The greyhound has a larger heart and set of lungs than any other dog. This allows it to circulate more blood and oxygen through its system when running. The stride is often referred to as a double suspension gallop when running “full out”. This is because the dog’s paws hit the ground twice for every cycle of steps it takes. The spine is very flexible, allowing the dog to lurch and jump quite high too.
About 25,000 race dogs are retired every year. The dogs can live (on average) 12 to 14 years (one ex racer lived to 20) and are one of the most long-lived big dogs around. Their racing careers span approximately two to four years of before they are retired, so you can see there are many years of companionship left in this wonderful breed.
The dog is very aerodynamic due to the thin fur coat it has. It is a short haired dog with a very thin skin that can be easily ruptured. This is the reason the dog is often muzzled in races, and not due to any aggression as most people think. The dogs are actually one of the most non-aggressive breeds around and most prefer to avoid any confrontations.
The dog’s thin skin means that it is highly susceptible to environmental poisons and medications. They can be toxic to the dog, even when the medication is a dog flea medication. The paws also can absorb lawn chemicals, which can kill it, so it should be kept off of any grass that has been treated.
The dog is more like a cat than a ferocious guard dog. Despite its size, it will sleep upside down on your couch (roaching) and likes to be close to its owners at all times. It can suffer from separation anxiety, particularly if it is a former race dog. They are not used to being without people or other greyhounds around. Some will also collect small items to keep for itself and these can include your children’s toys, the remote control, or any food left out on the counter. The dog is so quiet and graceful, you may not even notice when it takes off with these things.
A retired greyhound can make an ideal house dog. The bark has been (for the most part) bred out of the dog, so it is usually very quiet. It loves to hang around the couch and be a part of a family. It easily adapts to its new life of leisure and needs no more than a couple of good walks a day and a nice place to run, full out, at least every couple of weeks or so…especially if they are still young.