible for them to develop gastric torsion or bloat. This is a serious and potentially fatal condition. Gastric torsion occurs when the stomach becomes distended with air that is unable to be expelled and then twists. As the dog is unable to vomit, their blood pressure drops, and they go into shock. This condition needs immediate veterinary attention. You can detect gastric torsion by looking for the following signs:

  • Distended belly
  • Retching without vomiting
  • Restlessness
  • Excessive drooling
  • Increased heart rate

Fortunately, gastric torsion is easily avoided. This condition is triggered If your dog eats too quickly and too much, drinks water in excess, and exercises too soon after meals. Giving your dog the right amount of food and water can help reduce the chances of bloat occurring. For their safety, allow them to exercise only after at least an hour has passed since their last meal.

Nutrition

Brown and White Dog Profile Licking Lips
These big dogs need a high-quality, well-balanced diet through each life stage.

You’ll need to give your Greyhound a well-balanced diet to keep them healthy all throughout their life. Nutrition is the foundation of good health in all living beings, and your Greyhound is no exception. Your dog will need proper nutrition to help them develop healthy bodies throughout their puppyhood. Puppyhood is the most important developmental stage of your dog’s life.

In the adult and senior years, the focus of your dog’s nutrition will shift to maintaining a healthy body and good vitality. For this reason, it is imperative that you give your dog food appropriate for their life stage. This ensures proper growth during puppyhood and stellar health through the years.

There are many different types of food available on the market, which can make shopping quite confusing. Fortunately, the easiest option for your dog’s nutrition is also the best. All-natural, dry kibble is the way to go, as it contains the balanced nutrients necessary to maintain complete health. It is wise to stay away from food that advertises itself as being good for “all life stages”, as each life stage will have very different needs. Also, avoid products containing artificial ingredients, as these will only be detrimental to your dog’s health.

Deciding portion sizes for your Greyhound will depend on a few different factors. These are age, size, and activity level. Since your Greyhound does not have very high energy needs, they will not be eating as much as other dogs in their breed size. This is, of course, provided that they aren’t engaging in sports such as competitive agility. Your Greyhound puppy will need nutrient-dense food to help them grow up strong; their portion sizes will change as they grow.

As adults, Greyhounds will need more food, though it will not be as calorie-dense. Seniors eat the least amount of food but require plenty of protein to keep muscles strong. Your veterinarian can assist you in choosing the right amount of food for your dog. Feeding them too much can lead to obesity, which opens the door to many preventable diseases.

If you find your canine has developed pickiness, there are a few different ways to address this. First, be more firm about their eating times. Leave their food out for 30 minutes; if it goes untouched, take it away. Keep the food away from your dog until their next meal. This helps them understand that their food will not always be available to them and will thus provide a sense of urgency during mealtime. Another approach is to introduce wet food into the dry kibble in order to make it more palatable.

Grooming

Skinny Brindle Dog in Bath
Due to their high shedding nature, they are certainly not hypoallergenic.

Unfortunately for allergy sufferers, Greyhounds shed a good bit and thus are not hypoallergenic. Since they shed a lot, you will need to brush your Greyhound daily in order to get rid of the excess fur. However, this is easily done. Simply use a rubber curry brush on them as necessary.

As for bathing, your Greyhound does not need frequent baths. But, when it is bath time, it’s best to use a mild dog shampoo. The water must be warm, as the Greyhound gets cold very easily. Take care to rinse well, leaving no trace of soap residue behind. Soapy residue can cause irritation to your dog’s skin. In between bathing, you can wipe them down to get the dirt off. This breed does a good job of keeping itself clean.

It’s important to clean your Greyhound’s ears regularly; this helps to prevent infection. Excess wax and debris can be removed by wiping on the visible parts of the ear with a cotton ball and ear cleaning solution from the vet. If your dog’s nails do not wear down on their own, be sure to trim them once or twice a month to prevent splitting, cracking, and injury.

Lastly, be sure to take good care of your Greyhound’s teeth. This breed is prone to poor dental health, which can cause many different diseases. Regularly using a toothbrush and toothpaste specifically made for dogs will help keep your dog’s breath smelling excellent and keep their teeth free of plaque and tartar.

To make grooming time as easy as possible for your dog, it’s a good idea to incorporate this into their training. Using basic obedience commands can truly help the process flow much more smoothly. Especially for this sensitive pup, grooming must be a soothing experience. gently guiding them during their grooming will help them look forward to the activity, and make it a special bonding activity for the both of you.

Breeders and Puppy Costs

Two Small Tan and White Puppies
Expect to pay $1,000 to $2,500 for a Greyhound puppy.

