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rec.pets.dogs: Greyhounds Breed-FAQ


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Archive-name: dogs-faq/breeds/greyhounds
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Last-modified: 31 Dec 1997

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                                 Greyhounds
                                      
Authors

     * Originally written by Jack Dean, 18 June 1992.
     * Revisions and updates from Sharon Toolan, 6 January 1993.
       [toolan@stsci.edu]
     * Additional material from Stacy Pober, 30 April 1993
       [spober@manvax.cc.mancol.edu]
     * Additional material from Robert Brady, 3 August 1994
     * Additional material from Andrew Shaindlin, 5 March 1995
       [andrew_shaindlin@brown.edu]
     * Further updates in July, August, September 1995 by CTM.
       
   The faq is currently edited and maintained by Cindy Tittle Moore who
   holds the Copyright (1995) on this version.
   
   (July 1995) It is with sorrow that I note the passing of Robert Brady,
   who devoted so much of his time and energy to Greyhound rescue. He is
   missed by many.
     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
   Table of Contents
     * Description
     * Recognized
     * History
     * Characteristics and Temperament
     * Frequently Asked Questions
     * Special Medical Problems
          + Medical sensitivities
          + Bloat
          + Bone Cancer
          + Hygroma
          + Hypothyroidism
     * References
          + Books
          + Videos
          + Magazines
          + Online Resources
          + Breed Rescue Organizations
          + Breeders
          + Breed Clubs
          + Additional Resources
       
     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
Description

   For thousands of years Greyhounds have been bred to hunt by outrunning
   their prey. They were not intended to be solitary hunters, but to work
   with other dogs. Switching from hunting to racing has kept this aspect
   of their personality very much alive. The fastest breed of dog,
   Greyhounds can reach a top speed of 45 miles per hour, and can average
   more than 30 miles per hour for distances up to one mile. Selective
   breeding has given the Greyhound an athlete's body with the grace of a
   dancer. At the same time, the need to anticipate the evasive maneuvers
   of their prey has endowed the Greyhound with a high degree of
   intelligence.
   
   The Greyhound has a long neck and head, with a barely noticeable stop,
   or bridge to his nose. The ears are small and usually folded flat back
   against the neck. The ears may stand semi- or fully erect when the
   Greyhound is attentive. This is called a "rose ear."
   
   The back is long and muscular with an arch over the loin. The deep
   chest and narrow waist give the Greyhound its distinctive silhouette.
   The legs are long and powerful. The feet are small and compact, with
   well knuckled toes. The tail is long and curved.
   
   The coat of a Greyhound is short and smooth, and is the result of
   crossing Greyhounds with Bulldogs in the mid-1700s. Greyhounds come in
   an endless variety of colors, including white, fawn (tan), cream, red
   (rust), black, blue (grey), many shades of brindle, and with patches
   of these colors on white. There is virtually no body fat. In general,
   Greyhounds are very clean and do not require a lot of grooming.
   
   A show Greyhound typically stands between 26 and 30 inches and the
   shoulder, and weighs 60 to 85 pounds. Bitches average around 10 to 15
   pounds less than dogs. The average lifespan is twelve to fourteen
   years. Track Greyhounds are often between 25 and 29 inches and 50 to
   80 pounds. The AKC standard specifies 65-70lbs for males, 60-65 for
   females as ideal.
   
   The Greyhound is a quiet and docile animal when not racing. While they
   can be somewhat aloof in the presence of strangers, more often they
   are generally friendly to most people. They are very affectionate
   toward those they know and trust.
     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
Recognized

   The Greyhound is recognized by all major kennel clubs around the
   world, as well as by various national racing clubs such as the
   National Greyhound Association (NGA) and the American Greyhound
   Council.
     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
History

   Greyhounds are one of the oldest breeds of dogs, and appear in art and
   literature throughout history. In ancient Egypt, Greyhounds were
   mummified and buried along with their owners, and tombs were often
   decorated with Greyhound figures. A hieroglyph of a dog very much
   resembling the modern breeds Greyhound, Saluki, and Sloughi can be
   found in the writings of ancient Egypt. Alexander the Great had a
   Greyhound named Peritas. The Greyhound is mentioned in the Old
   Testament (Proverbs 30:29-31), Homer (_Odyssey_, where the only one to
   recognize Odysseus upon his return was his Greyhound, Argus), Chaucer
   (_The Canterbury Tales_), and Shakespeare (_Henry V_ and _Merry Wives
   of Windsor_). Greek and Roman gods and goddesses were often portrayed
   with Greyhounds.
   
