Before we go any further with this, let me point out that the 13 questions I’m about to ask (and answer) are not for retirees who own Greyhounds. They’re for people who are thinking about adopting a Greyhound that has been retired from racing.
Personally, I applaud anyone who wants to adopt a retired Greyhound. They’re beautiful, amazing dogs, but realistically, they’re not for everyone. And people are constantly adopting dogs without having any idea at all what the breed they’re considering is all about. When these adoptions go through, sometimes they “bounce” – which is a term used in rescue circles to describe an adoption that hasn’t worked out, resulting in the dog being returned.
The problem with “bouncing” is that the more frequently a dog is returned, the less likely that dog is to find a “forever” home. So, before you decide to adopt a retired greyhound, ask yourself the following 13 questions.
1. Am I Okay with Shedding?
Sure, Greyhounds have short coats, and they don’t really require a lot in the way of maintenance and grooming. Greyhounds don’t shed much, but there’s no such thing as a dog that doesn’t shed at all.
If you’re not okay with shedding, you really shouldn’t get any kind of dog.
2. Am I Comfortable with a Big Dog?
Greyhounds can be pretty big. They can weigh as little as 45 pounds, or as much as 95 pounds. They can also be a bit excitable, and prone to sudden movements if startled.
If you’re going to be one of those Greyhound owners who gets their knickers in a twist if their dog jumps suddenly and knocks over their kid, this might not be the breed for you.
3. Are You Obsessed with Your Landscaping?
Much of the time, dogs don’t go well with lawns and gardens. Greyhounds love to run, and when they do, there’s a good chance that they’ll rip the living bejabbers out of your lawn, flowerbeds, vegetable garden, etc. If this bothers you, then you might not exactly rank amongst the best potential Greyhound owners
4. How Do You Feel About Barf?
Dogs don’t mean to throw up, but it happens. And dogs aren’t like people – they don’t think, “Oh, man, I’m about to hurl, so I’d better get to the toilet, or the sink, or at the very least, the trash can!” A dog is just going to yark wherever he is.
The thing with a Greyhound is that because his legs are built for traction, he’s probably going to look for the place where those legs are the most stable – in other words, on your carpet.
So, if you’re not okay with hauling out the carpet cleaner, or if you have really expensive rugs, or even if you care all that much about your home décor, you might want to think twice before deciding on a Greyhound.
5. Do You Want an Outdoor Dog?
See Can Dogs Live Outdoors Full Time? for my take on this topic in general. From my perspective, there is no such thing as an outdoor dog, and Greyhounds are no exception.
In fact, if you want to adopt a Greyhound, and you think that you can keep him outdoors, then you’re a special kind of stupid – these dogs have thin coats and bony joints, and even more than most other breeds, they need a warm place inside the house. If you think that you can just knock up a doghouse in the backyard and keep your dog there, then Greyhound ownership is not for you.
6. How Busy Are You?
Greyhound owners have to be willing to devote a lot of time to their dogs. You can’t just say, “I’ve got a lot on the go at work,” or, “The kids need me,” or “I’ll play with my dog later.”
Greyhounds are needy. And if you’re not going to be there for a Greyhound, then leave the adoption to someone who will.
7. Do You Have Kids?
Greyhounds are gentle dogs, and generally good with kids. However, they are very sensitive, and sometimes a bit skittish, so they’re not all that good with rambunctious children or loud toddlers. If your kids fall into either category, then you should probably not consider adopting a Greyhound.
8. Are You in It for the Long Haul?
This doesn’t really relate specifically to Greyhound owners – it actually applies to anyone who is considering adopting a dog of any breed.
Before you consider bringing a dog into your household, consider your lifestyle. Is it likely to change? Could you be moving soon? Changing jobs? Having children? Doing anything else that might make it hard to keep a dog?
Too many dogs end up being re-homed because of changes in the owner’s lifestyle. From where I sit (and, I think, from where anyone with a grain of common sense sits) a dog is not something that is disposable. A dog is not a “for now” commitment; it’s a “forever” commitment. If you’re not in it forever, then don’t get a dog. Of any breed.
9. Why Are You Considering a Greyhound?
Sometimes, people want to rescue dogs on impulse. Other times, they want to do it because it’s “fashionable.” Again, remember, it’s not something that you should undertake lightly. If you’re not in it forever, don’t get into it at all.
10. Would You Consider an Adult Greyhound?
Everyone loves puppies, but adult dogs can also be great adoption choices. When you adopt an adult, though, you’re going to want to look closely at temperament. With a retired Greyhound, owners won’t usually have to worry about temperament issues. You can usually see right away what type of dog you’re going to get.
The other thing with adult Greyhounds is that owners will usually have less work to do – the dog will likely already be house trained, and you won’t have to worry about issues like chewing and destructiveness.
11. Do You Want a Quiet, Compliant Dog?
Often, because of their racing background, people think that Greyhounds are aggressive. You see them in photos and videos with muzzles over their faces, and you think, “Better keep away from that!” The fact is, those muzzles are actually used to prevent Greyhounds from hurting themselves on the track – aggression has nothing to do with it.
12. Do You Want a Watchdog?
Greyhounds are typically gentle and non-confrontational. If you want a watchdog, this is not the right breed for you.
13. Do You Want a Healthy Dog?
If you want a dog that is generally free of so many of the ailments that can plague purebred dogs, then a Greyhound is a great choice. They have very few health problems, and in fact are one of the very few large breeds that does not have a propensity to hip dysplasia.
Greyhounds are also among the most long-lived of the large breeds. You can usually expect your Greyhound to live for about 12 years. Some live even longer.
What answers did you give to these questions? Is a Greyhound right for you?
The Final Word
I could probably give you thousands of reasons why you might be a good Greyhound owner, and probably another thousand why you might not be. Greyhound owners are like Greyhounds – a special breed.
These dogs aren’t for everyone. But when good Greyhounds are paired with good Greyhound owners, it’s a match made in Heaven.
If you think you might be one of those good Greyhound owners, then all I can tell you is, act now. Every year, nearly 25,000 Greyhounds are retired from racing. 18,000 of them end up being adopted.
I don’t need to tell you what that means, do I?
Do the math. It means that 7,000 of these beautiful dogs are put down every year because they don’t find homes.
In a perfect world, no one would race dogs for human amusement and then put them down when their racing careers are over.
Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world. So, if you can open your heart to a dog that desperately needs a home, join the ranks of retired Greyhound owners. There are tons of sites online where you can sign up to save one of these wonderful dogs – just do a bit of Googling using the criteria “retired Greyhound” or “Greyhound rescue.”
Do you have a rescued Greyhound? Are you thinking of adopting one? Use the comment section below and let me know how it works out.