From Academic Kids

Alternative names
English Greyhound
Country of origin
uncertain; possibly England or Egypt
Classification and breed standards
FCI: Group 10 Section 3 #158 Stds (
AKC: Hound Stds (
ANKC: Group 4 (Hounds) Stds (
CKC: Group 2 - Hounds
KC(UK): Hound Stds (
NZKC: Hounds Stds (
UKC: Sighthounds and Pariah Dogs Stds (

The Greyhound is a breed of dog used for hunting and racing. Greyhounds are among the fastest running of all dogs, with their long legs and lanky frames. They are commonly known for their use on the racetrack, where they can reach speeds up to 45 mph (72 km/h).



Greyhound pup
Greyhound pup

Male dogs are usually 28 to 30 inches (71-76 cm) tall at the withers and weigh around 65 to 90 pounds (29-36 kg). Females tend to be smaller with shoulder heights ranging from 27 to 28 inches (68-71 cm) and weights from 50 to 75 pounds (27-31 kg). Greyhounds have very short hair, which is easy to maintain. There are approximately thirty recognized colors, of which variations of white, brindle, fawn, black, red, blue, and grey can appear uniquely or in combination.


Although Greyhounds are extremely fast dogs, they are not high-energy dogs. They are sprinters and do not require much exercise once they leave the track. Most are quiet, gentle animals. Greyhounds are often referred to as "Forty-five mile an hour couch potatoes."

Greyhounds make good pets because of their mild and affectionate character. They can get along well with children and family pets (often including cats). Greyhounds are generally loyal, tractable dogs with developed intellects. Their talents include sighting and hunting. They do not have undercoats and therefore are less likely to trigger people's dog allergies (Greyhounds are sometimes incorrectly referred to as "hypoallergenic"). Most Greyhounds that live as pets are adopted after they retire from racing.

Most companion Greyhounds are kept on a leash because their hunting background has instilled a strong desire to chase things. Greyhounds can live in an urban setting but require moderate exercise on a regular basis. They enjoy walking and running outside.


Popularly, the breed's origin is believed to be traced to ancient Egypt, where a bas-relief depicting a smooth-coated Saluki (Persian Greyhound) or Sloughi was found in a tomb built in 4000 BC. Analyses of DNA reported in 2004, however, suggest that the Greyhound is not closely related to these breeds, but is a close relative to herding dogs. [1] ( [2] (

Historically, these sight hounds have been used primarily for hunting in the open where their keen eyesight is a distinct advantage. It is believed that they (or at least similarly-named dogs) were introduced to England in the 5th and 6th centuries BC by the Celts during their invasions.

The name "greyhound" is generally believed to come from the Old English grighund. "Hund" is traced to the modern "hound", but the meaning of "grig" is undetermined, other than in reference to dogs in Old English and Norse. Its origin does not appear to have any common root with the modern word "grey" for colour, and indeed the Greyhound is seen with a wide variety of coats.

Until the early twentieth century, Greyhounds were principally bred and trained for coursing.


See main article at Greyhound racing

Photo finish of a Greyhound race in , ,  on
Photo finish of a Greyhound race in Tampa, Florida, USA on February 9 1939

During the early 1920s, modern Greyhound racing was introduced into the United States and introduced into United Kingdom and Ireland in 1926.

Changes in public opinion regarding blood sport has essentially removed the Greyhound from hunting and relegated the breed to parimutuel stakes racing.

In the late 20th century several Greyhound adoption groups were formed. The early groups were formed in large part out of a sense of concern about the treatment of the dogs while living on the track. These groups began taking Greyhounds from the racetracks when they could no longer compete and placing them in adoptive homes. Previously, over 20,000 retired Greyhounds a year were killed; recent estimates number in the thousands.

Accidents and disease are also common killers among racing Greyhounds. In 2005, an endemic of respiratory failure killed dozens of dogs and left over 1200 quarantined in the U.S., particularly in Massachusetts, Colorado, Iowa and Rhode Island.

Most Greyhounds are bred for racing. However, there are several reasons why some Greyhounds never race:

  • The dog is too slow.
  • The dog has physical defects.
  • The dog does not have the required temperament.
  • The dog is not raised in a country where racing is popular.
  • The dog is bred for showing instead of racing.

Most finish racing between two and five years of age.


The most widely recognized Greyhound in popular culture is the fictional character Santa's Little Helper from the Fox Broadcasting Company's animated series, The Simpsons.

The character Santa's Little Helper exhibits many of the intellectual and behavioural characteristics of the typical Greyhound as a pet. He is portrayed as affectionate, tolerant of other household pets (notably cats), loyal, and not overly active. His origins on the program stem from an episode in which Homer Simpson, after placing a losing bet on Santa's Little Helper in a Greyhound race, discovers that because of his poor performance, his owner has discarded him to the streets to fend for himself.

In keeping with the perception that The Simpson family comprises "losers" and "outcasts", Homer decides that Santa's Little Helper is too much like the rest of the family to not be a perfect addition.

Santa's Little Helper has been a supporting character ever since, though he once nearly died due to a twisted bowel.

See also

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