   As Clarke, in _The Greyhound_ states:
   
     But, ancient as the Greyhound is, it would be stretching the truth
     to claim that the Arabian hounds depicted on the ancestral tombs of
     ancient Egyptians were identical to the Greyhounds we know today.
     In their conformation, in their grace and pace, in the poetry of
     their motion, yes -- but not in the style of coat they wore! [...]
     In fact, there is reason to believe that the Arabian Greyhound may
     well have resembled a Saluki -- but for all, still a dog of the
     Greyhound family.
     
   There are many differing explanations for the origin of the term
   Greyhound. One writer suggests that the original Greyhound stock was
   mostly grey in color. Another says the term derives from the Old
   English "grei," meaning "dog," and "hundr," meaning "hunter." Another
   explanation is that it is derived from "gre" or "gradus," meaning
   "first rank among dogs." Finally, it has been suggested that the term
   derives from Greekhound, since the hound reached England through the
   Greeks.
   
   Greyhounds have long been associated with royalty. In fact, from the
   11th to the 14th century, English law decreed that no "mean person"
   was allowed to keep a Greyhound. Penalty for breaking this law was
   death!
     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
Characteristics and Temperament

   Greyhounds have a very gentle and quiet disposition. They are very
   pack oriented dogs and will quickly adopt human masters into their
   "pack." To allow different Greyhounds to hunt and race together,
   aggressiveness towards other dogs and people has been nearly
   eliminated from the breed. Many do retain a strong prey drive (which
   is a compnent to their racing) and are sometimes unsuitable for houses
   with other small pets such as cats or rabbits. Their sensitivity and
   intelligence make them quick learners, and good candidates for
   obedience training.
   
   Greyhounds are often tolerant of children, especially if they have
   been raised with them. Being non-aggressive, a Greyhound will
   generally walk away from a worrisome child, rather than growl or snap.
   However, even the gentle Greyhound has its limits, and should not be
   subjected to continuous harassment.
   
   Although Greyhounds are the fastest breed of dog, they achieve their
   incredible speed in one all out sprint, and do not have a lot of
   endurance. A Greyhound is quite content to be a "couch potato" and
   spend most of the day sleeping. Since they don't have a lot of
   endurance, a Greyhound actually requires less exercise time than most
   dogs.
   
   Greyhounds are the prototypical sighthound, a group of hounds that
   pursue their prey by sight rather than scent. As with all sighthounds,
   Greyhounds have a very strongly developed chase instinct. In spite of
   this, it is possible for Greyhounds to peacefully coexist with other
   pets, including cats, dogs, and even rabbits. Cohabitation will be
   easier if the other pets do not run away. Even after you've trained
   the Greyhound to not chase the family indoor cat, this does not mean
   that it won't chase the neighbor's cat, or even the family cat
   outdoors.
     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
Frequently Asked Questions

   _Do Greyhounds shed a lot?_
   
     It seems to vary a lot from dog to dog. Some will shed an
     appreciable amount, others hardly at all. "Appreciable" means that
     when you use a curry comb, you can get loose hair off the dog.
     There is some thought (and anectodal evidence) that lighter colored
     Greyhounds shed more than dark ones do! However, bear in mind that
     even a so-called "heavily shedding" Greyhound would shed a lot less
     than say, a Dalmatian or a German Shepherd Dog.
     
   _I've heard they aren't good with children. Is this true?_
   
     Many breed description books will list the Greyhound as being too
     "highstrung" to tolerate children. This is false. Most Greyhounds
     have a very calm disposition, and many of them are good with
     children, especially if they are raised around well-mannered
     children.
     
     In general, any dog, of any breed, that has not been raised around
     children or has an unknown background, must be watched carefully.
     In any case, all interaction between dogs and children, no matter
     how trustworthy either are, should be supervised by an adult.
     
   _Don't they need a lot of exercise?_
   
     They need less exercise than you would think. Greyhounds are
     primarily a sprinting breed, rather than an endurance one. They are
     happy with several good runs a week -- and will lie on your couch
     all the rest of the time!
     
   _What are the differences between track (NGA) and show (AKC)
   Greyhounds?_
   
     In general, track Greyhounds are a little smaller (shorter and less
     heavy) than the show ones. Track Greyhounds are more heavily
     muscled in the rear and their necks and heads are not as slenderly
     exaggerated as the show Greyhounds' are. Those are the physical
     differences.
     
     There tend to be some behavioral differences, but these are due to
     the upbringing that each receive rather than actual differences.
     It's thought that there are some health differences. Track
     Greyhounds are thought to live longer (because ofsuperior
     cardio-vascular condition); on the other hand they are thought to
     be more prone to bone cancer, possibly as a result of extra stress
     from heavy racing. However, these are solely speculation.
     