Adopting a Greyhound from a reputable source is a great way to bring a fantastic dog into your life. However, you must be careful and do your research; there are many irresponsible breeders out there. Many unscrupulous breeders have set up puppy mills where profit is the only thing taken into consideration, and the dogs are not cared for. These places are unsanitary, with little access to fresh air, food, and water. Puppy mills will not have any respect for the animals, and will often abuse dogs to secure maximum puppy production. Be responsible and avoid these breeders at all costs.

On the other hand, plenty of Greyhound breeders love and respect the dogs they raise. You can see this if your breeder is enthusiastic about the breed and eager to show you where the dogs live. The puppies’ home will be clean and comfortable, with lots of different things to play with.

Good breeders will also be happy to let you get to know your puppy in the weeks before bringing them home for a better transition into home life together. They will be happy to answer any questions that you may have about your dog, plus the most important things you need to know about raising your new puppy. They will also give you veterinary certification for tests, vaccinations, and deworming done.

If you are looking to find a good breeder for your new puppy, you’ll be glad to know that many resources exist to help point you in the right direction. You can start with your veterinarian to see if they have any leads. Dog shows are also a great way to get information, especially if somebody has a Greyhound they love themselves. This also helps you get in touch with the local dog lover community, which is always a plus!

There are also forums and social media sites online full of enthusiasts who are willing to help you. Lastly, the AKC has put together this useful resource for breeder referrals, if you need more help. Since they are prized dogs, expect to pay $1,000 to $2,500 for a Greyhound puppy, with show-quality dogs costing more.

Rescues and Shelters

Tan Tall Skinny Dog Standing in Front of Camera
Always consider adoption before purchasing a new puppy or dog.

While going to a responsible breeder is always a good option, we always recommend that our readers adopt and not shop. Adopting from a rescue or shelter is always a noble thing to do. Given the decline of Greyhound racing, it’s highly possible to find a purebred Greyhound among the dogs at some shelters.

Many dogs up for adoption are going to be older or will have special needs. This makes them less adoptable than others, so we urge you to try and give one of these dogs a second chance at life. They make fantastic dogs, especially if you put extra love and care into them. There are 3.1 million dogs left in shelters each year, with many of them being euthanized. Adopting a dog is saving a life.

When picking out a Greyhound to rescue, you should ask the staff everything you will need to know about your new dog. Understanding everything about them, from their temperament to health issues, will allow you to give your dog the best life possible.  When you know about your dog’s special needs, there is less guesswork that goes into caring for them.

Always remember these sighthounds are sensitive, and even more so if they are from a shelter. Be patient with your new furry friend. They are likely to be frightened by their new environment and may act timid around the people and animals they must get to know. Since this time can be very stressful, make sure to love your dog with all the gentleness you can muster. Treat them kindly, and they will adjust to their new home in no time. You will find your rescued Greyhound back to their very special selves sooner rather than later.

If you are looking for a Greyhound to rescue, many different sources can point you in the right direction. Here are two excellent resources to help you unite with your newest canine companion as fast as they can run.

As Family Pets

In general, Greyhounds are:

  • Long prized in history and served as pets of royalty and nobility all over the world. As such, they make great companions.
  • Gentle, kind, and sensitive dogs who will do well in most family arrangements.
  • Friendly, but should not be kept around smaller animals due to their high prey drive. They will chase these pets and can cause them harm.
  • Highly affectionate, making them great for cuddles. However, they may develop separation anxiety if left alone for too long.
  • Quiet and do not bark excessively.
  • Happy in an apartment setting as long as they get their exercise.
  • Low-energy and do not need much vigorous exercise. A daily walk around the neighborhood will do.
  • Tall and need their food and water bowls raised to accommodate their height.
  • Short-haired and do not do well in cold weather, so be sure to keep them warm.
  • Shedders but can be easily managed with daily brushing.
  • Prone to poor dental health, so brush their teeth regularly.

Final Thoughts

While there will always be some trouble in raising a new dog, we believe that Greyhounds are great enough to be more than worth it. Your dog will have so much to give you, so it is important that you give them the love and devotion they need to live their very best life. This way, you can enjoy all your time together.

These sighthounds are sweet and wonderful canines who will be more than happy to be your best furry friend. This adventure that you share with your dog will make all the difference in helping them live happily. Equipped with the knowledge from this guide, you should be well on your way to understanding your dog’s wants and needs. Getting to know your new dog will come naturally because you understand how best to make them happy. You’ll soon find your new Greyhound having a place in your heart just as quickly as they can run.

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