They are slim, have strong legs, and are pretty much built to run fast. This makes it no surprise that this dog breed has been extensively bred to compete in dog races.
Apart from that, they’re also great family pets, and in this post, you’ll discover some of the most interesting facts about greyhounds.
1. Greyhounds have been bred for two main purposes in history
This gentle dog breed is easily recognizable because of its slender appearance and graceful stance. Greyhounds have been great companions for their owners for multiple centuries as well.
The most distinctive feature of this particular breed is its remarkable talent for reaching high speeds while sprinting. This has made it both a great hunting dog and a racing dog throughout its history.
By the 20th century, the main purpose of breeding these dogs was to compete in races. It’s only recently that non-retired dog has gained a lot of popularity as a pet as well, mainly because of their intelligence, gentle nature, and playful attitude.
2. These dogs make Usain Bolt appear to be pretty slow
It’s not hard to understand why these dogs have been trained for centuries to hunt and race. The speed at which they can move around and their overall level of agility is simply baffling.
During a race, the average speed these dogs can reach is 64 kilometers per hour (40 miles per hour). In the first part of the race, they can reach maximum speeds of over 70 kilometers per hour (43 miles per hour).
This means that they can sprint at over 20 meters per second (66 feet per second) which is simply incredible.
To give some reference to this number, Usain Bolt, the world record holder at the 100 meters sprint, reached an average speed of 37.58 kilometers per hour (23.35 miles per hour) during his record-breaking race.
He also reached a top speed of 44.72 kilometers per hour (27.78 miles per hour), which is quite a bit slower than the average greyhound!
3. Male dogs are substantially bigger than females
So how big are greyhounds?
Just like most other dog breeds, male dogs are quite a bit bigger than females. They stand anywhere between 71 and 76 centimeters (28 to 30 inches) tall on average. Female dogs reach an average height of between 66 and 71 centimeters (26 to 28 inches).
This also translates into a substantial difference in weight as males weigh on average between 27 and 40 kilograms (60 and 88 lb) while females only weigh anywhere between 25 and 34 kilograms (55 and 75 lb).
4. The Roman probably brought these dog’s ancestors to Britain
The breed we know today originates in Great Britain and was first developed there in the 18th century, hence it’s also referred to as the “English Greyhound.”
This doesn’t mean that their ancestors originate from the British Isles, though. Archaeological excavations and discoveries uncovered that these dogs didn’t appear here before the Roman occupation of Britain.
We know that the ancient Roman brought greyhounds with them because they are described on the oldest surviving written documents from this period in history called the Vindolanda tablets.
Their keen eyesight and ability to chase down game efficiently have resulted in the breed being kept as a hunting dog and eventually as a racing dog as well.
5. They have become very popular pets
These dogs have been loyal companions ever since ancient times, and not much has changed since.
The fact that racetracks in the United States are being closed means that the purpose of the descendants of racing dogs has changed quite significantly in the country.
The obvious reason for the popularity of the breed is the fact that these are great family dogs. They really enjoy the company of humans and actually enjoy playing with other dogs as well.
The only reason why this breed wouldn’t make one of the best pets you’ll ever have is if you own other small pets. If there’s a cute cat around, the instinct of this dog will almost certainly be too strong not to chase it down.
After all, they have been bred to do just that for numerous centuries, right?
More interesting facts about greyhounds
6. The fur of these dogs is very short and particularly easy to maintain. It can also come in a wide variety of color combinations.
You can take this quite literally because there are over 30 recognized color combinations, including white, brindle, fawn, black, red, and blue-grey.
7. The slender appearance of this dog is emphasized by the fact that they are dolichocephalic. This means that their head is much longer than it should be compared to its width.
Even though this is considered to be a deformity in humans, this is perfectly normal with this dog breed.
8. This dog has been around for quite some time. The oldest individual that was found during excavations was found near Tell Brak, an ancient city that as located in modern-day Syria.
This dog had pretty much the same shape and measurements as the breed we know today and is estimated to have lived around 4,000 years ago.
9. Another archaeological find uncovered a dog that lived around the 8th or 9th century A.D. at the Chotěbuz fort in the modern-day Czech Republic.
What’s remarkable about this find is not only that it’s proof that this dog was kept by the local elite back then, but also that its DNA pretty much matches that of the breed today.
10. These dogs are extremely lean, so if you have one as a pet, it’s important to provide them with a soft surface to sleep on.
That’s not just because it might be an old racing dog enjoying his retirement, but also because it will avoid physical strains and skin sores.
11. Another important thing to avoid is the use of flea collars or flea spray that is based on pyrethrin. That’s mainly because these dogs are extremely sensitive to insecticides and most probably will get irritated because of it.
Luckily, there are plenty of effective products available without this element to keep the dog healthy and thick-free.
12. Greyhounds are naturally very skinny and lack an undercoat, a combination that makes them very susceptible to both cold and hot weather.
This also means that these dogs are not suited to stay outside the house and must be kept inside at all times, something that they thoroughly enjoy.
13. The litter that these dogs produce can vary quite a bit as it can consist of anywhere between 1 and 12 pups!
14. It’s unclear where the word “Greyhound” actually comes from, but it’s believed to be derived from the Old English word “grighund.” “Hund” is the word for “Hound” but nobody knows what “grig” actually stands for.
One explanation is that this word could be derived from a wide variety of languages which makes the word translate to “fair dog” or “shining dog.”
15. This dig breed is generally considered to be quite healthy and has a pretty long average lifespan. This can range from anywhere between 10 and 14 years on average.
This means that you can have a very long time together with this good-natured and gentle dog if you decide to keep one as a pet!