Greyhounds As Pets
Greyhounds make truly wonderful pets. Thousands of years of selective
breeding have created a very docile and loving breed of dog. Greyhounds are very
clean. Their short coat means that what they do shed is nowhere near as
noticeable as what other breeds shed. Greyhounds are also often able to be placed with
people who would not normally be able to have a pet due to allergies.
Greyhounds are not guard dogs. In fact, many rarely ever bark. They have been
known to be watch dogs, as they are very alert and curious. Most, however,
simply turn out to be very loving and sociable pets with a very unique sense of
humor. With only a little help from you, they will adapt quickly and easily into
There are some things that you need to know about greyhounds before you
decide to take one into your home, however. We will attempt to address those
issues and answer your many questions in the pages ahead.
Is A Greyhound Right For You?
Greyhounds do have a few specific needs. They are sighthounds and have
actually been bred to be hunters. They have exceptional eyesight and a natural
instinct to chase that has been reinforced by their race training. They can
detect the movement of even a small animal at a distance of 1/2 a mile. And
if they can see it, they will probably chase it.
Greyhounds are not street smart. They have lived their entire life in a
kennel and know nothing of the world about them or its dangers. A loose and
running greyhound is at extreme risk. For these reasons, a greyhound must be on
a leash at all times unless it is in a totally fenced and secure area.
Is your yard securely fenced? If not, you will have to commit to be willing
to take your greyhound out on a hand-held leash as needed to relieve himself, as
well as for at least a couple of nice walks a week for exercise. While that
sounds easy, your thoughts may change at 2 AM when it is raining or snowing. You
must give this serious consideration.
Why a hand-held leash and not just tie the dog out? Your greyhound will be
able to reach speeds of up to 45 MPH IN THREE STRIDES. That rate of acceleration
is faster than most sports cars. He may be severely injured or even killed when
he runs out of rope or chain at that speed.
Are you home enough to be able to give your greyhound the attention it
deserves? Greyhounds do not really require any more attention than any other
dog. But all dogs are social animals that have a very real need for the
attention of their "pack". It is just a matter of being fair to the dog, no
matter what the breed. If you are out of the house all day for work and then
often out again in the evening, a dog may not be the pet of choice for you. A
more independent pet, such as a cat, would be a wiser choice.
If you think that a greyhound is the dog you would like to adopt, we
suggest you read Cynthia Branigan's Adopting The Racing Greyhound. This book
is available at most national pet stores, and at some public libraries. It
contains valuable information about every aspect of greyhound adoption, the
adjustment period, and any special care that your new friend may require. It
will help you to make the decision regarding greyhound adoption if you are still
uncertain, and is a valuable reference if you have decided to adopt.
Although released years ago, it is still one of the best resources available.
The Adoption Procedure
There are several ways to adopt a greyhound. Some tracks operate their own
adoption programs. Others may have an adoption group, such as Greyhound Pets Of
America, operate an adoption kennel for them. There are also what we refer to as
the "mail order" style of adoption programs. These programs typically make the
arrangements to have a greyhound shipped to you from a distant location along
with some informational material, but there may not be any actual adoption group
personnel available in your area.
Other adoption groups, such as Grey-Save, operate independently within
certain geographic areas. If you are a first-time adopter with little or no
information about the breed, we strongly recommend that you seek out an adoption
group that can offer you personal support. Adoption groups at the track may or
may not offer this assistance. Mail order programs generally do not, although
some may have a local chapter in your area. Personal support is important in
that someone will assist you throughout the complete adoption process. They will
probably have a pre-placement screening program in place to make certain that a
greyhound is the right pet for your particular lifestyle. Not every home is
right for a greyhound.
The screening program also allows them to match the greyhound in terms of
your desire regarding size, sex, age, and sometimes even color. It allows them
to pick out a greyhound that can live with other small pets if you have them.
They often arrange for home visits so that you can see greyhounds in your own
home. If you are approved, they will assist you in picking out a greyhound
suitable for your home and lifestyle. Trust their judgement. They have
experience on their side.
They should provide complete veterinarian services for your greyhound before
you receive him. The exact services provided vary from group to group, but most
will offer spaying/neutering, a general physical, teeth cleaning, updating of
vaccinations as necessary, a heartworm test, a safety collar (a special collar
that your greyhound cannot slip out of--regular collars are not adequate!), and
lead. The items listed above are all services and products that you will need to
properly care for your greyhound. If you should adopt from a group that does not
provide these services, you should be prepared to provide all of them yourself
as quickly as possible. Caring properly for your pet, including spaying or
neutering, is a part of responsible pet ownership. If you are not prepared to
take these steps, please reconsider your decision to adopt.
