What has the life of a racing greyhound been like?

Greyhounds spend most of their lives in the company of other dogs. When they are born the average litter size is about 8 pups. Young greyhounds are given a lot of attention and handled as much as possible. As they approach their first birthday their training begins and they are taught how to chase a lure, eventually progressing to a racetrack.

Track life is very routine – feeding in the morning, turnouts in the exercise pen to answer calls of nature, and resting between races in individual kennel crates. Dogs race every 3 days and most racing kennels have about 60 dogs. Amazingly, most trainers have a special story about each and every dog with whom they work.

So, as you can see, most greyhounds have seen very little of the every day world including houses, stairs, mirrors, cats, etc. and have seldom if ever ridden in anything but a dog truck. Life with a family is like being reborn for a greyhound.

How old are they when they come from the track and how long do they live?

The majority of greyhounds usually retire and become available for adoption between the ages of two and five. Also, some greyhounds that have been used for breeding purposes can become available between the ages of six and nine. With proper care and good nutrition, greyhounds usually can live to between twelve and fourteen years of age (and many can live to be much older!)

What kind of pets do greyhounds make?

Greyhounds are gentle, affectionate, and fairly laid back dogs that make excellent house pets! Because they have been raised with their littermates and are allowed to do "dog" things and enjoy their growing up time together, they are highly socialized and friendly. Their friendly nature is enjoyed by many people who meet them. They love attention and attach to their owners in a special way.

What should I expect if I adopt a greyhound?

Because EVERYTHING is brand new to the greyhound, expect it to be somewhat confused and very curious. House manners have to be learned, but greyhounds are very intelligent dogs and learn quickly. Your tone of voice should be the only correction needed.

If you have stairs, be patient. Place the dog’s feet one at a time on the stairs and, with your body firmly behind the dog so that it cannot back down; proceed up the stairs, one foot at a time, giving lots of encouragement along the way. Going downstairs may require a little more muscle, as your dog may want to take the all the stairs in one jump. Hold on to the collar and allow it to take only one step at a time. In a few days, with patience, your dog will soon navigate the stairs on its own.

If you have a cat and your dog even looks sideways at it, jump right in and say NO! It may take a few times but your dog will quickly get the idea about what is appropriate behavior with regard to small animals. Never leave your greyhound alone, unmuzzled, with the family cat until you are positive they will get along.

You may find your dog is something of a shadow that follows you everywhere. This is part of the greyhound’s bonding process. You are the person the dog has decided to trust first. Be flattered – these dogs seem to pick the humans with whom THEY want to establish a relationship. To help your dog adjust, take it everywhere you can. They are very curious and sociable dogs and want to know all they can about their new world. The more love and attention you give your dog, the more you will get back.

Does my dog need a special space in the home?

In the kennel greyhounds have always had their own kennel crate where they felt safe and secure. There are a number of ways of accomplishing this in your house. Using a large crate, or having a special bedding area during the adjustment period, will help greyhounds at their own pace to the unaccustomed freedom of your house.

Although many people feel uncomfortable about using a crate, greyhounds are quite at home in them. Indeed, using a crate can provide for a completely successful transition by affording the dogs actual physical security when left alone during the adjustment period; thus preventing any possible damage due to separation anxiety. It can also eliminate any temptation to investigate the garbage, etc. Another advantage to the crate is that dogs instinctively; USUALLY WILL NOT soil their own living space. This makes crate usage a very effective tool in the housebreaking process.

Are greyhounds housebroken?

Greyhounds are kennel trained. This means that they know not to soil their crates. By taking your dog out frequently, and by giving lots of praise when the dog succeeds, you will quickly establish the correct place for the dog to relieve itself. Greyhounds have been on a regular schedule in the kennel. Therefore, they have never needed to let anyone know when they had to go out.

Like most dogs, however, they do present certain body signals indicating that they need to out. These signals may be simple as heavy panting, serious sniffing about the floor, or may consist of restless pacing about. Initially, expect a few accidents. It takes a little while for you and your dog to learn each other’s language and timing.

If you catch your dog having an accident, don’t punish but let it know, by your tone of voice, that this is not acceptable behavior. Then hurry the dog outside and try to be encouraging. Try a box of odormute to use in cleaning up. This is a natural enzyme that changes the chemical composition of organic matter, eliminating any residual order. In a pinch, vinegar and water is very good to use in cleaning up, as it seems to destroy the odor.

When you take your dog outside to relieve itself, you will notice that it seems to be looking for the "right" spot. This may take some time. Once found, your dog will relieve itself. The next time, take your dog to the same spot and calmly wait for it to do what is necessary. Don’t distract your dog, as you want the focus to be on the reason for being outside. Once all business is taken care of, then you can play, walk, etc.

Do Greyhounds shed?

Like all dogs, greyhounds shed, but they don't shed as much as many other breeds of dogs (and some shed more than others!). They also go through seasonal sheds like all dogs, but they do not have that heavy undercoat that needs to be maintained. They also are low-dander dogs and that makes them a good choice for people with allergies. They lack the oils that cause a "doggie" smell that other dogs have and can go longer periods of time without needing to be bathed.

Why is routine important to a greyhound?

Because greyhounds are used to having a daily routine in the racing kennel, they tend to feel more comfortable in unfamiliar situations if a routine is established. For the first several months that you and your greyhound share your home try to keep a solid routine for: feeding times, answering calls of nature, resting, etc. Note: In a home situation, until you establish a workable routine with your greyhound, you will need to take more frequency trips outside to avoid accidents.

