The English Greyhound, or simply the Greyhound, is a breed of dog, a sighthound which has been bred for coursing, greyhound racing and hunting. Since the rise in large-scale adoption of retired racing Greyhounds, the breed has seen a resurgence in popularity as a family pet.

Other namesEnglish Greyhound
Height Males 71 to 76 centimetres (28 to 30 in)
Females 68 to 71 centimetres (27 to 28 in)
Weight Males 27 to 40 kilograms (60 to 88 lb)*
  • 25 to 34 kilograms (55 to 75 lb)*[1]
  • *Normal weight range[1]
Litter size 1–12 pups
Life span 11.5 years
Kennel club standards
The Kennel Club standard
Fédération Cynologique Internationale standard
Dog (domestic dog)

Greyhounds are defined as a tall, muscular, smooth-coated, "S-shaped" type of sighthound with a long tail and tough feet. Greyhounds are a separate breed from other related sighthounds, such as the Italian greyhound.[2][3]

The Greyhound's combination of long, powerful legs, deep chest, flexible spine, and slim build allows it to reach average race speeds exceeding 64 kilometres per hour (40 mph).[4][5][6] A racing greyhound can reach a full speed of at least 21.3 m/s (77 km/h) 47 mph.[7][8][9]

Appearance edit

A blue female greyhound

Males are usually 71 to 76 centimetres (28 to 30 in) tall at the withers, and weigh on average 27 to 40 kilograms (60 to 88 lb). Females tend to be smaller, with shoulder heights ranging from 66 to 71 centimetres (26 to 28 in) and weights from 25 to 34 kilograms (55 to 75 lb), although weights can be above and below these average weights.[1] Greyhounds have very short fur, which is easy to maintain. There are approximately 30 recognized color forms, of which variations of white, brindle, fawn (pale tan to dark deer-red), black, red, and blue (gray) can appear uniquely or in combination.[10] Greyhounds are dolichocephalic, with a skull which is relatively long in comparison to its breadth, and an elongated muzzle.[11]

Temperament edit

Margaret Gorman with her pet Greyhound, "Long Goodie", in April 1925

Greyhounds live most happily as pets in quiet environments.[12][dubious ] They do well in families with children, as long as the children are taught to treat the dog properly with politeness and appropriate respect.[13] Greyhounds have a sensitive nature, and gentle commands work best as training methods.[14]

Occasionally, a Greyhound may bark; however, they are generally not barkers, which is beneficial in suburban environments, and they are usually as friendly to strangers as they are with their own families.[15] A 2008 University of Pennsylvania study found that Greyhounds are one of the least aggressive dog breeds towards strangers, owners, and other dogs.[16]

A survey of those adopting rescue Greyhounds found that Greyhound adoptions have higher short term adoption success than shelters. The survey also found reported hyperactivity levels to be below that of shelter dogs.[17]

In Victoria, Australia it is illegal for racing Greyhounds to be uncontrolled and without a muzzle in public.[18] This only applies to active racing Greyhounds, any retired Greyhounds or those used for other purposes as exempt.[19]

Greyhounds tend to be out-going, happy and sociable with people and seem to relish human contact, even following owners from room to room at home (known colloquially as being a "Velcro dog"). Small animals including cats may be the subject of prey-driven behaviour by Greyhounds.[20]: 58–60 

Sport edit

Coursing edit

"Gray-Hound" in a 1658 English woodcut

The original primary use of Greyhounds, both in the British Isles and on the Continent of Europe, was in the coursing of deer for meat and sport; later, specifically in Britain, they specialized in competition hare coursing.[21] Some Greyhounds are still used for coursing, although artificial lure sports like lure coursing and racing are far more common and popular. Many leading 300- to 550-yard sprinters have bloodlines traceable back through Irish sires, within a few generations of racers that won events such as the Irish Coursing Derby or the Irish Cup.[22][23]

