Frequently Asked Questions

QUESTIONS:
1. Because they are ex-racers, do Greyhounds require a lot of room and exercise?

2. Is it true that Greyhounds cannot be trusted with cats and small dogs?

3. How old are the Greyhounds available for adoption, and how long do they live?

4. Why is it necessary that a Greyhound always be on a leash in an unenclosed area?

5. How fast do Greyhounds run? Do they make good jogging companions?

6. Are Greyhounds housebroken when they are adopted?

7. What kind of health problems are Greyhounds susceptible to?

8. How do I correct my Greyhound? Can Greyhounds be trained to do tricks?

9. How are Greyhounds with children?

10. Can I get a Greyhound puppy?

11. Which gender is more desirable — a male or a female?

12. What does a Greyhound eat, and how much?

13. Do Greyhounds jump fences? How high a fence do you need for them?

14. Do Greyhounds require a special type of collar?

15. Where is the best place to keep a Greyhound?

16. Do Greyhounds need to be crated when you first bring them home?

17. What is “separation anxiety” and how do I deal with it?

18. Can I change my Greyhound’s name?

19. How good are Greyhounds as watchdogs?

20. How good are Greyhounds at riding in a car?

21. What kind of shots do Greyhounds need?

22. Where can I get more information about ex-racing Greyhounds?

23. How do I go about adopting a Greyhound? What is the adoption fee?

24. How often do you update your Adoptable Greyhounds?

 

ANSWERS:

1. Because they are ex-racers, do Greyhounds require a lot of room and exercise?

No. Greyhounds are sprinters and, as such, do not have a lot of endurance. Every few days they might show a burst of energy and enjoy a run in an enclosed area such as a dog park or a fenced yard. For the most part, however, daily walks on a leash are all that is required.

Inside they prefer the life of a “couch potato.” They can curl up in a small place (much like a cat) and spend the majority of the day sleeping. Because they are generally quiet and laid back, they actually do well in condos and apartments.
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2. Is it true that Greyhounds cannot be trusted with cats and small dogs?

Not necessarily. While some Greyhounds (like many other breeds) do show too much interest in cats and cannot be trusted with them, we have successfully placed many more Greyhounds in homes with cats than without. We do stress a closely monitored introduction of the Greyhound to the cat and send home with the new adoptee a kennel muzzle to avoid any mishaps. What initially appears to be a keen interest may really just be due to curiosity and disappear after the novelty wears off. Oftentimes, the success of the relationship is due to the cat itself. A very nervous, high-strung cat that takes off in a run at the sight of the dog can inspire the dog to take chase. On the other hand, a confident cat that stands its ground, hisses, and swats when the dog gets too pushy can often quickly “train” your Greyhound to be respectful of felines. However, one must always keep in mind that a cat in the house may not be the same as a cat outside, even if it is the same cat. (See the section on “Cat Testing” in GREYHOUNDS 101.)

Most Greyhounds are tolerant of all dogs, even small ones, as they are by nature non-aggressive and sociable. Remember that most Greyhounds have never seen a dog outside of their own breed, so their initial response might be one of fear, curiosity or confusion…or they might ignore the other dog altogether. But that reaction quickly disappears once they become accustomed to seeing and associating with all sizes and breeds of dogs.
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3. How old are the Greyhounds available for adoption, and how long do they live?

A Greyhound’s racing career can run from age 2 to approximately age 5. Some dogs are just not cut out for the track and come to AAGA as young as 2. Some are retired by their owners/trainers when it is felt they “have given enough.” The rest are retired when they no longer make money — perhaps through an injury or by just not being fast enough. It is rare that any Greyhound is kept on the track past the age of 5. AAGA will also have from time to time older Greyhounds that have been returned to us for a number of reasons, such as the owner’s illness, relocation, or change in lifestyle. The average life span of a Greyhound is 12 to 14 years.
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4. Why is it necessary that a Greyhound always be on a leash in an unenclosed area?

Greyhounds are sighthounds and were initially bred as hunters. They are by nature inquisitive and can see clearly over a half mile away. If something attracts their interest, they will take off to inspect it, ignoring everything else including your calls. And, at the speeds they are capable of running, you can’t catch them. The dangers are their absolute lack of “car sense” and that they will get so far from home they will not be able to find their way back. We cannot stress enough the importance of NEVER letting your Greyhound off leash, no matter how long you’ve owned him and how obedient you feel he is! Hardly a week goes by that we don’t get calls about lost Greyhounds…and the outcome is sometimes tragic. If you feel that you cannot commit to this requirement, we strongly urge you to consider a different breed.
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5. How fast do Greyhounds run? Do they make good jogging companions?

Greyhounds have been clocked at 45 mph. The only animal faster is the Cheetah. However, Greyhounds are sprinters with little endurance. Most Greyhound races are only about 30 seconds in length. Because of the lack of staying power, the Greyhound (like any athlete) would have to be trained over time to build up his endurance if he is to jog any distance with his owner.
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6. Are Greyhounds housebroken when they are adopted?