What about feeding?

When adopted, greyhounds are at what is know as "racing weight". Most will reach "pet weight" within about a month after adoption. Your dog may seem to devour its food at first, but this will gradually lesson as the greyhound realizes you can be depended upon. Initially, feed your dog between 4-6 cups of dry dog food (kibble) a day. Gradually, as your dog seems to eat less, and begins to gain weight, you can cut back to 3 � - 5 cups a day. Put kibble in the bowl and warm water to cover. Let it sit until the water is absorbed and the kibble expands. Add just enough water so you can stir it and feed. Some recommended feeds are: Blue Seal Natural "26", Wayne (bite-size), KalKan Mealtime. And Iams (regular, not Eukanuba). The feed should have a maximum of 26% protein, as high levels tend to cause diarrhea and hyperactively in non-working dogs.

Avoid dog foods which are red in color as this is done with food dyes to make it appeal to humans, but can give a greyhound diarrhea. You may add small amounts of canned dog food, however; too much can cause gas. If the dog gets gas. Cut back on the quantity of the canned dog food. Table scraps, drained water from cooked vegetables, etc. can also be added to the dog’s food. If your dog gets diarrhea or gas avoid giving that particular food in the future.

A good thick beef marrowbone can be given it the dog and will help keep its teeth clean. This is the only type of natural bone, which should be given to a greyhound, as other, including steak, pork, and chicken bones will splinter and can damage intestines, etc. You can also use sterilized skin bones and USA produced rawhide chews. Rawhide form other countries is apt to be cured with formaldehyde so double check the country of origin. Dog biscuits are excellent and can be used as a treat before bedtime or as reward, etc.

Change in diet from track to home, or change of brand of kibble, may also cause diarrhea. Should this occur, give your dog 2 teaspoons of Kaopectate every hour, for 4 hours, or until the diarrhea has stopped. Feed 2 cups each of drained, boiled, lean hamburgers and rice until stools begin to look solid. Gradually decrease the hamburger and replace with kibble. As stools become normal, decrease rice and add small amounts of canned dog food. It is important to recognize that accidents may happen due to the diarrhea and dog should be treated with patience and care.

What sort of medical care will my greyhound need?

The best medical care is preventive in nature. Your dog will need to be given annual vaccinations and checked periodically for worms. Your dog should also be checked annually for heartworm and placed on heartworm prevention.

Be sure that your vet is familiar with the problem greyhounds have with anesthesia. We can provide copies of recommendations for greyhound anesthesia if your veterinarian desires them as well as the names and phone numbers of veterinarians familiar with treatment of greyhounds.

Greyhounds are particularly sensitive to chemicals in flea collars. DO NOT ever use chemical based flea collars on greyhounds, The only type of flea collars which should be used on a greyhound are the natural herbal or electric kind. In selecting a flea spray a good "rule of thumb" to follow is if it safe on cats and puppies it is most likely fine to use on a greyhound.

If periodontal disease is present your dog will need to learn how to "brush its teeth". Your veterinarian will be able to guide you, regarding both technique and products available for tooth and gum care. Greyhounds, incidentally, are not plagued by conformation diseases such as hip dysphasia, and if given good care can live to 11-14 years of age—a delightfully long life for your dog and your family together.

How important is exercise for my greyhound?

Greyhounds are athletes like any other athlete. At the track they are accustomed to racing every three days. However, as greyhounds get older their exercise needs diminish. Basically, the younger the dog the more exercise they will require. Several walks plus an opportunity to run off lead in a fenced in area once a week are usually all the exercise most greyhounds will require. If you have a fenced in area in your yard this will take care of most of your dogs exercise requirements. Sometimes a younger greyhound may exhibit a tendency to chew things – 99% of the time this is because the greyhound is not getting enough exercise.

When can I trust my greyhound off leash?

You can NEVER fully trust a greyhound off leash. This is why we recommend exercising your greyhound in a fenced in area. They have absolutely no understanding of cars and if allowed off lead would be apt to either stand in the middle of the road watching a car approach, or try to outrun it. They are sight hounds and are capable of running for short distances at high speeds of up to 40 miles per hour. They have also been taught to chase fast moving objects. If this turned out to be a neighbor’ s cat, it could be tragic. Only you and your dog will know the level of trust you have in each other.

Basic dog obedience classes will give you good suggestions for building that trust and are really very helpful. When exploring situations off-lead, remember that you are in charge and making the decisions: always err on the side of caution.

Are male or female greyhounds better with children?

Both male and female greyhounds have adapted well in homes with children. Rather than choosing a dog to live in a home, with children, based on sex or color you want to choose a nondominant dog of either sex that loves attention and being handled. This is because children are very much "hands on" when it comes to animals, often grabbing a dog around the neck to give it a hug.

A dominant dog of any breed may interpret hugs from little ones as a threat or as an attempt by the child to try to dominate it. The dog may react as if the child were another dog. If a dog is testy and child’s behavior is appropriate correct the dog. Similarly, if the dog is testy and child’s behavior is inappropriate correct the child.

Also consider that there is a lot of truth to the old saying: "Let sleeping dogs lie." Any breed of dog, if startled when asleep, might snap. Dogs can be possessive of food, bones, or treats. A good rule of thumb is to train your children to leave the dog alone when it is sleeping or eating, thus eliminating any possible problems. Children also need to learn that a dog is a living being that can feel pain, it is not a moving, furry toy!