Fostering is also a valuable service that many adoption groups offer.
Fostering provides your greyhound with an opportunity to begin healing from the
surgery before he enters your home. It also allows him to begin adjusting to
home life, and allows the foster family to evaluate the greyhound for
suitability with children or other pets.
The foster period should last for a minimum of two weeks. During that period,
they will probably invite you to stop over to meet your new friend as often as
is practical. This allows the greyhound the opportunity to get to know your
family, which makes the next transition into your home much easier. It also
allows the foster family to continue your education about the breed and its life
at the track. This will also help to make for a smooth transition into your home
and an easy adjustment period for the greyhound.
The cost for greyhound adoptions vary from group to group. You
really need to do your homework and know what the group in your area offers. If
you are unhappy with the type of program available in your area, there may be
another group available within reasonable driving distance.
Adjustment Period - General
Recognizing the adjustment period and successfully managing it is a very
important part of any greyhound adoption. You must remember that your greyhound
has led a very regimented lifestyle. Becoming a pet involves a drastic change in
routine for your greyhound, and it can be stressful.
The greyhound you have adopted has lived his entire life in a kennel. He has
never been in a house before. He has no idea who you are, why you are taking him
somewhere unfamiliar, and what it is he is supposed to do. In this regard, a
quiet greyhound may be fretful, a good eater reluctant to eat, and a perfectly
housebroken greyhound may have an accident. Give your new pet time to get
settled, and do not worry about any odd behavior during the first few days or
even weeks. Remember, virtually everything your greyhound encounters will be a
new experience and adventure for him.
With the exception of his time in foster care, your greyhound has never been
inside of a house before. He will explore his new world thoroughly during the
first few days, and there are some things to be aware of.
Glass Windows & Doors
Glass doors and windows pose a threat to your greyhound. He does not
understand glass. Take him by the collar and "show" him the glass by taking him
to it and either rapping on the glass or by placing his paw against it. This
will teach him that there is a solid object there even if he cannot see it. This
is critical with large areas of glass, such as unframed picture windows and
doors. A greyhound that does not understand glass may try to run through it if
he sees you or a small animal outside. We recommend that you do this as an
immediate part of your introduction to the house as soon as you take him home,
and include all doors and windows that are within his reach, including by
We recommend that all garbage be contained. Kitchen counters and the dining
room table happen to be at nose level for most greyhounds. Please remove any
temptation. Be alert to the fact that your greyhound may attempt to remove food
from the dining room table, the kitchen counter, or even from the stove itself
even while it is cooking.
Should your greyhound misbehave around the garbage or food, the verbal
reprimand of "no" should be all of the discipline that is necessary, although he
may try the same stunt a few times before he really understands that it is off
limits. In a worst case scenario when the greyhound cannot be broken of the
desire to investigate, you may need to relocate garbage to a secure area.
Your greyhound has never seen or had to deal with stairs before. Making
things worse, his long and delicate legs are slow to negotiate the stairs in
your home. A little help from a trusted human is all that is necessary. Show
your greyhound, one paw at a time, what he is supposed to do. It will take time
and patience, but he will learn to master, or at least manage stairs.
Do not attempt to force your greyhound up or down the stairs. Be patient. He
is capable of jumping the entire staircase at once, resulting in his being
injured. He will deal with stairs at his own pace. If you have another pet, he
may learn very quickly from it.
Couches & Bedding
If it is soft, your greyhound will love it. Plush carpeting is bliss, but a
couch or bed is pure heaven. A good rule to enforce right from the start: if you
do not want your greyhound on the couch or bed, do not ever let him on it! After he
discovers that it is soft, it will be virtually impossible to keep him off.
Providing your greyhound with his own large, soft bed in "his" place will help
to discourage his hunt for soft places. Beds may be purchased at many retailers
for $50 and up. If you are handy with a sewing machine, you can make your own
bed, complete with inner liner, outer cover, and removable shredded foam and
cedar stuffing for $15 to $30.
If your greyhound does figure out the couch on his own and lounges on it
while you are away, we suggest that you take an old blanket and cover the spot
he has chosen prior to your leaving the house. He is, after all, retired.
Bedroom doors may be closed as a deterrent as well.
