Would you like to know about the greyhound breed of dog? From the hunting greyhound to the track greyhound, these dogs make very special pets...
by Huma Rashid
The greyhound is a sleek, elite breed of dog generally bred for hunting game, racing, and companionship. Among land animals, it is second in speed only to the cheetah, and has long legs and an aerodynamic build that allow it to attain speeds of 45 miles per hour in 1.5 seconds. It is a beautiful, regal, and valuable dog that makes an excellent professional animal, in terms of racing and hunting, and a loyal friend and companion. One of the most well-known greyhounds in America, and perhaps the world, is the beloved pet of the family of Homer Simpson. The creator of FOX's animated series, Matt Groening, did an excellent job characterizing the animal because like most greyhounds, Santa's Little Helper is lean, affectionate and gentle (he lets baby Maggie use his tail as a pacifier on the rare occasions when she is without hers), tolerant of other animals (like the prissy, entitled cat, Snowball II), and not overly active.
The greyhounds origin can be traced to Egypt to roughly 4000 B.C. according to drawings of a Saluke, or Persian Greyhound, found in an Egyptian tomb. In all actuality, the greyhound breed is actually a very close relative of the Saluki. Historically, greyhounds were mainly used as hunting animals because their keen eyesight enabled them to spot prey quickly, and they were introduced to England in the fifth or sixth century. During the early 1920s, the time of great wealth, fashion, and excess, modern greyhound racing became a popular sport in the United States, and then in England in 1926.
Male greyhounds are 28 to 30 inches tall at the withers on average, and weigh between 70 and 100 lbs. Females are smaller, usually 27 or 28 inches high at the shoulder, and weigh between 60 and 75 lbs. These dogs have short hair, which is very easy to maintain because it requires little brushing or fuss, and there are approximately thirty varieties of recognized color form. Of these colors, variations of white, black, fawn, red, brindle, and blue (that is, gray) can appear either uniquely or in combination. The common belief that greyhounds are named as such because they are only blue (gray) in color is a complete misconception.
TEMPERAMENT, BEHAVIOR, AND HEALTH:
Although greyhounds are extremely fast dogs, and the second fastest land animals on the planet, they are not high-energy dogs. They are sprinters, not marathon-runners, and even though they love to run they do not require frequent exercise. They are best able to run very fast over short distances rather than maintain a fast speed over a long stretch, which requires more endurance and stamina than these dogs possess. Most greyhounds are quiet, exceedingly gentle animals, and are sometimes referred to as "forty-five miles per hour couch potatoes." Indeed, a male greyhound requires only a daily walk of 20 to 30 minutes to be perfectly content and fit. While sleeping, these dogs prefer to lie on their backs with their four legs in the air; this position is known as "cockroaching."
Greyhounds typically live between 10 to 13 years, and hereditary illnesses are rare among these dogs. Because greyhounds are such lean animals, they find it hard to sleep on hard surfaces. Owners of greyhounds will usually provide their dogs with soft bedding; without it, the dogs will develop painful sores. Because of their physiology and anatomy, these dogs do not metabolize barbiturate-based anesthesia as well as other dogs do, and a veterinarian that specializes in this breed may be required.
KEEPING A GREYHOUND AS A PET:
With their mild temperaments and gentle dispositions, the greyhound breed makes a wonderful pet. This holds equally true for greyhounds that have retired from the racing track. They are pack-oriented dogs, which means that they will quickly adopt a human master into their pack and obey dutifully. They generally get along well with children, other dogs, and other family pets, although caution should always be exercised with very small (and relatively untrained) children and very small pets. Greyhounds are loyal, well-mannered dogs with developed intellects, and get along best with those that they love and trust.
In order to allow the dogs to race together, aggression for humans and strange dogs has been virtually eliminated from the breed. Greyhounds make excellent suburban pets and are generally friendly to strangers. A common misconception about the greyhound breed is that they are hyperactive. This is just not true. In fact, a greyhound is likely to spend a good deal of its time sitting quietly or napping in a favorite spot.
Another great thing about a greyhound is that they do not have an undercoat of fur, so they do not trigger common pet allergies that prevent some people from allowing a dog into the family. However, because of this lack of an undercoat and their lean build, the greyhound breed is extremely susceptible to temperature and should be housed inside. They are also very sensitive to insecticides, and should only be exposed to pyrethin-based products such as Advantage, Frontline, and Advantix.
Because the greyhound breed of dogs are such good hunting dogs and their chasing instincts are so strong, greyhounds should always be kept on a leash when they are being walked.
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