Greyhound

Last updated
Greyhound
GraceTheGreyhound.jpg
Other namesEnglish Greyhound
Origin Great Britain
Traits
Weight Male 27 to 40 kilograms (60 to 88 lb)*
Female 25 to 34 kilograms (55 to 75 lb)* [1]
*Normal weight range [1]
Height Male 71 to 76 centimetres (28 to 30 in)
Female 68 to 71 centimetres (27 to 28 in)
Litter size 1–12 pups
Life span 10–14 years
Kennel club standards
The Kennel Club standard
FCI standard
Dog ( domestic dog )

The Greyhound is a breed of dog, a sighthound which has been bred for coursing game and greyhound racing. It is also referred to as an English Greyhound. Since the rise in large-scale adoption of retired racing Greyhounds, the breed has seen a resurgence in popularity as a family pet.

Contents

According to Merriam-Webster, a Greyhound is "any of a breed of tall slender graceful smooth-coated dogs characterized by swiftness and keen sight", as well as "any of several related dogs", such as the Italian Greyhound. [2] [3]

It is a gentle and intelligent breed whose combination of long, powerful legs, deep chest, flexible spine and slim build allows it to reach average race speeds exceeding 64 kilometres per hour (40 mph). [4] [5] [6] The Greyhound can reach a full speed of 70 kilometres per hour (43 mph) within 30 metres (98 ft), or six strides from the boxes, traveling at almost 20 metres per second (66 ft/s) for the first 250 metres (820 ft) of a race. [7] [8]

Greyhound...JPG
An ex-racing Greyhound settling into retirement. Greyhound Sleeping.jpg
An ex-racing Greyhound settling into retirement.
"Gray-Hound" in a 1658 English woodcut Gray-Hound.jpg
"Gray-Hound" in a 1658 English woodcut
Margaret Gorman with her pet Greyhound, "Long Goodie", in April 1925 MargaretGormanPetDogApr1925Retouched.jpg
Margaret Gorman with her pet Greyhound, "Long Goodie", in April 1925
A Greyhound in the extended phase of double rotary suspension gallop Racing Greyhound (US).jpg
A Greyhound in the extended phase of double rotary suspension gallop
Greyhound in contracted phase of double rotary suspension gallop US Racing Greyhound.jpg
Greyhound in contracted phase of double rotary suspension gallop

Appearance

Males are usually 71 to 76 centimetres (28 to 30 in) tall at the withers, and weigh on average 27 to 40 kilograms (60 to 88 lb). Females tend to be smaller, with shoulder heights ranging from 66 to 71 centimetres (26 to 28 in) and weights from 25 to 34 kilograms (55 to 75 lb), although weights can be above and below these average weights. [1] Greyhounds have very short fur, which is easy to maintain. There are approximately thirty recognized color forms, of which variations of white, brindle, fawn, black, red and blue (gray) can appear uniquely or in combination. [9] Greyhounds are dolichocephalic, with a skull which is relatively long in comparison to its breadth, and an elongated muzzle.

Temperament

Greyhounds can be aloof and indifferent to strangers, but are affectionate with those they come to know. They are generally very docile, lazy, easy-going, and calm.

Greyhounds wear muzzles during racing, which can lead some to believe they are aggressive dogs, but this is not true. Muzzles are worn to prevent injuries resulting from dogs nipping one another during or immediately after a race, when the 'hare' has disappeared out of sight and the dogs are no longer racing but remain excited.