In most instances, a sharp (but not yelled) verbal command of "no" is all of
the discipline that your greyhound will ever need. Greyhounds are very sensitive
animals. Do not yell at your greyhound, and never strike him in any fashion. The
result of either of these two actions will be a very timid greyhound that will
quickly learn to fear you, and the adoption will not be successful or enjoyable
for either of you. If your greyhound persists in misbehavior of some sort, the
sharp verbal command of "no", followed by crating him for a short period of
time, should suffice. While you do not want to use the crate as a routine form
of discipline (lest he learn to fear the crate), it can be used occasionally as
an additional tool.
Summer & Winter Weather
Your greyhound has a very short coat, and very little body fat. This means
that he has very little protection from winter's cold and summer's heat.
Greyhounds are strictly indoor dogs. As a general rule, if it is below 32*, your
greyhound needs a sweater or coat. Since the tolerance of each dog is different,
you should watch for the telltale sign of hypothermia, which is shivering. If
you see your greyhound shivering, he either needs additional protection or needs
to be brought inside. A greyhound that is young and active will have more
resistance to the cold. An older greyhound, or a greyhound that is standing or
laying instead of moving, will have much less tolerance for the cold. Coats and
sweaters may be purchased at various retail outlets (some of which specialize in
greyhounds), or they may be homemade.
In the summer, your greyhound needs to be able to escape from direct
sunlight. A tree, picnic table, or something else that provides shade will be
necessary if he is going to be out in the yard for any length of time. He should
also have a source of cool, fresh water. Heavy panting is a sure sign that he is
When walking your greyhound choose times that are cooler, or when there are
clouds to protect him. During the most intense summer heat, an evening walk may
Signs of heat exhaustion are heavy panting and a drunken walk. Immediate
attention to cool him is necessary.
If your greyhound is young and you have a fenced yard, he may run laps just
for fun. Some greyhounds may run themselves right into heat exhaustion. Their
desire to run is like that of a horse in that they may run until they can
literally run no longer. They may even run while injured. Once you know your
greyhound's habits, you will know how much supervision he will need while out in
the yard. Remember, heat exhaustion can be fatal or have serious long term
negative effects on your greyhound's health.
Simple common sense is your best rule, keeping in mind that your greyhound
has tolerance to heat and cold very much like our own. He will be comfortable in
the same temperatures that you are comfortable in, and too hot or cold when you
feel the same way.
Sighthounds, Leashes, & Exercise
Your greyhound is a sighthound. He has been selectively bred to hunt and
chase for thousands of years. He can detect movement of even a small animal at a
distance of 1/2 of a mile or more. His night vision is equally keen. For these
reasons, he should either be on a leash or in a totally fenced and secure area
at all times.
NEVER allow your greyhound to run loose. Even a greyhound that has been
through obedience training may choose to chase a cat, squirrel, or other small
animal. It is instinctive. Do not make the mistake of thinking that your
greyhound is "different". Since your greyhound can run at speeds approaching 45
miles per hour, you will not be able to catch him or outrun him. If this
happens, he will be at considerable risk, as he does not understand the dangers,
such as automobiles, that his new life brings with it. Please keep your
Your greyhound should come with a safety collar, sometimes known as a humane
choker or martingale collar. This, and only this collar should be on your
greyhound at all times. Your greyhound has a very sleek head. This collar is
designed to keep him from being able to back out of the collar, and also
provides the gentle restraint that your greyhound is accustomed to and needs. Do
not substitute a different collar, and never use a chain type collar or standard
choke collar on your greyhound.
NEVER tie your greyhound outside using a rope, chain, or runner, as
greyhounds are not used to being tied to anything stationary. They may get
tangled up and injure themselves, or they may pull, wriggle, or chew their way
out. They may also forget that they are tied to a stationary object. Your
greyhound can accelerate rapidly and may be seriously injured or killed if he
takes off running at his blazing speed and snaps his neck when he reaches the
end of the line.
If you wish to take your greyhound places where there is no fence and do not
wish to keep him on a leash, there are a variety of fold-up exercise pens that
set up in about 15 seconds. They provide adequate space for multiple pets. They
also fold up equally quickly once you get the hang of it.
Taking Your Greyhound Home
We strongly recommend that you give your greyhound a few days to adjust to
your home before friends or relatives visit. The ideal situation is to take the
dog home on a Friday evening, so that your entire family can spend the weekend
with him before work interrupts.
If possible, taking a week's vacation to spend at home with him is even
better. The adoption process will be stressful enough without exposing him to
the added excitement (and fear) of encountering more strange people. If nothing
more, this may help to prevent unnecessary "accidents" in the house.
