Greyhound Dog Breed

Greyhound Standing Outside
  • Other names:
  • English Greyhound

The greyhound is a large dog breed and is world famous for their speed. Greyhounds were originally bred as hunting dogs for deer, foxes, and rabbits which required the breed to be both agile and fast. The breed can reach speeds of 40-45 miles per hour which makes the greyhound the fastest dog breed in the world as well as ideal dogs for lure coursing and racing events.

The breed is considered a friendly dog breed and can live indoors as well as outdoors making them apartment compatible. Many people are surprised to learn that the breed is calm and borderline lazy taking frequent naps throughout the day. Greyhounds do have a very strong prey drive, so they may not be best for families with cats or other small pets.

Greyhound Breed Details

Breed Specs
Purebred12-15 yrs.25-30 in.60-85 lbs
  • Friendliness
  • Overall
  • Family Friendly
  • Kid Friendly
  • Pet Friendly
  • Stranger Friendly
  • Maintenance
  • Easy to Groom
  • Energy Level
  • Exercise Needs
  • General Health
  • Shedding Amount
  • Behavior
  • Barks / Howls
  • Easy to Train
  • Guard Dog
  • Playfulness
  • Watch Dog
  • Ownership
  • Apartment Friendly
  • Can Be Alone
  • Good for Busy Owners
  • Good for Novice Owners
  • Intelligence
* The more green the stronger the trait.

Greyhounds were once used widely in Europe for hunting. Because of their running speed, many are used for racing. They are wonderful alone or in packs. They might not be the best companion, however, as they do like to conserve their energy and might be considered lazy. They can be high-strung but should be calm — sometimes to the point of appearing disinterested. They are definitely not good first-time dogs for people who have never had a canine pet. Despite the muzzle laws that some countries require, they are not as dangerous as implied.

Below is a list of the good and the bad facts about adopting a Greyhound, and some in particular are about adults:

  • Pros
  • Very clean
  • Light shedders
  • Highly sociable
  • Low-maintenance
  • Quiet, gentle dogs
  • Few exercise needs
  • Former racing dogs are often highly adaptable
  • Retired Greyhounds are often extremely healthy
  • Cons
  • May not be good with kids
  • Prone to separation anxiety
  • Not at all good as watchdogs
  • Not meant to be outdoor dogs
  • Not good in hot and cold climates
  • While thin, they are still large dogs
  • Can have expensive health conditions
  • Absolutely not meant to be guard dogs
  • They need large, open spaces for running
  • Require a specific understanding of their body language

Greyhound Breed Description

Greyhounds are a large dog muscular dog breed where males can weigh as much as 65-85 pounds and be as tall as 26-30 inches from ground to shoulder. Greyhounds that are used for racing are generally slightly smaller than the rest of the breed (likely due to selective breeding for speed).

Greyhounds are known to have a great temperament and are considered to be both friendly and non-aggressive towards people. They are intelligent which makes them an easy to train dog breed. The breed is good with smaller children and is careful to walk around small children rather than over them. Since greyhounds were used a hunting dogs for chasing prey, they are not recommended for families with small pets because the breed will likely want to chase them.

The breed has an easy to care for coat. They do shed so brushing the coat once daily will keep the shed at a manageable level. Surprisingly the breed is a low energy dog. They will need a daily walk to meet their exercise needs and to prevent them from becoming hyperactive. The breed should not be walked off leash due to their strong chase instinct and their fast speed.

Greyhound Breed History

Greyhounds are believed to have originated in Egypt some 4,000 years ago. They are well-known for their speed, and if the breed were paid proper royalties from the bus line that appropriated this dog's name, they'd be rich too! These canines have long been long revered for far more than how fast they run, however. Greyhound history is filled with stories of the royals of Greece, mixed with the scriptures that are now the Bible, and buried in ancient history via mummification. The Greyhound is even mentioned in one of the most famous Western texts in all history, Homer's "Odyssey": "'This dog,' answered Eumaios, 'belonged to him who has died in a far country. If he were what he was when Odysseus left for Troy, he would soon show you what he could do.'"

For more than three millennia, Greyhounds remained an anchor breed whose speed was the reason they were crossed with so many other dogs. Through those thousands of years, they remained highly prized as hunters. It was not uncommon for them to be valued far above the life of anyone less than a royal. To kill or even injure a Greyhound often meant death for the unlucky one, no matter the reason of the injury. When the Age of Enlightenment was born, humans began to see these dogs less as personal extensions. While they were no longer considered property worth more than a peasant's existence, they remained remarkably desired by royalty.

The Industrial Age made the feral characteristics of Greyhounds less needed. The breed's speed soon became exploited not unlike the sport of kings. Greyhound racing became highly popular a few centuries ago. The sport remains extremely popular to this day. Despite the dog's rich, long and international ancestry, the name "Greyhound" was not conceived and applied to the breed until the 18th century.