Contrary to popular belief, adult Greyhounds do not need extended periods of daily exercise, as they are bred for sprinting rather than endurance. Greyhound puppies that have not been taught how to utilize their energy, however, can be hyperactive and destructive if not given an outlet, and therefore require more experienced handlers. [10]

Pets

Greyhound owners consider Greyhounds wonderful pets. [11] They are very loving, and enjoy the company of their humans and other dogs. Whether a Greyhound will enjoy the company of other small animals, such as cats, depends on the individual dog's personality. Greyhounds will typically chase small animals; those lacking a high 'prey drive' will be able to coexist happily with toy dog breeds and cats. Many owners describe their Greyhounds as "45-mile-per-hour couch potatoes". [12]

Greyhounds live most happily as pets in quiet environments. [13] They do well in families with children, as long as the children are taught to treat the dog properly with politeness and appropriate respect. [14] Greyhounds have a sensitive nature, and gentle commands work best as training methods. [15]

Occasionally, a Greyhound may bark; however, Greyhounds are generally not barkers, which is beneficial in suburban environments, and are usually as friendly to strangers as they are with their own families. [16]

A very common misconception regarding Greyhounds is that they are hyperactive. This is usually not the case with retired racing Greyhounds. [17] Greyhounds can live comfortably as apartment dogs, as they do not require much space and sleep almost 18 hours per day. Due to their calm temperament, Greyhounds can make better "apartment dogs" than smaller, more active breeds.

Many Greyhound adoption groups recommend that owners keep their Greyhounds on a leash whenever outdoors, except in fully enclosed areas. [18] [19] [20] [21] [22] [23] [24] [25] This is due to their prey-drive, their speed, and the assertion that Greyhounds have no road sense. [26] In some jurisdictions, it is illegal for Greyhounds to be allowed off-leash [27] even in off-leash dog parks. Due to their size and strength, adoption groups recommend that fences be between 4 and 6 feet tall, to prevent Greyhounds from jumping over them. [18] As per most breeds being rehomed greyhounds that are adopted after racing tend to need time to adjust to their new lives with a human family. Many guides and books have been published to aid Greyhound owners in helping their pet get comfortable in their new home. [28]

Abilities

Coursing

The original primary use of Greyhounds, both in the British Isles and on the Continent of Europe, was in the coursing of deer for meat and sport; later, specifically in Britain, they specialized in competition hare coursing. [29] Some Greyhounds are still used for coursing, although artificial lure sports like lure coursing and racing are far more common and popular. Many leading 300- to 550-yard sprinters have bloodlines traceable back through Irish sires, within a few generations of racers that won events such as the Irish Coursing Derby or the Irish Cup. [30] [31]

Racing

Until the early twentieth century, Greyhounds were principally bred and trained for hunting and coursing. During the 1920s, modern greyhound racing was introduced into the United States, England (1926), Northern Ireland (1927), Scotland (1927) and the Republic of Ireland (1927). [32] Australia also has a significant racing culture. [33] [34] [35]

In the United States, aside from professional racing, many Greyhounds enjoy success on the amateur race track. Organizations like the Large Gazehound Racing Association (LGRA) and the National Oval Track Racing Association (NOTRA) provide opportunities for Greyhounds to compete. [36] [37]

Companion

A blue female greyhound Blue greyhound.JPG
A blue female greyhound

Historically, the Greyhound has, since its first appearance as a hunting type and breed, enjoyed a specific degree of fame and definition in Western literature, heraldry and art as the most elegant or noble companion and hunter of the canine world. In modern times, the professional racing industry, with its large numbers of track-bred greyhounds, as well as international adoption programs aimed at re-homing dogs has redefined the breed as a sporting dog that will supply friendly companionship in its retirement. This has been prevalent in recent years due to track closures in the United States. [38] [39] [40] Outside the racing industry and coursing community, the Kennel Clubs' registered breed still enjoys a modest following as a show dog and pet.

Health and physiology

Illustration of the Greyhound skeleton Ghundskeleton.jpg
Illustration of the Greyhound skeleton

Greyhounds are typically a healthy and long-lived breed, and hereditary illness is rare. Some Greyhounds have been known to develop esophageal achalasia, gastric dilatation volvulus (also known as bloat), and osteosarcoma. If exposed to E. coli, they may develop Alabama rot. Because the Greyhound's lean physique makes it ill-suited to sleeping on hard surfaces, owners of both racing and companion Greyhounds generally provide soft bedding; without bedding, Greyhounds are prone to develop painful skin sores. The average lifespan of a Greyhound is 10 to 14 years. [41] [42]