   _Why do I see many people muzzling their Greyhounds at get-togethers?_
   
     Their racing instinct is based on a well-developed prey drive. When
     you have a group of greyhounds together, especially strange ones,
     it is advisable to muzzle them to prevent accidental bites.
     Greyhounds are not dog aggressive, but when excited may nip at
     others.
     
     Don't let the muzzles lull you into a false sense of security. You
     must still monitor a group of muzzled Greyhounds since it's
     possible to catch ears through a muzzle and so on.
     
     Do note that muzzling is not always required; it's simply a
     sensible precaution if you are dealing with a large group of
     Greyhounds.
     
   _Can Greyhounds swim?_
   
     Many people believe that because of their structure and low body
     fat that they cannot swim. This is untrue. Some Greyhounds are
     excellent swimmers and others are not. Supervise your Greyhound's
     entry into water until you are certain he can swim.
     
     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
Special Medical Problems

  Medical sensitivities
  
   Greyhounds' livers metabolize toxins out of their bloodstream more
   slowly than other dogs of comparable size, so it is possible for
   harmful concentrations of these toxins to develop. Also, the breed has
   a very low percentage of body fat in proportion to its size. There is,
   on the average, only 16% fat in a Greyhound's body weight versus about
   35% fat in body weight for a comparably sized dog of another breed.
   
   Greyhounds are very sensitive to certain medications, including
   anesthesia. Before allowing your Greyhound to undergo any surgery,
   make sure that your vet is aware of the special anesthesia
   requirements for Greyhounds. In particular, barbituates are to be
   avoided. Do not be afraid to ask questions of your vet; not all are
   aware of a Greyhound's special anesthesia requirements. Rodger I.
   Barr, DVM, has written an article on the safe method of anesthesia for
   sighthounds. For further information on the use of anesthesia in
   Greyhounds, contact the Small Animal Teaching Hospital of Colorado
   State University at Fort Collins, Colorado (303/484-9154).
   
   Flea collars, and long lasting pesticides such as Hartz Blockade, can
   also be harmful or even fatal to Greyhound. Any product which releases
   flea killing chemicals into the bloodstream of the dog should be
   avoided, as should those applied monthly to the length of the dog's
   spine or a spot on the base of the dog's neck (i.e., Rabon, Bayon,
   ProSpot, Ex-Spot, etc.)
   
   Products containing Pyrethrins are generally safe to use on
   Greyhounds, and given their very short coat, flea combs are especially
   effective. Other safe products are Rotenone and d-Limonene. The
   Rotenone is often sold in the gardening sections of feed stores, but
   it is organic and directions for treating pets for fleas are included
   in the "approved uses". Several companies make d-Limonene dips, sprays
   and shampoos. D-Limonene is derived from citrus fruits and is a fairly
   safe organic pesticide. Additionally, the human shampoo Pert Plus
   kills fleas on the dogs, although it has little or no residual effect.
   Lather, wait a few minutes, and then rinse.
   
   Care also needs to be taken when deworming a Greyhound, as they are
   extremely sensitive to anything with an organophosphate base.
   
   Some relatively safe choices for worming Greyhounds: For hookworm or
   roundworm infestations: pyrantel pamoate. This is the active
   ingredient in these non-prescription wormers: Evict, Nemex, Nemex2;
   and in the prescription wormer Strongid-T. For tapeworm: Droncit
   tablets. Droncit injections are also effective, but some dogs find
   them very painful. For whipworms, hookworms and tapeworms: Panacur.
   However, keep in mind that adverse reactions can happen with any
   individual animal to any particular medication.
   
  Bloat
  
   As with other deep chested breeds, Greyhounds are prone to bloat, or
   torsion. Bloat is a life threating disease where the stomach flips
   over. Immediate medical attention is required to avoid death.
   Preventive measures include avoiding exercise just before and for an
   hour or two after eating; avoiding ingestion of large amounts of water
   immediately after eating dry kibble.
   
   Symptoms include distended abdomen, repeated unproductive vomiting,
   pacing and restlessness. It can kill quickly, an immediate trip to the
   vet is in order. You may wish to discuss bloat with your vet, to set
   up in advance what to do should it happen to your dog. Your vet may
   also suggest other things you can do while driving to the vet's for
   emergency care to improve your dog's chances for survival.
   
  Considerations for the ex-racer
  
   Because racing Greyhounds are kenneled with a large number of other
   dogs in a highly transient population, you will probably have to make
   sure your dog is checked for worms and tick-borne diseases such as
   Ehrlichia and Babesia.
   
