Saturday, February 28, 2015

Greyhounds: Why You Should Make A Fast Friend

I sat down yesterday and finally finished up my greyhound post!  If you are not interested in dogs or pet adoption, you will probably want to skip today's post.  Otherwise, carry on.

As many of you know, we are childfree but we do own a large, goofy greyhound named Molly.  I've been wanting to write a post about greyhounds for awhile because owning one has changed me in a way that I can't describe.  They are special, incredible dogs that have a zen/spiritual quality about them, and I always get tons of questions from people when I am out walking Molly, so I wanted to do this point not only to answer some of the questions I get, but to encourage more people to consider adopting one of these beautiful dogs.

Why Should I Adopt a Greyhound?

If you're one of those TL;DR kids, here you go.  Greyhounds are sweet, gentle, calm, silly and love people.  They are great with kids and some are great with other small pets you may have in the home.  To the shock of many, they really don't need much exercise and are perfectly happy living in a smaller space like an apartment.  They are usually very quiet unless otherwise prompted.  Due to their short coats they need minimal grooming and rarely need to be bathed.  (I think I've bathed Molly once in two years). They're pretty much the perfect dog in my opinion.

Greyhound History

I just wanted to point out some very cool historical facts about greyhounds that I certainly didn't know before we began our adoption process.  Their place in history makes then even more fascinating, and proves that greyhounds have enchanted people since the beginning of time!
  • The breed dates back at least to 4,000 years ago, and were revered by the kingdoms in Greece, Egypt and Persia.  Mummified greyhounds have been found in Egyptian tombs as companions for the Pharaohs in the afterlife.
  • They are mentioned by name in ancient texts, including the Bible! (KJV, Proverbs 30: 29-31).  If you are a fan of Homer's The Odyssey, the only soul who recognizes Odysseus when he returns is his faithful greyhound Argos, who weakly wags his tail in recognition and then dies.  Shakespeare also mentions greyhounds in several of his works, including Henry V.
  • Greek Gods are often portrayed with greyhounds, including Hecate and Pollux.
  • After a brief period where they lost popularity and almost became extinct, greyhounds became the rage again with royalty around the Middle Ages.  It was against the law for anyone other than royalty to own a greyhound unless given permission, and killing a greyhound was punishable by death.  
  • Greyhound racing began in 1912 with the invention of the mechanical lure by Patrick Smith.  Greyhounds begin training when they are just weeks old, and then are sent off to race by the age of 18 months.  They get 6 chances to place in the top, if they do not then they are retired, given to adoption agencies, sold for medical research or euthanized.  Otherwise, they live in individual cages on the track, and do not leave those cages unless they are exercising or racing.  Yeah, it's pretty depressing.
Questions/Comments I Get The Most

How long did she race?  The average age of retirement for greyhounds is 3-4 years old.  Molly retired at 3 years old.

I bet you have to run her a lot/she must have a ton of energy!  Despite their racing speed, greyhounds are called "45 MPH couch potatoes" for a reason.  They easily sleep 15+ hours a day, and really do not need much exercise beyond a 20 minute walk a day.  If you are looking for a running partner, greyhounds are probably not for you.  (A TV marathon on the couch partner, that's another story!)  As with most sprinters, they have short bursts of energy and then are over it.  I do take Molly on long (for her) walks, and I tried one very fated time to run with her.  Never again!  Anyway if you adopt a greyhound, be prepared to lose your couch and most of your bed!  Molly was on our couch within 3 minutes of first walking into our house and she's barely left it since.  ;)

You must have a nice big yard since they have to run so much!  See above.  Additionally, my diva hound seems to be under the impression she will turn to dust if she spends more than 5 minutes out in our yard.

Are they aggressive?  Not in the least!  Many people have this misconception due to the muzzles greyhounds must wear when racing.  The main reason they wear them is because hounds can get competitive/excited and nip at one another.  They have very thin skin that tears easily, so the muzzles are for their protection.

I would love to adopt a greyhound but I have a cat.  While some greyhounds do have a high prey drive (Molly unfortunately does), many hounds do just fine with cats and other small animals.  It would be something you would need to stress to your adoption coordinator so that you can get a hound who is small animal tolerant.

How long do they live?  Greyhounds live anywhere from 12-15 years old although they are unfortunately prone to a bone cancer called osteosarcoma  (Boxers are #1 to get this, greyhounds are #2).