Racing edit

Until the early 20th century, Greyhounds were principally bred and trained for hunting and coursing. During the 1920s, modern greyhound racing was introduced into the United States, England (1926), Northern Ireland (1927), Scotland (1927), and the Republic of Ireland (1927).[24] Australia also has a significant racing culture.[25][26][27]

In the United States, aside from professional racing, many Greyhounds enjoy success on the amateur race track. Organizations like the Large Gazehound Racing Association (LGRA) and the National Oval Track Racing Association (NOTRA) provide opportunities for Greyhounds to compete.[28][29]

Companion edit

Historically, the Greyhound has, since its first appearance as a hunting type and breed, enjoyed a specific degree of fame and definition in Western literature, heraldry and art as the most elegant or noble companion and hunter of the canine world. In modern times, the professional racing industry, with its large numbers of track-bred greyhounds, as well as international adoption programs aimed at re-homing dogs has redefined the breed as a sporting dog that will supply friendly companionship in its retirement. This has been prevalent in recent years due to track closures in the United States.[30][31][32] Outside the racing industry and coursing community, the Kennel Clubs' registered breed still enjoys a modest following as a show dog and pet.[citation needed]

Health and physiology edit

Illustration of the Greyhound skeleton

A 2024 UK study found a life expectancy of 11.5 years for the breed compared to an average of 12.7 for purebreeds and 12 for crossbreeds.[33]

A Greyhound in the extended (top) phase and the contracted phase of double rotary suspension gallop

The key to the speed of a Greyhound can be found in its light but muscular build, large heart, highest percentage of fast twitch muscle of any breed,[34][35] double suspension gallop, and extreme flexibility of its spine. "Double suspension rotary gallop" describes the fastest running gait of the Greyhound in which all four feet are free from the ground in two phases, contracted and extended, during each full stride.[36]

Due to the Greyhound's unique physiology and anatomy, a veterinarian who understands the issues relevant to the breed is generally needed when the dogs need treatment, particularly when anesthesia is required. Greyhounds cannot metabolize barbiturate-based anesthesia in the same way that other breeds can because their livers have lower amounts of oxidative enzymes.[37] Greyhounds demonstrate unusual blood chemistry,[38] which can be misread by veterinarians not familiar with the breed and can result in an incorrect diagnosis.[39]

Greyhounds are very sensitive to insecticides.[40] Many vets do not recommend the use of flea collars or flea spray on Greyhounds if the product is pyrethrin-based. Products like Advantage, Frontline, Lufenuron, and Amitraz are safe for use on Greyhounds, however, and are very effective in controlling fleas and ticks.[41]

Greyhounds have higher levels of red blood cells than other breeds. Since red blood cells carry oxygen to the muscles, this higher level allows the hound to move larger quantities of oxygen faster from the lungs to the muscles.[42] Conversely, Greyhounds have lower levels of platelets than other breeds.[43]

Delayed haemorrhage following trauma or routine surgery is more common in Greyhounds, with one study reporting significant haemorrhage in 26% of Greyhounds following routine gonadectomy,[44] compared to 0-2% in other dog breeds.[45] This is often termed greyhound fibrinolytic syndrome or breed-associated hyperfibrinolysis, where in there is a disorder of the fibrinolysis system without derangement of the primary or secondary coagulation systems, and is also not related to platelet count.[45] In this syndrome there is initial adequate hemostasis following trauma or routine surgical procedures, however 36–48 hours later the site undergoes inappropriate hyperfibrinolysis.[44] This results in delayed bleeding which can result in significant morbidity and mortality.[45] Standard pre-operative blood work does not identify those at risk[45] It is distinct from common bleeding disorders in other breeds such von Willebrand's disease, which is uncommon in Greyhounds.[46] Although high-quality research data are lacking, it is thought that this condition can be prevented and treated by administering antifibrinolytic medication such as tranexamic acid via the oral or parenteral route.[47][45] Intensive care and blood product administration may also be required in severe cases.[45]

