So you want to adopt a dog and are considering the gentle retired racing greyhound as your next pet. Hopefully this guide will give you some important information about the breed, as well as things you can expect during the adoption process, to help you decide if a greyhound dog is right for you.
The irony of the rabbit ears is not lost on poor "Joe" .....
Because of the gentle nature of the greyhound, many retired racers, like "Pio", go on to become successful therapy dogs.
Every year thousands of greyhounds are euthanized or otherwise disposed of at the end of their racing careers. In the United States, a greyhound will retire from racing generally before the age of 5 years. The average life expectancy of the greyhound dog is 12-14 years. If you do the math, you can see the problem. Many healthy young dogs are disposed of due to injury or their inability to produce profits at the tracks. In response to this tragic occurrence, many greyhound rescue groups have formed in the United States as well as the many other countries where greyhound racing takes place. There certainly are some ethical breeders and owners out there who will seek out retirement homes for their dogs or send them to rescue groups for adoption instead of the alternative. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. The burden of having a non-winner live out his or her life in a kennel is both an expensive and unrealistic proposition. Finding appropriate homes for the ones who are lucky enough to get adopted out is where the Retired Racing Greyhound Volunteer Group steps in.
"Orville" raced in Florida but was adopted out by a group in New Jersey.
You will find a greyhound rescue group in almost every state in the US, many of these groups in the 15 states where greyhound racing still takes place. There are more than 150 privately funded greyhound rescue and adoption groups across the country. Run by volunteers and funded by donations, they rescue and find homes for 12,000-13,000 greyhounds every year. You can search the internet for a group near you.
Young "Dasher" came to the United States from Ireland and was adopted out by a group in New Jersey. Dasher "smiles" - this showing of teeth is often confused with aggression in a greyhound but is actually quite the opposite- an expression of happiness. And in Dashers case, is often followed by a kiss!
So now you know the life expectancy of the breed; 12-14 years. How about the size? Most rescue groups hold "Meet & Greets" at local pet stores and some will even insist that you visit with their doggie volunteers before they will approve your application. This is because many dogs get returned for the simple reason of "I didn't know they were so BIG!". Many people confuse greyhounds with whippets which are quite smaller than a greyhound. Can you adopt a greyhound puppy? Probably not. Almost all of the greyhound dogs available for adoption are adults, 2-5 years old. Puppies who are not racing material rarely make it as far as the adoption groups. Are you physically able to walk your 60-90 lb. greyhound? A greyhound will walk quietly on a leash, in fact most are used to being "handled" at the tracks, but if he or she pulls are you capable of holding on and remaining in control? A greyhound is a "sight hound" and can spot prey up to a half mile away. Will the dog lunge? Maybe. Or maybe not. But a responsible greyhound owner is always aware of the potential and prepares for it by walking his or her dog with a sturdy leash, a firm grip, and an appropriate collar. Never a retractable leash. Greyhounds are very gentle and with proper training will walk effortlessly with you, and can even encourage YOU to live a healthier lifestyle!
Greyhound wearing a Martingale collar. Also known as a "Humane Choke Collar". A greyhounds neck is bigger than its head, enabling it to slip out or back out of a regular buckle collar.
You will almost always see a "Martingale" collar on a greyhound. So the first question you ask yourself before adopting a retired racer is : Am I physically able to care for this dog for the duration of its life? If the answer is yes, then read on:
Got Collars? You can get some beautiful martingales from a great Ebay store at : Joey Retriever Designs . And Joey donates collars to greyhound charities! Good dog, Joey!
A greyhound should eat from an elevated feeding dish to avoid stomach bloat. Search: Raised Feeder
So you can physically handle a greyhound - most healthy adults can. Despite their reputation as little rocket-ships with muzzles, the breed is actually very calm, gentle, and very prone to sleeping the day away, preferably on your bed. Do you need to let your greyhound run all the time? No. In fact, a greyhound needs no more exercise than any other large breed dog. A fenced-in yard where he or she can play is a "must " if you cannot walk your greyhound daily.
***A GREYHOUND CAN NEVER BE LET OFF ITS LEASH OUTSIDE OF AN ENCLOSED AREA***
This is "Rule #1" of greyhound ownership. Imagine you've got a big balloon, filled with air, and instead of tying the end off you simply "let it go"... that's exactly the same result you get with a loose greyhound....only the greyhound won't run out of steam quite as quickly as the balloon and the end result is often tragic. Can a greyhound live in an apartment? Yes. My first one did quite comfortably. Again, walking your greyhound, like any other large breed dog, is required if a fenced in yard is not available. Greyhounds are an exceptionally quiet breed and rarely bark. So if you can provide a safe place for your greyhound to live, along with a healthy amount of exercise, read on:
Rudy lives in a condo in the city....Rudy's mom takes him for several walks each day. Rudy thinks his mom is "greyt"!!
