As greyhound owners, this is one of the questions that I am often asked. People see our boys and wonder what living with them is like. In many ways, they are just like any other dogs. They will love you unconditionally, and they will want to be with you all the time.
But there are some differences to keep in mind.
- In their early years, they are never alone. From the time they are whelped, until they come off the track, they are constantly surrounded other dogs. Even when they are in foster care, learning the home life ropes, they are with other greyhounds. Often their first time ever being alone is when they are placed in a single dog home.This often leads to the dreaded “Separation Anxiety. The best way to deal with this is to get a second greyhound (or have another dog of any breed).
- They can be very high energy. As puppies, they are supernormal in their energy level. While an adoptable puppy sounds like fun, it is a hard job to funnel that energy into effective training, and a well behaved adolescent.Even at age 2 or 3, they have very high energy. If they have been on the track, they are trained and have tons of muscle mass, and have the need to burn their energy. Usually by the time they are 5 or 6, and have been in a home for a couple years, they mellow out, and are much better companions. If you want a more reasonable energy level off the bat, look for one of the senior greyhounds. They have just as much love to give, but have gotten all the “puppy” out of their systems.
- Their health care needs are costly. Greyhounds often will have muscular/skeletal issues. Racing is hard on their bones and joints, and it is extremely common to develop arthritis as they age. This will lead to medication, and more than occasional vet visits.Alas, as they are “large” dogs, their care will be expensive. Medications are in or near people doses, and when they need anesthesia, they need a special kind, and it is expensive.I do not recommend greyhounds for families that don’t have the means to properly care for them. Seems extreme, but a good lab mix from the pound will pound-for-pound be a lot less costly to care for. Greyhounds are highly tuned, high performance animals. You should be prepared to spend $2,000 or more per year on care. Keep that in mind.
- Greyhounds have far too high incidence of cancers. Whether it is caused by the breeding for type and performance, or just the genetics of the breed, the fact is that far too many greyhounds develop sarcomas. Cancer of the bone, being particularly common, is heart rending. There are treatments, they are all really expensive, and in the end, it buys a year or two (yes, I know there are exceptions). But boy is it hard on the family when this strikes.
They do not require lots of exercise. Contrary to what you would think, greyhounds are 35 mph couch potatoes. They sleep almost as much as cats. Being sprinters, they are good for about 45 seconds of running, then they are DONE. They also do something called “Roaching”. Since they spend most of their time in their cages at the track, they learn to sleep on their backs to let them stretch their legs. This makes them look like dead cockroaches (hence the “Roach”)
- Greyhounds are (usually) quiet. They rarely bark, but they do roo. Not a good candidate for a guard dog.
- Greyhounds will not play fetch. Ok, this isn’t universally true, but unlike a Labrador Retriever a Greyhound will possibly get a toy once when you throw it. Don’t push your luck and throw it again. Ditto on the frisbee dog thing. If you want a frisbee dog, go look for a border collie.
I know this list sounds pretty negative at points, but I can assure you that Greyhounds are totally worth the effort to adopt and care for. The love and devotion that they bring to your house is immense.
Feel free to ask any questions you like in the comments, and I will answer.