Welcome to another installment of “Debarking Pet Myths,” our monthly series that addresses common myths, misconceptions and old wives’ tales about dogs, cats and their nutrition.
April is National Greyhound Adoption Month. The month-long celebration was established in an effort to find retired racing dogs loving homes, and according to the Greyhound Project, Inc., “There’s a greater need to place ex-racing greyhounds into permanent homes than at any point in recent history as a result of past and pending greyhound racing track closings across the country.”
Now, we know what you might be thinking. Those are fast dog, high-energy dogs that need plenty of room to go-go-go. I am not equipped to handle a racing dog.
Well, you’re partially right. Greyhounds are fast dogs, and they do need room to run on occasion. But the breed is also widely known as the “40-mile-per-hour couch potato,” because other than daily walks and the occasional burst of speed at the dog park, greyhounds are more than happy to lounge around and snuggle. You do not need a huge backyard, or even a backyard at all, to give a greyhound the perfect home. You just need the same willingness to go for walks that you’d offer any other dog, and occasional access to a fenced-in area so that your lithe companion can exercise his or her zoomies.
In fact, greyhounds make great apartment dogs on average. They love nothing more than to curl up into a tight ball (like a cat) and doze for hours on end. And despite their reputations for high-energy shenanigans, greyhounds are incredibly calm and quiet. They’re great neighbors when the walls are thin.
A different kind of dog rescue
This is not to say that greyhound rescue is always simple. Adopting a former racing greyhound can be a slightly different experience than adopting, well, any other dog. Greyhounds bred to race often have never lived in an actual home before and can be used to being around other greyhounds almost exclusively, so they may have a strong pack mentality when they are put up for adoption. And since your typical racing hound is retired between two and four years of age, they might have spent years without encountering many of the household items that a typical dog might consider run-of-the-mill. This includes anything from children to hardwood floors to picture windows. Think your dog hates the vacuum? Imagine a 3-year-old pooch encountering one for the first time!
On the other hand, racing greyhounds tend to be crated and accustomed to strict schedules for anything from mealtime to potty breaks, so housetraining and begging issues can be easier than when rescuing other dogs.
It is important to note that if not in an enclosed area, a greyhound should always be leashed up. They were originally bred as “sight hounds,” meaning that they see prey/chase prey as an instinct. And since greyhounds have been clocked at up to 43 miles per hour, the last thing you want is for your dog to chase a deer and end up miles away.
Retired athletes looking for the leisurely life
It’s important to remember that your rescued greyhound is a retired athlete. At an earlier point in their life, they needed the exercise and nutrition that comes with being a finely tuned running machine, but now they’re ready to take it easy. If you plan to make your greyhound a regular running companion, they might need a higher-quality, higher-calorie food, but otherwise they generally don’t need a “performance” diet. Be sure to consult with your veterinarian on the ideal diet for your pet.
But other than the occasional need for a short burst of speed and regular exercise, greyhounds are perfectly happy living out the rest of their lives next to you on the couch.
For more information about greyhound rescue, visit The Greyhound Project, Inc.
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