Greyhound Dog Temperament: Fastest dog with a gentle and sensitive nature
Are you here to learn more about one of the oldest breeds in the world? The Greyhound has all the physical characteristics of a sighthound; muscular, tight-footed, deep-chested and agile. But is the Greyhound temperament right for your lifestyle? You've come to the right place to find out!
Whether you're a novice dog owner or have owned dogs before, it's always good to learn more about the temperament of the dog you'd like to call yours one day. The Greyhound has an unwavering gaze and a watchful eye. Their slender bodies are beautifully proportioned, and they certainly catch the eyes of interested onlookers.
In the following blog, we will look at their impressive history as hunting dogs, their temperament and whether the Greyhound is everything you wish for in a good family dog. So, let's explore this affectionate and even-tempered dog in more detail.
History of the Greyhound
Whether or not you have seen a Greyhound in the flesh. We all know the breed when we see one. But have you ever stopped and thought about the Greyhounds temperament?
The true origin and history of the Greyhound are a bit mysterious. Many believe their ancestors came from the Middle East, as depicted in ancient Egyptian wall paintings. But these could also represent Salukis, Pharao Hounds or Basenjis. Salukis and Basenjis are also basal breeds meaning they helped create modern-day breeds.
There are several theories about where the name Greyhound came from. Greyhounds are sight hounds. They are often "gazing" around to spot prey. Hence the belief that the name originated from the word gazehound.
Another theory is that the name came from the Greek word "Graius", which means slender or sleek. So ancient Greece could be another true origin of the Greyhound. In writings from that time, there are a lot of references to elegant and slender hunting dogs.
Some British words might point to the true origin of the Greyhound. "Grei", an old English word, means dog and combined with hundr, it translates into hunter. So Romans could have brought the ancestors of the Greyhound into England.
One thing is sure whether the actual ancestors of the Greyhound came from the Celts, the Egyptians, or the Greeks: The Greyhound has been bred for hunting. They're sighthounds meaning they hunt with sight and speed rather than scent and endurance like Beagles or Bloodhounds. Have you ever tried sneaking up on a sighthound? It's almost impossible! Whilst humans have a visual field of 180 degrees, sighthounds have an impressive 270 degrees. They were bred to hunt hare, deer or more minor game.
Sighthounds are also very fast and built to sprint. A Greyhound should never be overweight, as it would harm its health.
They can run 40 to 45 miles per hour, making them the go-to breed for racing. Unfortunately, due to this fact, Greyhounds are often abandoned, euthanised and left in dog shelters once their running career comes to an end. If you're thinking of adding a Greyhound to your family, there are specialised rescue centres for retired Greyhounds all over the UK waiting to call your home their home one day. Therefore, the KC kennel registration numbers are pretty small in the UK. The UK Greyhound population is divided into younger racing Greyhounds and an older pet population consisting of ex-racing dogs.
Greyhounds can come in a range of colours. Black, brindle, white, fawn, fallow, red and everything in between!
They're one of the first breeds recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1885.
There are not many Greyhounds registered with the UK Kennel Club. Most Greyhounds can be found in rescue centres after they retire from the racing sport.
Only 13 Greyhounds were registered in 2022 so far.
Source: https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/media/2403/quarterly-breed-stats-hounds.pdf Updated March 2023
What is it like to live with a Greyhound?
There is so much more to this little sprinter than meets the eye. Besides their apparent athletic affinity, the Greyhound has a balanced and sweet temperament. They don't have a bad bone in their body. A well-socialised Greyhound will never be aggressive toward strangers.
Greyhounds are a gentle and loyal breed, making them perfect for families and apartment friendly.
Owners always joke that a Greyhound is either a high-energy sprinter or a couch potato. Never something in between. In fact, this breed does love to sleep. Up to 20 hours a day can be pretty standard.
Greyhounds are made for sprinting, not long-distance running. Long walks are usually not required if you have a Greyhound, and they should be introduced very slowly to hiking. Three walks a day for 20 mins will keep your Greyhound happy. Greyhounds can live in apartments but can benefit from a small yard with a secure fence. Due to their strong prey drive, a fence of 5ft or 6ft is recommended.
