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Several greyhounds before a race

Greyhound racing is an organized, competitive sport in which greyhounds are raced around a track. There are two forms of greyhound racing, track racing (normally around an oval track) and coursing.[1] Track racing uses an artificial lure (now based on a windsock)[2] that travels ahead of the dogs on a rail until the greyhounds cross the finish line. As with horse racing, greyhound races often allow the public to bet on the outcome.

In many countries greyhound racing is purely amateur and solely for enjoyment. In other countries, particularly Australia, Ireland, Macau, Mexico, Spain, the UK and the US, greyhound racing is part of the gambling industry and similar to horse racing – although less profitable.

Animal rights and animal welfare groups[3] are critical of the welfare of greyhounds in the commercial racing industry. A greyhound adoption movement spearheaded by kennel owners has arisen to assist retired racing dogs in finding homes as pets, with an estimated adoption rate of over 95% in the US.[4]



Greyhound during a race

Modern greyhound racing has its origins in coursing.[5] The first recorded attempt at racing greyhounds on a straight track was made beside the Welsh Harp reservoir, Hendon, England, in 1876, but this experiment did not develop. The industry emerged in its recognizable modern form, featuring circular or oval tracks, with the invention of the mechanical or artificial hare, in 1912, by an American, Owen Patrick Smith. O.P. Smith had altruistic aims for the industry to stop the killing of the jack rabbits and see "greyhound racing as we see horse racing".[citation needed] In 1919, Smith opened the first professional dog-racing track with stands in Emeryville, California.[6] The certificates system[clarification needed] led the way to parimutuel betting, as quarry and on-course gambling, in the United States during the 1930s.

The oval track and mechanical hare were introduced to Britain, in 1926, by another American, Charles Munn, in association with Major Lyne-Dixson, a Canadian, who was a key figure in coursing. Finding other supporters proved rather difficult however and with the General Strike of 1926 looming, the two men scoured the country in an attempt to find others who would join them. Eventually they met Brigadier-General Critchley, who introduced them to Sir William Gentle.[1] Between them they raised £22,000 and like the American 'International Greyhound Racing Association' (or the I.G.R.A.), they launched the Greyhound Racing Association[7] holding the first British meeting at Manchester's Belle Vue Stadium. The industry was successful in cities and towns throughout the UK – by the end of 1927, there were forty tracks operating.

The industry of greyhound racing was particularly attractive to predominantly male working-class audiences, for whom the urban locations of the tracks and the evening times of the meetings were accessible, and to patrons and owners from various social backgrounds. Betting has always been a key ingredient of greyhound racing, both through on-course bookmakers and the totalisator, first introduced in 1930. Like horse racing, it is popular to bet on the greyhound races as a form of parimutuel gambling.

Greyhound racing enjoyed its highest UK attendances just after the Second World War—for example, attendances during 1946 were estimated to be around 75 million based on an annual totalisator turnover of £196,431,430.[8] [9] The industry experienced a decline from the early 1960s after the 1960 UK Betting and Gaming Act permitted off-course cash betting. Sponsorship, limited television coverage, and the later abolition of on-course betting tax have partially offset this decline.


Greyhounds rounding a turn on a track

Commercial greyhound racing is characterized by several criteria, including legalized gambling, the existence of a regulatory structure, the physical presence of racetracks, whether the host state or subdivision shares in any gambling proceeds, fees charged by host locations, the use of professional racing kennels, the number of dogs participating in races, the existence of an official racing code, and membership in a greyhound racing federation or trade association.[citation needed]

In addition to the eight countries where commercial greyhound racing exists, in at least twenty-one countries dog racing occurs, but has not yet reached a commercial stage.[citation needed]

