Complete Guide To The Greyhound: Care, Feeding, Grooming and More

The venerable Greyhound is as old as written history. Companions to the pharaohs, they were depicted in ancient art and revered for their elegance, grace and athleticism. Today, these independent dogs are gentle, mellow souls looking for a sophisticated friend.

As a veterinarian with over 20 years experience, the vast majority of the Greyhounds I’ve seen in my career were retired or failed racers from the track. Thankfully, these days, my new Greyhound patients are from responsible breeders and have never been anywhere but in someone’s home.

How Big Can Greyhounds Get?

Male28-30″ at the shoulder65-70 lbs
Female27-28″ at the shoulder60-65 lbs

What Coat Colors Do Greyhounds Have?

Their smooth, short coat comes in 18 recognized hues, including:

BlackWhiteFawnDark Red
BlueBlue BrindleFawn BrindleLight Brindle
Black BrindleDark BrindleRed BrindleRed and White
White and BrindleBrindleLight Red FawnWhite and Brindle Tick

Kaleidoscope-like brindle coats are among the most popular, but all colors and markings are equally beautiful and AKC-accepted.

The Greyhound’s soft dark eyes are round and spirited. Ears are small and folded back but pricked when the dog is excited. Tails are long, fine and thin, tapering into a gentle curve.

Greyhounds have distinctive features as adults that set them apart from other breeds, but immature dogs may be mistaken for the smaller Whippet.

What Is The Personality Of A Greyhound?

Greyhounds need the attention of a committed owner — they just don’t know it. Self-reliant but not aloof, they were bred to think for themselves as hunters or racers and need a good role model to be happy in a human world.

They have tremendous potential as companions, but only with training. If socialized early, they’re a good fit for most families but need to grow up around kids to be comfortable with them. Consider a puppy versus a rescue if you have young children.

Greyhounds need daily exercise, and they can be tireless, but a long walk in the city or country is a satisfying as structured activities — they’re not demanding. Rarely aggressive and with the softest among canine voices, they’re well-suited for apartment living.

What Kind of Grooming Do Greyhounds Need?

If you’re short on time to devote to grooming, you’re in luck — the Greyhound’s short smooth coat requires little attention. Weekly brushing with a soft brush or hound glove tames their minimal shedding and removes dirt and debris without bathing. Their coats are so short that an occasional rubdown with a wet cloth cleanse their skins and helps them feel refreshed.

Like other breeds, Greyhounds need regular ear and nail care. Wipe their ears out monthly with a pH-balanced solution — ear wipes are a convenient product.

If they’re walked regularly, their nails may stay naturally trim, but their delicate feet will suffer if they get too long. Greyhounds can be sensitive about having their toes handled, so get them used to it as puppies. If you adopt an older dog that’s squeamish about nail clippers, file them weekly with an emery board while watching a movie — it’s quiet and pain-free.

How Much Exercise Does A Greyhound Need?

Greyhounds have generally two speeds: all-out sprinting and laying on the couch.

Greyhounds were born to run and they have a tremendous prey drive. When you do allow your Greyhound to run all-out it needs to be in a safe enclosed space where there isn’t anything they can chase down. Some Greyhounds can get into trouble by chasing animals smaller than them.

Lure coursing is a great way to give your Greyhound a controlled environment to both exercise the way they need to as well as satisfying that prey drive.

That being said, expect your Greyhound to want to share both your couch and your bed. They love soft surfaces and need to stretch out when they sleep.

Two Greyhounds lure coursing competition

What Kind of Dog Food Is Good For A Greyhound?

Greyhounds don’t have any specific nutritional requirements. Make sure you feed them based on their lean body mass. I have definitely seen overweight Greyhounds who are simply getting too many calories.

Best Adult Food For Greyhounds:

Please don’t listen to the folks at the pet store trying to convince you to buy a grain-free diet for your dog. There’s zero science behind that and vets are actually seeing diseases now related to feeding grain-free foods.

How Long Does A Greyhound Live?

10-13 years

What Health Problems Can Greyhounds Have?

Greyhounds are a very hardy breed. There have been a few conditions that I’ve seen in my adult Greyhounds that I think owners should be aware of:

  • Enamel Hypoplasia (usually only if they were raised as a racing dog which is less frequent these days)
  • Bloat/GDV
  • Renal Disease

Greyhounds are definitely a breed that requires daily teeth brushing. Check this article for how to keep your Greyhound’s teeth as healthy as possible.

