Monday, August 9, 2010

Greyhounds Make Amazing Pets

 Petey, a 5 year old greyhound currently available for adoption at the RSPCA Sydney Shelter.
To view profiles of all animals available for adoption at the RSPCA, please visit

Contrary to many misconceived notions, Greyhounds make amazing pets. They’re intelligent, sensitive, gentle and sociable dogs who just love cuddles and attention.
A member of the sight hound group, Greyhounds have been bred to run fast, and Greyhound Racing is a popular sport. While dogs are winning they will continue to race, when they’re not winning they’re no longer wanted. This is why Greyhound rescue groups exist and why animal shelters often see Greyhounds walk through their doors. It can be a difficult task rehoming a Greyhound; fortunately people are becoming more aware of the breed’s true personality and accepting them as a family pet.
About the breed
Unfortunately as some States require Greyhounds to wear muzzles in public this has impacted upon their popularity as pets. In fact, they bark very little and are usually as friendly to strangers as they are with their own family. Due to their quiet disposition and affection towards people, Greyhounds are now successfully being used as therapy dogs. They get along with children and are happy to run around, however they don’t like any form of rough handling or play.
It is a common misconception that Greyhounds are hyperactive and need massive amounts of exercise on a daily basis. This couldn’t be further from the truth, retired racing Greyhounds are couch potatoes; frequent, short energetic walks will be sufficient. This often makes them a good pet for families with working parents and children at school.
Greyhounds were bred to hunt and chase, and if given the chance they may pursue small animals, so when in public they should be kept on lead at all times. Off-leash exercise should only be done in a fully-enclosed area, but care may still need to be taken when other small animals are around.
Young Greyhounds that have never been taught how to utilise their energy always require experienced owners as they can be hyperactive and destructive if not given an outlet.
Health and care
Greyhounds are short coated and generally shed very little. They are extremely clean dogs and can often be seen cleaning themselves like a cat. They also don’t produce much of a ‘doggy odour’, so don’t need bathing as much as some other dog breeds. As they have very little body fat and temperatures of either extreme are not tolerable, they need access to an indoor area. Some owners will put coats on their dogs in cold weather to help them keep warm. Because of the breed’s lean build, sleeping on hard surfaces without bedding may cause them to develop painful skin sores. So it is important that owners provide soft bedding at all times.
Typically Greyhounds live to around 10-13 years, and generally hereditary illness is rare, however some have been known to develop arthritis, progressive retinal atrophy (gradual blindess), megaoesophagus (disease of the oesophagus muscle), bloat (gastric torsion) and osteosarcoma (malignant bone cancer).
Rescued greyhounds  
Greyhound shelters and rescue groups should always test the dogs around other animals prior to adoption. They should also make sure prospective owners are fully aware of the dog’s response and behaviour to other animals. Some Greyhounds will get along with cats and other small animals, but if retired from racing it is generally not recommended. As they are a large breed, strong high fencing is recommended.   
Greyhounds are low maintenance dogs who adore love and attention. They are loyal and intelligent and will provide their family with many years of happiness.
Due to their quiet disposition and affection towards people, Greyhounds are now successfully being used as therapy dogs. 

To view profiles of greyhounds and all other animals available for adoption at the RSPCA, please visit 

- words by Nicole Dann, RSPCA Sydney Shelter Team Leader.

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