Frequently Asked Questions about Greyhounds

How old are greyhounds when they retire?

Two to five years old is the typical range of age for their retirement from racing. There is no mandatory retirement age, but professional athletics has normal age ranges in every sport and two to five years of age is the range for racing Greyhounds.

How much do greyhounds typically weigh?

Males typically weigh 65 to 85 pounds and stand 28 to 30 inches at the shoulder. Females typically weigh 50 to 65 pounds and stand 23 to 25 inches at the shoulder.

How long do they live?

They have a typical large dog life span of 12 – 15 years with proper care.

Are they housebroken?

Basically – they are kennel and crate trained adults, beyond puppy hood, and naturally behave to maintain a clean living space. They are used to living indoors and to going outside to relieve themselves.  Once in your home, they will very quickly learn your home is their new “kennel” to keep clean by your regular and frequent use of the phrase “outside”, with praise and rewards as they behave appropriately.  Developing a schedule (they love routine) is also helpful. Lee Livingood covers this well in her book.

After the first few days of the frequent outside trips you schedule, one thing you and your Greyhound will begin to establish is how the dog indicates to you that it wants to go outside – pacing, barking, whining, nudging you, walking in circles, etc.  That’s part of the natural bonding that takes place.

Do they shed much?

Their light, thin coat does not shed excessively.  Even an individual Greyhound that would be considered a heavy shedder in comparison to its colleagues would shed less than most other breeds.

Do they get along with children?

Greyhounds are gentle and loving with both adults and children, so the answer is “YES” with few exceptions.  Part of the fostering process is assessing each dog, and the adoption process focuses heavily on selecting a dog with the right personality and behavior fit for your home and family.

We have a policy requiring the age of small children to be 4 years of age or older for acceptance of an application, this is more a consideration of children’s ability to learn how to deal with dogs than the dogs’ reaction to children.  We also ask people with children to read Living with Kids and Dogs, by Colleen Pelar, CPDT, as well as Lee Livingood’s book, Retired Racing Greyhounds for Dummies. Childproofing Your Dog by Brian Kilcommons is a valuable book, and is another excellent resource if you have small children regardless of the breed of dog.  

Do greyhounds get along with other breeds of dog?

In fostering, we evaluate and/or test for their ability to get along well other dogs, particularly smaller animals.  We have many Greyhounds living happily with Chihuahuas, Maltese, Poodles, and a host of dogs of all sizes. Greyhounds are raised and trained in an environment of constantly living with many other greyhounds, so they are social in nature and generally accept other breeds.

Do they get along with cats?

It is very common to have Greyhounds living in a home with cats.  We cat test our Greyhounds, and will certainly investigate a particular dog’s characteristics if an adoption situation has this need.

Can they be kept outside?

They are inside house pets, not outside residents.  They obviously spend time outside, but their thin skin, low body fat, sensitivity to temperatures – both hot and cold, sensitivity to too much sun, etc. make them well suited for being a house pet and not kept outside for long periods.

Greyhounds must never be left outside tethered.  If something catches their eye, they will act instinctively. They reach their natural 40+ mph speed in 2-3 strides, so being tied means that they will be catastrophically injured when they reach the limit of the tether.

Are greyhounds “hyper?”

It surprises a lot of people when they meet Greyhounds for the first time to find they are so gentle, laid-back, lovable, and eager to please. One testimony to their temperament is that a number of Greyhounds are Therapy Dogs and visit hospitals, schools, etc. Their gentle temperament and calm demeanor make them a natural for this.

Do you need a big fenced in yard?

We have people living in condos or apartments with their Greyhounds and they don’t have a “yard” per se, so “No” is the factual answer. A couple of points should be made however: having no yard means that the dog needs to be walked on a leash 4 or 5 times a day to answer nature’s call, so even a small fenced in area is a big convenience, but not a necessity. The assumption of “big” yard is based on thinking the dog can get exercise by itself running around in the yard. Again, walks with you provide the exercise it needs so the size of a yard is a convenience, not a necessity.

I live in an apartment – I don’t think I have enough room for such a big dog…

Don’t let size fool you!  Greyhounds are often the ideal dogs for apartment or condo living.  Their laid-back temperament and gentle nature mean they aren’t the hyper, yippy-yappy pets that are so often too well known to all of the neighbors.  They are extremely clean, don’t have a doggy odor, are low allergy, shed less than most other breeds, don’t bark and carry on, and are a delight to other residents as neighbors.  Surprisingly, they don’t take up much more room for their crate or doggy bed than the same paraphernalia associated with other breeds.

The consideration with apartment or condo living is the need for walking the dog on its leash, and that is the same consideration which would exist with any other breed.

Do they require a lot of exercise?

As retired racers, they don’t require any more exercise than any other dog. Daily walks provide ample exercise to promote good health, and they are really looked forward to by the dog as a bonding experience. They also appreciate an occasional romp in a fenced area if available but it’s not required.

Why can’t you let them off a leash?

Several factors combine to make being off leash in an unfenced area hazardous to a Greyhound.  They are: being a sight hound having 20/20 vision for distances humans can’t comprehend (1/4 mile), having a speed of over 40 miles an hour, reaching that speed in a couple of strides, and having a honed chase instinct developed over thousands of years.

When those factors combine, an unleashed Greyhound seeing something that triggers their instinctive curiosity can be headed away from you so quickly that by the time you open your mouth to call it, there’s just a tail growing smaller in the distance and they’re getting beyond ear shot… By the time they’ve found what they were chasing, or gotten in that area, they are out of your sight, out of earshot, have no trail to follow back, and are fundamentally a lost dog.

Streets, Automobiles, new territory, and any other risk you can imagine, provide the peril.

That is why we stress, even in the adoption agreement, that a Greyhound with you in an unfenced area must be leashed.

How fast do they run?

40 to 45 mph, and achieve this speed within 3 strides.  They are amazing athletes! They are also sprinters, not marathon runners.

What starter supplies will I need for my greyhound?

Your dog comes with a leash, collar, and its muzzle as part of the adoption. Items to have in readiness would include a soft pad dog bed, an extra-large size crate, food bowls (raised bowls are preferred by many owners) and a supply of food. 

What do they eat?

They eat between 4 to 6 cups a day of high quality (not corn as filler) kibble dog food, generally 2 cups or so in the morning and the rest in the evening. Lamb & Rice or Chicken & Rice seem the best and some dogs are mildly allergic to the Beef & Rice mix.

Do they have any health problems?

Greyhounds are healthy.  Lee Livingood remarks in her book that “despite the dings and bangs that go with living the life of a professional athlete, Greyhounds really are healthy dogs.”  They are not prone to many of the genetic or inherited diseases that affect many breeds, hip dysplasia being an example, and they are no more prone to common diseases than any other larger breed.  We strongly urge you to have a veterinarian familiar with Greyhounds and their treatment because they are physically different from most breeds and their care need varies accordingly.