Medical careEdit

The medical care of a racing greyhound is primarily the responsibility of the trainer while in training. All tracks in the United Kingdom have to have a veterinary surgeon and veterinary room facilities on site during racing.[10] The greyhounds require annual vaccination against Distemper, Infectious canine hepatitis, Parvovirus, Leptospira Canicola and Leptospira Icterhaemorrhagiae and a vaccination to minimize outbreaks of diseases such as kennel cough.[11] Greyhound adoption groups frequently report that the dogs from the tracks have tooth problems, the cause of which is debated.[citation needed] However all greyhounds in the UK must pass a veterinary inspection before being allowed to race.[12]

Doping cases have been reported in greyhound racing. The racing industry in several countries is actively working to prevent the spread of this practice; attempts are being made to recover urine samples from all greyhounds in a race, not just the winners. Greyhounds from which samples cannot be obtained for a certain number of consecutive races are subject to being ruled off the track in some countries. Violators are subject to criminal penalties and loss of their racing licenses by state gaming commissions and a permanent ban from the National Greyhound Association. The trainer of the greyhound is at all times the "absolute insurer" of the condition of the animal. The trainer is responsible for any positive test regardless of how the banned substance has entered the greyhound's system.[11]


Generally, a greyhound's career will end between the ages of four and six – after the dog can no longer race, or possibly when it is no longer competitive. The best dogs are kept for breeding and there are industry-associated adoption groups and rescue groups that work to obtain retired racing greyhounds and place them as pets. In the United Kingdom, the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) have introduced measures to locate where racing greyhounds reside after they have retired from racing and as from 2017 records have been available to the public.[13] There have been isolated cases of controversy, such as greyhounds sold to research labs[14][15][16] and healthy greyhounds being destroyed with a captive bolt gun.[17] In both cases the guilty parties were found and legal action ensued.[18][19]

Several organizations, such as British Greyhounds Retired Database, Greyhound Rescue West of England, Birmingham Greyhound Protection, GAGAH, Adopt-a-Greyhound and Greyhound Pets of America, and the Retired Greyhound Trust try to ensure that as many of the dogs as possible are adopted. Some of these groups also advocate better treatment of the dogs while at the track and/or the end of racing for profit. In recent years the racing industry has made significant progress in establishing programs for the adoption of retired racers.[10] In addition to actively cooperating with private adoption groups throughout the country, many race tracks have established their own adoption programs at various tracks.[10]

By countryEdit


On 17 November 2016, the Congress banned greyhound racing.[20] The law was promulgated on 2 December 2016 as the National Law 27,330. Anyone who organizes, promotes, facilitates or carries out a dog race, regardless of breed, will be jailed for between 3 months and 4 years, with a fine of from $4,000 to $80,000 pesos.[21]


Greyhounds Australasia was formed in 1937 and consists of governing bodies in Australian states and New Zealand, which regulate greyhound welfare and living conditions. Most racing authorities in Australia have organized and funded Greyhound Adoption arms, which house dozens of greyhounds a month, as well as partly supporting private volunteer organisations.[22]

Each Australian state and territory has a governing greyhound racing body. Greyhound Racing New South Wales (GRNSW) and Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV) are the two largest authorities, governing over 40 racetracks. The Queensland Greyhound Racing Authority (QGRA), Western Australian Greyhound Racing Authority (WAGRA), Tasmanian Greyhound Racing Authority (TGRA), Greyhound Racing South Australia (GRSA), Northern Territory Racing Authority, and the Canberra Greyhound Racing Club (CGRC), all contribute to running and monitoring of greyhound racing in Australia.

Major greyhound racing venues include Wentworth Park in Sydney, Cannington Raceway in Perth, Greyhound Park in Adelaide, Albion Park in Brisbane and Sandown Greyhounds in Melbourne.[23]

Many adoption programs have been set up throughout Australia known as Greyhound Adoption Program or Greyhounds As Pets, GAP. Greyhounds are checked for parasites, malnourishment, or any other medical conditions by an on-course vet before being able to compete.[citation needed] Greyhounds are usually bought and sold as puppies just after having been whelped or as racing dogs that have been fully trained via word of mouth on the track or via the few greyhound trading and sales platforms. In Australia the buying and selling of greyhounds is subject to oversight by the states and territories.