It would also be very wise to supervise children carefully during the first
few days with your new pet. Your greyhound is not familiar with children or how to play, and may
react unexpectedly and instinctively. Hopefully, your greyhound will have been
fostered and introduced to children there. Getting used to children will take
time. There will be more detailed information on that subject later.
Greyhounds are friendly, affectionate dogs that thrive on attention and human
companionship. They make terrific pets once they get used to their new home. It
is very likely that your new pet will follow you EVERYWHERE during the first few
weeks, and we do mean everywhere, including bathrooms. This is partially due to
the fact that he does not yet know you well enough to know that you are going to
return when you leave him, so he will want to keep you within eyesight. This
will gradually change. He will also want to follow you simply because greyhounds
love human companionship.
Some greyhounds never tire of following their humans around. With this being
the case, you should use caution to ensure that you do not injure your greyhound
by closing a door on him or by stepping back onto him. Greyhounds are so quiet
that they can come up behind you and you will not be aware of it until it is too
late. You will be surprised at how quickly your greyhound becomes attached to
you and your family, and what a difference your presence will mean to him.
Your greyhound is a social animal and will prefer to sleep in the same room
as a family member. Please do not shut your greyhound in a separate room to
sleep. Always remember that your greyhound is a unique dog, perhaps the oldest
and purest breed in existence today, and the only breed of dog specifically
mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible. His care will also differ from that
of any other dog in existence.
It is very important that you remember that your greyhound has never been
left alone before. He has been housed in a kennel with at least 30 other
greyhounds. Even a well behaved greyhound may become frightened when you leave
him and he finds himself alone in a large house for the very first time. Please
also keep in mind that your greyhound really does not know you yet, and does not
realize that he can trust you to return to feed him, take him outside, and give
him love. New pets have done damage when left alone the first few times. They
may even try to escape, and could injure themselves in the process.
Since you do not want any of these things to happen, we would like to offer
you a fail-safe way to make sure that the first few days are harmonious for all,
and to provide your greyhound with something that he is very familiar with.
Purchase A Crate!
Many people do not like the idea of crating a pet. They feel that it is
cruel. We strongly recommend the use of a crate. Racing greyhounds spend a large
portion of their lives in a crate. It is something that they are used to and
comfortable in. During the unfamiliar process of being adopted, the familiarity
of a crate may be a welcome sight. There is no need for the crate to be a
permanent thing. It can be used as a device to make the adoption process go a
bit more easily and reduce tension for the greyhound. Once your greyhound knows
the family routine, you may choose to give him a little more freedom, and
gradually wean him away from the crate completely.
Please note that even after the adoption process, some greyhounds prefer
their crates, and many choose to sleep there and use it as a way of escaping
from too much activity. We recommend that you leave the crate door open so that
your greyhound may make use of it if he chooses. This will also help you to
determine if there is a need to make the crate a permanent part of your home.
Some owners also prefer to use crates whenever they leave home, regardless of
how well behaved their greyhound is. It helps to keep them out of trouble while
you are away, and keeps the peace if you have multiple pets. Remember, all it
takes is a little disagreement over a toy and your pets could be at odds. They
will always remain pack animals.
Permanently using a crate also helps your relationship with your greyhound in
that there is never any possibility of you coming home to something that would
make you angry with your pet. They simply cannot get into trouble when crated.
The crate is also a wonderful way to make sure that your greyhound will be
housebroken. Since greyhounds will not soil their crates under normal
circumstances, he cannot have an accident. If your greyhound does soil his
crate, he may have really had to go, or perhaps is not feeling well. This
assumes, of course, that the crate is being used reasonably.
Using a crate does not mean that you can leave your dog crated unattended for
long hours without having an accident. He relies on you to follow a reasonable
schedule. Simple common sense should be the rule.
The crate may also be used as a disciplinary device, as was discussed
earlier. Remember, crating your pet is NOT cruel. It may actually be the easiest
and kindest way to ease your pet through the adoption process.
Your greyhound has been housed in a crate in his trainer's kennel for most of
his life. He is used to being turned out in a fenced area to relieve himself
three to four times a day on a regular schedule.
He will carry that schedule with him into home life. He may be used to
getting up at 5 or 6 AM in the morning. To avoid accidents, we recommend that
you take him outside immediately when he gets up. If you are an early riser,
take him out immediately when you get up. Because he is used to a regular
schedule, it is likely that he will still follow that schedule in your home.