Due to the Greyhound's unique physiology and anatomy, a veterinarian who understands the issues relevant to the breed is generally needed when the dogs need treatment, particularly when anesthesia is required. Greyhounds cannot metabolize barbiturate-based anesthesia in the same way that other breeds can because their livers have lower amounts of oxidative enzymes. [43] Greyhounds demonstrate unusual blood chemistry , which can be misread by veterinarians not familiar with the breed and can result in an incorrect diagnosis. [44]

Greyhounds are very sensitive to insecticides. [45] Many vets do not recommend the use of flea collars or flea spray on Greyhounds if the product is pyrethrin-based. Products like Advantage, Frontline, Lufenuron, and Amitraz are safe for use on Greyhounds, however, and are very effective in controlling fleas and ticks. [46]

Greyhounds have higher levels of red blood cells than other breeds. Since red blood cells carry oxygen to the muscles, this higher level allows the hound to move larger quantities of oxygen faster from the lungs to the muscles. [47] Conversely, Greyhounds have lower levels of platelets than other breeds. [48] Veterinary blood services often use Greyhounds as universal blood donors. [49]

Greyhounds do not have undercoats and thus are less likely to trigger dog allergies in humans (they are sometimes incorrectly referred to as "hypoallergenic"). The lack of an undercoat, coupled with a general lack of body fat, also makes Greyhounds more susceptible to extreme temperatures (both hot and cold); because of this, they must be housed inside. [50] Some greyhounds are susceptible to corns on their paw pads, a variety of methods are used to treat them. [51]

The key to the speed of a Greyhound can be found in its light but muscular build, large heart, highest percentage of fast twitch muscle of any breed, [52] [53] double suspension gallop, and extreme flexibility of its spine. "Double suspension rotary gallop" describes the fastest running gait of the Greyhound in which all four feet are free from the ground in two phases, contracted and extended, during each full stride. [54]

History

Bronze figure probably of a vertragus (sighthound), Roman period (50 - 270 AD) Bronzen beeldje hazewindhond ForumHadriani 015501 RMO Leiden.jpg
Bronze figure probably of a vertragus (sighthound), Roman period (50 – 270 AD)
Sighthounds unleashed in Paolo Uccello's Night Hunt (Ashmolean Museum) Paolo Uccello 054.jpg
Sighthounds unleashed in Paolo Uccello's Night Hunt (Ashmolean Museum)

Origins

The ancient skeletal remains of a dog identified as being of the greyhound/saluki form was excavated at Tell Brak in modern Syria, and dated to approximately 4,000 years before present. [55] [56]

While similar in appearance to Saluki or Sloughi, DNA sequencing indicates that the greyhound is more closely related to herding dogs. [57] [58] This suggests that Greyhounds are either progenitors to or descendants of herding types. [58] Historical literature by Arrian on the vertragus (from the Latin vertragus, a word of Celtic origin), [59] the first recorded sighthound in Europe and possible antecedent of the Greyhound, suggested that its origin lies with the Celts from Eastern Europe or Eurasia. Systematic archaeozoology of the British Isles, 1974 [60] ruled out the existence of a true greyhound-type in Britain prior to the Roman occupation, confirmed in 2000. [61] Written evidence of the historic time, the Vindolanda tablets (No 594), from the early period of Roman occupation demonstrates that the occupying troops from Continental Europe either had with them in the North of England, or certainly knew of the vertragus and its hunting use. [62]

All modern pedigree Greyhounds derive from the Greyhound stock recorded and registered first in private studbooks in the 18th century, then in public studbooks in the 19th century, which ultimately were registered with coursing, racing, and kennel club authorities of the United Kingdom. [63] Historically, these sighthounds were used primarily for hunting in the open where their pursuit speed and keen eyesight were essential.