Greyhounds do not have undercoats and thus are less likely to trigger dog allergies in humans (they are sometimes incorrectly referred to as "hypoallergenic"). The lack of an undercoat, coupled with a general lack of body fat, also makes Greyhounds more susceptible to extreme temperatures (both hot and cold); because of this, they must be housed inside.[48] Some Greyhounds are susceptible to corns on their paw pads; a variety of methods are used to treat them.[49][50]

History edit

Bronze figure probably of a vertragus (sighthound), Roman period (50–270 AD)
Sighthounds unleashed in Paolo Uccello's Night Hunt (Ashmolean Museum)

Origins edit

"The true origin of the greyhound is unsure, but drawings of findings from the Çatalhöyük site in Turkey (6000 BC), the finding of a greyhound-like dog in a funeral vase in the town of Fusa in Iran (4200 BC) or in rock art in Tassili (dated at 5000 – 2000 BC) indicate that the greyhound is indeed one of the oldest breeds of dog."[51].

The ancient skeletal remains of a dog identified as being of the greyhound/saluki form were excavated at Tell Brak in modern Syria, and dated as being approximately 4,000 years old.[52][53] Dogs that look similar to Salukis and Greyhounds were increasingly depicted on Egyptian tombs from the Middle Kingdom (2134 BC–1785 BC) onward.[54]

Historical literature by Arrian on the vertragus (from the Latin vertragus, a word of Celtic origin),[55] the first recorded sighthound in Europe and possible antecedent of the Greyhound, suggested that its origin lies with the Celts from Eastern Europe or Eurasia. Systematic archaeozoology of Britain conducted in 1974[56] ruled out the existence of a true greyhound-type in Britain prior to the Roman occupation, which was further confirmed in 2000.[57] Written evidence from the early period of Roman occupation, the Vindolanda tablets (No. 594), demonstrate that the occupying troops from Continental Europe either had with them in the North of England, or certainly knew of, the vertragus and its hunting use.[58]

During the Middle Ages, greyhounds could only be owned by rulers and nobles, having long been associated with heraldic symbols of the ruling class in England, France, and the Czech lands.[51]

The earliest archaeological discovery found conclusively to be a greyhound specifically was at the Chotěbuz fort in the Czech Republic. This comprised sighthound type "gracile" bones dating from the 8th to 9th century AD. These bones matched those of a 70 cm (28 in) high "greyhound", and were also genetically compared with the modern Greyhound and other sighthounds, and found to be almost completely identical with the modern Greyhound breed, with the exception of only four deletions and one substitution in the DNA sequences, which were interpreted as differences probably arising from 11 centuries of breeding of this type of dog.[51]

All modern pedigree Greyhounds derive from the Greyhound stock recorded and registered first in private studbooks in the 18th century, then in public studbooks in the 19th century, which ultimately were registered with coursing, racing, and kennel club authorities of the United Kingdom.[59] Historically, these sighthounds were used primarily for hunting in the open where their pursuit speed and keen eyesight were essential.[citation needed]

Contemporary illustration of Saint Guinefort, a greyhound sainted by people in the Dombes region of France around the 13th century

Etymology edit

The name "Greyhound" is generally believed to come from the Old English 'grighund'. Hund is the antecedent of the modern "hound", but the meaning of grig is undetermined, other than in reference to dogs in Old English and Old Norse. The word "hund" is still used for dogs in general in Scandinavian languages today. Its origin does not appear to have any common root with the modern word "grey"[60] for color, and indeed the Greyhound is seen with a wide variety of coat colors. The lighter colors, patch-like markings and white appeared in the breed that was once ordinarily grey in color.[61]

The Greyhound is the only dog mentioned by name in the Bible (Hebrew: זַרְזִיר מׇתְנַיִם, zarir mosna'im) in Proverbs 30:29–31.[non-primary source needed] Many versions, including the Jewish Publication Society and King James Version, name the Greyhound as one of the "three that are stately of stride". However, some newer biblical translations, including the New International Version, have changed this to 'strutting rooster', which appears to be an alternative translation. However, the Douay–Rheims Bible translation from the late 4th-century Latin Vulgate into English translates this term as "a cock".[citation needed][original research?]

