What You Didn't Know About Greyhounds

Dogs Legislation Rescue Posted Aug 30, 2018
Misconceptions about this breed has lead to a reluctance in adopting them.
MYTH ONE: Greyhounds wear a muzzle because they are malicious

A law introduced to Australia in 1927 states that greyhounds must wear a muzzle when in a public place. This law was introduced originally on the race track to protect the dogs from injuring themselves when racing, and “in public” came to mean all public places. 

There is no evidence to show that greyhounds pose any greater risk to the public compared to other dog breeds. With many people unaware of the compulsory muzzling requirements, the mistake can easily be made that greyhounds are muzzled due to aggressive or dangerous behaviour, when in reality, they are friendly and gentle animals. 

In addition, although ex-racing greyhounds have a very different start to life than your average family home dog, this doesn’t stop them being every bit a loving family pet. 

MYTH TWO: Greyhounds need a lot of exercise and are hyperactive

A common question people ask is “Am I going to need to be super fit and active to own a greyhound?” However, greyhound owners know just how far from the truth this is. There is a reason greyhounds have been given the nickname “75km/hr couch potatoes” – they love sleeping and will spend most of the day doing it. 

Despite being a racing breed, greyhounds are built for speed rather than stamina and require no more exercise than your average pet dog. They can run fast – but not for long! Most would prefer a comfy couch to a jog any day.

Each dog is unique and will have a different set on needs, so not all greyhounds will want a lot of exercise. It is recommended that they have at least 30 minutes of exercise per day, but if possible a morning and night walk would be ideal. Unfortunately, if you’re looking for an afternoon jogging buddy, the greyhound won’t be the best choice for you.

Not only is physical exercise essential but so is mental stimulation. Just like small children, a bored greyhound can be a naughty dog. They will dig, chew, bark, and be quite destructive if they are not provided with entertainment. The best way to do entertain them is through enrichments, which can include a bone, hollow toys (e.g. Kong), treat balls and frozen food blocks. 

MYTH THREE: Greyhounds don’t mix well with other pets or children

Just like all dogs, some greyhounds will happily co-exist with other animals, while others cannot. Ideally, as with most dogs, greyhounds should be introduced to other family pets before bringing them home. This gives the greyhound the opportunity to meet on neutral ground, and avoids territorial behaviour. 

It is important to remember that if the greyhound is an ex-racer, they may not have much – if any – exposure to children and could be frightened at first. But this doesn’t mean greyhounds cannot be around children – it just means they will need to get used to them. It’s also essential to teach any children that will interact with your greyhound how to behave appropriately around dogs. 

MYTH FOUR: Greyhounds need a large living space

Greyhounds will happily adapt to living indoors in small homes, as long as they’re regularly exercised. Greyhounds don’t need much space, but they will need their own space. 

It is true that many racing greyhounds have not been inside a home, so they may initially feel trapped and scared. As such, giving them their own space – a place they can feel safe and secure – is essential. This can be as simple as having a bed in a quiet space of the house. 

If your greyhound is going to be outside, it is vital that all outdoor areas are well fenced, safe and secure and they are given the protection they need from sun, heat and cold. It depends on the dog as to where they like spending time – some greyhounds will prefer to live inside and some will prefer outside. 

MYTH FIVE: Racing greyhounds don’t make good pets

Only around 30% to 60% of greyhounds have actually been on a racetrack, but even if they have, it doesn’t make them any less suitable as a pet. It is important to build trust with greyhounds and give them a feeling of security. 

All greyhounds, even ex-racers, make great pets; they are both loving, affectionate and adore human companionship. Owning a greyhound is a full time commitment and will take a lot of love and care, but is an exhilarating and rewarding experience. 

One of the most important things you can give any animal is love, patience and understanding. Greyhounds are gentle, smart, clean and quiet. And as temperature drops off, greyhounds will make the perfect cuddle buddy. What more could you ask for? 

RSPCA's booklet on adopting a greyhound

Aimed to encourage positive perceptions of greyhounds as pets The greyhound adoption - building a great relationship with your new greyhound booklet also provides realistic information about some of the dogs’ special needs and quirks. Download booklet here.

If you would like to know more in-depth information please visit the RSPCA's Knowledgebase.


Tahlia McFarlane
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