Etymology

The name "Greyhound" is generally believed to come from the Old English grighund . "Hund" is the antecedent of the modern "hound", but the meaning of "grig" is undetermined, other than in reference to dogs in Old English and Old Norse. Its origin does not appear to have any common root with the modern word "grey" [64] for color, and indeed the Greyhound is seen with a wide variety of coat colors. The lighter colors, patch-like markings and white appeared in the breed that was once ordinarily grey in color. The Greyhound is the only dog mentioned by name in the Bible; many versions, including the King James version, name the Greyhound as one of the "four things stately" in the Proverbs. [65] However, some newer biblical translations, including The New International Version, have changed this to strutting rooster, which appears to be an alternative translation of the Hebrew term mothen zarzir. However, the Douay–Rheims Bible translation from the late 4th-century Latin Vulgate into English translates this term as "a cock."

According to Pokorny [66] the English name "Greyhound" does not mean "grey dog/hound", but simply "fair dog". Subsequent words have been derived from the Proto-Indo-European root *g'her- "shine, twinkle": English grey, Old High German gris "grey, old," Old Icelandic griss "piglet, pig," Old Icelandic gryja "to dawn," gryjandi "morning twilight," Old Irish grian "sun," Old Church Slavonic zorja "morning twilight, brightness." The common sense of these words is "to shine; bright."

In 1928, the first winner of Best in Show at Crufts was breeder/owner Mr. H. Whitley's Greyhound Primley Sceptre.(No.584, pp19 & 121)

A group of greyhounds is called a "leash," or sometimes a "brace." [67]

See also

Related Research Articles

Afghan Hound Dog breed

The Afghan Hound is a hound that is distinguished by its thick, fine, silky coat and its tail with a ring curl at the end. The breed is selectively bred for its unique features in the cold mountains of Afghanistan. Its local name is Tāžī Spay or Sag-e Tāzī. Other names for this breed areTāzī, Balkh Hound, Baluchi Hound, Barakzai Hound, Shalgar Hound, Kabul Hound, Galanday Hound or sometimes incorrectly African Hound. They have the ability to run and turn well.

Ibizan Hound Dog breed

The Ibizan Hound is a lean, agile dog of the hound family. There are two hair types of the breed: smooth and wire. The more commonly seen type is the smooth. Some consider there to be a third type, long, but the longhair is most likely a variation of the wire.

Irish wolfhound Dog breed

The Irish Wolfhound is a historic sighthound dog breed from Ireland that has, by its presence and substantial size, inspired literature, poetry and mythology. Like all sighthounds, it was used to pursue game by speed; it was also famed as a guardian dog, specializing in protection against and for the hunting of wolves. The original dog-type was presumed extinct by most knowledgeable authors but recreated specifically for the canine fancy mainly by Captain George A. Graham in the late 19th century. The modern breed, classified by recent genetic research into the Sighthound United Kingdom Rural Clade, has been used by coursing hunters who have prized it for its ability to dispatch game caught by other, swifter sighthounds.

Italian Greyhound Italian breed of sighthound

The Italian Sighthound is an Italian breed of small sighthound. It may also be called the Italian Greyhound.

Saluki Dog breed

The Saluki is a standardised breed developed from sighthounds – dogs that hunt primarily by sight rather than scent – that was once used by nomadic tribes to run down game animals. The dog was originally bred in the Fertile Crescent. The modern breed is typically deep-chested and long-legged, and similar dogs appear in medieval and ancient art. The breed is most closely related to the Afghan hound, a basal breed that predates the emergence of modern breeds in the 19th century, and the Saluki has been purebred both in the Middle East, including by royalty, since at least that era, and in the West since the 1840s, though as a free-breeding landrace, similar dogs are common as feral animals in the Middle East. A related standardised breed is the north African Sloughi.

Sighthound Dog type

Sighthounds, also called gazehounds, are a type of dog, which are hounds that hunt primarily by sight and speed, rather than by scent and endurance as scent hounds do.

