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One of the oldest dog breeds known to man, evidence of the Greyhound's long history is present across the globe.
According to the American Kennel Club, the first documented evidence of its presence comes from the Valley of the Nile, in the Tomb of Amten. Egyptologists trace the tomb to the Fourth Dynasty, which places it between 2900 and 2751 B.C.
There are a variety of theories regarding the origin of the name "Greyhound," ranging from a derivation of the word "Graius," meaning "Grecian," to the old British word for dog, "Grech" or "Greg," to the historical prevalence of gray as the breed's leading color.
Historically, Greyhounds have been used as hunters due to their great speed - they are the fastest breed of dog, reaching top speeds of over 40 miles per hour - and keen eyesight. Spanish explorers brought Greyhounds to America in the 1500s for this very purpose.
Over time, the breed became increasingly popular as a hunter and companion and was among the first breeds at American dog shows. In fact, according to the American Kennel Club, the first Westminster Kennel Club Catalog from 1877 lists the Greyhound as an entry of 18. The breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1885.
In modern times, the Greyhound is best known as a racing dog, with Greyhound racing occurring around the world, and, for the lucky retired racers, as a companion animal. The average lifespan of a Greyhound is between 10-12 years.
The Greyhound, a sighthound, is a wonderful companion dog that enjoys the company of both humans and other dogs, but requires patient, good-humored, and consistent training, as it possesses a combination of the independent spirit characteristic of hounds, as well as an almost cat-like disregard for authority.
Retired racing Greyhounds are lovingly known as “45-mile-an-hour couch potatoes” because of their love of naps and docile dispositions. Even so, however, daily exercise is absolutely necessary. Off-leash activities should take place in a fenced area, as Greyhounds are apt to chase almost anything that moves.
That said, it is important to allow a Greyhound ample opportunity to run freely, as it was designed to do, but in a safe space.
The coat is short and smooth with a firm feel. It comes in a wide range of solid and multicolor varieties, including: black, red, fawn, white, blue, black and white, fawn and white, red brindle, black brindle, and blue brindle, among others.
Long, powerful neck is mildly arched and gradually widens to the shoulder. Shoulders are muscular and obliquely placed. Straight forelimbs with strong pasterns are well set into the shoulders.
Chest is deep and wide. Ribs are well-sprung. Broad, muscular back and well-arched loins. Long, muscular hindquarters boast well-bent stifles and hocks. Long tail tapers to a point and boasts a slight upward curvature.
The Greyhound is every bit an athlete built for speed and its physical appearance suggests it. Males average between 60-88 pounds and stand between 28-30 inches tall at the shoulder, while females weigh between 57-75 pounds and stand between 27-28 inches tall at the shoulder.
Long, narrow head with a long, powerful muzzle. Wide between the ears, which are fine-textured and kept folded unless the dog is excited. Dark but lively eyes suggest intelligence and spirit.
Greyhounds are generally healthy and have few major issues. Gastric torsion and bloat, dental issues (teeth should be brushed regularly), and sports injuries (pulled muscles, broken toes, split pads, etc.) are among the health challenges Greyhound owners should be particularly aware of.
So, is a Greyhound the right dog for you? If you're looking for a canine pal with a unique personality, a quirky sense of humor, and a lot of affection to give - on his or her terms - you might have found your next best friend. For someone willing to approach training with good humor, prepared for the ongoing vigilance required to supervise and exercise a dog with a very high prey drive, and who's charmed by a dog with a distinctly cat-like personality, the sweet, spirited Greyhound can make a wonderful companion animal and family pet.
As you research the breed, the health problems that should be on your radar include bloat, a condition in which the stomach expands with air. Vetsreet.com tells us,
"This can become the more serious condition, gastric torsion, if the stomach twists on itself, cutting off blood flow."
Many of the pet Greyhounds out there today are, in fact, retired racing dogs. If you're interested in adopting a Greyhound, you can learn more about the process here. You'll not only be getting a wonderful companion, but you'll also be saving a life. Win-win!
The Greyhound dog breed also has reason to celebrate. According to an article in The Washington Post,
"The Committee to Protect Dogs called Amendment 13, which was approved by 69 percent of voters this week, "a knockout blow to a cruel industry that has been hurting and killing dogs for nearly a century." Florida hosts 11 of the 17 active dog tracks in the United States, but the industry will be shuttered in the state by January 2021, meaning some 6,000 dogs will need new homes."
This is the best year to start considering bringing this wonderful breed into your home! With this news around track racing, it's time start reaching out to adoption groups about retired racers and Greyhound puppies that won't make it to the track. Greyhound owners at rescue groups will be happy to talk with you about the breed and their energy level.
Do you have a Greyhound? Let us know or show us in the comments section below!
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