One of the most striking and unique dogs in many ways, the Greyhound has risen in popularity as a house pet in recent decades. In fact, there are now far more Greyhounds as pets than as racing dogs, which is a great thing for these dogs – whose lives as competitors are often not the best. We’ve discussed the Greyhound before in a Breed of the Week post, but I wanted to talk today specifically about adopting them.
As it is with many of my posts, this was started by a friend coming to me with questions about adopting a Greyhound. She recently relocated from a roomy home in the suburbs to a smaller apartment in the middle of town, and is looking for a companion that will fit her new lifestyle. One of the first things that many people hear about Greyhounds is that they make great apartment dwellers, which is what got her curious about the breed.
In fact, for people who live in small spaces, and need a laidback pet that won’t bark often, but will still provide plenty of fun and love, a Greyhound is a great breed. But because most adoption-ready Greyhounds are ex-racers, there are a few things to know before you just charge in to owning one. Here are 13 reasons you might love a Greyhound if you’re new to the breed:
1. Greyhounds are very adaptable to different lifestyles.
As I said above, most adoptable Greyhounds are retired racers. Their lives as racers included long periods of inactivity followed by short bursts of extreme activity. This means that Greyhounds tend to be very comfortable with relaxed, sedentary lifestyles as well as very active and fun lifestyles. They have plenty of energy, but they also know how to relax. Most owners report that Greyhounds are laid back dogs who are happy to go along with the flow, and that makes them great pets for a wide variety of families, people, and living situations.
2. They can be very happy with an owner who must leave for longer work schedules.
I am hesitant to say this one without explanation, so let me explain. Greyhounds are known for needing a lot of sleep. Most Greyhound pets sleep up to 18 hours a day, with 16 hours per day being pretty normal for this breed. This means that if you need to leave your dog at home while you work the occasional overtime, it isn’t likely to bother a Greyhound. This breed is even known for a specific sleeping style called “roaching”, where they lay on their backs and let their legs splay out in all directions. If that doesn’t say “professional napper”, I don’t know what does.
3. They are affectionate dogs.
Having a laid-back, adaptable dog is a great thing for many people who couldn’t give the right amount of time and attention to a needy breed. But you may also want a dog that will snuggle and be affectionate. With Greyhounds, you’ll get the best of both worlds. Greyhounds are known to be expert cuddlers, who really need plenty of affection from you at the end of the day as well. You don’t have to worry about giving them all your focus, though. These dogs seem perfectly content to curl up in your lap for a Netflix marathon as well. They also like to follow their owner around from room to room, settling down for a nap while their owner does their thing – and then getting up to follow again when the owner leaves. This is typical pack behavior, something that Greyhounds exhibit very obviously, due to the way they are raised.
4. Greyhounds require very little grooming.
Greyhounds have short coats that are easy to clean and trim, and they shed about an average amount. They do tend to have thin skin that can get cut or pinched easily, so you do need to be gentle with them – but they don’t require frequent grooming or anything special. They tend to be very clean dogs in general, so you won’t have to worry about a lot of messes.
5. They come in all sorts of colors.
This is only really a small reason to adopt a Greyhound, but it’s one to mention anyway. Greyhounds aren’t like, say, Labradors, which all tend to look mostly the same in a couple of color variations. Each and every Greyhound is totally unique and recognizable. Their coats are known for being multi-colored, blue, red, and many other unique colors. They usually have white spots mixed in with their main color, and their very distinct profiles make them eye-catching dogs.
6. They aren’t prone to major health problems or early deaths.
Greyhounds are not small dogs by any means. Some adult Greyhounds can get up to 95 pounds! But unlike other large breeds, such as Great Danes, Greyhounds tend to live relatively long lives, several years past a decade. Also they aren’t prone to any major diseases the same way that other purebred dogs can be. This is because Greyhounds are bred almost exclusively for racing these days, and that means they are carefully selected for their health and good genetics. Most serious diseases have been bred out of the bloodlines that exist today.
Even a Greyhound that has not been well trained is typically very mild mannered, polite around new people and dogs, and clean. These dogs are just born with an innate sense of good behavior, it seems. This often makes them perfect for someone who has never had a dog, or who isn’t great at training. They also respond well to clicker training and reward-based training. Despite being so large, Greyhounds are very gentle dogs. They aren’t meant to be watch dogs or guard dogs, because when faced with confrontation, this breed is more likely to hide or back away. So if you are looking for a dog that isn’t likely to get you into any kind of trouble with the neighbors, a Greyhound is a great choice.
