Should I Get A Greyhound?

Why Do Retired Racing Greyhounds Need Rehoming?

When it comes to asking yourself “Should I get a Greyhound?” – my very biased answer is yes. After adopting my first greyhound in 2013, I fell totally in love with this breed.

However, determining whether a greyhound will suit you or your family takes careful consideration. Pairing the right dog to your lifestyle is key to a long and happy life together.

That being said greyhounds are generally quite undemanding, loving and laid-backs breeds so easily fit into all kinds of family environments without much hassle.  Firstly, I would encourage adopting one from the many retired racing greyhound shelters.

Whilst the sport is declining, there are still a large number of greyhounds born to the track that deserve a loving home. The Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) and the American Greyhound Council (AGC) are the governing bodies and regulators for the sport of greyhound racing.

They are responsible for the welfare of retired racing greyhounds. Both work with owners and charities to ensure that greyhounds rehomed to families after they have become too old or injured to race.

As part of the regulations for owning a racing greyhound the GBGB state:

"When your greyhound’s racing career comes to an end. It is the responsibility of the owner to ensure that his or her greyhound is cared for once its racing days have finished... It cannot be stressed enough that the sport of greyhound racing values its reputation for putting greyhound welfare as its highest priority."

Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB)

If you would like to read more on from the GBGB site, please use:

Lots Of Living Still To Do

The vast majority of greyhounds retire from racing between three and five years of age so are still relatively young with a long life ahead of them. Greyhound’s lifespans are one of the longest in the canine world, especially for a large breed dog. Most live between 12-14 years.

At any one time, the Greyhound Trust Organisation in the UK, has around 1,000 greyhounds ready for adoption. With the recent closure of racing tracks in Florida, an estimated 2,500 greyhounds will need rehoming in 2020.

Of the 4,000 dogs currently racing, some will be transferred to different tracks. Organisations like Grey2K are seeking new homes now in preparation for the final closures at the end of next year.   

Why Choose a Retired Greyhound?

Greyhounds, whether retired or non-racers, make excellent pets. They are undemanding, easy-going dogs that do not need a lot of exercise.

Contrary to what people think, most are satisfied with two 30-minute walks per day. The rest of the time they are perfectly happy to laze around on something soft and comfortable.

Typically sprawling out on their backs with their long limbs dangling around in the air. Adult dogs, rather than a puppy, are already house-trained.

On the whole, they well-behaved having grown out of the undisciplined adolescent stage. Greyhounds are accustomed to being handled by many different people throughout their careers so are extremely welcoming.

They can usually be left alone without feel anxious because of their time in kennels. However, with all dogs your should be mindful not to allow separation anxiety to develop. 

My greyhound, Tipps, enjoys learning new skills – although not the most intelligent of breeds. He is good with all the basics and has a good go at the more complicated stuff but is not as successful. We have fun during training and a good bonding session.

These easy-going dogs fall quickly into your routine without much complaint. The retired racing greyhound charities run personality evaluations to recognise individual characteristics and match them to suitable home environments.

Through these assessments, they can provide new owners with practical information about the dog of their choice. The shelters never want to see a dog returned so all efforts are made to ensure that the right dog is paired to the right family.

It is highly distressing for both dog and family if the match is not suitable. Not something any shelters want. 

A Happy, Healthy Greyhound

All adopted greyhounds are neutered, microchipped and given a full medical by the retirement kennel prior to being rehomed. It is not only healthy dogs that are adopted out, but of course all families should know if a dog has a medical condition that could later require treatment.

On the flip side of this, puppy farm pups usually, and father sadly, come with a host of medical ailments as they are reared in horrific conditions and removed from their mothers way too young.  Early separation and the forced end to mother’s milk ruins a pup’s naturally developing gut function and prevents them from building up a strong immune system. 

Above all else, these graceful creatures are loyal, loving and affectionate. They are fantastic companion dogs who are eager to please.

They are devoted to their families. Anyone familiar with a greyhound knows they are big softies with huge hearts. They are wonderful additions to the family home.

It is important owners become familiar with a particular breed’s traits and characteristics before selecting them to be their pet. Ex-racers are fantastic family members in a home suitable for them.

This being sad, they are certainly one of the less demanding breeds, which means almost all home environments are applicable. 

Great With Children And The Elderly

The greyhound breed is gentle by nature, despite what some people might think. As they often seen wearing muzzles, they can be thought of as dangerous dogs but this is not the case.

Muzzles are usually worn if a racing greyhound still has a keen eye. This means that when they see something moving at pace in the distance, they instinctively want to chase it.

A trait that is honed in on by track trainers and exploited. Muzzles are worn as a precaution by some owners to prevent them chasing after small animals.

Most grow out of it after some time and muzzles are no longer needed. They have been taught to walk well on leash, and respond well to a firm command.

For dogs their size they are usually easy to handle and, once a good relationship is established, attuned to our body language. Racing greyhounds have grown to be calm and relaxed when being handled by many different people as this has been their puppyhood and early life experience.

Their careers put them in contact with breeders, trainers, track-hands, veterinarians and kennel attendants which make them great pets for both children and the elderly. They are extremely tolerant and patient in almost all situations, even when being treated for painful injuries. 

Greyhounds will generally move around in a slow and steady manner making them more suitable for anyone a little less stable on their feet. They rarely charge around knocking things over and will calmly stand close by waiting for the affection to be given out.

Even though they are large dogs, greyhounds are well suited to a life with children. Most are more likely to pick themselves up and move away from a child they feel uncomfortable with or being teased by. 

Teach Children To Respect The Family Dog

Of course, all dogs have a limit. If requests to be left alone are not respected things could escalate. 

Parents need to be diligent and teach a child to be understanding of a dog’s wishes and give them space. I was fretful when I introduced my first retired racing greyhound – Tipps – to family & friend’s children but after those first few interactions he relaxed around them.

Toddlers loved him as he was so big. They wanted to climb on to his back like he was a horse.

He was extremely patient and stood still. I would keep an eye on him, as I believe that is what a responsible dog owner should do (and not just greyhounds owners).


Give a Greyhound a Home

Greyhounds are bred in their thousands every year with the hope that they will become winners on the race circuits. However, some do not even make it to the track.

Ones that don’t show the qualities needed for racing or don’t take to the lure are cut immediately. All greyhounds that do not race, become injured or are too old to continue racing need a home.

The Retired Greyhound Trust was established in 1975 and have since placed around 85,000 greyhounds into loving happy homes. There are branches all over the UK.

The Greyhound Lifeline is an independent greyhound welfare and homing charity that is managed completely by unpaid volunteers. Founded in May 2007, they have over 100 registered walkers, fostering families and people performing crucial home checks.

All efforts are made to ensure that greyhounds coming to their kennels find their “lifetime home”.  They are based near Fleet.

The Forever Hounds Trust was named ‘Animal Charity Team of the Year” by the Association of Dogs and Cats Homes. The charity works with track trainers to rehome ex-racers – some coming from Ireland track grounds, where unfortunately they are subjected to particularly tough conditions.

On average, Forever Hounds Trust is placing 500 greyhounds and lurchers into forever homes each year.

The National Greyhound Adoption Program was founded in Philadelphia, PA in 1989. Their goals are to help find loving, adoptive homes for former racing greyhound dogs and provide superior knowledge and support for greyhound dog adopters and other adoption groups.

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1 thought on “Should I Get A Greyhound?”

  1. I’ve been reading about Greyhounds and I think that a retired racer would a great match for me.


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