Retired Racing Greyhounds: "45-mph Couch Potatoes"
When I first learned about greyhound rescue and decided to adopt a retired racing greyhound, it was the beginning of a love affair with greyhounds as a breed. Although he was raised as "livestock" at the track, my greyhound soon learned to love another, gentler, slower way of life... and I was forever hooked on retired racing greyhounds as pets. Since then, although I've also had other breeds of dogs in my life, my great joy has been to foster, train and share my home with these beautiful, gentle, endlessly fascinating long-legged hounds, the ex-racers.
In Loving Memory
BB's Fly Catcher (1999-2010)
Kiowa Boyd Barry (2007-2013)
Run free, boys.
Greyhounds as Companion Dogs
45-mph Couch Potatoes
Although they do love to stretch their long legs with a good run, greyhounds often actually need less exercise than most large dog breeds. Greyhounds are sprinters, not long-distance runners, so a 20-minute walk each day will usually do them fine, with the occasional rip-roaring play session. In fact, many greyhound owners will tell you that their retired racers become quite lazy, once their racing days are done! They truly enjoy snoozing on a soft bed or mat for most of the day, and many retired racing greyhounds live very happily in city apartments and suburbs as well as in country homes.
Obviously, all dogs are individuals within a breed, so you will find a few higher-energy greyhounds among the couch potatoes, especially when they're young. I have one of each type, right now - a cute and feisty little female greyhound who loves to go on long hikes with me, and a big super-gentle male greyhound to cuddle up with on the couch. Perfect!
Greyhound Breed Information
The neck is long and muscular, carrying a long-nosed elegant head. The rosette ears are normally carried flat against the head but they can stand at attention to indicate interest or alarm. Long tails are carried low and slightly curved. Greyhounds are lean by nature, with very low body fat, and at first may seem undernourished to people who are not accustomed to seeing these athletic dogs in a home setting.
The American Kennel Club breed standard gives the size range for AKC "show dog" greyhounds as 65 - 70 pounds for dogs (males) and 60 - 65 pounds for bitches (females). Racers are judged on their speed and spirit, not their appearance, however, so there is a greater range of sizes among racers registered with the National Greyhound Association (NGA) racing industry organization than there is with the "show dog" strains of greyhounds.
It's not uncommon to see a large male greyhound with a lean racing weight of 80 pounds, for example, though I've had two who were so big-boned that they easily carried a retirement weight of 95 without being an ounce overweight, while the very small female I have right now is still only 58 lbs though two years since she last raced. Similarly, a greyhound's height at the shoulder can range from 25 to 30 inches or so. Basically, whatever size of dog (from medium, to large, to extra-large) you prefer, there's probably an ex-racer of just that size, ready to be adopted!
All the Colours of Grey
Eighteen "official colours" are recognized by the American Greyhound Track Operators (AGTO), but more than three times that number are listed by Greyhound-Data, an international database site for greyhound pedigree and race records information. Oddly enough, grey (called "blue") is the colour that is most rare -- only one in about 500,000 greyhounds are actually grey!
Where Greyhounds Go After the Track
The Good Work of Greyhound Adoption Groups
Gifts for Greyhounds and Their Owners
Are Ex-Racing Greyhounds Good With Kids?
Have a look!
Certainly, you'll want to do some good solid training right from Day One with your new pet, to make sure the child and the dog both understand the "rules of engagement" -- for the happiness and safety of everyone. The adoption groups I've worked with, and our local SPCA shelter, follow the DogGone Safe bite-prevention program and often do presentations in local schools, based on their excellent "Be a Tree" program, flashcards to teach dog body language, and other resources. If you're thinking of adopting a dog of any breed, do take a look at www.doggonesafe.com for lots of good advice.
Obedience Training for Greyhounds
and other "hard-to-train" dog breeds
To find a clicker trainer in your area, check with the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) if you're in the United States, or with the Canadian Association of Professional Pet Dog Trainers (CAPPDT) if you're in Canada. In other countries, your best bet is to look for someone who has been through either the Canis Clickertraining Academy or Karen Pryor's clicker training program.
