All about the greyhound

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  • The thoroughbred of the canine world is the lean and elegant greyhound. This is the template upon which all other coursing sighthounds are based. The greyhound is a sleek and athletic breed known for its exceptional speed, grace, and gentle temperament.

    With a history dating back thousands of years, the greyhound is one of the oldest dog breeds and has been cherished for its agility and athleticism. As the fastest dog breed on the planet, greyhounds are built for speed, featuring a slender, aerodynamic body, long legs, and a deep chest that allows for efficient oxygen intake during sprints. The head is long and narrow, and the eyes are large and expressive. The coat is short and smooth, and comes in various colours, including brindle, fawn, black, and white.

    Despite their athletic prowess, greyhounds are known for their calm and laid-back demeanour indoors. A quick “zoomie” on their daily walk, and they will often happily chill out and snooze for the rest of their day.

    While they are independent and may appear aloof, they are generally gentle, affectionate, and good-natured companions. Greyhounds are adaptable and, despite their racing heritage, don’t require long spells of exercise. Retired racing greyhounds are commonly adopted as pets, where their gentle nature makes them well-suited for domestic life.

    While the greyhound is a large breed, its cousin the Italian greyhound is a miniature version. There are also varieties from other countries, too, such as Spanish and Russian, though these do not feature among the UK Kennel Club breeds.

    Grey hound lying down

    Although greyhounds are the fastest dog breed, they tend to be chilled out and quiet in the home

    Greyhound dog breed: fact file

    Kennel Club breed group: hound

    Size: large

    Daily exercise: an hour

    Coat: short, shedding

    Colours: 18 varieties of colour, such as blue brindle, black fawn red and white. Eyes are preferably dark.

    Lifespan: more than 10 years

    Bark: less vocal than most breeds

    History: there are depictions of long-legged hounds that look much like greyhounds in Ancient Egyptian tombs, which are believed to be the forerunner for today’s greyhound breed. This athletic sighthound was highly valued for its speed and hunting prowess and became popular throughout Europe. The breed was developed in Britain, where they gained such prestige that during medieval times, it was illegal to hunt with greyhounds unless you were royalty or a nobleman.

    Greyhound racing was introduced in Britain as a sport in 1926.

    Distinctive features: perfectly constructed for chasing prey at high speed, the greyhound is elegant, upstanding and muscular, with an athletic, graceful and aerodynamic physique

    Temperament: intelligent, gentle and even-tempered.

    Things to consider: the greyhound’s leanness and streamlined proportions belie the fact that this is a large breed. As such it should be given a high-quality puppy food for large breeds to allow it to develop correctly. It will also benefit from one of the best large dog beds to give him ample space to stretch and snooze.

    Greyhounds, due to their minimal body fat, tend to feel the cold more than most other breeds, so may need one of the best dog coats while outside in cold weather. You can find coats designed to fit the greyhound’s unique S-shape as standard coats will be too short and broad.

    Training: greyhounds were bred to hunt independently so are hard-wired to make decisions on their own, so you need to make training lessons short and sweet to keep his attention. Best suited to a gentle training approach as they have a mild and sensitive personality and are very affectionate with their owners.

    Bear in mind their dazzling speed, so if you do let them off the leash, it either needs to be in an enclosed area or you need to be certain their recall is up to scratch, as they can cover a huge distance in moments.

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