The Greyhound is a breed of dog believed to originate from the herding dogs of Eastern Europe, they were brought to Britain by the Romans around 2000. The name Greyhound is thought to come from the old English word Grighund, hund is the antecedent of the modern hound, Grig is undetermined, other than references to dogs in old English and old Norse.
Classed as sight hounds, they were bred as working dogs and used for coursing game. In modern times they were bred for racing, they can reach a top speed of 70km/h (43mph). The Greyhound has higher levels of red blood cells than other dogs, this allows them to move larger quantities of oxygen faster from their lungs to their muscles.
Modern Greyhounds derive from Greyhound stock recorded and registered in private studbooks in the 18th century, these studbooks became public in the 19th century and the breed was registered with racing and Kennel clubs in the U.K.
Gentle of nature and intelligent, the Greyhound is generally docile, lazy, easy going and calm, they were bred for sprinting rather than endurance. It as become popular as a family pet, thanks in part to the large scale adoption of retired racing Greyhounds. The Greyhound makes a good family dog, it’s loyal, good with children, as long as it’s not tormented and in general it’s not a barking dog.
A male Greyhound should be 71-76cm (28-30in) tall at the withers, and weigh 27-40kg (60-88lb), the female is slightly smaller at 66-71cm (26-28in) tall and weighing 25-34kg (55-75lb).
The coat of the Greyhound has very short fur, it comes in a number of colours including, white, black, tan,fawn,red, grey or in any combination of these. The breed has long powerful legs, a deep chest, and is slimly built with a flexible spine.
Specially bred for racing, a Greyhound can take part in races from the age of twelve months, it’s a short career as they are usually retired between 4 and 6 years of age. Recently conditions have got a lot better for the racing Greyhound, previously conditions were poor with the dog spending most of it’s life between races in a steel cage, once they became to old for racing it was either given up for adoption or destroyed.
There was a story in the press about a builder in County Durham who was thought to have killed up to ten thousand retired racing Greyhounds on his one acre plot. Using a bolt gun he sometimes killed up to fifteen dogs at a time, burying their bodies using a mechanical digger.
New laws and legislation mean that the Greyhounds are now treated a lot better, but it’s not until it’s retired and been adopted that it gets to live a proper life, with people who actually care for it. Personally I wouldn’t go to the dog track, because of the way they are treated, most of the owners are only interested in winning races and making money, rather than the welfare of the dog.
Hereditary illness is rare in a Greyhound, though they can still suffer from dental and sight problems like all dogs. A healthy Greyhound will have a relatively long life, on average 10 -14years,