This will gradually change over the next few months. In the interim, however,
you must be prepared to follow his schedule, even if that means getting up at 5
AM for the first week or two. After that, you may begin to attempt to adjust his
schedule to yours.
This is true not only of housebreaking, but of every aspect of your
If your greyhound has an accident in the house, a verbal reprimand is all
that is necessary. Take him outside immediately and praise him when he does as
you wish. Never put his nose in an accident or hit him. Your greyhound is too
sensitive for that type of treatment. Instead, look for the reason for the
accident. Did he have enough time to relieve himself the last time he was
outside? Not all greyhounds are comfortable with going on a leash, as they have
never had to do that before. He may take longer than you would prefer. Were you
too busy to notice that he was pacing or whining? Greyhounds are very clean dogs
by nature, and there is usually a reason for an accident that may not be the
For the first few days, it is a good idea to walk your greyhound more
frequently than you normally would. This teaches your new greyhound where his
home is and where to relieve himself. It also helps to relieve the tension of
being in a strange place.
Greyhounds are not used to relieving themselves on a leash. If you do not
have a fenced yard, hopefully the foster home will have already worked with the
dog to resolve this issue. He may, however, still be tentative. Be patient and
give him time. He will adjust and learn.
Remember also that your greyhound does not know how to tell you that he needs
to go outside. He has never had to do that before. He is used to a set schedule
where someone came and took him outside. As you establish a new routine for both
you and your greyhound, he will begin to adapt and start giving you signals that
he needs to go out. The signals vary greatly from dog to dog. Some will go and
stand by the door (great, unless you are sleeping). Others may whine. Many will
simply pace back and forth (also great, unless you are sleeping). You will need
to observe your greyhound to learn when and what he is trying to tell you. You
will also have to learn the difference between pacing out of excitement and
pacing to go outside.
If your greyhound turns out to be a "silent" signaler, you may need to close
him in the bedroom with a family member at night so that his pacing or other
activity will awaken someone, keeping in mind that your greyhound will arise at
times to stretch those long legs before again retiring.
Children may be one of the most unusual items that your greyhound will have
to adjust to. The foster home was probably the first and only experience that
your greyhound has had with children. And unlike all of the other items that
your greyhound will be discovering, your children are alive and unpredictable.
Greyhounds are an extremely docile breed of dog, and are also one of the best
breeds for cohabitation with children. But it is very important to remember that
each and every dog is capable of biting under the right circumstances.
Greyhounds are no exception. Children must be taught how to properly handle and
respect the dog, and the dog must be given time to learn to understand and
accept the children.
Since your greyhound will be going through its adjustment over the next few
months, your children must understand that it cannot be handled and played with
in the same manner as other dogs. Your greyhound will need to be taught how to
play with humans. He is also still adjusting to being spoken to and handled in
ways that are much different than what he is used to. He will not understand
hugs, kisses, and cuddling at first. He may even view these as encroaching on
his territory and growl.
Respect the growl and give him time to learn. Admonish him with the word
"no". If your child attempts to force the issue before he is ready, your
greyhound may respond in a non-characteristic manner, including biting. If you
are uncomfortable with any aspect of your greyhound's behavior towards children
contact your adoption group IMMEDIATELY for advice and assistance. They have
experience on their side and can help you deal with pack behavior issues.
As with any dog, children should be supervised during the adjustment period
to prevent the possibility of the child being frightened or hurt, and to prevent
the same possibilities for the greyhound. Again, while it is very unlikely that
your greyhound will bite, all dogs are capable of doing so.
We strongly recommend that pre-teen children be supervised when playing with
your greyhound. As with any dog, never disturb your greyhound when it is eating,
drinking, or chewing on a bone. Never startle the dog while it is sleeping. It
may respond instinctively, without warning, and without even opening its eyes.
Trust us when we tell you that a greyhound, despite its ability to fold up
like a Swiss army knife when sleeping, is a very quick and agile animal
(personal experience--er, foolishness speaking here!). Call out to your pet
softly from a safe distance until you are sure that its eyes are open AND it
recognizes you. This is especially important because greyhounds often sleep with
their eyes open, and also often dream. Greyhounds are very animated when they
dream. This, combined with open eyes, may cause you to think that the dog is
awake when in reality it is still asleep.
Never pull tails or ears, or poke at the eye or ears. Your children should
never try to ride your greyhound. His delicate legs are made for speed, and will
not support the added weight. Serious injury could result. Simply put once
again, respect your greyhound and teach your children to do the same.