In Australia, Greyhound Racing New South Wales (GRNSW) Chief Executive Brent Hogan said in 2013 that an estimated 3,000 greyhounds are euthanized each year in that state alone.[24]

In February 2015, a report by television program Four Corners discovered the use of 'live bait' to train dogs for racing in Australia.[25] This is illegal in many countries, including the UK and Australia, and against the rules and regulations of the UK Animal Welfare Act 2006.[26][27]

Australian former High Court judge Michael McHugh conducted a Special Commission of Inquiry for the Australian state of New South Wales.[28] The review evaluated the breeding and wastage practices, the use of coursing and live baiting by some trainers, and the reporting rate of deaths of dogs at race tracks. The review concluded that there was widespread cover-ups and deception of the public. Other key findings in the report included: a high death rate, where at least 48,891 uncompetitive greyhounds were killed over the past twelve years, and the under reporting of greyhound deaths and injuries despite a recent undercover exposé. The report also found up to twenty percent of trainers engaged in illegal live baiting practices, and that for the industry to remain viable, 2,000 to 4,000 greyhounds would still be killed each year.[29] New South Wales premier Mike Baird announced that all greyhound racing would be banned in the state from 1 July 2017.[30]

In 2016, a bill was passed through the government of the state New South Wales, in Australia to ban greyhound racing. This new law was to come into effect in the middle of 2017 but was reversed in late 2016, albeit with several new restrictions on the industry.[citation needed]


Greyhound racing is a popular industry in Ireland with the majority of tracks falling under the control of the Irish Greyhound Board (IGB) which is a commercial semi-state body and reports to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.[31] The vast majority of greyhounds racing in the UK are imported from Irish breeders (estimated 90%). In the greyhound industry Northern Irish tracks are considered to be in the category of Irish greyhound racing and the results are published by the IGB. They do not come under the control of the Greyhound Board of Great Britain.

An independent 2014 review of the Irish Greyhound Board criticized the body's corporate governance, its handling of animal welfare issues, and poor financial performance.[32]

New ZealandEdit

In New Zealand, around 700 dogs are bred each year for racing,[33] and around 200–300 are imported from Australia.[34] Over 200 are retired annually by a charity established and partially funded by the New Zealand Greyhound Racing Association.[35] Few greyhounds are kept as pets or rehomed by their trainers after racing [36] while a small percentage are rehomed by other volunteer greyhound rescue organizations throughout the country. Very occasionally greyhounds are even returned to overseas owners. There is some concern over the welfare of New Zealand racing greyhounds by a growing animal advocacy lobby[37] that led the Greyhound Racing Association to initiate an internal inquiry into post-career outcomes in 2013.[38] In 2017 a second report was commissioned, this time by the New Zealand Racing Board, led by former High Court Judge Rodney Hansen, that found little change for greyhounds and few reforms implemented.[39] On Dec 20 2017, the New Zealand government's Minister for Racing Hon Winston Peters, said the reports findings were "disturbing and deeply disappointing",[40] and "simply unacceptable".[41] In December 2018 the New Zealand government considered a second petition from the Greyhound Protection League (NZ) seeking a prohibition on racing, citing reasons that the industry had not improved its outcomes for dogs. The government agreed and requested that the greyhound racing continue its reform efforts, stating "we believe there is still a lot of work to be done before the industry has met the standards required to improve outcomes for greyhounds". [42].

South AfricaEdit

In South Africa dogs are kept with their owners. Due to the amateur state of racing, owners are usually also the trainer and rearer of the dogs; it is very rare that a dog is kenneled with a trainer.[43]

Racing is controlled by a partnership between the United Greyhound Racing and Breeders Society (UGRABS) and the South African Renhond Unie (SARU – South African Racing Dog Union).[citation needed] The studbook is kept by the South African Studbook Organization, who keep studbooks for all stud animals. Racing takes place on both oval and straight tracks.[citation needed] Greyhound Racing has been illegal in South Africa for over 50 years after being banned in 1946.[citation needed]

United KingdomEdit

Greyhound racing is a popular industry in Great Britain with attendances at around 3.2 million at over 5,750 meetings in 2007. There are currently 24 registered stadiums in Britain, and a parimutuel betting tote system with on-course and off-course betting available.[44]

On 24 July 1926, in front of 1,700 spectators, the first greyhound race took place at Belle Vue Stadium where seven greyhounds raced around an oval circuit to catch an electric artificial hare.[45] This marked the first modern greyhound race in Great Britain.

