The greyhound is undeniably the fastest dog breed, as it can reach speeds of up to 45 mph. Greyhounds are also elegant, well-balanced athletes and as members of the hound family, they were once favored hunting and racing dogs. Today greyhounds are precious, loving family members and loyal companions in households throughout the world.
Breed Background and History
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), the greyhound is one of the oldest of the ancient dog breeds. Carved evidence of the greyhound's existence dates as far back as 2751 BCE to Egyptian tombs. In around 43 BCE, the Romans were the first people to write about the greyhound in a literary sense. Spanish explorers brought the breed to America in the 1500s, and it became the first breed of dog recorded at the 1877 Westminster Kennel Club dog show.
Unique Physical Characteristics
The greyhound's sleek body shape and size enable it to have the speed and agility it does. It is lean and tall, with a long head and neck, an arched, broad and muscular back, strong legs and well-balanced feet. When the dog runs, the tail serves as a rudder and a brake, assisting it in stopping and turning sharply while running at high speeds. The greyhound has fine, short hair and comes in a variety of colors including black, white, gray, fawn, brindle, blue and red. Male greyhounds can reach a height of 30 inches and a weight of 85 pounds, while females can grow to be 28 inches tall and weigh up to 75 pounds.
Temperament and Personality
Greyhounds are a highly intelligent and independent breed, but are also affectionate, gentle and eager to please their owners. They can be sensitive, quiet and reserved while indoors, but once they get outside, especially into an open area, they are more than ready to run and play. In England greyhounds were traditionally used as hunting dogs because of their tremendous speed and balance, and their willingness to give chase to anything that moves. The greyhound is known as "the world's fastest couch potato" because of its placid and calm demeanor. They are also known to behave well with other dogs or pets with which they are familiar.
Health and Care
Greyhounds typically live between 10 and 13 years and the breed is not particularly prone to any major ailments. Some minor health issues that may affect the breed are cancerous bone tumors (osteosarcoma), disorders of the esophagus (esophageal achalasia) and a twisted stomach disorder (gastric torsion). Greyhounds are prone to tail-tip injuries or tail lacerations, and racers sometimes sustain injuries to the toes, hocks or muscles.
Exercising your greyhound is instrumental in keeping them healthy and happy. While they do enjoy being lazy couch potatoes at times, they equally love getting outdoors and sprinting around in large, secure open spaces to expend excess energy and stretch their long, lanky bodies. Greyhounds are an indoor dog breed and require softer, warm bedding for sleeping and lounging. To maintain a greyhound's coat, it is necessary only to bathe them once every couple of weeks and to brush them about once a week to rid their coats of excess hair.
- Silense/iStock/Getty Images