Greyhound breed information and advice

This dog breed guide will introduce you to the Greyhound dog breed with information on their personality, behaviour and health care needs. Whether you are rehoming a retired race Greyhound or buying a puppy, this guide will help you to prepare for your new arrival.

Greyhound facts

Lifespan 10-14 years
How much £700-£3000
Size 68-76cm
Weight 29-32kg
Colours black, white, red, fawn, fallow,
brindle or any of these colours with white
Grooming Once a week
Temperament lazy, easy-going and calm
Exercise 40 minutes



Greyhound insurance

Dog insurance will help cover the cost of unexpected vet bills for illness and injury. Some health problems are genetic, meaning your puppy could be born with a condition. Others are linked to old age and only found in adult dogs. So, make sure your dog is covered for its whole life.

Sainsbury’s Bank Pet Insurance

With Sainsbury’s Bank Pet Insurance, you can cover your Greyhound from 8 weeks old up to any age. New policies can be taken out up to your dog’s 8th birthday. So, if you’re adopting an older Greyhound, there’s still insurance available to you.

How to care for a Greyhound

Diet, exercise, grooming and training all play a part in keeping a dog fit and healthy.

Most Greyhounds are not greedy dogs, but if kept with other dogs they can become competitive. You will need to weigh their food and feed them once or twice a day. Stick to the same times where possible. This is particularly important if you have adopted an ex-race Greyhound as they’ll be used to a strict feeding routine. It will make their transition to their new home easier and less stressful for them.

Feeding guidelines can be found on the back of dog food packaging. This is where you will also find the nutrient content. Make sure your dog is getting the nutrients it needs in its diet. Ask your vet if you’re unsure.

Greyhounds have a short, fine coat that doesn’t need grooming very often, but they do shed. Brushing once a week with a rubber brush or mitt will help to reduce the shedding. You’ll also be pleased to know that your Greyhound won’t need bathing very often either.

You'll need to buy some clothing for your dog. This breed doesn’t have much body fat and their thin coat doesn’t keep them warm. They’ll need to wear a coat or jumper during the colder months to keep them cosy and healthy. If they get cold, they are more likely to get ill.

You probably think that Greyhounds need lots of exercise because you’ve seen them racing. But they only need 40 minutes a day, split into two 20 minute walks. They are built for speed but don’t have good stamina. They use their energy in short bursts.

Greyhounds love to run so should be let off lead where possible. But they are prone to chasing animals so should only be let off lead in secure areas. If they chase an animal, they’re likely to catch it. They are very fast, with a top speed of 45 mph. Their long, powerful legs and lean bodies allow them to accelerate very fast – and they can reach their top speed within six strides.

Training Greyhounds can be difficult. They’re sensitive and can easily become fearful. They’re also not food-motivated so even training with treats may not work. But they are smart dogs. It will take time but if you’re patient and use positive reinforcement, you will be able to successfully train your dog.

If you’re toilet training a puppy, give them lots of chances to go to the toilet. They will learn quickly with praise and repetition. If you adopt an older dog, you may need to house train it. Most race Greyhounds live in kennels, so are not toilet trained. They’ll take some time to adjust to living in a house. Train them in the same way that you would toilet train a puppy.



Temperament and behaviour

If you watch greyhound racing, you’ll see that the dogs wear muzzles. This may have led you to think that they have an aggressive temperament. This is not true. Greyhounds are quiet and have an easy-going personality. Your dog will be affectionate with you and other dogs in the family.

If you adopt a retired Greyhound however, you will have to be careful around other animals. If they see a cat or rabbit, they will chase it, and if they catch it, they will harm it. This is not bad behaviour; they have been brought up and trained to chase and they don’t know any different. To stop this from happening, don’t let your dog off lead unless it’s in a secure area where there are no other animals. You could also muzzle your dog when out of the house to be safe.

Common health problems

Greyhounds don’t suffer from many health problems, but there are some signs that you need to be aware of.

