Here are a few greyhound facts to dispel some of the many myths you may have heard about these wonderful creatures.
Well, actually, this one is both true and false. Some Greyhounds can sit and others can’t. It was clear very early on that our Radley was never going to be a sitter.
Even getting down on his bed was a mission. He would circle at least five times, plop one butt cheek down on his bed then drop his front end with a thud that shook the house.
Yogi, on the other hand, was a natural sitter.
Not long after we got him I was talking to a friend in the street and Yogi suddenly sat at my feet. Prior to this I had been firmly in the ‘Greyhounds can’t sit’ camp.
Well, let’s face it, they are a funny shape and even those who can sit do look a bit odd with their butts hovering 6 inches above the ground.
I think I stood there with my mouth open for a good minute and a half. Linda probably thought I was mad.
After that I decided to teach Yogi to sit on request. I did it by saying, ‘Good boy to sit,’ and offering a treat every time he did it of his own accord. It didn’t take long before he caught on and in no time at all he was both sitting and doing a high five for treats.
So some Greys can sit and others would find it very difficult due to their odd anatomy.
Sunny is a natural sitter too. He’s very happy to plonk his butt down for a treat. The only problem with Sunny is he hasn’t quite got the high five thing down. He tends to try and give both paws at the same time. I don’t think high ten really works, my boy.
There’s no getting around the fact that racing Greyhounds are taught to chase small furry things. If they don’t, they’re of no use to the industry and are retired before they even begin.
So, does this mean your ex-racer will always be a danger to cats and other small furry creatures?
Again, this depends on the hound.
Both Radley and Yogi failed their cat tests spectacularly, however Yogi did mellow with age - not that I would ever have let him get up close and personal with a cat unsupervised but at least he did stop trying to squeeze himself under cars to get at one.
Radley remained a terror until the day he went to Rainbow Bridge. And it wasn’t just cats he had it in for.
One dark winter morning not long after we got him we were out for a walk in the park. We met up with a gentleman with a little Yorkshire Terrier also enjoying an early morning stroll.
Anyway, we stopped for a chat and Radley stood beside me leaning on my leg. I felt him begin to tremble and thought he was getting cold. I was about to excuse myself and get him walking again when he lunged straight for the terrier. He grabbed him by the collar and tossed him into the air.
The poor little Yorkie landed at his dad’s feet and Radley stood there with a flashing red collar in his mouth and a look of utter confusion on his face.
Needless to say, I was mortified. Fortunately, other than having had the shock of his life, the Yorkie was fine and his dad was amazing about the whole incident. With hindsight, it must have looked hilarious, a Greyhound with a flashing collar in his mouth and a little Yorkshire Terrier flying through the air.
Sunny was a bit sneaky at his cat test.
He appeared to pay no attention to the cat at all and was almost passed as cat trainable but Jill from the kennels had a gut feeling that things were not as they seemed.
She kept him in the room with the cat a bit longer and suddenly he lunged. Nope - not cat trainable!
Now, having had him for a year, I do see a glimmer of hope.
His attitude to cats is definitely changing. I wouldn’t trust him for a second yet, but I would consider the possibility of cat testing him again in the future.
Pfft! This one is definitely a myth. It's interesting to note that the darker hounds do shed less than the paler ones. Radley barely shed at all and only in the spring. He needed brushing a couple of times a week and he was fine.
Yogi, on the other hand, shed all year round. Even a daily brush never really got rid of all of the loose hair. When I decided to rearrange the furniture in the lounge I found half a Greyhound behind the sofa.
To be fair, Yogi did have an unusually thick coat for a Grey. We often joked that he was crossed with a wolf.
Sunny is a fawn like Yogi was but he has a much thinner coat and a bald butt and belly. He does shed a little bit more than Radley did but nothing a good brush doesn't sort out.
Surely this is one of the Greyhound facts? After all they used to run races.
Nope! This is another myth.
Greys are built for speed, not endurance. Two twenty minute walks a day are enough, however, many Greyhounds will happily walk longer.
Radley and Yogi both loved their walks and we used to joke that no one had told them they were Greyhounds.
Sunny can take it or leave it. He does enjoy his walks in the woods but if for any reason he can’t have one he’s quite happy to go on a short wee walk just round the block.
If you’re looking for a dog to go jogging with, a Greyhound is not it.
Well, for many people this is one of the Greyhound facts. It’s a bit of a controversial topic actually. Many Greyhound adoption centres will advise you not to let them off. And, for the most part, I agree with that.
However, we do have friends who have put in a lot of time and effort working on recall and have been safely allowing their hounds to run free for many years.
In the end it depends on your Grey’s personality and your relationship with him/her.
All three of mine have been big strong boys with high prey drives so a secure paddock with no holes for skinny legs to go down was the only option in their younger days.
That said, both Radley and Yogi were allowed to have a little poodle off lead once they were a lot older and had slowed down considerably.
Even then Yogi tried his luck one day and ended up at the vet. We were at the pond in his favourite woods and he so wanted to go in for a dip. I didn’t fancy it myself so as he was on the verge of dragging me in I unclipped the lead from his harness.
In he went, straight out to the middle of the pond. He spent a couple of minutes shoving his needle nose under the water blowing bubbles and then he turned and looked at me.
I knew in an instant what he was going to do and I knew I had no chance of stopping him. He belted out of the pond and shot into the woods.
Chasing him was never going to be a good idea.
That would have been best game ever. So, as he disappeared round the corner I walked slowly in the direction he’d gone, heart in mouth, gently calling his name. I got to the corner and he was standing in the middle of the path. The second he saw me he was off again. Hmm, best game ever.
Luck was on my side though. An irresistible scent caught his nose and he skidded to a halt, sticking his head in a bush. I walked up to him and clipped the lead on and all was well, or so I thought.
Later that evening he was limping badly on his hind leg. A quick trip to the vet reassured me that it was just a bit of a pull and nothing a pain killing injection and a short course of anti-inflammatories wouldn’t cure. Fortunately he was back to his old self in a couple of days but it could have been a lot worse.
When a friend’s Greyhound slipped his lead and chased a deer he ended up losing a toe and costing a small fortune.
So, is it worth letting your Grey run free? That’s a decision only you can make, but I advise you to think very carefully and be sure you’ve developed a trusting bond and good recall before you do.
Of course, they need love, shelter, good food, exercise, the occasional groom and a comfy bed. Just like any other dog.
Forgive me while I choke on my coffee laughing. They do have the same needs as other dogs but they are well and truly unique as a breed.
Take a look at our Greyhound quirks page (coming soon) to find out why.