Greyhound racing in Great Britain is regulated by the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB). Greyhounds are not kept at the tracks, and are instead housed in the kennels of trainers and transported to the tracks to race. Those who race on the independent circuit (known as 'flapping'), do not have this regulation.[46] There have been 143 regulated tracks (126 in England, 12 in Scotland and 5 in Wales) and 256 known independent tracks since 1926.[7]

Some of the more prominent stadiums that have closed where greyhound racing has been staged in the past are as follows: White City Greyhounds at White City Stadium, Walthamstow Stadium, Wimbledon Stadium, Wembley Greyhounds at Wembley Stadium, Harringay Stadium, West Ham Stadium, Powderhall Stadium and Cardiff Arms Park and Newcastle in October 2018.

Greyhound racing as a whole in the UK peaked in 1946 but has been in decline since the opening of betting shops in 1961 and despite a mini boom in the late 1980s there are only 24 licensed tracks left in Britain.[47]

United StatesEdit

Legal status of US greyhound racing
Crated greyhound at Jefferson County Kennel Club
Ear tattoo on an American racing greyhound. Ear tattoos are used for identification of dogs during their racing careers.

In the United States, greyhound racing is governed by state law. Industry attempts at self-regulation have been criticized by humane organizations.[48] There are strict industry imposed enforcement system, in conjunction with state and local laws.[49]

At American tracks, greyhounds are kept in kennel compounds, in crates that are approximately three feet wide, four feet deep, and three feet high.[50] Most kennels turn the dogs out 4 to 6 times per day. Each turnout can be from 30 to 90 minutes.[51] Because greyhound kennels often house upwards of 50–70 dogs, crating is essential to the safety and wellbeing of canine life.[52] Greyhounds are cared for by professional and licensed staff.[citation needed]

In addition to state law and regulations, most tracks adopt their own rules, policies and procedures. In exchange for the right to race their greyhounds at the track, kennel owners must sign contracts in which they agree to abide by all track rules, including those pertaining to animal welfare. If kennel owners violate these contract clauses, they stand to lose their track privileges and even their racing licenses. In order to be licensed to own, handle a race dog or work in a kennel, dog professionals must have a FBI background check and be licensed by the states. Additionally, the National Greyhound Association holds their membership to strict standards towards the care and handling of the dogs. Failure to comply can result in lifetime termination of membership and a ban from the sport.[citation needed]

In recent years, several state governments in the United States have passed legislation to improve the treatment of racing dogs in their jurisdiction. During the 1990s, seven states banned gambling on live greyhound racing. In November 2008, Massachusetts held a vote to ban greyhound racing, which passed 56% to 44% and in 2014, Colorado prohibited greyhound racing. Currently, 40 states and the territory of Guam have standing laws banning racing.[53]

Texas, Alabama, Arkansas and West Virginia have active racing industries. Fifteen states without live racing allow simulcast betting on greyhound races in other states.[54][55] Between 2001 and 2011, the total amount gambled on greyhound racing nationwide declined by 67%.[56] In the U.S., the humane community has successfully lobbied an increasing number of state legislatures to improve conditions for racing greyhounds or to ban the sport altogether.


