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Greyhound Facts

Origin: United Kingdom (UK)
Lifespan: 10-12 years
Breed Group: Hound
Coat Type: Short and smooth
Coat Colours: Various, including black, white, fawn, brindle, blue, and red
Temperament: Gentle, Intelligent, Social
Height: Male: 71-76 cm (28-30 inches), Female: 68-71 cm (27-28 inches)
Weight: Male: 29-36 kg (65-80 lbs), Female: 27-31 kg (60-70 lbs)

Introduction

The Greyhound, a distinguished member of the Hound category, is a large-sized, purebred sighthound known for its incredible speed, gentle demeanour and intelligence. This breed’s size and appearance are influenced by its parental lineage. Greyhounds are characterized by their gentle and quiet nature, making them loyal and loving companions who rarely bark. Their need for speed is impressive, capable of reaching a stunning 43 mph (70 km/h) within just six strides from a standstill. This remarkable breed is renowned as the fastest among all dogs and is primarily associated with hare coursing and track racing. Remarkably, many Greyhounds in households today are retired racing champions.

A Brief History

Greyhounds trace their lineage back thousands of years to ancient Egypt, where they were revered for their hunting prowess and regal appearance. They were also highly prized in Greece and Rome, finding mention in historical texts and artworks. However, it was in Ireland that Greyhounds truly found their calling.

Ancient Origins

While its precise ancestry remains a mystery, most experts estimate that this remarkable breed has existed for at least 4,000 years, with some suggesting a history stretching back as far as 7,000 years. Remarkably, the Greyhound has remained largely unchanged by human intervention throughout its storied history, preserving its size, shape, speed, and superior coursing abilities since the dawn of recorded civilization.

Greyhounds Through the Ages

The Greyhound’s presence in history is truly legendary. Homer’s Odyssey, written in 800 BCE, featured Argus, a Greyhound. In the times of ancient gods, such as Diana, dogs akin to the Greyhound often appeared as illustrated companions. During the Middle Ages, this breed held such reverence among royalty that killing a Greyhound was punishable by death for commoners. Only those of noble birth could breed or own Greyhounds, and even then, royal permission was required.

From Aristocracy to Racing Stars

With the advent of the Industrial Revolution, the Greyhound’s status shifted. No longer considered more valuable than human life, it maintained its prestige as a symbol of wealth and power. As wealthy noblemen turned to business pursuits, Greyhounds transitioned from hunting companions to prized assets on the racetrack. Greyhound racing emerged as a popular sport, even surpassing horse racing in popularity during certain periods.

The Evolution of Greyhound Racing

Greyhound racing has a rich history, and its evolution is fascinating. In its early days in England, it was deemed a “gentleman’s” sport, with live jackrabbits used as incentives to push Greyhounds to top speeds on straight racetracks. With time, Greyhound racing became accessible to all classes, and it eventually made its way to the United States.

Modern Greyhound Racing

Today, Greyhound racing remains a popular amateur sport in various countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Ireland. The evolution of the sport includes innovations like the mechanical track lure, introduced by California man Owen Patrick Smith, which is still used in many countries.

Training and Retirement

Training a Greyhound for top-speed racing is a painstaking process that spans approximately two years. Sadly, not all Greyhounds make the cut, and those deemed too slow or injured often face euthanasia. However, a ray of hope shines through thanks to rescue and adoption facilities specializing in these retired racing dogs. These private, non-profit organizations provide a second chance, allowing many Greyhounds to transition into loving family pets, enjoying life beyond the racetrack.

Greyhound Racing in Ireland

Greyhound racing has a rich history in Ireland, with the first recorded race taking place in 1776 in the rural Irish county of Tipperary. Over the centuries, the breed was carefully refined for speed and agility, giving rise to the modern Greyhound we know today. The Irish Greyhound is world-renowned for its speed, earning the nickname “The Ferrari of Dog Breeds.”

The Greyhound: Did You Know?

  • Also known as the “English Greyhound.”
  • The only dog breed mentioned by name in the Bible.
  • In some places, it’s illegal to let Greyhounds off-leash, even in designated off-leash parks, due to their strong prey drive.
  • Greyhounds are valuable blood donors because they have higher levels of red blood cells compared to other breeds.
  • They wear muzzles during races, not for aggression but to manage their excitement.
  • The expression “Argus eyes” originates from Greyhounds, denoting exceptional eyesight.
  • Greyhounds possess a higher proportion of “fast-twitch” muscles, contributing to their incredible speed.
  • Their unique running style, with a “double suspension” rotary stride, allows them to reach top speeds.
  • Many Greyhounds that become family pets are retired racing dogs.
  • Over 80% of Greyhounds bred for track racing in the UK come from Ireland.

Greyhound Puppies

Greyhound puppies are a sight to behold. These young canines are born with boundless energy and a curiosity for the world around them. They typically weigh between 1.4 kg (3 lbs) to 2.3 kg (5 lbs) at birth and measure about 15 cm (6 inches) in height. As they grow, Greyhound puppies develop their distinct long legs and sleek bodies, setting the stage for their future athleticism.

Greyhound Saplings

As Greyhounds mature into saplings, they undergo significant growth. By the time they reach six months of age, they typically weigh between 18 kg (40 lbs) and 25 kg (55 lbs) and stand at a height of 61 cm (24 inches) to 66 cm (26 inches). This phase of their life marks the transition from playful puppies to graceful, youthful Greyhounds.

Greyhound Racing

Greyhound racing is a cherished tradition in Ireland, and the sport has garnered a devoted following over the years. It’s an exciting and exhilarating spectacle that takes place in various Irish counties, including Dublin, Cork, and Limerick, where Greyhounds sprint around the track at astonishing speeds, often reaching over 64 km/h (40 mph). The sport has not only provided entertainment but has also significantly contributed to the breed’s development.

