In honor of this being Adopt a Greyhound Adoption Month, in this week’s Breed of the Week we’re featuring, you guessed it, the Greyhound!
The Greyhound has a sweet, mild nature and makes an excellent pet. Even though they have a reputation for being high-energy dogs, in reality a lot of them like to nap throughout the day (sometimes for up to 18 hours!) and are satisfied with a simple daily walk. One could say they are sprinters, not marathon runners. They have bursts of energy but tire quickly, thus the simple daily walk.
Greyhounds are most known for their use in dog racing. With their long legs, barrel-chest, flexible spine, and slim, aerodynamic build, the Greyhound can reach speeds in excess of 40 mph. Modern Greyhound racing was introduced to the USA and England in the 1920s. It quickly gained popularity among the masses and soon became legalized in many states and provinces. However, in the 1970s, concerns were raised regarding the treatment of racing Greyhounds. In September of 1975, an article was published called, “Greyhound Racing: Where Brutality and Greed Finish Ahead of Decency.”
According to the ASPCA, 11,722 Greyhound injuries and 909 deaths were recorded between 2008 and 2015. The injuries include broken legs, crushed skulls, broken spines, paralysis, and electrocution. Although most deaths are largely attributed to the disposal of Greyhounds unfit for racing or breeding as well as the disposal of racing Greyhounds once they are no longer able to race due to injury or the fact that they can no longer race fast enough to be profitable, some dogs do die on the track from cardiac arrest. They are trained to race so hard and so fast that their heart literally cannot keep up.
If that’s not enough to make one want to make Greyhound racing illegal, perhaps the treatment of the racing dogs, themselves, is. Most racing Greyhounds spend up to 20 hours a day stacked in crates in a warehouse or else are kept in dirt pens with minimal shelter where there’s no heating or air-conditioning. Many of the dogs also suffer from fleas, ticks, and internal parasites due to inadequate veterinary care. They are routinely starved of affection and given only minimal amounts of food to keep them in “good racing condition,” with the often mistaken belief that starved and “lighter” means they will run faster (ridiculous, you can’t run fast if you’re too weak from lack of food).
The routine cruelty involved in Greyhound racing has, in recent years, resulted in the banning of Greyhound racing in all but six states: Alabama, West Virginia, Florida, Arkansas, Iowa, and Texas. Over half of the tracks that are still active are located in Florida.
Greyhound racing is the main reason for this month being Adopt a Greyhound Adoption Month. The Greyhound racing industry churns out thousands of dogs a year from over-breeding and several hundred of those dogs are discarded either because they are “unfit” to race or because they have been retired due to injury or due to simply not being fast enough. These retired and rescued Greyhounds are the lucky ones. Even with only 19 racing tracks still in operation, the ASPCA estimates that thousands of racing Greyhounds are destroyed each year. This “sport” should not be legal and needs to be banned in every state. To help in the fight to end Greyhound racing, you can donate to the ASPCA, here: https://secure.aspca.org/donate/donate-201704-v1-t1-p1?ms=wb_con_button-greyhoundracing&initialms=wb_con_button-greyhoundracing&pcode=WEBMEMBER&lpcode=WEBGUARD
Despite the cruelty, Greyhounds remain gentle, docile, mild-mannered, and loyal companions. Most Greyhounds are friendly to both people and dogs, though they may have trouble with smaller pets such as cats, small dogs, rabbits, and rodents because of their intense prey drive. For this same reason, they need a securely fenced yard with a 4-6 foot fence to keep them from racing after a passing stray cat, squirrel, or bird. However, those lacking that intense prey drive can and do co-exist peacefully with small dog breeds and cats. It’s simply a matter of finding a Greyhound with the right temperament for your lifestyle and current pets.
Greyhounds are usually very quiet and don’t bark often, though they may bark when a stranger approaches the house. They might be aloof with strangers, but a Greyhound should never be aggressive toward them. As with any breed of dog, purebred or otherwise, socialization is a must. An adequately socialized dog will be confident around new people and other dogs and will, therefore, feel no need to run away or become aggressive.
Training should be gentle but firm. Greyhounds do not respond well to harsh training and may become shy or timid with mistreatment, even if unintentional. They often have a “what do I get out of this?” kind of mentality originating from their independent and often cat-like nature, and so training should be reward-based for maximum effectiveness. The “sit” commands can be difficult to teach the Greyhound as it is not a natural position for them. They may, instead, balance on their tail. This should not be discouraged. If the “sit” command seems too difficult or uncomfortable for them, perhaps replace it with the “down” or “lay” command.
They excel in dog sports, such as lure coursing, conformation, obedience, and agility.
If you are interested in purchasing or adopting a Greyhound, please do your research. Though they are excellent dogs for first-time owners, it is better to be aware of their quirks and likely temperament beforehand to make training easier. And please, before purchasing a Greyhound, please consider adopting one! As stated above, hundreds, perhaps thousands of racing Greyhounds are discarded each year and are in great need of good, forever homes. As might be noted by now, I am all for adoption. So please, adopt a Greyhound. Save a life!
Fun Fact: Greyhounds are often affectionately described as “45-mile-per-hour couch potatoes.”
Do you or have you owned a Greyhound? Please tell us about him/her in the comments below! I’d love to hear about your experiences with the breed.
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