Once a Greyhound is no longer racing, it is typically sent to a rescue home by the racing owner, who needs to make room for new racers. At the rescue home, a Greyhound may end up being moved around many times to make room for new rescues. This lifestyle may not be particularly hard on the adaptable Greyhound, but they do tend to prefer one human owner to attach themselves to. Without that connection, Greyhounds can become very anxious and skittish, which often leads to them being put down because they aren’t appealing to potential owners. By adopting one, you are giving the retired racetrack star a new life. If you want to learn more about the peculiarities of owning a dog that used to be a racer, I would suggest Retired Racing Greyhounds for Dummies. It’s a great book full of good information about how raising a Greyhound works.
It may sound like I’ve been hinting at the fact that Greyhounds are abused, but that is not the case. It’s just that a Greyhound is raised for a specific purpose, and lives its early life in a pack of dogs. They don’t typically receive a ton of one-on-one attention as a racer, and they definitely don’t get to cuddle up on the couch or play with the kids. They live their early lives as utilitarian working dogs, basically. So don’t worry that you’ll need to care for a dog that is people-shy from abuse. You’ll be getting years of pent-up affection and love from a retired Greyhound.
9. An active Greyhound does love to chase and run.
While it’s not often necessary to give a Greyhound ample running time, they do love to do it in most cases. Greyhounds are trained to race using lures, which they chase. This doesn’t seem to turn them into predators by any means, but it does mean that if you want a dog who will play fetch on the weekends, the Greyhound would be a good choice for you. These dogs are sprinters, though, not marathoners, so don’t expect an ultra running buddy. Greyhounds are bred to run up to 45 miles per hour for just a short time period. And don’t be surprised if your Greyhound isn’t interested in much activity. As a retired racer, some of these dogs just stop being interested in the chase.
10. Greyhounds are good with other pets.
Greyhounds are born and raised in packs of racers, and due to their gentle and mild natures, they are great around other pets. Other dogs, cats, rabbits, gerbils, birds – any type of other pet you may have will likely get along with a Greyhound, provided that pet is also well behaved. Don’t be surprised if the bond takes a while to form between a Greyhound and another pet – these dogs have really only ever been around other Greyhounds. But once the initial newness wears off, you’ll likely have a pair of best friends for life.
11. Greyhounds are best suited to warm climates, or need to be dressed for winter.
Greyhounds have very thin skin with thin coats, and don’t do well in the cold. But this is good news for you if you live in a warm climate, or if you are the kind of person who loves dressing up your dogs! Racers are used to wearing vests to identify them on the track, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Greyhound who wasn’t wearing some kind of accessory. Coats, vests, scarves, booties, and all manner of doggie accessories are perfect for the Greyhound’s body.
12. Greyhounds are quiet dogs.
Here’s one of the biggest reasons why so many people say that Greyhounds are good for apartment dwellers. These dogs are not prone to barking or vocalizing much at all. They tend to communicate more with their bodies, leaning against you, licking your hand, or curling up on top of you. The only time they tend to make noise is if they are extremely excited, or if they’ve been trained to alert you to their bathroom needs. If you live in an area where you need your dog to be quiet and calm, a Greyhound is a great choice.
13. There’s a huge community of Greyhound lovers, and they are very active.
If you have been thinking about getting a dog because you want to connect more with people, then the Greyhound community is right up your alley. This dog attracts people who want to meet, who want to talk about their dogs, who want to set up playdates. There’s something about being the owner of a Greyhound that seems to bring out this side of people, and the community is quite large. You’ll be adopted right alongside your dog into a network of people devoted to helping this breed thrive. If you ever need help finding a home or care for a dog in need, you’ll have instant access to a whole crowd of new friends. And you’ll also have access to tons of mentors should you need any help with your Greyhound.
One Other Thing to Know
I know I said that I’d give you 13 reasons to love a Greyhound, but here’s just one more thing you need to know. Because of the way Greyhounds are raised, they often don’t get to have a “puppy” stage. So if you are worried about adopting a retired dog because you don’t want an “old” dog, you can strike that fear off your list. Most retired Greyhounds revert back to a playful puppy-like demeanor, to enjoy the rest of their years.
I told all of this to my friend, and I think she’s sold on finding herself a loveable retiree to adopt. If you are someone with a laid-back attitude, a willingness to be very affectionate with your dog, and the desire for a dog that can adapt with your life, then you would likely be a great owner for a Greyhound.