The derivation of the term greyhound is unknown, but has nothing to do with color. One possibility is that it is from old English gre-hundr, meaning dog hunter or high order of rank. Others believe it is derived from the Saxon word 'greu', which means 'running dog'. It was a prized possession of kings for thousands of years because not only was the greyhound an efficient hunter but a gentle and affectionate companion. Over the centuries, greyhounds have traveled with explorers and generals, adorned the suites of kings and queens, appeared in fine art and literature, and been the focus of major industries in both Europe and the United States.
Greyhounds can reach 40 mph in just five steps - He is a sighthound, which means he will be interested in anything he can see up to half a mile away and, whose instinct has been enhanced by his racing training. This means that owning a greyhound brings with it a special responsibility. But as most greyhound people will tell you, the advantages of sharing your life with one of these wonderful dogs far outweigh any disadvantages.
Greyhounds generally stand between approximately 22" - 31" at the shoulder and have a short, smooth coat of any colour ranging from white to black or blue to fawn, many have mixed markings of different colours and others are brindle.
A Greyhound is a sight hound believed to be descended from southern wolf strains and related to Afghans , Salukis and other sight hounds. As hunters they work cooperatively with other hounds and develop strategies of pursuit spontaneously during the chase. This characteristic can be seen in the independent behavior frequently exhibited by even the best trained show Greyhounds in obedience competitions.
Animal anthropologists generally agree that the Greyhound type dog is one of the seminal canine breeds from which virtually all domestic dogs descend. They can be traced back over 8,000 years to early cave drawings and decorative artifacts.
The distinguishable modern greyhounds are descendants of an ancient identifiable breed that goes back to the Egyptians and Celts. The Egyptians worshipped greyhounds as a god and frequently showed them on murals in the tombs of kings.
The greyhound is the oldest known breed of dog and has no man-made faults - the origin of the greyhound is deeply rooted in ancient history and murals and paintings of dogs strikingly similar to today's greyhound existed over 4,000 years ago.
For centuries, greyhounds have been bred to hunt by outrunning their prey. They are the fastest breed of dog and their speed is breathtaking. Years of being bred for speed have given them the body of an athlete and the grace of a dancer. Agressiveness was gradually eliminated, since dogs unknown to each other hunted together. This created a serene, mannerly breed. The need to think fast enough to avoid accidents when running has given them high intelligence.
Legend has it that Cleopatra had coursing greyhounds, and they are the goddess Diana's hunting hounds.
Greyhounds were brought to America in the 1800's to help farmers control the jackrabbit population and were used by the U.S. Calvary to assist scouts. General George Custer reportedly traveled with a score of greyhounds. Modern history includes many famous greyhound owners including Frederick the Great, Prince Albert, General Von Steuben and General George Custer.
It is documented that the greyhound arrived in England over 3,500 years ago. Their link with nobility was established in 1014 when King Canute enacted the Forest Laws, which stated that only noblemen could own and hunt with greyhounds. The Forest Laws were abolished in the 1500's by Queen Elizabeth I who later initiated the first formal rules of greyhound coursing (the pursuit of hares), thus officially inaugurating the "Sport of Queens".
The greyhound is the only canine mentioned in the Holy Scripture (Proverbs 30: 29-31)
The greyhound was Henry VIII's favourite breed of dog.
It was once illegal for anyone other than nobility to own a greyhound and in old England "You could tell a gentleman by his horses and his greyhounds." Old paintings and tapestries showing hunting feasts frequently included greyhounds.
The English Waterloo Cup was one of the oldest open field greyhound coursing events in the world dating back to the 19th century. 'Master McGrath' who was one of the most famous winners of the Cup travelled by private train for an audience with Queen Victoria who was a devoted dog lover.
The Arabs so admired the physical attributes and speed of the greyhound that it was the only dog permitted to share their tents and ride atop their camels. In early Arabian culture, the birth of a greyhound ranked second only in importance to the birth of a son.
Greyhounds are one of the longest living of the larger breed of dogs and can live to be 13 or 14 years old but many retire from racing between 2 and 4 years of age.
Greyhounds 'live to run and run to live' - The modern image of the breed has changed dramatically since greyhound track racing began in the UK in 1926. Each year, 10,000 - 12,000 greyhounds are bred in Britain , and approximately 8,000 dogs are imported from Eire to race on British tracks. This results in an annual 'fall-out' of approximately 10,000 dogs aged between 2 and 5 years, comprising retired racing dogs and younger dogs who never 'made the grade'.
Originally hunting dogs because of their speed, greyhounds are born to run. To run and hunt by sight is the fulfillment of a greyhound's basic instinct. Greyhounds by nature are gentle and have always had a strong relationship with humans. The breeding and training of greyhounds is an extension of the human/animal relationship established thousands of years ago.
Greyhounds are generally bred by professional breeders who look for speed, endurance and even temperament. Most breeders pay close attention to the physical soundness and emotional disposition of the puppies and, as a result, hereditary, physical and temperament problems have been avoided in the breed.
A fit greyhound usually enjoys donning a racing jacket and muzzle to compete on the track. He is happier still to be able to run free in safe open countryside but never happier than when, after his daily exrcise, he can just relax on the settee.
Although they have exceptionally keen eyesight, Greyhounds also have keen hearing and sense of smell.
Retired racing dogs have been trained to chase lures, usually mechanical but sometimes live. They are NOT vicious predators as some believe, but chase things that move by nature. It is the greyhound's nature to run and can sprint up to 40 miles an hour for very short periods. Some of them love to run; others are simply not interested after they retire.
In spite of their early training for the race track greyhounds love people, in fact more than most breeds and tend to be quite sociable. They have been handled a great deal during their early years by dog walkers, trainers, veterinarians and others. Many handlers are women who bring their children to work so many dogs have mixed with children of all ages.
Greyhounds tend to be very intelligent dogs, they are the fastest dogs around but don't brag about it, have a healthy disposition being of natural breeding, they need very little exercise and although they like a good walk, just two twenty minutes walks a day are sufficient.
Generally greyhounds are quizzical, sometimes shy, very sensitive and surprisingly gentle. They possess superior intelligence and can exhibit a quiet but surprising independence. This is just the greyhound temperament and is not an animal whose spirit has been broken by their training or racing experience.
Greyhounds are bred for temperament as well as speed so are sweet natured, very affectionate and love children. They're always unfailingly sweet and polite, will look you in the eye when you talk to them and will be forever thankful to you for saving their lives!
Greyhounds have a lovely gentle temperament, middle aged dogs are ideal for active elderly persons as they tend to be couch potatoes, quiet around the house, don't get under your feet but may drag you into the pub as you walk past the door because they are very sociable creatures.
Greyhounds have no fat layer on their bodies which makes them sensitive to the cold or rain. If outside for more than a short time in bad weather they should be protected with a coat.
Greyhounds don't slobber, eat about the same amount of food as a labrador, have short coats, shed very little hair and don't smell like other dogs.