An Ancient Breed
Animal anthropologists generally agree that the Greyhound - type dog is one of the seminal canine breeds from which virtually all domestic dogs descend. They can be traced back over 8,000 years to early cave drawings and decorative artifacts. The distinguishable modern Greyhounds are descendants of an ancient identifiable breed that goes back to the Egyptians and Celts. The Egyptians worshiped Greyhounds as a god and frequently showed them on murals in the tombs of kings. In old England "You could tell a gentleman by his horses and his Greyhounds." Old paintings and tapestries showing hunting feasts frequently included Greyhounds.
Legend has it that Cleopatra had coursing Greyhounds, and they were the goddess Diana's hunting hounds. Modern history has been replete with famous Greyhound owners including Frederick the Great, Prince Albert, and Generals Von Steuben and Custer.
The derivation of the term Greyhound is unknown, but has nothing to do with color. One possibility is that it is from old English gre-hundr, meaning dog hunter or high order of rank. Over the centuries, Greyhounds have traveled with explorers and generals, adorned the suites of kings and queens, appeared in fine art and literature, and been the focus of major industries in both Europe and the United States.
Modern day Greyhounds placed by adoption organizations are generally retired, trained athletes. Greyhounds are bred by professionals who are looking for speed, endurance and even temperament. Most are bred on farms located throughout the country where the breeders pay close attention to the physical soundness and emotional disposition of the puppies. As a result, hereditary physical and temperament problems have been avoided in the breed.
For the first year of their lives Greyhound puppies live together with their litter mates and are handled frequently by the breeders and other staff associated with the breeding farm, but they are not exposed to other breeds of dogs. Consequently, they are surprisingly socialized to people and strangers but not to other breeds of dog. To learn more about life at the track, we highly encourage our adopters to visit Greyhound Chronicles and view the videos presented there by Jeff Sonksen. He has visited many race kennels in Florida, documenting every visit for the benefit of those interested in learning.
Former racing Greyhounds have been trained to chase lures, usually mechanical. They are NOT vicious predators as many believe, but chase things that move by nature. It is the Greyhound's nature to run. They are sprinters who can run up to 45 miles an hour for very short periods. Some of them love to run; others are simply not interested after they retire.
Life Off The Track
In spite of their early training for the race track, Greyhounds love people, in fact more than most breeds, and tend to be quite sociable. They have been handled a great deal during their early years by dog walkers, trainers, veterinarians and others. Many trainers are women who bring their children to work, so the dogs frequently have been exposed to children of all ages.
Generally, Greyhounds are quizzical, sometimes shy, very sensitive and surprisingly gentle. They possess superior intelligence, and can exhibit a quiet but surprising independence. These are not animals whose spirit have been broken by their training or racing experience.
Greyhounds have never been exposed to other breeds of dogs. They know other Greyhounds but may be perplexed, frightened or simply ignore other breeds. They do not know cats, however, all are tested for tolerances toward cats and small dogs prior to adoption. Greyhounds are used to traveling and adapt quickly to riding in cars.
Greyhounds do not typically bite but sometimes show affection as a wolf does with mouth agape, gently grasping. They will lick your hand, too. They show affection with their whole body and may rub up like a cat or lean against you.
Greyhounds have no fat layer on their bodies which makes them sensitive to winter cold or rain. If outside for more than a short time in bad weather, they should be protected with a coat. No dog should be left outside in extreme cold or hot temperatures.
They are not barkers by nature, but will bark if excited or trying to tell you something like needing to go out. They reward their owners with never-ending affection and strive to please.