   A greyhound in racing condition will probably lose muscle and put on
   some extra fat once retired. While they should not become overweight,
   few dogs remain at racing weight, often gaining about 5 pounds in
   their retirement. This is to be expected.
   
  Bone Cancer
  
   It's not actually known whether Greyhounds are actually more
   predisposed toward bone cancer than other breeds, but there are enough
   anecdotal stories to warrant keeping an eye on your Greyhound for
   this, especially a former racer. The first symptoms involve lameness
   in the leg.
   
  Hygroma
  
   This is common in large dogs especially over bony prominences like
   elbows. It is usually seen in dogs housed on hard flooring. A hygroma
   is a fluid-filled bursa which forms to protect the skin from pressure
   necrosis from the bone underneath. They can get inflamed or even
   ulcerate. They tend to look more alarming than they are; your vet can
   advise you of the best course to take.
   
  Hypothyroidism
  
   Many Greyhounds appear to have low-normal levels of thyroid. Symptoms
   of hypothyroidism include: hair loss (on rear and neck, usually
   bilateral and typically through thinning), darkening or thekening of
   the skin, and lethargy. Sometimes irritableness and/or wheezing are
   indicators. Untreated, hypothyroidism can have serious long term
   effects.
     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
References

  Books
  
   Barnes, J., ed. _Complete Book of Greyhounds_. Howell Book House,
   1994.
   
     Includes a good general overview of GH nutrition.
     
   Blythe, L., Gannon, J., Craig, A.M. _Care of the Racing Greyhound_.
   American Greyhound Council, 1994.
   
     This is probably the most comprehensive, concise reference on GH
     nutrition.
     
   Branigan, Cynthia A. _Adopting the Racing Greyhound_. Howell Book
   House, 1992.
   
     Invaluable for those who have adopted former racers, or who are
     contemplating doing so.
     
   Burnham, Patricia Gail. _Playtraining Your Dog_. St. Martins Press
   
     This is not about Greyhounds _per se_. It is an obedience training
     book written by a Greyhound breeder and all but two pages of the
     many lovely illustrations are photographs of Greyhounds. It covers
     basic obedience (AKC) through the Utility Dog exercises.
     
   Clarke, H. Edwards. _The Greyhound_. Popular Dogs Publishing Co., Ltd.
   Revised by Charles Blanning.
   
     This has a little bit of everything - history of the breed,
     coursing, racing, showing and kennel management. Though it is not
     written with pet owners in mind, it has lots of interesting
     information.
     
   Clarke, H. Edwards. _The Modern Greyhound_. London, Hutchinson's
   Library of Sport and Pastimes.
   
     Mostly coursing and racing stuff. An oldie but a goodie. Almost
     every book by Clarke is an interesting read.
     
   Genders, Roy. _The Encyclopaedia of Greyhound Racing: A Complete
   History of the Sport_. London, Pelham Books, 1981.
   
   Kohnke J. _Veterinary Advice for Greyhound Owners_. Ringpress, 1993.
   
     This is in a Q&A format, mostly for working dogs.
     
   Mueller, Georgiana. _How to Raise and Train a Greyhound_. TFH
   Publishing.
   
     This is one of those slender paperbacks of which two-thirds is
     generic dog care information. However, the one-third which is
     written by Ms. Mueller is good information and the photos are quite
     nice.
     
  Videos
  
   The Gannon video from the NGA called : "Soundness Examination of the
   Racing Greyhound"
   
   An AKC video - "Greyhound"
   
  Magazines
  
   _Celebrating Greyhounds: The Magazine_
   Published quarterly by The Greyhound Project, Inc., Joan Dillon, PO
   Box 173, Holbrook, MA 02343 Topics include information on behavior,
   health and veterinary issues, legal issues, care and feeding, safety,
   first aid, activities for you and your greyhound, crafts, events, book
   and product information and reviews, ads for greyhound paraphernalia,
   humor and stories of interest to greyhound lovers. _Greyhound Gazette_
   Published by the CSRA Greyhound Adoption, 415 Brookside Drive,
   Augusta, GA 30904-4597.
   
   _Greyhound Network News_
   Published by Joan Eidinger, PO Box 44272, Phoenix, AZ 85064-4272.
   
     A quarterly newsletter of general information with state by state
     and international news items.
     
   _Greyhounds Today_
   Jeanette Steiner, Editor/Publisher, 936 Cornwall Ave., Waterloo, IA
   50702.
   