Greyhound Appearance

To the lay eye, a Greyhound may look a bit anxious, overwrought, and underfed. They are bred to be fast and have a skinny side that may look unnatural.

The anatomy of a Greyhound is slimness. The long, narrow snout defines the rest of the dog. The trim, rectangular ears poke out like the wingtips of falcons in a power dive. The eyes are large, round, and black, and they look even larger due to the sparseness of the dog's skull, head, and body. These dogs might look like they have an underbite because of the small lower jaw, but it's just an effect caused by the large nose. Then follows the deep chest and long torso, all of which is stilted on long legs which have large paws. The front legs are slim, and the rear legs are a bit larger. A medium-length tail that hangs down and curves outward like a scimitar balances out this breed's profile.

The typical coat is short and tight with fine hairs. It's not waterproof, however, and having a Grayhound in inclement weather calls for a proper coat to keep these dogs warm — or cool, if it's hot weather.

Greyhound Coloring

Grey hounds come in a lot of coat colors. The American Kennel Club (AKC) lists 30 colors in the breed standard. Wheaton, bronze, and harlequin are not recognized by the AKC but are other names for similar colors.

Below is a list of the AKC greyhound coat colors:

  • Red
  • Blue
  • Liver
  • Fawn
  • Black
  • White
  • Blue fawn
  • Blue brindle
  • Red brindle
  • Liver brindle
  • Black brindle
  • White and red
  • Blue and white
  • Red and white
  • Liver and white
  • White and blue
  • White and liver
  • Fawn and white
  • White and black
  • Black and white
  • White and fawn
  • Blue fawn and white
  • White and blue fawn
  • White and red brindle
  • Red brindle and white
  • White and liver brindle
  • Blue brindle and white
  • White and blue brindle
  • Black brindle and white
  • White and black brindle

Greyhound Size

When it comes to measurements, this breed might look small in size, but these dogs still have some heft. The average height of a male Greyhound is 28 to 30 inches. Females are slightly shorter at 27 to 28 inches in height. The weight of most male Greyhounds is around 60 to 88 pounds, and females weigh in a range of 60 to 75 pounds.

There is not really an ideal Greyhound weight due to the variation. This variety is discussed in the Variations section.

Average Adult Height

25-30 in
*Height is measured in inches from the front paws to the top of the shoulder while the dog is standing on all four legs.

Average Adult Weight

60-85 lbs

Greyhound Variations

To most people, all Greyhounds might seem the same basic size. There are, however, two different size groups. One is the show Greyhound and they are a bit larger than the other group, the racing Greyhounds. The difference is about an inch in height but a bit more with weight. The show Greyhounds are considered far more abundant and tend to be those found with most Greyhound dog owners.

Racing dogs are far more expensive to breed, adopt, and maintain, and they are not to be found being walked by casual dog owners. With this variation, both male and female are about 25 to 29 inches tall.

For the running Greyhounds, the weight range is lower than common Greyhounds. The range for males is 60 to 75 pounds, and females weigh from 50 to 65 pounds.

Then there is the perception that Italian Greyhounds are a variation of the standard Greyhound. The Iggy, as it is often called, is actually a separate breed of Greyhound. The same goes for the other "varieties" that are actually purebred dogs: the Spanish Greyhound, the Arabic Greyhound (AKA Sloughi), the Russian Greyhound (AKA Borzoi), the Afghan Greyhound, the Persian Greyhound (AKA Saluki), the English Greyhound (AKA Whippet), and the Scottish Greyhound (AKA Deerhound).

As for other so-called varietals, they are either not pure breeds (in other words, they are hybrids or mutts), or they are litter runts or other poorly bred Greyhounds. These include miniature (or mini) Greyhounds, toy Greys, teacups, dwarfs, hairless, and so forth. Also, a different coat style, such as long-haired, rough-coated, or wire-haired, does not make a Greyhound a variation.

Greyhound Temperament

Greyhounds can have one of two basic, distinct personalities depending on how they are brought up: the naturally born behavior or the disposition that is shaped by being a professional running dog. Of course, most people will encounter the Greyhound character with which these dogs are born.

The typical Greyhound temperament is friendly, confident, and curious. Their even-tempered nature may be due to their ability to outrun most any threat. They are very sensitive, however. While most dogs don't respond well to harsh words and aggressive training techniques, Greyhounds are extremely sensitive to them. They are immensely intelligent dogs who can be a little stubborn but will respond quickly to those who understand them.

This breed might seem aloof to most people and situations, but they can be highly affectionate to their masters and those whom they love. These are not characteristics often mentioned when talking about the Greyhound species, but it's a definite trait of these dogs.

Greyhound and Children

As potential family pets, former racing Greyhounds up for adoption tend to generate an unusually large amount of requests. Adopting any dog should not at all be an impulsive decision. The personality of the Greyhound, whether or not they raced, requires serious consideration before signing those doggy adoption papers.

Greyhounds absolutely should not be left alone with babies, toddlers, or small children. Kids must understand that loud noises, bear hugs, and pulling on Greyhounds are flat-out No-Nos and are not good for any family dogs.