In Florida the amount gambled at dog tracks declined by 72% between 1990 and 2013.[57] According to a study commissioned by the legislature, the state lost between $1 million and $3.3 million on greyhound racing in 2012.[58] As recently as 2016, Florida industry professionals questioned if wagering was declining or transitioning to unreported online formats. [59]

Annual reports from 2007 to 2017 published by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation Pari-mutuel Wagering Division reported that there was a 0.015% yield of a positive drug test result for any banned substances.[60]

In November 2018 Florida passed a law making greyhound racing illegal from 2021.[61] The ban will affect 12 active tracks.[62]


There are currently three tracks racing in Texas, the Valley Race Park in Harlingen, Texas,[63] Gulf Greyhound Park in La Marque, Texas,[64] and Gulf Coast Racing in Corpus Christi, Texas.[65] In 2017, an investigation by the animal protection organization PETA exposed a Pet Blood Bank in Cherokee, on a privately owned farm, was using 150 former racing greyhounds. The greyhounds were living in unacceptable conditions and suffered neglect.[66] [67] The National Greyhound Association then barred members from directly sending greyhounds to blood banks.[68]

List of United States active tracksEdit

Ebro Greyhound Park in 2017

Active greyhound tracks in Florida, where greyhound racing will be phased out by 2020, are highlighted in yellow.

Name Location State Notes
Birmingham Race Course Birmingham Alabama
Southland Park Gaming and Racing West Memphis Arkansas
Daytona Beach Racing and Card Club Daytona Beach Florida
Derby Lane Greyhound Track St. Petersburg
Naples-Fort Myers Track and Entertainment Center Bonita Springs
Orange Park Kennel Club Orange Park
Palm Beach Kennel Club West Palm Beach
Sanford-Orlando Kennel Club Longwood
Sarasota Kennel Club Sarasota
Q Casino Dubuque Iowa Formerly Dubuque Greyhound Park
Gulf Coast Racing Corpus Christi Texas
Gulf Greyhound Park La Marque
Valley Race Park Harlingen
Mardi Gras Casino and Resort Nitro West Virginia
Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack Wheeling

