Greyhound Haven Tasmania

Greyhound Rescue and Education

About greyhounds

To read the greyhound FAQ, click here.
For more information on greyhounds and children, click here or for information about greyhounds and other pets here.
For detailed information relating to training and behaviour, click here.

Breed History
Despite many assertions to the contrary, greyhounds are not an "ancient" breed of dog nor is the breed the oldest pure breed of dog. Recent DNA evidence suggests that greyhounds are actually closely related to herding breeds (breeds such as cattle dogs, border collies, corgis and german shepherds), rather than dogs like the saluki or sloughi (the dogs featured in art and literature that many assume to be greyhounds or their ancestors).
Although there are obviously many physical similarities between greyhounds and these older breeds of dog, these similarities are more than likely a result of the dogs being bred for the same purpose (and thus certain common traits are more desirable- for example, a deep chest and slender body), not unlike convergent evolution. So, while the type of dog (sighthound) is certainly very old, the breed itself is not.
The modern greyhound is descended from dogs registered in the 18th century in the United Kingdom and despite many theories, the exact origins of the name remain unknown.

Racing life
The greyhound's racing life (despite many misconceptions spread by animal rights groups) is often a pleasant enough existance. Racing greyhounds must be cared for correctly to perform well (and make money) so there is little incentive for breeders or trainers to mistreat their dogs or starve them.
Racing greyhounds recieve a lot more exercise than many pet dogs (pet dogs that often live lonely lives in their owner's backyards as furry lawn ornaments) and greyhounds that race are often far better catered to nutritionally- although the food given isn't always the best for their dental health.
Training a greyhound to race does not involve live prey as suggested by animal rights groups (this is illegal in every state of Australia) and generally speaking, there is no real need anyway- greyhounds are sighthounds and it is in their nature to chase (and those who show no interest cannot usually to trained into having that interest).
Our greatest concern regarding the racing industry is not the treatment of the dogs (who are often treated far better than many pets) but the numbers of dogs bred and the outcomes for all of these dogs after their racing careers are over. A large number of these dogs are put down because the owners either do not know about the rehoming options available or because the waiting lists or costs to enter their dogs into these programs are too prohibitive (both things which can be eased to some degree by public support of rehoming programs).

Exercise requirements
While a greyhound that is currently racing may require longer periods of daily exercise to improve fitness and endurance, many pet greyhounds do fine with a short daily walk or a run around the yard and due to their metabolisms, many greyhounds will actually begin to lose weight if fed on pet quality food and exercised in a way more appropriate for working breeds of dog (working breeds are generally bred to be able to work long hours at a lower intensity whereas a greyhound- even in hunting- will only work a few minutes at a time, at a much higher level of intensity).
Training and focused walking (where the dog's attention is on the handler, rather than on other things going on around it) are also important for any breed of dog and provide valuable mental stimulation- something that also tires the dog out and may help prevent destructive behaviour due to boredom.
It is also worth noting that many greyhounds have quite soft pads on their paws (racing greyhounds only run on sand so the pads do not thicken much) and extended periods of walking on concrete may actually cause the dog discomfort.

Temperament
Bred originally to hunt in small groups, greyhounds are quite a dog-social breed and many appreciate the company of other dogs in their homes or, if no other dogs, at least a person or two. Generally speaking, greyhounds (although quiet and well-behaved) do not tend to do quite so well in homes where they are by themselves for most of the day and because of this, some can be destructive or suffer separation anxiety (although this does seem to respond quite well to training and treatment).
Greyhounds are also quite a sensitive breed of dog, disliking loud noises and rough behaviour and so training methods that involve physical correction (flicking the dog's ears, hitting, shouting or other loud, sudden sounds or actions) may upset the dog and cause it to "shut down" (where the dog becomes very unresponsive to external stimuli) or become overly timid. While most greyhounds cope well with small children, some greyhounds are too reactive to the often loud noises that children make and are simply unsuitable for that sort of environment.
Overall, greyhounds are very gentle, quiet dogs, preferring to cuddle on the couch or lean quietly and watch, rather than expend any energy (unless food is involved- some greyhounds will eat until they vomit, if given the chance).

Grooming
Greyhounds are possibly one of the easiest breeds of dog to groom. With single coats (rather than double coats like many other breeds of dog) of short, fine hair, brushing a few times a week with a Zoom Groom or something similar is usually enough to keep the coat in good condition.
Another advantage of greyhounds is that owing to the frequent handling many racing greyhounds recieve (from quite a young age), they are often more accepting of grooming and will stand quietly and allow themselves to be handled.
Due to the single coat they have, greyhounds are also less prone to the doggy smell common to many other breeds and they shed very minimally, even in the seasons when other breeds of dog often drop coat (Autumn and Spring).

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