VWD is an inherited disease, so affected dogs should not be bred from. Von Willebrand’s factor is a protein that helps cells to stick to each other and form a normal blood clot in the body. Dogs with VWD have a reduced number of this factor and their blood doesn’t clot well.

Affected dogs are prone to bruising and bleeding. This can be dangerous if the dog is injured or needs surgery because it can cause continued bleeding. Plasma and blood transfusions are given to help the blood to clot. A drip may be needed to replace fluid loss. In some cases, surgery is needed to stop the bleeding.

Gastric dilation is when there is a build-up of gas in the stomach, causing it to inflate. It’s caused by fermentation of food or from swallowing hair. As the stomach swells it can flop to one side or even twist, which is GDV. This blocks the gases from escaping. It’s a serious, life-threatening condition, that can kill in less than an hour if left untreated.

Take your dog to the vet immediately if it’s vomiting frothy foam, has a swollen and painful abdomen, difficulty breathing or has collapsed. Some dogs also cough and drink lots. If the stomach hasn’t twisted, it can be emptied of gas using a tube. This will take the pressure off the internal organs. If it has twisted, surgery will be needed to open the stomach to empty it.

Affected dogs are at risk of recurring problems, so preventative measures should be taken. Feed your dog small meals more often, 2-4 times a day. Separate dogs when eating so that there is no competition and they eat slower. Restrict exercise and excessive drinking an hour before and after eating. Put the food bowl on the floor and not in a food stand. Stressed dogs are more likely to develop bloat, so make sure your dog is in a calm and happy environment.



How long do Greyhounds live?

Greyhounds have a life expectancy of 10-14 years. There aren’t many fatal health problems linked to this breed. So, if fed the correct diet and exercised regularly, they are likely to reach their full lifespan.

Do Greyhounds get scared easily?

They are a sensitive breed that can be easily scared, making them wary of other dogs when they first meet them. Socialising your dog regularly, and from a young age, will help to teach them not to be afraid. Dogs pick up on human responses, so if you act calm, your dog will too.

Do Greyhounds shed?

They have short fur and a thin coat, so they’re not heavy shedders. But they do shed, and their fur sticks easily to fabric. Brushing them regularly will help to reduce the amount of fur you find on your clothes and floor.

How to rehome a Greyhound

If you are interested in getting a Greyhound, but not necessarily a puppy, there are many retired Greyhounds in need of rehoming at adoption centres. Most race Greyhounds retire at the age of 3-5 years. They have a life expectancy of 10-14 years, so are still young and have many more years left in them.

Is a Greyhound right for you?

If you’re looking for an easy-going dog to join your family, a Greyhound would make the perfect addition. They have a long lifespan, even after retiring from racing, so will bring you years of happiness.

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Content provided from Vetstream’s Vetlexicon

Vetstream ltd (online) Greyhound. In: Vetlexicon Canis. Vetstream Ltd, UK. Website: https://vetstream.com/treat/canis/breeds-pages/greyhound

Feldman B, Knottenbelt C & Seth M (online) Von Willebrand’s disease. In: Vetlexicon Canis. Vetstream Ltd, UK. Website: https://vetstream.com/treat/canis/diseases/von-willebrand-apos;s-disease

Vetstream Ltd (online) Von Willebrand’s disease (VWD) Owner Factsheet. In: Vetlexicon Canis. Vetstream Ltd, UK. Website: https://vetstream.com/clinical-reference/canis/owner-factsheets/von-willebrand-s-disease-(vwd)

Ludwig L (online) Stomach: gastric dilatation/volvulus (GDV) syndrome. In: Vetlexicon Canis. Vetstream Ltd, UK. Website: https://www.vetstream.com/treat/canis/diseases/stomach-gastric-dilatation-volvulus-(gdv)-syndrome

Vetstream Ltd (online) Bloat (gastric dilation) Owner Factsheet. In: Vetlexicon Canis. Vetstream Ltd, UK. Website: https://vetstream.com/clinical-reference/canis/owner-factsheets/von-willebrand-s-disease-(vwd)