Are Greyhounds more sensitive to anesthesia than other breeds? The very lean ones are. This has to do with how dogs metabolize anesthetic drugs. It can be tricky to keep a dog this lean and large under a proper amount of anesthesia without going too deep.

You’ll want to make sure that your veterinarian is comfortable and experienced with dogs such as these before doing any procedure requiring anesthesia. Thankfully most of the drugs used today in veterinary anesthesia are short-acting and are far, far safer than drugs used even 10 years ago.

Where Can I Find a Greyhound?

Breeder Referral From The Greyhound Club of America

AKC Puppy Page

Greyhounds from breeders are still relatively uncommon. I’ve seen one Greyhound puppy in my career sadly. The Greyhounds I see are usually retired racers.

There are still rescues bringing Greyhounds from a racing track environment or other homes where they didn’t work out. The national effort is coordinated through the Greyhound Club of America here.

Search online for a local breed club or possible a regional Greyhound Rescue for a good recommendation.

Where Can I Find Out More About Greyhounds?

Greyhound Club of America

AKC Breed Page

Interesting Facts About Greyhounds

Greyhounds aren’t as popular as other dogs, ranking just on the AKC’s most popular list. So, let’s find out more about this loving, underappreciated breed.

• Yeah, They’re Fast

Greyhounds are the world’s fastest dogs, clocking at 45 mph. Fanta, a top racer, holds the unofficial speed record at 50.5 mph.

Featured as hood ornaments on Lincoln Motor Company cars from 1927 to 1936, they’re a quintessential symbol of speed. If you’re not an athlete, however, don’t worry. Greyhounds also have the affectionate nickname, “World’s Fastest Couch Potato,” for enjoying TV as much as a good run.

• They Can Jump, Too

Feather, a two-year-old female greyhound broke the record for the highest high jump in 2017. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, she reached 75.5 inches, or 5.5 feet — more than the height of an average woman.

• Greyhounds Have Eyes Behind Their Heads

Bred to hunt rabbit, Greyhounds are sighthounds — they use their eyes, not their noses, to find their quarry. They have amazing eyesight and can see prey over a half-mile away. The shape of their head and the placement of their eyes gives them a 270-degree field of vision, nearly twice that of a human and just 90 degrees short of a full circle.

• They’re Movie Stars

Greyhounds have had several supporting roles in Hollywood blockbusters. In the 1997 Matt Damon drama, Good Will Hunting, Minnie Driver’s character, Skylar, placed a winning bet at a Greyhound race.

Greyhounds were characters’ favorite sidekicks in other films, including Charlie Wilson’s War and Gordon-Levitt’s 50/50. On the animated sitcom The Simpsons, the family dog is a Greyhound called Santa’s Little Helper.

• Greyhounds Are Literally Biblical

The greyhound is the only dog mentioned in the Bible by name. In the New King James Version, the Book of Proverbs says, “There be three things which go well, yea, four are comely in going: A lion which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away for any; A greyhound; an he goat also; and a king, against whom there is no rising up.”

• Choose Their Collars Carefully

The Greyhounds neck is so lithe, standard collars slip right over their heads. Thick, extra-wide models are ideal, but a harness may be safer.

• They’ve Been Owned By Presidents

Two former US presidents were proud Greyhound owners. George Washington’s Greyhound was named Cornwallis, a cheeky reference to the British general he defeated during the Revolutionary War. And Rutherford B Hayes, America’s 16th president shared the White House with a Greyhound named Grim.

• Greyhounds May Not be Popular, But They Should Be

The popularity of dogs waxes and wanes. Greyhounds were once among the country’s most desirable breeds, but interest declined in recent decades, in part because of their association with racing. Well-intentioned people adopted them in droves once they learned that racing dogs are often euthanized once their careers are over for lack of good homes.

But many were ill-prepared to work with adult dogs used to racetrack life and were disillusioned that they weren’t the pets they hoped for. Adoption centers now screen rescues, working with challenging animals until they find them the perfect families.

As more people move into cities for convenience, they’re finding that breeds comfortable in suburbs don’t always like the busy life. But the right low-maintenance Greyhound is an excellent companion for city dwellers, so soon, this underappreciated breed may yet again achieve the popularity it deserves.