Male greyhounds are a little more docile than females, and may be the better
choice for families with children. Females are the dominant sex, and will
sometimes treat children as their own and may discipline the children if they
get out of line.
Your greyhound should get along well with other dogs, as he has lived his
entire life with others and has lots of socialization experience. Watch all
introductions carefully, as the other dog may defend its territory against the
greyhound. We have placed greyhounds with other animals as well. Proper
introductions and remaining observant during the first few days or weeks are the
keys to successful cohabitation.
The introduction and the first few days of cohabitation are critical. If
placed by us, the foster family will perform the initial introduction and help
guide you through the process.
Please remember that your experience will be different than everyone else's.
Therefore, no two situations can be treated the same. For example: the cat and
the greyhound in the house under supervision is quite different than the cat and
the greyhound outside in wide open spaces, supervised or not.
Your greyhound is a hunter. All of nature is telling your greyhound that the
cat would be fun to chase. You need to impress upon your greyhound that the cat
is a family member, and is therefore off limits. Remember also that small game,
and even birds, can be a target for your greyhound. This is not meanness. This
is instinct and what these dogs have been bred to do.
Remember also that your greyhound has incredible eyesight and can see
movement clearly at 1/2 a mile's distance, and has night vision far exceeding
We strongly recommend the use of a muzzle when introducing your greyhound to
other pets and until you are comfortable that your greyhound is not interested
in the other pet. It could take days or weeks to be that certain. Remember that
your greyhound is used to a muzzle, and it is not cruel to use one. It is cruel
to give your greyhound the opportunity to make a mistake that could be fatal to
Racing greyhounds are fed a soft, high protein feed during their racing
careers. They are not accustomed to eating hard, dry dog food, which is the
recommended type of food for retirement. The hard, dry dog food will be much
better for your greyhound's teeth, and thus will help to reduce the bad breath
that seems to be a greyhound trait.
Unfortunately, since they are not used to eating this type of food, and since
they are used to competing for food in the kennel, your greyhound is likely to
eat very rapidly, and may have some difficulty swallowing. The foster family
will be able to advise you of any eating difficulties your greyhound may have.
Elevating the food dish will help him to eat and reduce gagging and choking.
Please rest assured that as your pet settles in and learns that he does not have
to compete for food and knows that you will always be there to feed him, his
habits will change. The foster family will be able to advise you what type of
food your greyhound has been eating, as well as about his feeding schedule.
Hopefully, they will have matched it as closely to the daily schedule you
provided them about your routine.
If you decide to change your greyhound's food, please do so gradually and
over a one to two week period. This will give your greyhound's digestive system
time to adjust to the new food gradually. Switching foods too quickly may result
in excess gas and very soft stools. In extreme cases, your greyhound may not be
able to "hold it", and may soil his crate or your home. Projectile diarrhea is
not something you will care to experience, and your greyhound will probably be
very adept at keeping his crate clean even if it means backing up to the wire
frame and leaving you a present outside of the crate!
Should excess gas or soft stools continue after the change is complete, the
type of food you have selected may not be compatible with greyhound, and you
will have to try a different type or brand of food to eliminate the problem. For
this reason, we recommend that you purchase only 5 or 8 pound bags of food until
you are sure it is compatible with your greyhound.
There is no particular grade of food perfect for every greyhound. Some are
perfectly comfortable with the standard foods. Others may require high protein
foods to avoid gas. Some may not be able to tolerate a particular brand of food,
even though its contents appear to be the same as compared with what you end up
using. Only time, experience, and trial and error will provide the answer. But
this is true for all dogs, not just greyhounds.
Once you find a food that is agreeable with your greyhound, we do not
recommend changing it unless absolutely necessary. Why put yourself and your pet
through the process again unnecessarily?
Greyhounds should be fed twice per day, at the same time every day (remember,
greyhounds are creatures of habit and routine). They will eliminate about 12
hours after eating.
Do not feed your greyhound for about one hour before or after any strenuous
exercise. Any excessive exercise at feeding time may cause bloat, which is a
gastric condition where the stomach flips over. This condition may be fatal to
As with any dog, allow your greyhound to eat and drink in peace. Do not let
other animals or children bother him, as it is his natural instinct to protect
himself and his food, regardless of how good a dog he may be. All dogs are
capable of biting.