According to Pokorny,[62] the English term 'Greyhound' does not mean "grey dog/hound", but simply "fair dog". Subsequent words have been derived from the Proto-Indo-European root *g'her- "shine, twinkle": English 'grey', Old High German gris "grey, old", Old Icelandic griss "piglet, pig", Old Icelandic gryja "to dawn", gryjandi "morning twilight", Old Irish grian "sun", Old Church Slavonic zorja "morning twilight, brightness". The common sense of these words is "to shine; bright".[citation needed]

In 1928, the first winner of Best in Show at Crufts was breeder/owner Mr. H. Whitley's Greyhound Primley Sceptre.[63] Greyhounds have won the award three times in total, the most recent being in 1956.[64]

Historically, English Greyhounds were grouped: two for coursing, as a "Brace", three for hunting, as a "Leash", otherwise known as a "couple and a half".[65]

See also edit

References edit

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  2. ^ "Greyhound Dog Breed Information". American Kennel Club. Retrieved 2021-10-07.
  3. ^ "Greyhound Type - The Archtypical Sighthound". Greyhound Club Of America. Retrieved 2021-10-07.
  4. ^ Gunnar von Boehn. "Shepparton (VIC) Track Records". Retrieved 2011-05-31.
  5. ^ Gunnar von Boehn. "Singleton (NSW) Track Records". Retrieved 2011-05-31.
  6. ^ Gunnar von Boehn. "Capalaba (QLD) Track Records". Retrieved 2011-05-31.
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  12. ^ Livinggood, Lee (2000). Retired Racing Greyhounds for Dummies, p. 31. IDG Books Worldwide, Inc., Foster City, CA. ISBN 0-7645-5276-7
  13. ^ Livinggood 2000, p. 55-56
  14. ^ Livinggood, Lee (2000). Retired Racing Greyhounds for Dummies. IDG Books Worldwide, Inc., Foster City, CA. ISBN 0-7645-5276-7
  15. ^ Branigan, Cynthia A. (1998). Adopting the Racing Greyhound, pp. 17-18. Howell Book House, New York. ISBN 0-87605-193-X.
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  43. ^ "Making Sense of Blood Work in Greyhounds" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 March 2009. Retrieved 5 Nov 2014.
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  46. ^ Zaldívar-López, S.; Marín, L. M.; Iazbik, M. C.; Westendorf-Stingle, N.; Hensley, S.; Couto, C. G. (December 2011). "Clinical pathology of Greyhounds and other sighthounds". Veterinary Clinical Pathology. 40 (4): 414–425. doi:10.1111/j.1939-165X.2011.00360.x. ISSN 1939-165X. PMC 3816276. PMID 22092909.
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  48. ^ Blythe, Linda, Gannon, James, Craig, A. Morrie, and Fegan, Desmond P. (2007). Care of the Racing and Retired Greyhound, p. 394. American Greyhound Council, Kansas. ISBN 0-9641456-3-4.
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  56. ^ Harcourt, R.A., 1974. The dog in prehistoric and early historic Britain. Journal of Archaeological Science, 1(2), pp.151-175.
  57. ^ Clark, K.M., 2000. Dogged persistence: the phenomenon of canine skeletal uniformity in British prehistory. BAR International Series, 889, pp.163-170.
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  59. ^ The Greyhound and the Hare: A history of the breed and the sport Charles Blanning, The National Coursing Club, 2018
  60. ^ Richardson, Charles (1839). A New Dictionary of the English Language. Oxford University. p. 357.
  61. ^ admin (2020-06-21). "Greyhound". Native Retrieved 2024-01-05.
  62. ^ Pokorny, Indogermanisches Woerterbuch, pp. 441–442.
  63. ^ "(No.584, pp19 & 121)".
  64. ^ "The winners from the past and present - Crufts". Retrieved 2021-08-11.
  65. ^ Turbervile's Booke of Hunting 1576 Clarendon Press 1908 p242

Further reading edit

External links edit