Greyhounds are very unique animals that come with quirks that set them part from other breeds of dogs. On this page you'll find answers to questions about the breed and all the eccentricities that make greyhounds greyt! For ease of use we've grouped questions and answers by topic. Click on the general heading below to help you answer your burning greyhound question. If you don't find the information you're looking for please feel free to e-mail us, or come to a Meet & Greet to ask one of our voluteers in person.
Q: How old is the greyhound breed? A: Greyhounds enjoy a rich heritage dating back over 4,000 years to Ancient Egypt where they were kept as companions and hunting partners. Explorers from Greece brought greyhounds back with them from Egypt and they were instantly incorporated into the Greco-Roman lifestyle. Greek and Roman gods such as Diana and Artemis had greyhounds as their companions of choice. During the Dark Ages, a time of famine and disease, greyhounds were saved from extinction by monks who bred them for noblemen. During this period, ownership of a greyhound became the exclusive right of the nobility. Greyhounds were so highly prized that traveling noblemen would often present a greyhound as a gift to their hosts. Q: How does COGR get greyhounds? A:
Most racing greyhounds grow up on a dog farm where they are bred for speed and temperament. Their puppyhood is spent with litters of greyhounds grouped by age. They are registered to the NGA and their ears are tattooed for identification. Their initial training is started, but their first maiden races aren't until they are 18 months old. Their potential is assessed and they are sent to different racetracks where they live in racing kennels. Haulers can transport many dogs in their trailers and the dogs are moved to different trainers and racing kennels throughout the country. If they are not winning, they will be sent to a less prestigious racetrack or retired. Some retire at this point, but many will run for 1 to 3 more years. Many adoption kennels in Florida work solely with northern adoption groups just getting dogs hauled up to states without so many retiring greyhounds.
When COGR receives a retired racer, we place them in a foster home where they can learn what it means to live in a house and be a pet. We get them neutered, and provide any other needed veterinary care. This makes the transition easier for people interested in adopting ex-racing greyhounds.
Q: How old are greyhounds when they begin racing? A: Greyhounds begin their training at the farms where they are raised, but don't begin racing until they are approximately 18 months old. Q: Why does my greyhound have tattoos in their ears? A: Greyhounds are tattooed for identification purposes in the racing industry. The tattoo in the left ear is a unique number registered with the National Greyhound Association (NGA). The tattoo in the right ear is the dog's birthdate. These numbers can be used with the NGA database to trace a racing greyhound's lineage. Q: Does my greyhound have any other tattoos I should be aware of? A: Some veternarians tattoo the Mirror of Venus (female symbol) on the abdomen of female greyhounds following their spay surgery. This serves as a quick visual marker that they have been spayed. Q: What is a lurcher? A: Lurcher is a slang term for a dog a that is part greyhound and another breed of dog such as a coon hound. These dogs are typically bred for the hunting of raccoons or unsanctioned racing. These dogs are usually found in rural shelters at the end of hunting season as some hunters abandon them to fend for themselves once they are no longer needed. COGR focuses on retired racing greyhounds, but will occasionally assist lurchers as time and resources permit. For more information on lurchers visit the Ohio Lurcher Project.
Q: Are greyhounds hyperactive? A: Greyhounds are actually very laid back animals with friendly and docile dispostions. In reality greyhounds are very lazy creatures that sleep a great deal. Q: What kind of pets do retired racing greyhounds make? A: Greyhounds are wonderful companaion animals who thrive on human attention. They are exposed to human contact on a daily basis when in the racing world and tend to seek out human companionship. Q: Do greyhounds make good watch or guard dogs? A: No. Given their friendly disposition and laziness greyhounds are not good for security purposes. Q: How much exercise do greyhounds need? A: Greyhounds are sprinters and have a very low endurance, but they still require daily exercise. In a home with a fenced yard this can consist of a play session of 10 to 20 minutes of hard running. In homes without fences a long walk of 30 to 45 minutes is usually sufficient. All greyhounds benefit from the physical and mental stimulation provided by regular walks. REMEMBER: Greyhounds should never be off leash in an un-fenced area. Q: Do greyhounds get along with other dogs? A: Generally greyhounds do get along with other dogs. Some greyhounds have an extremely high prey drive and are not safe to be around small dogs as they will see them as prey and attempt to kill them. COGR identifies this in the dogs we place prior to placing them in a home, but it is always wise to have a muzzle on a greyhound when introducing it to a new animal. Q: Is it my imagination, or does my greyhound get very excited when s/he sees another greyhound? A: Greyhounds do demonstrate breed recognition and become very excited when they meet another greyhound. Even if they've never met that specific greyhound before, they react as if meeting an old friend. Q: Do greyhounds get along with cats? A: This varies from the dog to dog. Some greyhounds view cats as prey and will attempt to kill them. COGR cat tests the greyhounds we place to see if they are cat safe, but it is always wise to have a muzzle on a greyhound when introducing it to a new animal. Remember even if a greyhound is cat safe indoors, it is not cat safe outside. In an outdoor environment all greyhounds tend to view small furry creatures as prey to be chased. Q: Can my greyhound bark? A: Greyhounds can bark, but they are usually quiet animals who tend to favor non-vocal communication (e.g. leaning, nudging, and various looks). Some owners report never having heard their greyhound ever bark. Q: My greyhound just screamed! Is this normal? A: Your greyhound has just exhibited what is sometimes called the "Greyhound Scream of Death". Greyhounds will emit this high pitched shrill scream that make it sound as if they are being killed. In short greyhounds are drama queens. They can make this noise when they experience a serious injury or over a minor incident such as trying to trim their toenails. Greyhounds will sometimes scream if they are feeling stressed or cornered. Q: My greyhound is making a strange noise that is a cross between a howl and singing. What is this noise? Is this normal? A: This noise is called "rooing". Not all greyhounds do this, but enough of them do that it is considered common. No one knows why they do it, but rooing can be triggered by another dog rooing first or by noises like sirens. It is probably just the greyhounds lazy version of a howl. Click here to view a greyhound (Pete) rooing at the prompting of his owner.