Your retired greyhound will probably gain between five and ten pounds. Do not
allow your greyhound to become overweight, as his delicate frame will not
support this weight as he ages. As a general rule, you should be able to see his
last three ribs.
Always have separate food and water dishes for your greyhound, and be sure he
always has a supply of fresh, cool water. He will enjoy the addition of ice
cubes in the summer to help keep the water cool.
A retired greyhound's exercise requirements are no different than that of any
other large breed of dog. They are not "high strung" and do not require massive
amounts of exercise to keep them from destroying the house, as so many people
If you do not have a fenced yard, your greyhound should be taken on three or
four short walks daily on a regular schedule so that he can relieve himself. If
possible, try to find a totally fenced area where he can run a couple of times a
week. Most greyhounds five years of age or younger love to run even when
retired, and it is a truly uplifting experience to see a greyhound at full
stride just for his pleasure. Just be sure to check the area for holes, rough
areas, or foreign objects that could injure your greyhound.
If you do not have access to a totally fenced area, a mile walk twice a week
will keep him in shape. You may wish to walk your greyhound more often than
normal during the first week or two. This will help him to relieve the tension
and stress of the adoption process.
Most young greyhounds are also excellent jogging companions once they learn
to adjust their stride to yours. Remember also that your greyhound is a
sprinter. He is not used to very long walks or periods of running. Gradually
increase the distance covered so that he may build up his stamina, just as any
other athlete would need to do.
Whenever your greyhound does any strenuous running, give him a chance to
relieve himself afterwards, and then again about an hour later. Never feed your
greyhound within one hour before or after he exercises strenuously so as to
prevent bloat. And again, our reminder to never allow your greyhound to run
All dogs, including greyhounds, have a need to chew. It helps to relieve
tension and anxiety, and also relieves boredom.
Should you experience chewing problems, a nylabone or large rawhide (most
greyhounds prefer 7-9 inch rawhide bones with good, tight knots at the ends)
bone is recommended. Be aware that rawhide bones can cause intestinal blockage,
and dogs can choke on small, softened pieces of rawhide (although this is quite
rare). You may wish to give your greyhound rawhide bones only under supervision
(in fact, we strongly recommend this).
Supervision will also help to avoid the possibility of choking, and will also
help to avoid problems between pets competing for the same item. We also
recommend that toys be given under supervision as well. Remember, even
greyhounds may become territorial at times, and food and toys are strong
incentives to become territorial. Even dogs that get along very well may have an
incident over food or toys.
Children must understand that these bones belong to the dog and are not toys.
Children should never try to take them away from your greyhound. As with all
dogs, even adults should use caution when taking a toy or any type of food away
from a dog.
If you experience a chewing problem, we recommend that you contact your
adoption group for advice. There may be a reason that they will be able to help
you identify and correct.
Grooming, Flea Prevention, &
Greyhounds are short-coated dogs that shed very little, and a daily brushing
can almost eliminate the shedding that does occur. A rubber curry brush or nubby
mit works the best.
Since your greyhound has recently had surgery for neutering or spaying, you
will notice some additional shedding.
Changes in diet may also cause additional short term shedding, as will any
stressful situations. Many dogs and cats tend to "blow their coats" (shed
excessively) during periods of stress, such as a visit to the veterinarian.
Greyhounds are very clean dogs by nature, and will not have the "doggy" odor
that you are probably accustomed to. This is due to the fact that their coats do
not contain the oils found in the coats of most dogs. You may detect a faint
odor when wet, but this will disappear quickly as the coat dries.
Ears may be cleaned with a soft cotton ball dipped in alcohol. Never probe
deeply into the dog's ears.
You may purchase a nail clipper to trim your greyhound's nails. A rotary tool
with a sanding drum can also be used. Take off only the very tip, and be careful
not to clip the quick (pink area visible through all but dark colored nails).
Cutting into the quick will cause excess bleeding and will be VERY painful for
your greyhound (and for you if he retaliates by nipping at you!).
We recommend that you have a supply of "Quik Stop" or a simalar product to
curb bleeding (This is also a good first aid product to have on hand even if you
do not trim your greyhound's nails).
If you are not comfortable with the idea of trimming your greyhound's nails,
your vet or a groomer can assist you. You can then observe the process and
decide if it is something you wish to tackle. The bottom line here is that you
must be comfortable and confident trimming nails and use the proper tools to do
so. If not, leave it to the professionals.
