Greyhounds, those tall elegant hounds with incredible speed and big hearts have been capturing human affections for longer than just about any other breed of dog. References to Greyhounds in art and literature date back thousands of years, including a mention in the Bible. Everything about the Greyhound, ancient or modern, says “speed.” Long legs, slim head, deep chest, fine coat, a unique “hinged” spine, all contribute to the Greyhound’s status as second fastest accelerating land animal in the world. However, the Greyhound has another secret edge: his heart really is huge. Relative to body size, the Greyhound heart is not only larger and more efficient than any other dog’s, but outperforms that of a thoroughbred racehorse. Due to the power of the Greyhounds “double suspension gallop” stride and flexible “hinged”
spine and also despite their difference in size, the stride length of a Greyhound at a gallop is approximately the same as that of a thoroughbred horse running the Kentucky Derby!
Matt Groening, creator of the animated series The Simpsons and a Greyhound enthusiast, had Homer and Bart rescue a former track Greyhound in the show’s first Christmas special and the dog became a permanent member of the cast. With the show airing in more than sixty countries, “Santa’s Little Helper” is now arguably the world’s most famous Greyhound. Due to the breed’s sweet natured, gentle temperament, Greyhounds can also be excellent therapy dogs, visiting hospitals, seniors’ care homes, and other facilities, where their long legs make them just the right size to lay a head on a hospital bed or nudge a hand.
The Greyhound is built for sheer speed rather than endurance and doesn’t require hours of exercise. These are the fastest of all dog breeds, the “drag racers” of the dog world and once he has exploded into his powerful driving gallop for a short time, he is content to sleep for the rest of the day.
Greyhounds are nonaggressive (they tend to freeze when challenged or attacked) Because they are so docile, they must be trained with a very light hand and much more praise than correction. Greyhounds are docile animals who need to be treated gently at all times. They are never aggressive, and, as mentioned before, freeze up when another dog postures towards them – they have absolutely no fighting instinct whatsoever. Treating a Greyhound harshly can cause them psychological harm, as they are incredibly sensitive. Gentle consistency and lots of praise and treats are all you need to train a Greyhound. Though they are independent, they pick up on tasks fairly quickly. They are naturally well-behaved so training is usually quite easy, even for first time dog owners. Greyhounds have often been compared to cats. They are quiet, well mannered, regal and independent.
Ex racing greyhounds have lived a very regimented life, becoming a pet is almost like being “reborn”. Even though most former racers are over two years old when they leave the track, most have not been exposed to daily sights and sounds commonly found in your home and surroundings. Car rides, toys, televisions, children, stairs, kitchens, street noises, and almost everything else you consider normal are all strange to a former racing greyhound. As a result, they will be curious, awestruck, and a little frightened as they enter their new lives. They need time to adjust to these new surroundings and each one does so at a different pace. With a little understanding and love, they adjust and blossom very quickly into loving and well-mannered pets.
Some Greyhound behaviors (may apply to other breeds) but most will not.
Another behavior trait of some Greyhounds is called “nitting”. When a Greyhound is very happy, and loves their “person” they may nibble at their arm or side (or any available skin) with their front teeth. It’s actually an expression of great happiness but it might be misinterpreted as aggression. The nibble is hard enough to easily leave a bruise, so, although it’s actually meant as a true compliment, it’s wise to be careful.
A variant of this is chattering and air snapping. When some greys are happy, they may chatter quite loudly, clicking their lower jaw as though they were cold. You may see a greyhound do this at meal time or when their “person” comes home. Air snapping is similar to nitting but instead of nibbling at your skin, they snap at the air. Again, this could easily be misinterpreted as aggression when it’s not. The “snapping” is not aimed at you – it’s aimed at the air.
Grinning (not snarling):
A facial expression shared with other breeds but also frequently misinterpreted. Grinning is usually a submissive expression although it looks very much like a snarl. The clue is in the rest of the Greyhound’s body language and the circumstances that you see this. ometimes, however, these traits don’t appear til the greyhound has been in their new home long enough to be settled and relaxed.
Some greyhounds seem to go into a trance when they brush their back against low hanging branches or bushes. They may actually stand motionless for several minutes with their eyes glazed over as they seem to be feeling the touch of the branches. I’ve never seen Vitali (our ex racing grey) “trance” but he will take every opportunity he can get to walk through our cedar trees and have the branches rub across his back. Our other ex racer, Vladimir, has never shown an interest in it.
Greyhounds sometimes show affection as a wolf does with mouth agape, gently grasping your hand or arm.
Greyhound ears are truly amazing. Most breeds of dogs have an ear set that is predictable. Cockers have ears that flop. Shepherds have erect ears. But Greyhounds! Anything can be expected here. The average Greyhound has ears that hug the head for aerodynamic reasons. Their ears do, however, do many tricks. They stand straight up like the Shepherd or Doberman; they go out like your average mixed breed; they go back tight to the head like a normal Greyhound. And, often one ear will go one direction and the other in a totally different direction and position. I took some photos once at the dog park of Vitali and the different positions his ears were in while we were there…sometimes both were standing straight up, sometimes one up and one down, sometimes one forward and one back, sometimes both laid back, sometimes one straight up and one flopped over. I think I counted 9 or 10 different variations of ear placement.
Many dogs roach, but I doubt there is another breed who does it so often and with so many variations.
(Escaping Tongue Syndrome) Usually this happens when the dog is upside down roaching, but can also happen while lying down and most often while sleeping.
Many Greyhounds excel at this. People who have never met a Greyhound before and are leaned upon by a dog they don’t know are usually entranced, It’s the Greyhound version of hugging!
Most Greyhounds love their stuffed toys. Many gather them up and hoard them on their bed or where ever they sleep. Some are safe with squeaky toys, others first task with a new squeaky toy is to desqueak it. Then there are those Greyhounds that will hoard practically anything. Both of our boys are good with their stuffies and are not destructive with them, and neither one is a hoarder.
It’s when their teeth chatter, it can be quite loud, and means they’re happy. Some dogs will do this at at Meet ‘N Greets when they’re being petted and given lots of attention. They will also do it when they are anticipating something good like getting fed or going for a walk or just your undivided attention. Some may chatter quite loudly, clicking their lower jaw as though they were cold and many people do mistake this as the dog being cold, but I have, after a chattering episode inside, taken the boys outside where it was much, much colder and there was no chattering to be heard.
Lots of dogs howl, in greyhound circles, it’s called rooing. Hard to describe, but you can find youtube videos of it I’m sure. Neither of our boys truly “roo”
This is a Greyhound owner thing! There’s a well known saying among greyhound adopters… “Greyhounds are like potato chips, you can’t have just one” and with all their quirkiness, their absolute ease to have around, the pleasure you get from just enjoying their company, the joy of watching them run, and more things than I can adequately put into words here, I know I’ll never have another breed.