The mold for all coursing hounds, the Greyhound has been a part of human culture for at least 8,000 years. They are the very picture of speed and grace. Greyhounds own the title as the fastest dog, which is easy to understand given their powerful, aerodynamic build.
The Greyhounds direct lineage remains a mystery. They were a common part of human culture before writing and record keeping became prolific. There are depictions of them spread across ancient Europe and the Middle East. Evidence has been found they existed in Turkey during 6000 BC, in Egypt around 1350 BC, and in Greece in 500 BC.
They were officially documented in the UK in 1210. The documentation indicates they were regularly used by nobility in large hunting packs, used to hunt almost all of the available quarry in England including hare, fox, boar, bear, deer, and stags. The breed standard was introduced in 1370, which is also when hare coursing started to become a popular sport. Hare coursing was sanctioned as an official sport in 1650 by Queen Elizabeth, this meant there was always a need for Greyhounds to be bred and refined.
It was these hare coursing Greyhounds from the UK that make up the ancestry of all Greyhounds in North America. The AKC recognized the Greyhound in 1885, included in their 2
The Greyhound’s lithe frame, deep chest, and slim waist create an elegant inverted S that is instantly recognizable. They are the template that has forged the many variations of sighthounds throughout history
Coat and Colouring
Smooth and soft to the touch, the Greyhounds’ short coat can come in almost any color. It is one of the few dogs whose color is immaterial when being judged at a dog show.
Distinctive Physical Traits
A sleek, muscular dog that is the very definition of a sighthound. Their tall frames are both powerful and agile. Absolutely built for speed, Greyhounds exude their ability to run faster than any other dog.
The Greyhound is a supreme athlete with a dignified and sweet temperament. Used by nobility for hunting and entertainment throughout history, they make wonderful companions.
Greyhounds are a gentle, sweet, and devoted dog. They have quiet grace and nobility about them and don’t love to be flashy or the center of attention. They understand their speedy potential and need to be exercised often. Greyhound’s have developed such a keen sense for the chase that it is impossible to call their attention back when they see something cross their path. This means it is vital they stay on a leash in any open space.
Like their athletic nature indicates, they may require a higher caloric and protein rich diet to maintain their health. This is provided they are getting the exercise necessary to burn off any extra food.
Greyhounds require a high-quality dog food that is age-appropriate—whether it’s commercially manufactured or homemade (with a veterinarian’s supervision and approval). It’s important to monitor the amount of food you give your Greyhound. Reduce the portions or restrict calories if your pup gains weight.
As with any dog, it’s important to monitor the amount of food and treats that you give your Greyhound, especially since some dogs may be prone to gaining weight as they age. Your veterinarian is always a good source to help provide you with appropriate nutrition and feeding guidelines.
The Greyhound requires moderate grooming maintenance, including brushing their teeth daily if possible. With adequate exercise, their rapidly growing nails should stay worn down, but they need to be inspected regularly as the overgrown nails can cause discomfort. A weekly brushing, as well as a recurring bath, is all that is needed to keep their short coat in good condition.
All dogs require regular dental care, including at-home teeth brushing and professional dental cleanings, and Greyhound is no exception. Maintaining good dental hygiene is important for their overall long-term health.
Greyhounds need to be able to unleash their incredible speed and love doing so by chasing after a ball or coursing lure. To remain in top form, these dogs require daily, vigorous exercise. As with all athletes, once spent, they enjoy nothing more than plopping down on the couch and relaxing next to their beloved humans.
Greyhounds are a sensitive and affectionate dog that doesn’t do well with harsh training methods. They adore their family but are reserved around strangers. Greyhounds should be socialized with young children and small animals as a puppy. Keep them on a leash at all times when not in an enclosed area, as they cannot restrain their desire to take chase should the opportunity present itself.
Greyhound Genetic Health Conditions
Hereditary Nasal Parakeratosis (Discovered in the Greyhound)
Hereditary nasal parakeratosis (HNPK) is a disorder causing crusting and dryness of the nose, leading to soreness and irritation.
Early-Onset Progressive Polyneuropathy (Discovered in the Greyhound)
Early-Onset Progressive Polyneuropathy is characterized by the dysfunction and breakdown of multiple nerve types, which causes generalized weakness, and related clinical signs.
Knowing if your Greyhound is a carrier or at-risk for these conditions can help you and your veterinarian plan for your pup's lifelong care. With Wisdom Panel™ Premium, you can get results for over 200 genetic health tests.
Reviewed 26 July 2020 by Cindy Elston, DVM, MPH