Size and Weight

  • Height: Greyhounds typically stand between 68 cm (27 inches) and 76 cm (30 inches) at the shoulder.
  • Weight: These sleek canines weigh around 27 kg (60 lbs) to 32 kg (70 lbs) on average.

Coat & Colors

Greyhounds are known for their short, fine coats, which require minimal grooming. They come in a variety of colours, including fawn, brindle, black, blue, white, and red. Some Greyhounds may have markings or patches of white on their coats, adding to their unique charm. Below are some common colour variations frequently observed in Greyhounds:

Black

Black Greyhounds sport a uniformly black coat, extending from head to toe. The black hue may vary from a lustrous, deep black to a slightly faded shade.

White

White Greyhounds predominantly display a coat that is predominantly white, often featuring minimal or no markings of other colours. Their appearance exudes cleanliness and elegance.

Fawn

Fawn Greyhounds boast coats that span a spectrum from light tan to a deeper, reddish tan. The intensity of their fawn colour can vary and may exhibit different shades throughout the coat.

Brindle

Brindle Greyhounds showcase a unique coat pattern characterized by a base colour adorned with darker stripes or streaks. The base colour can be fawn, black, or any other hue, while the brindle pattern overlays it with darker lines.

Blue

Blue Greyhounds present coats resembling a diluted black or a dark grey hue. The blue shade may range from a lighter steel grey to a deeper charcoal tone.

Red

Red Greyhounds feature coats predominantly tinged with reddish hues, spanning from a lighter cinnamon shade to a deeper mahogany tone.

Other Colours

In addition to the previously mentioned colours, Greyhounds may exhibit intriguing combinations such as brindle and white, blue and white, fawn and white, and various other colour variations.

Temperament

Despite their incredible athleticism on the racetrack, Greyhounds are gentle and affectionate companions. They are known for their calm and easygoing nature, making them excellent family pets. Greyhounds are often described as “couch potatoes” when indoors, as they enjoy lounging and napping. However, they do require regular exercise to maintain their muscle tone and overall health.

Greyhound for Sale Ireland

If you’re considering adding a Greyhound to your family in Ireland, you’re in luck. This beautiful breed is readily available in various Irish counties, with many responsible breeders and adoption organizations dedicated to finding loving homes for Greyhounds. Be sure to research thoroughly and choose a reputable source to ensure the well-being of your future companion.

Living with a Greyhound in Ireland

The Greyhound, despite its size, is a breed that adapts well to various living conditions, including smaller spaces like apartments. This adaptability is particularly relevant to life in Ireland, where living situations can vary from bustling cities like Dublin to more rural areas in counties like Cork or Galway.

Fully grown Greyhounds do require outlets for their energy, and in the Irish context, they can enjoy the scenic beauty of this green island during their daily exercise routine. To keep your Greyhound content, plan for at least three daily walks lasting between 30 minutes to an hour each. In Ireland, this means strolling through charming villages in County Kerry, along the picturesque shores of County Donegal, or through the historic streets of County Meath.

However, it’s not just leisurely walks that satisfy a Greyhound’s active spirit. Ireland offers plenty of opportunities for them to stretch their legs further, be it on an Agility or Flyball course in County Clare, chasing a ball along the sandy beaches of County Wexford, or catching a Frisbee amidst the lush fields of County Tipperary. Greyhounds have a need for speed, and Ireland provides the perfect backdrop for them to sprint at top velocity, perhaps on the plains of County Kildare.

Greyhounds are known for their strong attachment to their guardians, and this characteristic holds true in Ireland as well. They quickly form bonds with their owners and are eager to accompany them in all their activities. Whether you’re exploring the historic sites of County Antrim, hiking the rugged trails of County Mayo, or enjoying a leisurely day in the heart of Dublin, your Greyhound will want to be right by your side, participating in every aspect of your Irish adventures.

Pros of Greyhound Ownership

  • Playful and Intelligent: Greyhounds are known for their playful and intelligent nature, making them engaging companions.
  • Energetic and Loving: They are both energetic and loving, forming strong bonds with their guardians.
  • Apartment-Friendly: Greyhounds are relatively inactive indoors, making them well-suited for apartment living.
  • Canine Sports Excellence: They excel in various canine sports, showcasing their agility and athleticism.
  • Suitable for Older Children and Seniors: Greyhounds are generally good with older children and seniors, adapting to different family dynamics.
  • Social and Good with Other Pets: They tend to be social and get along well with other dogs and pets, although they may not be trustworthy around smaller animals.
  • Requires Experienced Guardians: Greyhounds may not be the best choice for first-time dog guardians.

Cons of Greyhound Ownership

  • Daily Exercise Needs: Greyhounds have high stamina and need daily opportunities to run and stretch in a safe area to maintain their physical and mental health.
  • Mild Shedding: They are mildly shedding dogs, which may not be suitable for individuals with allergies.
  • Noise Sensitivity: Greyhounds are sensitive to noisy environments and may become stressed in loud surroundings.
  • High Prey Drive: They have a strong prey drive, potentially leading them to chase and pursue cats, small dogs, and other small animals.
  • Off-Leash Caution: Greyhounds should never be fully trusted off-leash due to their independent nature.
  • Fence-Jumping Ability: They can jump over six-foot fences, so secure fencing is essential.
  • Independence and Stubbornness: Greyhounds can be independent thinkers and stubborn, requiring patient and experienced handling.
  • Not Ideal for Very Young Children: They may not be the best choice for families with very young children.
  • Separation Anxiety: Greyhounds bond closely with their guardians and may exhibit destructive behaviour, howling, and escape attempts when left alone for long hours.