Joining the Cult of Greyhound

You won’t find dogs more elegant and sleek in appearance than sighthounds, and greyhounds are the most prominent representatives of this category.  But all is not as it seems: if Basset Hounds are the WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get) dogs, Greyhounds are the Not-At-All-What-You-Think dogs.

Greyhounds are elegant, sleekly muscled dogs with very little body fat. They have long, slender noses (which is strange if you think about it because they are sight hounds). Their coat is very short. They have long legs and typically have a very high tuck (a high tuck dog is one where the dog’s chest is very deep and its waist is very small).

The most distinctive characteristic of the greyhound is not the dog’s build, however. It’s their eyes — their large, soulful, searching, limpid eyes. No breed has more expressive eyes than the greyhound. That’s right. In the heart eyes competition, greyhounds win.

Greyhound looking plaintive
The hypno-toad has nothing on greyhounds. (Source: Hubpages)

Things You Need to Know

Greyhounds are very distinctive dogs, so this doesn’t remotely cover everything, but here are the things that might concern someone who is considering greyhounds for the first time.

  • They need clothing. You probably have strong feelings about dogs wearing clothing. The sight of a pug wearing a tuxedo and top hat either makes you swoon or cringe. If you tend toward the latter opinion, please know that in the case of greyhounds, it’s not an owner affectation — it’s a thin coat/low body fat thing. Your greyhound will probably need to wear a sweater or coat at some point, assuming you don’t live someplace very warm.
  • Yes, they run fast, but they don’t do it for long. A lot of people steer away from greyhounds because they assume that a greyhound will need a lot of exercise and running. In reality, though, most greyhounds are laid-back and sometimes even couch potatoes. Most greyhounds need about 30 minutes of exercise a day.
  • Greyhounds that come from the racetrack are going to need an introduction to how to live in a house. They might be uncomfortable with house noises, or unfamiliar with how to go up or down stairs. You’ll need to be patient.
  • A lot of them have high prey drives. Talk to the rescue you’re working with and make sure the dog you are interested in has been evaluated to see how they might get along with cats and other small animals in the household.
Dog sprawled on back
A portrait of elegance and grace. (Photo courtesy of Courtney)

A Note about Italian Greyhounds

Italian greyhounds have a similar appearance to greyhounds but on a much smaller scale. If you are primarily interested in looks, this might be an option. However, the Italian Greyhound is more difficult to housebreak (it’s a toy breed thing), more lively, more adventurous, more demanding,  and more finicky.

Greyhound Owners are Equally Distinctive

Now let’s talk about greyhound owners. They’re an interesting bunch.

  • They really know the breed and can make a persuasive, practical case for why they are the best dogs ever. Greyhound owners can tick off a list of the benefits of adding a greyhound to their home.
  • Greyhounds’ owners don’t buy into the glamour. Yes, their dogs are beautiful and aerodynamic, but their humans seem to savor every occasion where their dog acts like a big goofball. In fact, they enjoy making fun of their dogs.
greyhound with lolling tongue
Her owner reports: “Her tongue would hang out for so long it would go completely dry and I would touch it until she woke up.” (Photo courtesy of Jessica)

Greyhound Owners Speak

I have several friends with Greyhounds, and they were eager to speak about their dogs:

Their bravery:

  • “The cat scratched her the first day she came home and she never made eye contact with her again.”
  • “A year ago my dog tried to jump on the bed while I was sleeping and I woke up screaming. Now she won’t go near my bed when I’m in it.”

Their energy levels:

“The last time I did mushrooms I thought she had died because she didn’t move for so long. And she slept with her eyes open.”

  • “One time I lost track of her at the dog park and started to panic. I found her sleeping in the tall grass in the corner of the park.”

    Dog in sweatshirt
    See? Greyhound duds don’t have to be fancy. (Photo courtesy of Courtney)
  • “Her ‘best friend’ was just a dog who would sleep in the same room as her and leave her alone.”
Sleeping greyhound
Greyhounds know how to take it very easy. (Photo courtesy of Jessica)

So, based on how much fun greyhounds are to love and mock, I’m going to say that this is a good dog for an advanced beginner or motivated beginner.

Experience level: Motivated beginner

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Moretta is a caring nurturer, a member of several 12-step programs, but not a licensed therapist. Her Twitter is

4 thoughts on “Joining the Cult of Greyhound”

  1. My dog, I’m fairly sure, is a blue heeler x greyhound or maybe Italian greyhound cross. Teensy tiny waist, little fur, fast as hell. But spotty and herds the children like a heeler. He also sleeps with his eyes open, and we recently bought him a coat. He seems to really like it.

  2. One of my dogs is a boxer mix that I suspect also has some greyhound. He has the body of a greyhound with the head of a boxer-AmStaff mix. Skinny body, giant head. He has very little body fat, gets cold, has thin fur, hates water, etc. But he has the personality of a Boxer. Goofball extreme. I have often thought about greyhounds, but the last time he met a greyhound he scared it. He’s just so friendly and slightly oblivious, and he kept sniffing and sniffing and the greyhound is cringing away and finally had to bark and him and then hid behind its mama. I felt so bad. Are all greyhounds a bit more reserved around other dogs? Breed is not individual, I know, but “in general”. I have an obnoxiously outgoing canine household, sight hounds tend to not fit so well into that. (my second dog is also a boxer mix who is wonderful and obnoxious and would also probably terrify a greyhound)

    1. My hound (pictured above) was briefly interested in new dogs, but then generally ignored them. Greyhounds seem to be most at ease with other greys, probably because they spend so much time in each others’ company at the track. She was a hopeless dog park failure– she never ran with the other dogs (outright ignored them), and would spend two hours just sniffing grass that strangers had peed on.

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