What Makes Them So Unique

Having a greyhound is not like having a normal dog.  I've owned dogs since I was 5 and consider myself pretty experienced in the dog department, but owning a greyhound has been a whole new world.  This is mostly because their upbringing is not like a normal dog since they live in cages on the tracks and do not see the inside of a home until they retire.  They are property, not pets, and they are treated as such.  Until they retire they are not exposed to everyday things that you and I don't give two thoughts about:  stairs, hardwood floors, sliding glass doors, washers/dryers, and flushing toilets to name a few.  Being off of the track is like being dropped onto an alien planet for them, so depending on your hound and the amount of time they spent in foster, you may have to be very patient and understanding as they adapt to your home and lifestyle.  It would be no different if you were suddenly packed up and dropped into a country you didn't know existed where you don't speak the language.  The change can be very scary for them!

Additional Tidbits

I reached out to my greyhound group on Facebook to ask them what they would say about owning greyhounds and many of them echoed my sentiments.  Here are some of the cute statements I got!
  • Some of the words used to describe their hounds:  calm, friendly, elegant, lazy, grateful, polite
  • One of the members brought up the delicate truth...greyhounds have horrid gas.  As in, you will need the oxygen masks like the ones they have on planes drop from your ceiling to deal with the smell.  You learn to smile and shake your head about it.
  • Greyhounds love "goosing" you and others with their needle nose in the most embarrassing areas at the most embarrassing times.  Molly is all about butts and nuts when meeting new people.
  • This comment, which I loved:  "Greyhounds are so a sweet and funny and lovable. They help shy people make friends! Angry people relax, sad people feel loved; they give us so much more than we give them."
  • They show affection by leaning against you, which is how I got so smitten in the first place so long ago.
  • Adorable quote from my husband, "They just get sweeter the longer you have them.  They really need their humans, and it's nice to be needed."

Greyhounds are elegant...and they are also clowns
  • Greyhounds sleep in crazy positions that would put most humans in traction, and are famous for their ability to "roach", aka sleep in their backs.

"Airing it out", as my grandmother would say
  • Greyhounds often get in playing fits that we hound owners refer to as "zoomies" that include wild spinning, running and stellar quick moves.  This greyhound isn't mine, but it's one of my favorite zoomie videos that I could watch 100 times a day.

 As well as this adorable greyhound in Batman pajamas doing snow zoomies...

  • Greyhounds typically don't bark (which makes them awesome), but they are vocal in other ways.  Molly is famous for her pitiful tea kettle nose whistle when she's being denied something she really wants.  Most greyhounds make a noise called rooing which is a yodel/howl hybrid.  The sounds vary and I've heard some pretty ear splitting roo styles, but these two greys are pretty cute.  I have to admit, I'm pretty glad Molly doesn't roo just for the sake of not having to buy Excedrin by the case.  ;)

The Galgos

There is a little known breed of greyhound from Spain called Galgos that I wanted to mention.  They look very similar to the greyhound as we know it other than some slight facial differences, and are used to hunt in the Spanish countryside.

The life of a racing greyhound isn't great, and for the Galgos it's ten times worse.  They are considered worthless and are often just fed stale bread and water.  When they have been deemed no longer fit for hunting, they are hanged, thrown alive into abandoned wells or burned to death.  Thankfully there has been a growing movement to save and rescue abandoned Galgos, and you can actually adopt these dogs, even if you live in the US (though it's a lengthy process).

How Do I Adopt A Greyhound?

The process for adoption can be a bit intense depending on the agency.  Greyhounds are so unique and have certain needs that need to be met, so as a baseline most agencies will do a home inspection and interview you to make sure that you are a good candidate for adoption.  We had to submit a very detailed application that was seriously more detailed than a dating site's, do a phone interview, have required reading, then a home inspection before we were even shown any dogs.  Our particular agency picked out suitable greyhounds for us based on our lifestyle and application profile.  Molly was the first greyhound of the three chosen for us, and I fell in love with her instantly because when I knelt down to say hi to her, she walked into my arms and licked me in the face.  I mean whose heart wouldn't melt at that?  (This is before I knew she was a hussy and a master manipulator!)

3 minutes after first walking in our house. Really shy right?
If you think a greyhound may be right for you and want to find an adoption agency, these websites provide a pretty comprehensive database of agencies across the US and beyond, just in case you're a reader in another country!

If you're interesting in learning more about Spanish Galgos and potentially adopting one, this is a great site to start with:
Website Credit

Thanks to the following websites for some of the historical factoids I used!  Also a special thanks to my Greyhound group on Facebook.  There are so many badass people on there who are always awesome at offering advice, support and welcome my constant bombardment of Molly pictures.


  1. What a great post! Thank you for all of the information. Is it too late to trade Millie in? Just kidding! The videos are so cute.

  2. Awww love the post and love that you guys and Molly are perfect for each other! 45mph couch potatoes.. HA! Cute!

  3. I love this! It's always so interesting to learn about different dog breeds. I may have to do one of these posts on my monsters :)

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