Greyhound Frequently Asked Questions
How fast do greyhounds run?
Greyhounds can reach speeds of up to 45 MPH. In fact, they are the second fastest animal on earth, behind only the cheetah.
Can greyhounds be allowed to be off-leash? NO
Greyhounds cannot be allowed off-leash except in completely fenced or completely enclosed areas. This is one of the most important things to know about greyhounds. No matter how much trust you think you have established with your hound, their innate senses can unexpectedly engage within a split second, and once a greyhound decides it wants to chase something (keep in mind, these sight hounds can see a small animal up to half a mile away) they probably will not respond to voice commands, and they run a lot faster than you do. The risk of the dog being lost or running into harm’s way is simply too great to let your greyhound off-leash.
How big are greyhounds?
Greyhounds generally weigh between 60 and 90 lbs and measure 27"-30" at the shoulder. On average, males tend to be a bit larger than females.
What do greyhounds eat?
While they are on the track, greyhounds have a specialized diet (just like human athletes). The retired greyhound eats a typical diet of four to six cups per day of premium dry dog food, just like any other dog their size.
Are greyhounds difficult to housebreak?
During their racing days, greyhounds are let out at regular times every day to relieve themselves, and are generally housebroken in the sense that they are trained to go outside and keep their kennels clean. Once retired, the hounds learn quickly that your house is their “kennel” and outside is where they relieve themselves. Frequently they have this concept figured out by the time they reach your home thanks to our fostering program. Frequent walks or letting them out into a fenced yard helps them adjust to home life.
Do greyhounds get along with other pets?
Greyhounds are social animals by nature, and have lived with other dogs their whole lives. Most greyhounds have not been exposed to smaller animals such as cats. Many of them can live with smaller animals after some adjustment period. Some greyhounds have a higher prey drive and must be placed in a home without smaller pets. We do try (with a high rate of success) to identify which hounds will do better with small pets than others before placing them in a home.
How do greyhounds get along with children?
Greyhounds are generally calm, relaxed dogs and do well with children. As with all dogs, children need to be taught how to treat a greyhound. No dog, greyhounds included, should be forced to deal with a child poking, pulling fur, and otherwise tormenting them. In order for dogs and children to have a successful relationship, children must learn to respect the needs and expectations of the dog and boundaries should be established to prevent any potential misunderstandings. If you have children between the ages of 5 and 8 years of age, before adopting you are required to read one of the following books: Living with Kids and Dogs without Losing your Mind by Colleen Pelar or Happy Kids, Happy Dogs by Barbara Schumannfang. Our organization does not adopt dogs to families with children under 5 years of age.
How old are greyhounds when they come off the track, and how long do they live?
When we get the dogs from the track, they are typically between two and five years old, though sometimes we do get younger pups or older dogs. The typical life expectancy of a greyhound is around 12 years.
I’ve heard that Greyhounds have health problems, is that true?
Like any dog, Greyhounds can develop health problems. Generally speaking however, they are no more likely to develop health problems than any other breed. In fact, because of their selective breeding, many health problems that are common to other dogs are rare in greyhounds. This topic is covered in more detail in the myths section.
What about veterinary care?
Because of their unique physiology, it is advisable to find a veterinarian who is familiar with the relevant issues if your hound requires treatment, especially if general anesthesia is required. Fortunately, there are many vets available to you in the Twin Cities area that are familiar with the specific care of a greyhound.
What about invisible fencing?
Invisible fencing is not sufficient for your greyhound. When a greyhound hits the perimeter of your yard at top speed, the shock will barely register on the dog’s sensory radar and they will just ignore it. The only thing on the greyhound's mind at that point is the squirrel in the yard across the street. Once they get beyond the invisible fence, the greyhound is gone.
Can a greyhound be tied out on a lead?
No. Greyhounds are not ever tied up on the track, and due to their quick acceleration, they can severely injure themselves when they come to the end of the tie-out. Think about what happens to a car when it is forced to stop suddenly while going 40 miles an hour.
