Greyhound is an elegant sight when it is running. With no wasted motion and a body uniquely suited to the effort, the Greyhound is the fastest dog on the planet. A well-conditioned racing Greyhound can run up to forty-five miles per hour. The Greyhound is an ancient breed, with a documented history going back at least 5,000 years. Carvings of Greyhounds, looking then like they do today, can be found in Egyptian tombs dating back to 2900 B.C. The breed’s popularity was not limited to the Mideast; in Elizabethan England, hare coursing with Greyhounds was popular. In the late 1700s, when the U.S. was being explored and settled, many European immigrants brought their Greyhounds with them.
The Greyhound is first and foremost a dog made for running. He is lean, with a narrow body and a deep chest with room for the large lungs and big heart. The Greyhound is well-muscled and gives the appearance of a well-conditioned athlete. The head is long and narrow, the eyes are dark and full of personality, and the ears are small and folded. The tail is long and fine.
The Greyhound’s coat is short and smooth and can be found in any colour or colour pattern. Grooming a Greyhound is very easy. The coat should be brushed twice a week with a soft bristle brush or curry comb. Although most Greyhounds enjoy snuggling on the sofa, they are athletes. They do need daily exercise, and a long walk morning and evening should be the absolute minimum. Designed for thousands of years to run, they should be allowed to run at least once every day. However, they should not be allowed to run outside of a fenced-in area; if a rabbit or squirrel is flushed during that run, the Greyhound will forget everything in the excitement of the chase. No amount of calling the dog to Come will break off that chase.
Greyhounds who have been adopted from a racetrack are normally well-socialised to both people and other Greyhounds. Racing Greyhounds are crate (or cage) trained and know how to walk on a leash. The adoption agencies who rescue and place these dogs usually make sure the dogs are healthy prior to placing them, and often foster homes make sure the dogs are housetrained.
Once adopted, the dogs need to learn the details of living in a house, including walking up and down stairs. But they usually adapt well and can make wonderful pets. Greyhound puppies from a breeder (non-racing) should attend a puppy class for socialisation and an introduction to training. Although the Greyhound is not normally a problem breed, just as with any puppy, he can get into trouble if not supervised.
Greyhounds are very oriented to people and can be quite social but can also develop a strong attachment to one person. Greyhound dogs are very gentle, loving, and silly. They are affectionate to everyone. Greyhounds are good with other dogs, especially large ones, but should be closely supervised and should be on leash when interacting with small dogs, cats, and other small pets.
Greyhounds can be prone to sports injuries from running. Other health concerns include sensitivity to anaesthesia, bloat, and torsion.
In recent decades some controversy has developed around hare coursing, with some viewing it as a cruel bloodsport and others seeing it as a traditional activity that assists in the conservation of hare populations and tests the ability of sighthounds. Since 2005, hare coursing has been illegal throughout the UK, but continues elsewhere in the world as a regulated and judged, competitive sport, especially in Ireland and Spain, as well as in Russia and the Western United States. Elsewhere, in Eurasia for example, coursing continues as a classic form of hunting.
Hare coursing is the pursuit of hares with greyhounds and other sighthounds, which chase the hare by sight and not by scent. It is a competitive sport, in which dogs are tested on their ability to run, overtake and turn a hare, rather than a form of hunting aiming at the capture of game. It has a number of variations in its rules around the world. Informal coursing can be a true form of hunting. It is often conducted to kill game or vermin, mainly for food, and occasionally as a form of gambling.
Coursing is a long established hunting technique, practiced historically with greyhounds, other sighthound breeds, or with lurchers which are crossbred sighthounds, and working breeds. The sport grew in popularity in Europe during the 19th century, but has since experienced a decline due in part to the introduction of greyhound racing and betting.