Greyhounds as Pets.
Continuing our breed profile articles, this Holidays4Dogs article will focus on Greyhounds as pets.
These lovely statuesque dogs are reputed to be one of the first types to be domesticated. Pictures on cave walls and ancient Egyptian tombs, often depict tall, sleek, greyhound-type dogs.
Originating in Africa and Asia, greyhounds were eventually brought to England by the Celts. By the Middle Ages, however, the greyhound had almost become extinct. They were saved by Clergymen who bred them for the aristocracy. Hunting with Greyhounds was once a sport of the elite.
Indeed, it was against the law for commoners to own these dogs. In the 10th Century, King Howel of Wales, dictated that the killing of a greyhound was punishable by death.
The English sport of coursing – where dogs hunt by sight, not scent – has its roots in ancient Greece.
The Greyhound is a beautiful breed of dog and they have featured in art and literature throughout the world. They were featured in in The Canterbury Tales written in the 14th Century;-
“Greyhounds he hadde, as swifte as fowels in flighte;
Of prikyng and of hunting for the hare
Wal al his lust, for no cost wolde he spare”
Chaucer The Canterbury Tales, 1350.
In 1925, the first mechanical lure was invented by the American Patrick Smith. He subsequently introduced and promoted the sport of greyhound racing to the U.K. By the end of 1926, greyhound tracks were springing up all over the country.
The popularity of greyhound racing has waned to a degree. Nevertheless, approximately 10,000 retired greyhounds are in need of new homes every year. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to place this many dogs in new family homes. This is mainly due to the many misconceptions people have about greyhounds.
Many people believe them to be too energetic and possibly even aggressive. However, greyhounds are bred for short bursts of speed, so at home, they are generally very laid back pets. Contrary to popular belief, they don’t actually require a lot of exercise.
Most ex-racers will be happy with two twenty minute walks a day. A good sprint round is good for their mental and physical health, but a good sized garden or a safe enclosed field will do for letting off a bit of steam. Like many sighthounds, they can have a penchant for chasing small animals, so this must be taken into account when you own a greyhound.
Ex-racing greyhounds seem to adapt to being family pets quite easily. They are quiet and gentle. Their short coats require minimal grooming. However, because they have such thin coats they often appreciate a coat in winter. Indeed, they can look very smart trotting alongside their owners looking like miniature race-horses.
Furthermore, greyhounds are one of the healthiest breeds of dog since they do not suffer from any congenital diseases. Although they are a large breed, they don’t take up too much space and are surprisingly good at squeezing themselves into cosy corners (usually a nice comfy chair!).
Greyhounds thrive on human company and are generally sociable with other dogs, making them quiet, undemanding pets and easy to take around.
If you are thinking of a greyhound as a pet you probably couldn’t do much better than an ex-racing greyhound, particularly if you are a first time dog owner.
For further information about re-homing an ex-racing greyhound please try the following organisations;
The Retired Greyhound Trust http://www.retiredgreyhounds.co.uk/
The Celia Cross Greyhound Trust http://www.celiacross.org.uk/
Dogs Trust http://www.dogstrust.org.uk/
Greyhound Rescue West of England http://www.grwe.com/