1. Home
  2. /

  3. /

    An Overview of the Greyhound Breed (Part 2)
An Overview of the Greyhound Breed (Part 2)
Greyhound dog with glasses. Source: Midjourney

An Overview of the Greyhound Breed (Part 2)

Body Shape and Size 

Greyhounds are a sleek and athletic breed. Two main types of Greyhounds differ somewhat in size. Racing Greyhounds are usually 25 to 29 inches tall at the shoulder. Show Greyhounds are slightly larger, measuring 26 to 30 inches tall.

In both types, the male Greyhounds typically weigh between 65 to 85 pounds, while the females tend to weigh 50 to 65 pounds. Racing Greyhounds generally fall on the lower end of these weight ranges.

So in summary, while Greyhounds come in two main size varieties, the racing dogs tend to be a bit smaller on average compared to the show Greyhounds. But both types share the breed's signature slender and athletic build.

Sleepy greyhound dog. Source: Midjourney
Sleepy greyhound dog. Source: Midjourney

Character Traits

Greyhounds generally have a wonderful demeanour, being friendly and non-aggressive, although some can be aloof toward strangers. Give them a treat, though, and they're likely to become a loyal companion. They're intelligent and independent, even cat-like in many ways.

They do have a sensitive side and are quick to react to tensions in the home. They can become shy or timid if mistreated, even unintentionally. Their temperament is influenced by a variety of factors, including their genetics, training, and socialisation.

Puppies with nice temperaments are curious and playful, willing to approach people and be held. Choose the middle-of-the-road puppy, not the one who's bullying its littermates or the one who's hiding in the corner.

Always meet at least one of the parents — usually the mother is the one who's available — to ensure that they have pleasant temperaments that you're comfortable with. Meeting siblings or other relatives of the parents can also help you evaluate what a puppy will be like when it grows up. Like all dogs, the Greyhound needs early socialisation — exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences — when they're young.

Socialisation helps ensure that your Greyhound puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog. Enrolling in a puppy kindergarten class is a great start. Inviting visitors over regularly, and taking it to busy parks, stores that allow dogs, and on leisurely strolls to meet neighbours will also help it develop its social skills.

Greyhound Health

Greyhounds are generally robust, but like all canine breeds, they are prone to certain medical issues. Only some Greyhounds will develop these conditions, but it's important to be aware of them if you're considering this breed. If you're acquiring a puppy, find a reputable breeder who can provide health clearances for both of the puppy's parents. These clearances confirm that a dog has been tested for and deemed free of particular ailments.

For Greyhounds, you should expect to see health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for hip dysplasia (with a satisfactory or better rating), elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand's disease; from Auburn University for thrombopathia; and from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) certifying normal eyes. You can verify these health clearances by checking the OFA website (offa.org).

Anesthesia Sensitivity: Sighthounds, including Greyhounds, are highly sensitive to anaesthesia and some other medications. A standard dose for any other dog of similar size could be fatal for a Greyhound, likely due to the breed's low body fat percentage. Choose a veterinarian who is aware of this sensitivity and knows how to properly medicate your Greyhound. If you can't find a vet knowledgeable about sighthounds, be sure to inform any treating veterinarian of this sensitivity.

Hypothyroidism: Hypothyroidism involves low levels of the hormone produced by the thyroid gland. A mild symptom may be infertility. More obvious signs include obesity, mental sluggishness, lethargy, drooping eyelids, low energy, and irregular heat cycles. The dog's coat becomes coarse and brittle, with excessive shedding, while the skin becomes tough and dark. Hypothyroidism can be managed with daily thyroid medication, which must continue for the dog's lifetime. A Greyhound receiving proper thyroid treatment can live a full and happy life.

Osteosarcoma: Generally affecting larger breeds, osteosarcoma is an aggressive bone cancer. The first sign is lameness, but X-rays are needed to confirm the cause of cancer. Osteosarcoma is typically treated aggressively, often involving amputation of the affected limb and chemotherapy. With treatment, dogs can live 9 months to 2 years or more. Fortunately, Greyhounds adapt well to life on three legs and do not suffer the same severe side effects from chemotherapy as humans, such as nausea and hair loss.

Gastric Torsion (Bloat): Bloat is caused by a sudden accumulation of gas and air in the stomach. This causes the stomach to swell and twist, which can be fatal in a dog if not promptly treated. Usually, the twist must be surgically corrected.

Greyhound dog with hat. Source: Midjourney
Greyhound dog with hat. Source: Midjourney


Greyhounds are fairly low-energy dogs, but they still need and enjoy regular exercise through daily walks. If they aren't exercised routinely, they can become bored, potentially leading to destructive behaviours. Greyhounds have an innate drive to chase prey, and owners need a sturdy fence to prevent their dogs from running off after small animals. Underground electronic fencing is not recommended for this breed, as their desire to chase is stronger than any fear of a temporary shock. Greyhounds should also be kept on a leash during walks.

This strong prey drive can cause them to ignore commands if something catches their eye. And with their speed, they can easily outrun a distressed owner and become lost. Greyhounds can also become overweight, which is detrimental to their health. It's common for a retired racing greyhound to gain around 5 pounds after retirement, but they shouldn't be allowed to gain any more than that. Because they are tall, provide them with elevated feeding dishes to make eating more comfortable. Training your greyhound, whether adopted as an adult or purchased as a puppy, should begin as soon as they arrive in your home.

Greyhounds can have a stubborn streak and often approach training with a "what's in it for me?" mentality. They are independent and require a confident, consistent owner. However, they also have a sensitive side, making harsh training methods the least suitable for the breed. They respond better to patience, consistency, and training methods that use rewards rather than punishment, with food rewards being their preference.

Greyhounds sometimes struggle with the sit command, as it's not a natural position for them, and you may often see them balancing on their tails. Greyhounds need to be exposed to a variety of people, places, and situations, a process known as socialisation, to prevent them from becoming timid or fearful. Many obedience schools offer socialisation classes, which are also a great starting point for obedience basics.

Other ways to socialise your greyhound include visits to dog-friendly public places and stores, walks in the neighbourhood, and inviting people to your home. Introduce new social situations gradually. Greyhounds are generally easy to housetrain, and retired racing greyhounds are particularly receptive to crate training, as long as you keep them on a regular potty schedule.


Get the latest news to your inbox.

Subscribe to the newsletter

We value your privacy and promise not to distribute your email to third parties.