Q: How long do greyhounds live? A: With proper care greyhond have a life expectancy of 12 to 14 years. Q: How old are greyhounds when they retire from racing? A: A greyhound's age at retirment will depend on their success on the track. The better a greyhound races, the longer they race, the older they are when they retire. Racing rules prohibit the racing of greyhounds older than 5. Typically the greyhounds placed by COGR are between 2 and 5 years old. Q: How big do greyhounds get? A: Male greyhounds typically stand 26 to 30 inches high at the shoulder and weigh between 65 and 85 pounds. Female greyhounds are typically 23 to 26 inches high at the shoulder and usually weigh between 55 and 70 pounds. Of course these are general ranges and specific greyhounds may be larger or smaller. Q: Greyhounds look so skinny. How can I tell if it is underweight? A: Greyhounds fresh from the track are very skinny and typically kept underweight as racers so they will run faster. A good rule of thumb to judge the weight of a retired racer is the visibility of their ribs. The last rib of the retired racing greyhound should be visible if they are at a healthy weight. Q: Why aren't greyhounds grey? A: Greyhounds come in a variety of colors including black, white, fawn (a.k.a. blonde or red), brindle (both dark and light), blue (a.k.a. grey) or combinations of these colors. Blue greyhounds are actually rather rare. Some sources claim the grey in their name doesn't refer to their color, but is derived from an old Celtic word meaning "fine" in reference to their delicate facial features. Q: Do greyhounds have any medical problems? A:
Aside from the normal medical needs all dogs have, greyhounds, like most breeds of dogs, are predisposed toward some specific medical conditions. These conditions include:
Dental Disease: Greyhounds tend to have bad teeth. This is a combination of genetics and, in some cases, poor diet provided during their racing careers. Greyhounds should have dental examinations and cleanings on a regular basis. Some owners report that regularly brushing their hounds teeth with enzymatic vetrinary toothpaste has greatly improved the dental health of the fast friends. Remember that greyhounds can have some trouble with anesthesia so select a vet who is greyhound saavy and has extensive dental experience.
Bone Cancer (Osteosarcoma): Greyhounds have a predispostion for developing bone cancer. The cause is unknown, but it is speculated that this is due to genetics. The tumor is typically found in the long bones of the legs, but given its aggressive nature it will quickly metastasize (spread) to other parts of the body, most commonly the lungs. Traditional treatment is amputation of the affected leg, followed by chemotherapy, however these measures will only buy time and there is no known cure. Some larger veterinary hospitals may have clinical trials for experimental treatments available. If your hound is diagnosed with any kind of cancer it is best to consult with a veterinary oncologist (a vet who specializes in cancer treatment) as soon as possible to choose the best treatment option for your fast friend.
Panus: Panus is an autoimmune disease that causes the greyhound's body to respond as if the eyes have been injured. In response to this signal blood vessels grow into the eyes in an attempt to heal the "injury" quickly. If left untreated panus can cause the greyhound's vision to be obscured. Signs of panus can include a foggy appearance in the eye and your hound may wipe at their eyes as if trying to clear their vision. Panus can be easily treated with perscription eyedrops that will reverse and prevent the blood vessel growth.
Greyhound Bleeding Syndrome: This is a condition in which a greyhound's blood values are normal but an injury or trauma causes them to bleed or bruise heavily. Brusing from blood draws can be prevented by the use of properly applied compression dressings. Bleeding during and after surgical procedures can be minimized by administering Aminocaproic Acid (a.k.a. Amicar) prior to the procedure and during their recovery period. This relatively inexpensive medication can keep your greyhound from bleeding to death.
Corns: Greyhounds are one of the few breeds of dogs who develop corns. Just like in humans these are hard concentrations of skin tissue that cause extreme pain when the dog places their weight on the affected foot. These can vary in size, but corns the size of a dime have been reported in some dogs. There are a variety of folk treatments, but the only consistently effective treatment is to physcially remove the corn (hulling) after it reaches a certain size. This process can be painful so it is recommended that you seek the advice of a veterinarian or experienced greyhound owner before you try hulling corns yourself. Click here for a corn picture.
Q: What is Amicar? A: Amicar is the brand name for Aminocaproic Acid. This medication given to greyhounds can prevent them from bleeding or bruising excessively during and after a medical procedure. Amicar is relatively inexpensive and available in both a tablet and liquid form which can be given orally. Consult with a greyhound saavy veterinarian for more information on this drug, how to acquire it, and when to use it. Q: Why are my greyhound's blood values off? A: One of the many things that make greyhounds unique is their blood values are different than "regular" dogs. Vets unfamiliar with greyhound blood values may treat your dog unnecessarily. The following table lists normal greyhound blood values. Feel free to share it with your vet.
Blood Value Normal Greyhound Range HCT/PCV 50% - 70%* *Greyhounds with HCT/PCV < 50% are anemic!* WBC 3.5 - 6.9 Platelets 110 - 205 Total Protein 4.8 - 6.3 Globulin 1.7 - 3.0 Creatinine 1.0 - 1.7 Total T4 (nMol/L) 8 - 20
Central Ohio Greyhound Rescue