5 Things to Know About Greyhounds

Good To Know


1. Key Characteristics

  • AKC Group: Hound
  • Height: 24–28 inches
  • Weight: Typically 65–70 pounds for males, 60–65 pounds for females
  • Life Expectancy: 12–15 years

Greyhounds are tall, lean and muscular dogs built for hunting and speed. They have short, smooth coats and can be any color.

2. Where They Came From

Tomb carvings depicting the dogs were discovered in ancient Egypt originating from around 2900 B.C. At times, the dogs were bred only by royalty, and they were avid hunters in England (rabbit is their quintessential antagonist). They appeared in the United States with Spanish settlers in the 1500s, and greyhounds were among the first recorded dogs to attend the first Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. They became recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1885.

Greyhounds were and still are, despite the protests of animal rights activists, used for racing. Greyhounds retire from racing, and some have difficulty finding a home (sadly, the unlucky ones never make it that far). Greyhounds that have been used for racing usually have an ear tattoo for identification.

Greyhounds are fast — really fast. By: Jose Manuel Gelpi Diaz (Top: Mikkel Bigandt)

3. How Friendly Are They?

Hounds who love to hunt game are independent by nature, and greyhounds don’t take commands well without positive and patient reinforcement, but they can be trained. These are loyal, lovable, affectionate pets who prefer the company of humans and dogs alike. They have a lower tolerance than most breeds when it comes to children. A household with children younger than 8 is not recommended for a greyhound.

Greyhounds have a tendency to grab any food in sight, so use gates to contain this area or train your pet to avoid this behavior. Greyhounds are also couch potatoes and love to snuggle (and they have an affinity for long naps on soft sofas and beds).

They don’t perform well with crating for several hours at a time and may experience separation anxiety. Barriers or baby gates are recommended to contain the dog to a specific area that’s not too small. Bathrooms are not acceptable as a containment or crating option for greyhounds and should be avoided.

4. Is This the Right Dog for You?

Exercise Needs

MEDIUM: Greyhounds enjoy exercise more than they need it. They are lean and muscular, so they should not allowed to become inactive, but a short daily walk or run around the yard a few times per day is sufficient. Greyhounds can run really, really fast — in fact, they are the fastest breed of dog — so keep yours on a leash when walking outside the home.

Greyhounds are sensitive to extreme temperatures and cannot live outdoors.

Grooming Needs

LOW: The greyhound’s coat is a single, thin layer that is short and smooth. As with most animals, some shedding is expected. Weekly brushing is recommended, as well as regular nail clippings and ear cleaning.

Bathing can be as little as once every 6 months. If you bathe your dog, make sure the temperature is warm — not cold or hot. Use a gentle conditioning shampoo made only for dogs and rinse thoroughly. Any remaining shampoo residue can greatly irritate the skin. Dry the dog completely so they are not subjected to chills.

Health Problems

MEDIUM: Below is a short listing of those diseases common in greyhounds:

  • Osteosarcoma (bone cancer) is the leading cause of death. Limping should be taken seriously and include a vet trip.
  • Hypothyroidism, caused by a low level of thyroid hormone, can be treated with medication.
  • Kidney disease is common with the breed, but they also have a creatinine level that is slightly higher than other breeds. If your vet diagnoses your dog only based on an elevated creatinine level, get a second opinion.
  • Corns appear like calluses on the paw pads and are often misdiagnosed as arthritis because of the pain involved. Special canine boots are available, as is minor surgery to remove the corns.
  • Pannus occurs when the cornea is inflamed. To stave off blindness, treatment usually involves eye drops for life.
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure) can appear to come on suddenly as a stroke, blindness, blood clot or as a result of another condition. Regular screening is recommended.

These greyhounds love the fall season, for obvious reasons:

5. Where to Adopt One

Check adoption resources first if you are interested in this breed. The Greyhound Project is also a wonderful resource if you’re ready to adopt a greyhound.

Additional Resources

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