     Published bimonthly by and for people who love Greyhounds.
     
   _National Greyhound Review_
   National Greyhound Association, PO Box 543, Abilene, KS 67410.
   
     Official publication of the NGA.
     
   _Sighthound Review_
   P.O. Box 30430, Santa Barbara, CA 93130; 805-966-7270
   
     This lovely slick magazine deals not only with Greyhounds but with
     all the Sighthound breeds. Mostly show-oriented.
     
  Online Resources
  
   There is a mailing list for those interested in Greyhounds. Send email
   to listserv@apple.ease.lsoft.com with no/any subject line and
   subscribe greyhound-L yourfirstname yourlastname. Do not add your
   email address. A digest version is avilable, please read the
   information you get upon subscribing.
   
   If you have access to the Web, there are several URL's of interest:
     * This FAQ:
       http://www.k9web.com/dog-faqs/breeds/greyhounds.html
     * Extensive Greyhound Information:
       http://delta1.org/~greyhound/
     * _A Breed Apart_, a Web based newsletter
       http://www.abap.org/
     * Lurecoursing
       http://www.clark.net/pub/bdalzell/lureinfo.html
       
  Breed Rescue Organizations
  
   There are hundreds of adoption agencies across the U.S., Canada and
   the U.K. Some are large, have 800 numbers and have agreements with
   airlines. Some are small having maybe only two or three people
   involved with the group. All depend on volunteers to make the program
   work.
   
   Even if you cannot be actively and directly involved in Greyhound
   adoption and rescue, you and your Greyhound can be an ambassador for
   the rescue and adoption programs. Walking your dog in public can be
   one of the simplest and most direct outreach programs to inform the
   American public of the Greyhounds that need homes and letting the
   public meet, often for the first time, a live Greyhound. Many
   Americans have never met a Greyhound and are unaware of what wonderful
   and loving pets they make. Knowing facts about Greyhounds, their
   history and racing will make you a better ambassador for Greyhounds
   and the rescue and adoption movement. Many adoption agencies can
   always use a monetary donation. Some of the more well known ones
   follow; a more complete list can be obtained via email request to
   Lynda Adame (adame@venice.dh.trw.com).
   
   _Greyhound Pets of America_
   1-800-FON-1GPA
   
   _Greyhound Friends_
   167 Saddle Hill Road
   Hopkinton, MA 01748
   (508) 435-5969
   
   _Greyhound Club of America Greyhound Rescue_
   Cheryl Reynolds
   4280 Carpenteria Ave.
   Carpenteria, CA 93013
   (805) 684-4914
   
   _National Greyhound Adoption Network_
   WESTERN COORDINATOR
   Susan Netboy
   Friends for Life and Northern California Sighthound Rescue
   Five Ranch Road
   Woodside, CA 94062
   (415)851-7812
   
   MIDWESTERN COORDINATORS
   Ellen Stokal
   REGAP of Waterloo and Greyhound Rescue and Adoption
   P.O. Box 7044
   Villa Park, IL 60181
   (708) 495-0074
   
   Jacquie Schnepf
   REGAP of Waterloo
   All Pets Animal Clinic
   3257 West 4th Street
   Waterloo IA 50701
   (319) 235-0842
   
   NORTH AND SOUTHEASTERN COORDINATOR
   Cynthia Branigan
   Make Peace With Animals
   P.O. Box 488
   New Hope, PA 18938
   Phone: 215-862-0605
   Fax: 215-862-2733
   
   In the UK: _National Rescue for Homeless Greyhounds_
   7a Beaverbrook Avenue
   Culcheth
   Warrington WA3 5HT
   UK
   Tel: (01925) 765337
   
  Breeders
  
   Contact the Greyhound Club of America for the addresses of local clubs
   in your area to find breeders. Keep in mind very few such litters are
   bred per year.
   
  Breed Clubs
  
   _National Greyhound Association_ (racing organization and registry)
   PO Box 543
   Abilene, KS 67410
   913-263-4660
   
   _Greyhound Club of America_ (for AKC-registered Greyhounds)
   Club Secretary
   Patti Clark
   227 Hattertown Road
   Newtown, CT 06470
   
   Newsletter Editor
   Dani Creech
   949 Springfield Road
   Columbiana, Oh 44408
   $25/year, free to GCA members.
   
  Additional Resources
  
   Lynda Adame ( adame@venice.dh.trw.com) keeps an extensive list of
   resources and information for the person interested in Greyhounds and
   in Greyhound rescue.
     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
   
    Greyhounds FAQ
    Cindy Tittle Moore, rpd-info@netcom.com
    
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