What about retractable leashes or choke collars?
No, and no again. Similar to being tied out, there is a serious risk of injury with a retractable leash. The greyhound can reach top speed in only a few strides. A 12 foot retractable leash gives the dog 24 feet to get up to speed if they see something, and they will be going full speed when they hit the end of the line. Additionally, there is a strong likelihood that at full speed the leash will break and the hound will be gone. Choke collars are not necessary for controlling a greyhound and can also cause injury. We will provide a standard leash and matching martingale collar for your hound when you adopt from GPA MN.
I heard that greyhounds are high-strung and that they need a lot of exercise. True?
This is one of the most common myths about the greyhound. They are among the most docile of breeds (there is a reason they are called a 45 MPH Couch Potato). Generally speaking, they will be as active as their owners, maybe less so. Like other dogs, they enjoy walks as well as the occasional opportunity to run unleashed (in a completely enclosed area).
Speaking of exercise, I am a jogger. Will my greyhound run with me?
As racers, greyhounds are conditioned sprinters and competitors. They will need to work up to long distances, just like humans do. It will also take a little practice for them to learn to keep pace, rather than trying to out-run you. That said, many people enjoy jogging with their hound.
How do they tolerate the Minnesota winter weather?
Greyhounds are indoor dogs. Because of their short, thin hair and low percentage of body fat, they do not tolerate extended periods of exposure to the cold. The greyhound endures the cold the same way we do, with the aid of a nice warm coat. If you are adopting during the winter months we will provide a starter coat for your hound. We recommend that your hound wear their coat when it is below 40 degrees. Greyhounds cannot live in outdoor kennels or garages, regardless of climate or time of year.
What is the typical day like with a retired greyhound?
Retired greyhounds appreciate a regular schedule like any dog (and most people). They need to go out 3-4 times per day, and can typically last a standard work day between bathroom breaks. They eat twice a day, preferably at around the same times each day. They appreciate spending time with their family and getting lots of love and attention.
What about kenneling?
Greyhounds are kenneled at the track, and all of our foster dogs spend at least part of their time kenneled to help with the adjustment to home life. We recommend that new adopters kennel their hound at first to continue to ease the transition into home life. The kennel is something familiar and safe for them. After the dog is settled in your home, many families continue to kennel their hounds when they are not home, and many do not. That decision depends on the family and the hound.
After I adopt what type of support is available?
Our relationships with our adoptive families are very important to us, and we hope you will remain active in our community long after you’ve taken your new greyhound home. You can contact your adoption coordinator or the foster family that cared for your hound with questions, and we also have an e-mail discussion board where you can go for advice and support. As an adopting member of GPA MN you will also receive a subscription to Home Stretch, our member newsletter.
Will I have a lot of up front costs associated with adopting a greyhound?
We make every effort to minimize and standardize the costs associated with becoming a greyhound owner. Your adoption fee will cover spaying or neutering, required vaccinations, nail trimming, a full dental cleaning, and a standard medical exam. Visit our adoption section for information on current fees and more detail on the medical services included.
I think I’m ready to adopt a greyhound. What is the next step?
If you are seriously interested in adopting a retired racing greyhound, you can apply online or download an application packet.
As part of the application process we ask you to attend a Meet and Greet (if you haven’t already), or one of our special events where GPA representatives are present, where you can visit with greyhounds and their owners, and get an idea of what they’re all about. Check out our calendar to find an upcoming Meet & Greet or special event in your area. All adopters in the family are also required to read either Cynthia Branigan's Adopting the Racing Greyhound or Lee Livingood's Retired Racing Greyhounds for Dummies.
If you have children between the ages of 5 and 8 years of age, before adopting you are required to read one of the following books: Living with Kids and Dogs without Losing your Mind by Colleen Pelar or Happy Kids, Happy Dogs by Barbara Schumannfang.
Still have some questions about greyhounds?
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 763.785.4000 to answer any additional questions you might have about adopting a greyhound.