Greyhounds are very sensitive dogs due to their low body fat content, and do
require some special attention. Greyhounds should not wear conventional flea
collars. These collars work by releasing their flea killing chemicals (poisons)
onto the skin of the dog, which is then absorbed into the dog's bloodstream. The
liver and kidneys filter out these toxins in most breeds. Your greyhound's liver
and kidneys do not work as fast. The toxins can build up and cause illness or
Knowing how conventional flea collars work, we find it hard to recommend them
to any dog. Although considered safe, one must question the logic behind adding
poisons directly onto and into your pets.
There are other alternatives. Greyhounds can be sprayed with a pyrethrin-based
flea spray, or bathed with a shampoo containing pyrethrins. Permethrin,
which is a synthetic pyrethrin, is also acceptable. Be sure to read all labels
carefully to ensure that there are no other chemicals added into the pyrethrin
formula. Remember also that both of those chemicals are fatal to cats. Your cats
should be kept away from the greyhound for about 48 hours after application or
bathing to prevent a transfer of the chemical to your cat.
Your greyhound should never be exposed to organophosphates or carbamates. As
a general rule, do not use any product that promises long term results, as it
will be too strong. If the ingredients are correct, and the label states that it
is safe for puppies and kittens, then it should be safe for your greyhound.
You will find that most products are not safe. But with a little searching,
you will find pyrethrin/permethrin based products that are acceptable.
Many such products will contain a small amount of piperonyl butoxide or
another chemical. This is acceptable as long as the content is low and the other
chemicals are not an organophosphate or carbamate.
Cedar is a natural flea repellent, and may be used in the dog's bed. It also
has a very pleasant smell.
There is also a variety of products for your yard. Use the same guidelines as
listed above. To be even safer, you may use an all natural product such as "Bio
Halt" yard spray.
Bio Halt is basically a parasite that feeds on various stages of a flea's
life cycle. It is perfectly safe for your pets and children, even during and
immediately after application using a hose end sprayer. It is effective for up
to four weeks if your lawn is kept damp. Be careful, however, as Bio Halt makes
other products for your home that are not greyhound safe. Again, always read the
labels before you buy.
There is also a product known as "Program". Program is a life cycle
interrupter that basically renders the flea's eggs infertile. It does not kill
the flea in any other stages, but prevents them from breeding new fleas. Program
is available thrugh your veterinarian. It is considered safe, even for
greyhounds. But since this is a chemical agent, we consider it a matter of
Many greyhound owners have had excellent results using a combination of
pyrethrin shampoos, Bio Halt for the yard, and Program. Both Program and Bio
Halt can be somewhat expensive.
There are also numerous products that have come onto the scene since this
page was created. The products are changing too rapidly to keep pace here.
Please consult with your adoption group for other alternatives for grooming,
flea prevention, and worming.
We strongly recommend that you work with a veterinarian who has some
knowledge of greyhounds, as their requirements for medical treatment, such as
anesthesia and medications, is different than that of other dogs. A mistake in
these areas can be fatal.
Grey-Save Of Northwestern Pennsylvania would like to take this opportunity to
thank you for your interest in greyhounds.
You now know some of the basic information that will help you to decide
whether a greyhound is the pet of choice for you, and to help lead you and your
greyhound into an adventure of discovery. While each greyhound adjusts to home
life at his own rate, it will probably be about six months before his true
personality will start to shine through. During that time, you will share many
If you are in our area, Grey-Save would like to invite you to share in the
many social, civic, and educational activities that we participate in.
Greyhounds are welcome at as many events as possible.
Grey-Save is very proud of the program we offer. We offer the added benefits
of receiving a greyhound that has been checked out by a veterinarian, had all
vaccinations updated as necessary, been spayed or neutered, and fostered in one
of our own homes before placement. We also offer unprecedented follow up after
placement to ensure that you and your new friend are getting along and
understanding one another. We stand ready to assist you as best we can in
answering any questions or providing advice or information as necessary. We
offer our assistance to anyone who owns a greyhound, regardless of where it was
While greyhounds may be obtained directly from racing facilities, breeders,
and through a number of "mail order" style adoption programs, they generally do
not provide the same level of service, and often little or no follow up. If you
are obtaining your greyhound from a source other than Grey-Save, we do encourage
you to work with another adoption group that will provide our level of service.
We believe that this high standard is critical to making the best possible match
between the greyhound and his new family, and assisting that relationship to
As you can now see, Grey-Save is an organization that is truly dedicated to
the greyhounds. They share in our homes, our lives, and our love. we hope that
you will consider opening your heart to a greyhound as well.