Non-racing Greyhounds are far less touchy, but they are still remarkably sensitive. Be sure to take the time to teach your kids how to behave around Greyhounds and how to treat them respectfully. One thing that you should understand is that Greyhounds naturally tuck their tails between their legs and naturally lay their ears back. In most all other dog breeds, this is a sign of aggression, fear, or both. It's not with Greyhounds — although it can be. Learning the difference will help Greyhounds be good with kids!

Greyhound and Other Pets

Cats are a far more difficult pet to have with Greyhounds — especially if the dog you wish to adopt is a retired racing hound. The remarkably strong urge to chase down a cat is one that will end badly. Greyhounds can outrun cats, and they will do what dogs do when a cat is caught. This isn't to say that all Greyhounds will hunt down your cats, but the chance is very high. As for bunny rabbits and other small furries, it's best to not even attempt having them if you want or have a Greyhound.

Greyhounds get along swell with other dogs whether they race or not. They should have no problems for the most part, although it might be good to always have a muzzle on hand so they don't nip at each other if they do get over-stimulated.

Because many people who have the large spaces for Greyhounds tend to have other large animals, it's not unusual to also have horses. These two animals love to race, and that is how things can get a little bit crazy. Good fences will help keep horses from getting excited when Greyhounds are around.

Greyhound Photos

Below are pictures of the Greyhound dog breed.

White & Fawn Greyhound Dog
White & Fawn Greyhound Dog
White & Blue Brindle Greyhound
Black Greyhound
Greyhound Standing Outside

Living Requirements

Greyhounds as pets tend to require more patience and different methods than with most dog breeds. Rescued racing dogs have many different personality points that means living with them often requires lifestyle changes. The type of crate training that many of them had must be understood to prevent behavior problems.

Small apartments are not good for these dogs. They should have enough outside room to get a truly good run at least once a day or so. These dogs will bolt before you know it if they see a small furry outside. There are precautions regarding windows and glass doors that you should learn if you are want to own a Greyhound.

The typical Greyhound may have very short coats with small, fine hairs. While they still shed, they tend to be have a lot less dander that triggers allergic reactions in humans. They are not hypoallergenic, but they have a lot less of that doggy smell!

Random Details

As a breed, the Greyhound is the world's fastest dog. That begs the question: What is the fastest Greyhound ever recorded? It's practically impossible to determine the world's fastest Greyhound due to the different standards of track. Flat, round, straight or other kind of raceway is a big deal when it comes to clocking the speed of these dogs.

Still, there are those that in recent years are noted for their speed: Australia's "wonder dog," Brett Lee, did a round track at nearly 40 mph. In the UK, there was Blonde Dino who did nearly 39 mph. There was an even faster dog, this one in Australia, that had a verified speed of nearly 42 mph. There is said to be one dog that topped 50 mph, but that speed was never officially recorded.

On the other hand — or foot, as it may be! — is the frequent entry of Greyhounds into ugly dog contests. While there may have been no Greyhounds that have won the World's Ugliest Dog Contest, there have been many that have apparently come close! These dogs are prone to massive overbites, crazy teeth, and bizarre facial hairs.

Greyhound Health

Greyhounds may be somewhat healthy dogs in a general sense, but they have a history and body type that makes them highly prone to a lot of problems. Their low body fat, extremely short coat, and specific exercise requirements are all aspects of the breed with which you must deal. Also, they do have a fair amount of hereditary issues.

Below is a list of many of the Greyhound's health problems:

  • Bloat
  • Cancer
  • Pannus
  • Cataracts
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Osteosarcoma
  • Cold sensitivity
  • Heart murmurs
  • Hypothyroidism
  • General alopecia
  • Chronic allergies
  • Early osteoarthritis
  • Tick-borne diseases
  • Esophageal achalasia
  • Vitreous degeneration
  • Musculoskeletal injuries
  • Sensitivity to anesthesia
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy

The average lifespan of a Greyhound is 12 to 15 years.

  • Allergies
  • Alopecia
  • Bloat
  • Cancer
  • Cataracts
  • Cold Intolerance
  • Heart Murmurs
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Musculoskeletal Injuries
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Osteosarcoma
  • Pannus
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy
  • Sensitivity To Anesthesia
  • Vitreous Degeneration
  • View all 16...

Greyhound Breed Recognition

The following dog breed registries and organizations recognize the Greyhound as a dog breed:

  • American Canine Registry
  • American Kennel Club
  • America's Pet Registry
  • Australian National Kennel Council
  • Canadian Kennel Club
  • Continental Kennel Club
  • Dog Registry of America Inc.
  • Federation Cynologique Internationale
  • Kennel Club of Great Britain
  • National Kennel Club
  • New Zealand Kennel Club
  • North American Purebred Registry, Inc.
  • United Kennel Club
  • American Canine Association, Inc.
  • View all 14...