Scottish Deerhound Dog breed

The Scottish Deerhound, or simply the Deerhound, is a large breed of hound, once bred to hunt the red deer by coursing. In outward appearance, the Scottish Deerhound is similar to the Greyhound, but larger and more heavily boned with a rough-coat. The Deerhound is closely related to the Irish Wolfhound and was a contributor to that breed when it was re-created at the end of the 19th century.

Whippet Dog breed resembling a small Greyhound

The Whippet is a dog breed of medium size. They are a sighthound breed that originated in England, where they descended from Greyhounds. Whippets today still strongly resemble a smaller Greyhound. Part of the Hound group, Whippets have relatively few health problems other than arrhythmia. Whippets also participate in dog sports such as lure coursing, agility, dock diving and flyball. The name is derived from an early 17th-century word, now obsolete, meaning "to move briskly".

Lure coursing is a sport for dogs that involves chasing a mechanically operated lure. Competition is typically limited to dogs of purebred sighthound breeds, although the AKC has a pass/fail trial for all breeds called the Coursing Ability Test (CAT).

Coursing hunting method and dog sport

Coursing by humans is the pursuit of game or other animals by dogs—chiefly greyhounds and other sighthounds—catching their prey by speed, running by sight, but not by scent. Coursing was a common hunting technique, practised by the nobility, the landed and wealthy, as well as by commoners with sighthounds and lurchers. In its oldest recorded form in the Western world, as described by Arrian, it was a sport practised by all levels of society, which remained the case until Carolingian period forest law appropriated hunting grounds, or commons, for the king, the nobility, and other land owners. It then became a formalised competition, specifically on hare in Britain, practised under rules, the Laws of the Leash.

Lurcher Dog breed

The lurcher is a mixed-breed dog, specifically a sighthound mated with another dog type, most commonly a herding dog or a terrier. Historically a poacher's dog, lurchers in modern times are used as pets, hunting dogs and in racing.

Hare coursing Competitive activity where greyhounds and other sighthounds pursue hares

Hare coursing is the pursuit of hares with greyhounds and other sighthounds, which chase the hare by sight, not by scent.

Silken Windhound Dog breed

The Silken Windhound is an American breed of sighthound. Like most sighthounds, Silkens are noted coursers.

Magyar agár Dog breed

The Magyar agár (MA) is a dog breed. It is a type of sighthound originating in Hungary and lands that previously belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It is used for hunting and coursing, and is also kept as a companion.

Temperament tests assess dogs for certain behaviors or suitability for dog sports or adoption from an animal shelter by observing the animal for unwanted or potentially dangerous behavioral traits, such as aggressiveness towards other dogs or humans, shyness, or extreme fear.

Rampur Greyhound Dog breed

The Rampur Greyhound is a breed of sighthound native to the Rampur region of Northern India, which lies between Delhi and Bareilly. It is believed the Rampur Greyhound descends from early Afghan Hounds, with their present day appearance due to extensive crosses to the Greyhound in the 19th century to improve the breed's speed. The Rampur Greyhound is a short haired, powerfully built sighthound that resembles the Sloughi in appearance, it is rarely seen outside of its native land where it is retained as a coursing dog, rarely being kept as a companion dog.

Dog type broad category of dogs based on function

Dog types are broad categories of domestic dogs based on form, function or style of work, lineage, or appearance. Some may be locally adapted dog types that may have the visual characteristics of a modern purebred dog. In contrast, modern dog breeds strictly adhere to long established breed standards, that began with documented foundation breeding stock sharing a common set of inheritable characteristics, developed by long established, reputable kennel clubs that recognize the dog as a purebred.

The Old Croatian Sighthound, also known as the Old Bosnian Sighthound, is an extinct breed of sighthound from the Balkan counties of Bosnia–Herzegovina and Croatia.

Wolf hunting with dogs Method of wolf hunting

Wolf hunting with dogs is a method of wolf hunting which relies on the use of hunting dogs. While any dog, especially a hound used for hunting wolves may be loosely termed a "wolfhound", several dog breeds have been specifically bred for the purpose, some of which, such as the Irish Wolfhound, have the word in their breed name.

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Further reading