If there is no clicker training facility in your area, don't worry, you can still do clicker training with your ex-racer! There are also many excellent books and online training programs that can help you learn to train your own dog.
Unfortunately, there is also a lot of rather poor advice out there, as well - choose carefully, and step quickly away from any training that uses the old-fashioned "leash jerk" or similar "corrections" based on the outdated "dominance" theory. This type of harsh training methods can be downright dangerous for both you and your greyhound.
When choosing a dog training method to follow, ask yourself, "Is this something I would do to my small child?" If the answer is NO, find yourself a new trainer or training program.
In general, positive, reward-based dog training is the approach advocated by most greyhound rescues and adoption groups, as the kindest and most effective approach to re- training your ex-racer to be a companion animal.
How to Teach a Greyhound to Wear Boots
Fortunately, with a bit of patience -- and some good dog treats! -- you can train a greyhound to wear winter boots quite easily, especially if you choose to clicker train your greyhound.
The key is not to rush the process, so you and your pup don't get all stressed out, and to make the boot-wearing experience a pleasant and rewarding one for your greyhound. When he learns to associate the boots with getting treats or with going outside to play, before long he'll be cool with sporting footwear.
More on Canine Education
Best Books on Dog Training
My collection of books on dog training takes up a ridiculous amount of space. But won't just one dog-training book do? Well, no...
How to Teach Your Dog to Put Away Toys
Would you like to train your dog to pick up his own toys on command and put them away in a toy box? This is one of my favourite dog tricks...
How to Brush your Greyhounds Teeth
No matter what breed of dog you own, good dental care can prevent health problems for your dog and cut your vet bills, too. And if your dog is a greyhound...
Keep Your Greyhounds Safe on the Porch
Want to Adopt a Retired Greyhound?
These adoption agencies also serve as a great social circle and network of experience, advice, and support to new adopters in helping a greyhound make the transition from life at the track.
International List of Greyhound Adoption Groups
The Adoption Agency Directory from The Greyhound Project, Inc. lists a huge number of greyhound adoption groups in every corner of the United States, Canada, Australia, and Europe including groups in Belgium, England, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Scotland, Spain, Switzerland, and Wales.
The group I work with is Greyhound Pets of Atlantic Canada, serving the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland.
Best Books on Adopting a Greyhound
Shadow Puppet Greyhound
Shape your hands to make a fun greyhound dog shadow on the wall!
This shadow puppet greyhound idea came from an old book that I found on Project Gutenberg a couple of years ago - Hand Shadows To Be Thrown Upon The Wall by Henry Bursill, originally published in 1859. I had forgotten all about it until we had a power outage during the winter, when the neighbour's grandkids were over visiting, and we were trying to find fun things for all the generations to do together with only the light of a couple of candles and camping lamps!
Luxury Crate Mattress Dog Beds
Your baby deserves the best! He or she deserves a quality dog crate mattress (or use these for dog beds in your home), like the ones featured here...
The Race (Video)
from Greyhound Pets of Atlantic Canada (GPAC)
My Greyhound Pages
Here are some other articles you may enjoy.
Looking for a Long Term Commitment?
This could be the love of your life...
Throw 'em a Bone!
Got a greyhound? Want a greyhound? Got a good greyhound link to share?
Retired Racing Greyhounds
Table of Contents
- Born to Run
- Greyhounds as Companion Dogs
- Off the Track
- Greyhound Breed Information
- All the Colours of Grey
- Where Greyhounds Go After the Track
- Gifts for Greyhounds and Their Owners
- Are Ex-Racing Greyhounds Good With Kids?
- Obedience Training for Greyhounds
- Yes, You Can Teach a Greyhound to Sit!
- How to Teach a Greyhound to Wear Boots
- More on Canine Education
- Greyhound Health & Fitness
- Dog Gates
- Want to Adopt a Retired Greyhound?
- Best Books on Adopting a Greyhound
- Greyhound at Play
- Shadow Puppet Greyhound
- Greyhound Craft Projects
- Knitting & Crochet Patterns for Greyhound Clothing
- Sew Your Own Greyhound Coat, Martingale Collar, and Dog Boots
- The Race (Video)
- My Greyhound Pages
- Looking for a Long Term Commitment?