1. Home
  2. /

  3. /

    Greyhound Racing: Advantages and Disadvantages
Greyhound Racing: Advantages and Disadvantages
Greyhounds. Source: https://oxford-stadium.co.uk/blog/what-are-common-misconceptions-about-greyhound-racing/

Greyhound Racing: Advantages and Disadvantages

Greyhound racing has long held the spotlight in the public eye and the media, eliciting mixed feelings from observers.

On one hand, it serves as a source of entertainment for those who enjoy spirited discussions and placing bets. Some admire the sport's aesthetic charm, marvelling at the athleticism and elegance of the greyhounds. For others, attending races is a social affair, providing an opportunity to mingle with friends and relish a day out.

The industry itself provides employment and income for many, contributing to the prosperity of local economies through generated tax revenue.

However, there exists a contrasting viewpoint that sheds light on the darker aspects of the sport. Concerns over animal welfare frequently emerge, sparking public outcry. Animal rights activists, in particular, vocally condemn instances of mistreatment of greyhounds, advocating for an end to racing. In the United States, such activism resulted in the closure of the majority of racetracks, leaving only two operational venues, both situated in Virginia: the Wheeling Island Racetrack Hotel and Casino and the Mardi Gras Casino and Resort.

Similar calls for a ban on racing and the dissolution of the industry have echoed in England, spearheaded by animal rights advocates.

In 2022, a petition by the charity Hope Rescue amassed over 35,000 signatures, urging for a ban on greyhound racing in Wales. Subsequently, in March 2023, the matter was deliberated in the Senedd, with discussions centring around the possibility of implementing a phased ban on racing.

This emotive approach, fuelled by startling statistics, imagery, and poignant narratives, carries significant emotional weight but may cloud objective judgment, potentially leading to impulsive decisions.

A holistic examination of racing and its associated infrastructure reveals vulnerabilities that warrant scrutiny. Identifying and rectifying these shortcomings could pave the way for meaningful improvements or alternative solutions.

Greyhound family. Source: Midjourney
Greyhound family. Source: Midjourney

Breeding Practices and Retirement

Greyhound breeders carefully select sires based on their speed qualities to produce potential champions. However, not all puppies from a litter exhibit champion-level speed; many have average or below-average qualities. There is evidence to suggest that some breeders may cull puppies that do not meet the desired standards, focusing only on the most promising ones. Similarly, young dogs that fail to perform well may face a similar fate. Regulating breeders presents a significant challenge that must be addressed at the Greyhound Council level.

Dog breeding is a continuous process to meet the demands of the racing industry, with a growing number of new runners needed each year. In 2023, the GBGB registered 5899 new dogs, nearly matching the number of greyhounds retiring annually. While the GBGB offers a retirement scheme and numerous charities work on rehoming retired greyhounds, not all find adoptive families. Owners and trainers often struggle to find suitable placements for retired runners, highlighting the industry's primary challenge of dog overproduction, which requires immediate attention.

Housing Conditions

Concerns have been raised about the living conditions of greyhounds, including cramped cages, inadequate lighting, and poor ventilation. GBGB rules dictate standards for kennel and enclosure conditions, with specific building specifications in place. Veterinary services are available at nurseries and racetracks, and stewards conduct regular unannounced inspections to ensure compliance with regulations. Trainers found to be neglecting dogs may face legal consequences, although such cases are not typically associated with organised racing.

Physiology of Greyhounds

Greyhounds are often sympathised with for their participation in racing but this breed was specifically bred for sprinting, with their entire physiology adapted to powerful short-term running, as seen on racecourses. The responsibility of trainers and owners is to avoid over-racing the dogs, allowing them sufficient rest periods. Even after retirement, some older greyhounds continue to enjoy running on the track in veterans' races simply for the pleasure of movement. However, in domestic settings, they can spend hours dozing on a soft mattress without any signs of restlessness.

Greyhound dog. Source: Midjourney
Greyhound dog. Source: Midjourney

Sports Injuries

Greyhound racing, like any sport involving muscle work and coordination, carries inherent risks of injuries or accidents. Unlike chess, it involves physical exertion. Organised races provide round-the-clock veterinary services to attend to injured runners, with strict controls in place. However, in unregulated settings, such as informal races, the potential for mishaps increases, with human intervention playing a critical role. 

Greyhound racing is a legitimate sport, and injuries or early retirements are not unique to it. Just as human athletes may suffer injuries and leave sports prematurely, so do dogs. However, no one suggests banning football despite the risks of injuries like broken bones and concussions. The parallel is clear, albeit with one fundamental difference: dogs are unable to advocate for themselves; their lives and destinies are controlled by humans.

The greyhound racing system, when properly regulated and adhering to industry standards, operates logically. If rules are followed at every stage, considering the realities of the industry, there should be no grounds for closing racecourses. The only threat to the sport's future arises from an excessive focus on profit at the expense of the dogs' welfare. When financial gain takes precedence over the athletes' well-being, the industry risks its own demise. This approach must change to secure the future of greyhound racing. After all, who would want to see it disappear?


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.