by Terri Estesby
Today, we are going back to our dog roots to talk about one of my favorite canine breeds of all time – the greyhound. If you have never had the chance to spend time with a greyhound, you are missing out. They are among the nicest, most gentle dogs to ever walk the earth. Just being in their presence can lower your blood pressure and put a smile on even the grumpiest face.
Greyhounds were bred to hunt. They are one of the oldest breeds, dating back to ancient Egypt. They were brought to the British Isles by the Celts around 500 B.C., where they were further developed and refined as a breed. In early England, greyhounds were only allowed to be owned by nobility and were highly prized for their speed and hunting ability. Greyhounds came to the United States during the colonial period. They were primarily brought here by English, Irish and Scottish immigrants and were highly valued for their hunting skills. As the United States developed and expanded, the purpose of the greyhound began to shift as the popularity of organized greyhound racing grew during the 20th century. Greyhound racing peaked in the 1980s when there were more than 50 tracks open throughout the country.
Today, there are only two greyhound tracks open in the country. Both are in West Virginia. Dog racing is now illegal in 42 states due to animal welfare concerns. Critics successfully argued that the living conditions, training methods and treatment of the greyhounds were inhumane. There were high euthanasia rates at the tracks due to injuries and lack of performance. Hundreds of greyhound adoption organizations would take injured and uncompetitive dogs and put them up for adoption. Many people soon discovered that these dogs made great pets, making them quite popular. Their quiet disposition and loyal and loving nature made them desirable companions. Today, it is very hard to find a greyhound to adopt. There are usually long waiting lists with greyhound rescue organizations due to a lack of ex-racers available.
Greyhounds are a unique breed of dog with several distinctive characteristics that set them apart from other breeds. They are known for their slender, athletic build. They have a deep chest, long legs, and a flexible spine that allows them to stretch their bodies while running. They can reach speeds of up to 45 miles per hour and are among the fastest animals on earth. Greyhounds are used as blood donors for other dogs all over the world because they have a blood type which can safely be given to all other breeds. Greyhounds normally do not sit. They can, but it is not a comfortable position for them. They have a very high resting metabolism and burn more calories, even at rest, than most other breeds.
If you are lucky enough to find a greyhound to adopt, you can expect an even tempered, affectionate and eager-to-please companion. You can also expect a 40 mile per hour couch potato. Yes, greyhounds are super-fast, but they also love to lounge around on the couch all day. They need less exercise than you think. They do love to go for long walks, and do need an occasional all-out run, but they are happy to binge watch your favorite programs with you too. If, however, you are looking for a dog to guard your home, this is not the dog for you. Greyhounds are not good watch dogs because they love everyone.