Q: Don’t they need a lot of exercise?
A: No! Greyhounds do not require any more exercise than any other breed of dog. Contrary to popular belief, greyhounds are lazy! People think that because they are racing dogs, they must be full of hyperactive energy. Just the opposite is true. At the racetrack, greyhounds run a 15-30 second race every 3-4 days. In the home, greyhounds tend to have short bursts of energy, followed by very long periods of naps. The pet greyhound might get the ‘crazies’ for a minute or two, during which he does figure-eights in the yard, or tosses a toy around in the living room. But after that, he’ll be down for the night and sleeping like a baby. They don’t call them the “45-m.p.h. Couch Potato” for nothing! Of course, we do recommend a nice daily walk or romp in the yard to keep your greyhound healthy.
Q: Are they cat safe?
A: Some are, some aren’t. Just like any other breed of dog, some greyhounds will tolerate cats and some will not. Roughly 75% of greyhounds will be fine with a cat or small dog. We try to have a good idea of which dogs are and which dogs are not before we send the dog home. However, this is not a fool-proof test. A dog may react differently to your cat than he did to our ‘test cat,’ and he may react differently in your home than he did in ours. For this reason, we always send a greyhound home with a muzzle for those first few encounters. This way, you can let the greyhound get right up close and personal to the cat, smell it, and satisfy his curiosity, without having to worry about him biting the cat. Once you are comfortable that your hound is either uninterested or scared of the cat, you can take off the muzzle. To be on the safe side, we do still recommend that any large dog (like a greyhound) not be left unsupervised with a cat or small dog. You just never know what goes through their heads, and it only takes a second for something to happen. You can always muzzle your greyhound when you leave the house – the greyhound is used to wearing a basket muzzle, which allows him to eat and drink comfortably.
Q: Are they good with kids?
A: Some are, some aren’t. Again, just like any other breed of dog, all greyhounds are individuals. Some might love to hang out with your kid, and some might rather be anywhere else on planet Earth. The trick is picking out the dog that’s right for you. That is why we require you to bring along any kids that will be interacting with your hound on the day you adopt the dog. A dog who seems uninterested in your kid is not what you want – the dog may be paralyzed with fear. You want a dog who interacts calmly and comfortably with your children.
That said, every dog has its limit. And anything with teeth can bite. You may be able to pull the dogs ears 6 times, but 7 may send him over the edge. They’re just like people in this regard – push it too far and they may just snap. Kids need to learn to be respectful of the dog’s body and personal space, and to play gently. In particular, greyhounds are prone to something called ‘sleep aggression.’ If suddenly awakened out of a deep sleep, they may startle and snap before they know what they are doing. Children need to be taught to say the dog’s name and approach with an outstretched hand (rather than a big hug) when doggie is asleep. As a general rule, you should never, ever let your children play unsupervised with any dog, greyhound or otherwise.
Q: Don’t you need a big house for such a big dog?
A: Actually, greyhounds can be great apartment dogs! They spend the majority of their time sleeping, so as long as you can get them out for a walk to relieve themselves 4-5 times per day (or let them romp in a fenced area 4-5 times per day), they do not require much space. People are always amazed at how small they can curl up when they sleep. Also, they are not eager barkers, which makes them good for close quarters with neighbors.
Q: Do they have a lot of health problems?
A: Not at all. Because only the winning dogs will be allowed to reproduce at the racetrack, greyhounds tend to be very sound. The winning dogs will of course tend to have a strong heart and lungs, and very good joints. You almost never see things like hip dysplasia in greyhounds, like you do in many other purebred dogs. There are no serious health problems associated with the breed, apart from tending to have yucky teeth. Keeping the greyhound’s teeth clean is pretty easy, though, since almost any greyhound will allow you to brush his teeth. Heathy teeth will help prevent other health problems developing in the future.
Greyhounds typically live to 12-14 years old, which is considerably longer than many breeds of a similar size. As they get up into their double-digits, they will often start to develop some arthritis in their back ends. They may seem stiff, especially in the morning, and will start to have a harder time getting up from their beds. Feeding dietary supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin when the dog starts to get up in years can help prevent this, and can improve an arthritic dog’s quality of life considerably. The Greyhound Gang has a line of powdered “Get Up and Go” supplements (www.greyhoundgang.org), or for a liquid supplement try Synflex.