Greyhounds as Pets

Greyhounds make great pets! They are intelligent, affectionate, laid back, clean canine companions. Although they’re considered large dogs, they’re usually unobtrusive and polite. Male greyhounds average between 65 and 80 pounds; females average 50 to 65 pounds. Most greyhounds are not natural barkers but can pick up a barking habit if another dog in your house is a frequent barker.

Greyhounds have virtually no “doggy” odor, even when wet. They have short hair and shed very little. They do not require grooming other than an occasional bath, brushing and nail clipping. Greyhounds do not require large amounts of food and typically eat about 4 cups of dry kibble daily, although they do need a premium dry dog food. A good quality lamb and rice formula without corn or soy is generally a good choice.

Greyhounds with health

Greyhounds are generally healthy dogs and live for 12 to 15 years. Genetic defects in dogs, like hip dysplasia, are rare in greyhounds due to the careful, selective breeding. Health problems are minimal compared to other breeds, although tick-borne diseases are a potential risk due to greyhounds’ nationwide travels as racing dogs. However, greyhounds have unique needs when it come to veterinary care, such as unusual red blood cell and platelet levels as well as sensitivity to certain types of anesthesia. Because of these and other distinctive characteristics, greyhound-savvy vets are not only a bonus — they can be life-savers. Visit the Wisconsin Greyhound-savvy Vets page to see which vets are recommended and trusted by GPA-WI adopters.

Greyhounds with exercise

Contrary to popular belief, greyhounds are not high-energy canines. In fact, greyhounds live up to their nickname, “The 45mph Couch Potato,” and are happy to snooze up to 18 hours a day! Greyhounds do not need a lot of exercise: a greyhound will stay fit and happy with daily walks along with a weekly run in a fully fenced-in area. By learning good leash manners during their racing career, greyhounds love to go for walks, and most will be happy with two walks a day. While racing greyhounds are trained to sprint short distances, they can be conditioned as jogging companions.

Greyhounds with leashes and fences

Greyhounds are members of the sighthound group and rely on sight more than smell. Greyhounds have incredible eyesight with a 270-deegree field of vision. They can also see objects up to a half mile away. They also have a genetic “chase” instinct and a love for running. This combination of genetic traits plus race training means that greyhounds must be kept on leash when not inside a fully fenced-in area. If a greyhound becomes lost, it cannot find its way back home.

Greyhounds with varying temperatures

Greyhounds have very little body fat — in fact, they have less than half the fat that of other breeds, as well as thin skin and short fur. Thus, greyhounds are sensitive to heat and cold, making them strictly indoor dogs. In winter, greyhounds will be most comfortable wearing a fleece coat while outdoors. Some GPA-WI adopters live by the motto, “if I’m cold, my greyhound is cold,” and add a light jacket to their greyhound while outside even during the fall or early spring.

Greyhounds with other animals and children

Greyhound and cats

The ability for a greyhound to peacefully co-exist with with small animals varies with each greyhound. Because of greyhounds’ natural instinct as well as previous training to chase small animals, many greyhounds cannot live in a home with small animals, but there are exceptions. GPA-WI cat-tests every greyhound that enters our adoption program.

A greyhound’s reaction to our test cat gives us a good initial indication on whether the dog can be classified as “cat-friendly.” But because a dog’s first introduction to a cat is not always accurate, cat-testing is unfortunately not a total guarantee of harmonious living with a cat or other small animal. Despite our best efforts, the dog selected for your cat-friendly home may not work out. If this happens, GPA-WI will take the dog back and find a more compatible dog for your home or refund your adoption donation.

Greyhounds and children

Greyhounds usually do well with children. As with all animals and pets, children should be taught how to treat a greyhound. Greyhounds and children can have a successful relationship when the child respects the greyhound’s needs and boundaries. GPA-WI tests greyhounds’ reactions to children if consideration is being given to a home with children. It’s important to note that some greyhounds, like other breeds of dogs, may view a child as a “pack member” rather than a small human, and the greyhound may vie for dominance or the adult’s attention. During GPA-WI testing, a a non-dominant dog who wants to be with a child will seek out the child’s attention and enjoy the interaction; a greyhound that looks away or walks away who will probably not be happy around children.

If your family includes children under the age of eight, it’s important that you strongly reinforce appropriate behavior with your children, such as:

  • Instruct your child to never disturb a sleeping dog.
  • Instruct your child to never poke; pull fur, tail or ears; or otherwise torment a greyhound.
  • Teach your child to respect the dog’s need for a quiet place of its own. This includes telling your child not to play inside the dog’s crate, if you have one.
  • Instruct your child not to disturb a dog while it’s eating.

All potential adopters with children will need to read Brian Kilcommons’ Childproofing Your Dog prior to adoption.