Taking your Greyhound off lead in random places is not recommended if they haven't mastered a recall. As with most sighthounds, Greyhounds have a high prey drive and can chase after rabbits, squirrels and small birds. Their advanced eyesight will make them spot these little targets before you can react, and due to their single-mindedness, they will very likely not respond to unpracticed recall attempts. Instead, seek secure and fenced spaces so your Greyhound can release their bursts of energy and teach fail-proof recalls.
Greyhounds tend to be very timid dogs. Take the time to socialise your dog with other dogs and humans. This way, they can grow into more adaptable dogs. The Greyhound can be aloof with strangers, and they need time to get used to a person outside their home environment. Puppy schools, busy parks, stores and food markets will help socialise your dog, making them grow into a well-rounded adult.
Many owners refer to their Greyhound to be catlike. They have indeed a gracefulness in their movement that is not comparable with a boisterous Labrador. They spend many hours sleeping and love their little comforts on the couch or in front of a fireplace. Greyhounds should have their little corner, playpen or crate.
Harshness is not something the Greyhound can deal with. They are susceptible dogs and react to changes in their home environment. Training a Greyhound should be based on rewards, patience and consistency. Treats will work best. Harsh corrective measures will put you back in your training aspirations. Keep the training methods short and sweet as they don't tend to have a high attention span.
What is a Greyhound dog collar?
Sighthounds tend to have a wider neck than the head. Therefore, if your hound wriggles and pulls a lot on the lead, it can easily slip out of a standard collar.
A martingale collar is a perfect collar for these types of dogs. It consists of two loops. The first is an adjustable loop that goes around your dog's neck and allows a secure fit over your dog's head to prevent slipping out or choking. The second smaller loop holds the D-ring, upon which you attach the dog lead. If your dog pulls, the second smaller loop tightens, and this tension gently tightens the first loop. Once the pull stops, the martingale collar returns to its original shape.
The loop only goes as tight to prevent slipping out of the collar, but not too tight, so it hurts your dog. Below you can find a selection of eco-friendly Martingale Collars made from hemp.
How fast is a Greyhound?
Undeniably, the Cheetah is the fastest land animal on earth. But the Greyhound comes a close second and can reach up to 45 miles per hour. Their power comes from their long and muscular legs, and they have a running style similar to a cheetah called a "double suspension gallop". Like a spring, their body contracts and extends each stride.
Their flexible spine and large heart allow them to gain that speed. A Greyhound's heart accounts for 1.18% to 1.73% of its body mass. A human heart only averages 0.77%.
When it comes to long-distance running, a Greyhound would be outclassed by a Husky due to their endurance.
What's the difference between a Whippet and a Greyhound?
Both breeds are from the same lineage. However, the Whippet came a little bit after the Greyhound.
The Whippet came from the 17th century when the Greyhound was bred with terriers. By comparison, the Whippet is a younger breed and gained popularity in North England, often called the "poor mans Greyhound".
The Whippet is a lot smaller than the Greyhound. Apart from that, they're pretty similar in their appearance and temperament. Both breeds are prone to short bursts of energy and are timid around strangers. Their characters are very similar. The Whippet can be a bit more sensitive to touch.
Whippets also have a bit of a longer life expectancy than the Greyhound.
Greyhound Temperament in a nutshell
People-orientated, loyal and gentle
Greyhounds can be a bit timid towards people they don't know and will benefit from socialisation.
Short and frequent walks will be sufficient
Can suffer from separation anxiety
Sleep more than other dog breeds, on average 20 hours per day
Potential health issues in the Greyhound breed
As a new owner, you should be prepared to pay medical expenses for your dog. Therefore, always opt for comprehensive insurance.
The Greyhound breed has some genetic predispositions that should be checked out regularly. This post does not replace a visit to the vet.
Let's start with conditions that your Greyhound might not have. As with many sighthound breeds, thyroxine levels are physiologically low. This leads to treatments for hypothyroidism which is sometimes not even present. To confirm hypothyroidism in a sighthound, you must do a full thyroid blood panel and support results with significant symptoms.
On top of different thyroxine levels, sighthounds have different haematology values to other breeds - they can have high red blood cells (RBC), lower white blood cells (WBC), and low platelets (PLT), and elevated haemoglobin concentration. Th