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Genders, Roy (1981). the Encyclopaedia of Greyhound Racing. Pelham Books Ltd. ISBN 0-7207-1106-1.
  2. ^ "American Greyhound Council – Frequently Asked Questions About Greyhound Pets". Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  3. ^ "What are the animal welfare issues associated with greyhound racing in Australia? - RSPCA Australia knowledgebase".
  4. ^ "American Greyhound Council – Adoption Programs". Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  5. ^ "dog racing." Encyclopædia Britannica, Online Library Edition, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2012. Web. 5 Feb. 2012
  6. ^ Jane Alexiadis, What's it Worth? Greyhound collection sale to benefit charity, San Jose Mercury News (23 December 2011).
  7. ^ a b "Greyhound Racing History". Archived from the original on 13 April 2015. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
  8. ^ Particulars of Licensed tracks, table 1 Licensed Dog Racecourses. Licensing Authorities. 1946.
  9. ^ ""Stock Exchange." Times, 17 Apr. 1947, p. 9". The Times Digital Archive.
  10. ^ a b c "Welfare". Greyhound Board of Great Britain.
  11. ^ a b "Answers to Commonly Asked Questions". Greyhound Protection League Official. Retrieved 19 November 2012.
  12. ^ "Rule 113 part iii". Greyhound Board of Great Britain.
  13. ^ "Welfare & Retirement". Greyhound Board of Great Britain.
  14. ^ Qureshi, Yakub (28 April 2010). "¿30 injured greyhounds put down at dog track". Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  15. ^ Foggo, Daniel (11 May 2008). "Greyhound breeder offers slow dogs to be killed for research". The Times. London.
  16. ^ Jeory, Ted (29 May 2010). "Agony of caged greyhounds". Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  17. ^ Foggo, Daniel (16 July 2006). "Killing field of the dog racing industry". The Times. London.
  18. ^ "Greyhound killer to face tougher sentence". The Guardian. 16 February 2007.
  19. ^ "Editors Chair". Greyhound Star.
  20. ^ "Se aprobó la ley que prohíbe las carreras de galgos".
  21. ^ "BORA".
  22. ^ "About Greyhounds Australasia". Greyhounds Australasia Ltd.
  23. ^ "Australian Greyhound Racing".
  24. ^ "About 3000 unwanted greyhound racing dogs put down each year in NSW". The Australian. 15 November 2013.
  25. ^ "Greyhound racing: Piglets possums and rabbits used as live bait in secret training sessions Four Corners reveals". ABC News. 16 February 2015.
  26. ^ "Animal Welfare Act 2006".
  27. ^ "Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006". 20 October 2006.
  28. ^
  29. ^ "Special Commission of Inquiry into the Greyhound Racing Industry in New South Wales" (PDF).
  30. ^ "NSW bans greyhound racing after evidence of systemic cruelty". 7 July 2016. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  31. ^ "2014 Annual Report" (PDF). Irish Greyhound Board.
  32. ^ "Bord na gCon faces 'significant challenges' financially". The Irish Times. 7 July 2014.
  33. ^ "Statistics". Archived from the original on 27 February 2016.
  34. ^ "Australian Government Non-Livestock Exps". Retrieved 17 December 2016.
  35. ^ "Greyhound Adoption Programme – NZ Greyhound Racing". Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  36. ^ "Industry funded welfare review" (PDF). Retrieved 17 December 2016.
  37. ^ "GPLNZTV". YouTube. Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  38. ^ "WHK report" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 April 2018. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  39. ^ "NZRB report on greyhound welfare 2017" (PDF).
  40. ^ "Farifax media: Hansen report released". Archived from the original on 22 April 2018.
  41. ^ "Winston Peters: Hansen report".
  42. ^
  43. ^ "THE HISTORY OF GREYHOUND RACING (III) - Casino Inside - The gambling industry magazine!". Casino Inside - The gambling industry magazine!. 27 November 2012. Retrieved 12 November 2018.
  44. ^ "Donoughue Report" (PDF). Greyhound Board of Great Britain.
  45. ^ " – GBGB". Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  46. ^ "About GBGB". Greyhound Board of Great Britain.
  47. ^ "We are the governing body for licensed greyhound racing". Greyhound Board of Great Britain.
  48. ^ "GREY2K USA". Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  49. ^ "American Greyhound Council – Greyhound Care at the Track". Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  50. ^ "GREY2K USA Report on Greyhound Racing in Texas (February 2013)" (PDF). Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  51. ^ "Off to the Races – Greyhound Facts". Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  52. ^ "National Greyhound Association: Debunking Great2K Lies about greyhound racing".
  53. ^ "Take Action: State by State". Retrieved 13 May 2015.
  54. ^ "GREY2K USA: State by State". Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  55. ^
  56. ^ Association of Racing Commissioners International, Statistical Summaries for 2001 and 2011.
  57. ^ "Annual Reports". Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering. Retrieved 7 March 2014.
  58. ^ "Gambling Impact Study" (PDF). Spectrum Gaming Group. Retrieved 28 October 2013.
  59. ^ "Online Wager". Sunshine State News. Retrieved 22 February 2016.
  60. ^ "77th-86th Annual Reports 2007-2017". Pari-Mutuel Wagering Division, FLDBPR. Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  61. ^ "Greyhound racing ban signed into law in Colorado". The Denver Post. The Associated Press. 10 March 2014.
  62. ^ "Greyhound Racing Banned in Florida". Greyhound Star.
  63. ^ "Valley Race Park". Valley Race Park.
  64. ^ "Gulf Greyhound Park". Gulf Greyhound Park.
  65. ^ "Gulf Coast Racing". Gulf Coast Racing.
  66. ^ "Discarded Greyhounds Imprisoned, Neglected, and Farmed for Their Blood". PETA Investigations. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  67. ^ Karin Brulliard, “Allegations of Neglect at Dog Blood Bank Shine Light on An Unregulated Industry,” The Washington Post, 23 Sep. 2017
  68. ^ "National Greyhound Association: News". Retrieved 18 September 2018.

Further readingEdit

  • Gwyneth Anne Thayer, Going to the Dogs: Greyhound Racing, Animal Activism, and American Popular Culture. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2013.

External linksEdit