So you can physically handle a greyhound, are familiar and comfortable with the size, and a big dog is fine with the landlord. Or your house has a fenced in yard. Do you have other pets the dog must live with? Some greyhounds are "cat and little dog tolerant", but like any dog that has been encouraged to chase prey from the day it was born, you must be aware of the dogs natural instincts and take them into consideration. My first greyhound was cat tolerant; showed no interest at all. My current one? No way on the cat. In fact, even the hamster freaks him out, so "Franklin" has to live high up on a shelf for her own protection. Any reputable adoption group will ask you about your current pets and make sure you are given a suitable greyhound if they have one available. Do you have kids? Small children may not be able to understand the proper way to behave around ANY dog, let alone a greyhound. In this case, best to stay with the guppies until your little one can grasp the concept. Most greyhounds are gentle with children, but again, your children must be taught the proper way to behave with an animal to avoid any problems. So if your pet situation and kid situation lends itself to being greyhound favorable.... read on:
Franklin.... friend or snack?
The size and shape of a greyhound is quite unique! Many vendors offer "greyhound sized" apparel for your new dog. Shop for some greyhound apparel in Ebay stores!
So far you are physically able to handle a large breed dog, have an appropriate housing situation, OK on the kids or cats.... do you have enough time to commit to this dog? If you work 10 hours a day and have no one to take your dog out to do business while you're gone, forget it. Unless you like to clean up dog mess (and this applies to ANY dog) stick with a cat. A dog requires companionship- any dog. If you travel a lot and don't have a safe place to bring your greyhound when you travel or you can't afford a kennel, then take that into consideration as well. Any dog is an expense, and you must also take into consideration the cost of proper food and veterinary care. Most greyhounds eat an average of 4 cups of a quality dog food each day. Your greyhound will be neutered or spayed when you get him or her; are you ok with that? The cost of adopting a greyhound will very often include the cost of the spay or neuter in the adoption fee. I find this fee can vary, but expect to spend around $200.00.
*** NO REPUTABLE GROUP WILL ADOPT OUT A GREYHOUND THAT HAS NOT BEEN SPAYED OR NEUTERED....so don't even ask.***
Do you have allergies? Many people who have pet allergies are tolerant of greyhounds; they have thin fur and very little dander and many allergic people can tolerate this. Are you willing to put a coat on your greyhound in the winter? That same thin fur makes them very susceptible to the cold.
"Bus"... a very good (and tolerant!) dog. Bus was my constant companion, adopted at age 3 and lived until almost 14 years of age.
Are you willing to let the dog live in your house, as a companion, not in the yard as a "toy" for the kids? Greyhounds must live indoors.
A greyhound will need an XL sized dog bed to sleep comfortably. Shop for XL Dog Beds
Is it ok if you adopt the dog for your 15 year old son or daughter? No. Only adults may adopt a greyhound. Have you ever adopted a dog from a shelter or rescue group and returned it? What happened to your last pet? How long will your greyhound be left alone during the day? Are all of your family members in favor of adopting this dog? These are just some the questions you will find on an adoption application. Any reputable group will perform a vet check on a potential adopter. This is not to interrogate or intimidate the adopter, just to ensure the safety of the dog. Remember: the only person standing between the greyhound and the person of "ill intent" is the volunteer who has given up countless hours of their time to ensure the safety of the dog, and they take that job very seriously. That same volunteer also makes sure that you don't find yourself in a situation where you adopt a dog that you can't care for, so please answer the questions honestly and your rescue volunteer will help you discover whether or not a retired racer is for you! And if you find that a greyhound won't fit your lifestyle at the moment you can always find out why and make adjustments in the future.
Greyhounds come in all sorts of colors. Very few are actually gray. An example of black, red, and brindle.
Still interested? Many excellent books are available to help the new greyhound owner. Check these out:
Retired Racing Greyhounds for Dummies by Lee Livinghood : Find
These are just some of the basics you should consider before adopting a retired racing greyhound. After you get one? Well, that's another story, and no two stories are alike. Although there is one thing they all seem to have in common- a happy ending, for the retired racer and for the person who is lucky enough to have one as a new best friend.
"Mac" ... a very happy ending.