Greyhounds live in crates at the track and are taught to keep their living space clean. They are taken down to relieve themselves on a strict schedule, generally 4 times a day. When they come to AAGA for adoption, they live at Greys’Land, a home that has been totally converted to a Greyhound facility. While there are pens for some dogs and certain conditions, most of the dogs are able to spend a great deal of time loose in the house. Here, too, they are kept on a strict schedule of outdoor time (we have 7 acres of wooded yards for them to exercise in) but one that is more compatible with a reasonable lifestyle. Thus, many go to their new homes totally housebroken. We, however, always say “98%” housebroken, because, in a strange environment and with a different schedule, accidents can happen within the first couple weeks. To prevent this, we encourage new owners to take the dog out frequently and give lots of praise when they “go” in the proper place.

For those dogs without fenced yards, sometimes it takes a little more time to get them to relieve themselves on a leash. Again, frequent walks and mounds of praise will do the trick.
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7. What kind of health problems are Greyhounds susceptible to?

Greyhounds are athletes that have been carefully bred to eliminate anything that might be detrimental to their success on the track. Thus, they are not prone to hip dysplasia or many of the other genetic problems found in other breeds. As is true of most older dogs, in their later years they can develop arthritis. And, like in all of the long-legged breeds, there is the possibility of osteosarcoma (bone cancer). Quite possibly due to their long muzzles that can keep food packed against their teeth, Greyhounds can develop heavy plaque on their teeth that can lead to gum disease and other dental problems. When the situation is extreme, dental cleanings are carried out at the time of spaying / neutering. Otherwise, routine veterinary checks, scaling with a dental tool, regular teeth-brushing, and the use of dental dog treats, oral rinse products, and an occasional marrow bone will keep plaque and tartar on the teeth to a minimum.

For more detailed information, we suggest you read the section HEALTH & MEDICAL ISSUES.
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8. How do I correct my Greyhound? Can Greyhounds be trained to do tricks?

Greyhounds are generally quiet, well-behaved, and obedient. They are very sensitive animals and extremely adept at interpreting your body language and tone of voice. A firm “NO!” is generally all that you need to correct misbehavior. They can be successfully put through obedience training (if necessary) and taught “the basics” — even certified as therapy dogs. However, some methods used by obedience schools are too harsh for Greyhounds and must be modified. Greyhounds are in the class of dogs known as “Independent Breeds”. These are dogs that have been bred to think for themselves and not necessarily depend on the leadership of a human. Think of them as more like cats.

While they can sometimes be seen participating in agility trials, most are never going to chase Frisbees or balls. And the concept of “fetch” is often foreign to them. They do like to romp and play with stuffed squeaky toys, however. While they can, with a lot of patience, be taught to “sit”, very few Greyhounds will do so naturally. Because of the heavy musculature in their hindquarters, this is not a comfortable position for them. Instead, they will prefer to take a crouching position that we refer to as “the sphinx pose”, as it reflects the portrayal of the Greyhound in ancient Egyptian art. While not considered a “water dog”, some do appreciate splashing around in a wading pool and even a swim in the pool. However, never leave your Greyhound unsupervised around any body of water until you are sure he knows how to swim and how to get out. Because of the breed’s heavy muscular build and lack of fat, swimming is not one of their strong points. If taken out in a boat, they need to wear a (canine) life preserver.

A relatively new “sport” for companion dogs is nose work (or scent training). Despite being sighthounds, Greyhounds often do well at this.  For a fun recreational activity for both you and your hound, you might want to check this out.
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9. How are Greyhounds with children?

Greyhounds are basically gentle, loving, and non-aggressive. Despite the fact that they have most likely had no contact with children at the track, they are generally very tolerant of them and will walk away rather than snap or growl at an overly rambunctious one. They are, however, large dogs, and can inadvertently knock over little ones. Also, Greyhounds sleep a lot, and when startled out of that sleep, can unwittingly snap at whatever disturbed them. Therefore, we often do not recommend a Greyhound for families with very small children (under 5 years of age) unless the parents are committed to closely supervising any encounters. Regardless of the age of the child, however, we strongly believe that he or she must be taught to respect the dog and his space.

While they will get along with children, expect them to bond more closely with the adults in the family
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10. Can I get a Greyhound puppy?

Except for a few AKC litters per year, Greyhounds are bred for the racing industry. While it is not impossible to get a puppy, it is very difficult as well as very expensive. AAGA has had over the years just a few puppies, but, generally, the youngest we receive through our adoption channels is 18 months old. Before even considering a Greyhound puppy, tho’, one should be aware that their demeanor is in no way like that of their adult counterparts.  They are a real handful to raise…a job better left to the professional trainer.
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11. Which gender is more desirable – a male or a female?

Greyhound owners can hotly argue this subject on both sides. Females do run smaller — from 50 to 65 pounds — compared to the males at 65 to 85 pounds, so that is sometimes a factor. While the overall consensus is that males are more laid back and affectionate, where females are more aloof, bossy, and diva-ish, you’ll find plenty of female owners to argue that point with you.

As for living with multiple Greyhounds, you can just as successfully combine all males or all females, or some of each. Greyhounds are used to compatibly living with both sexes.
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12. What does a Greyhound eat, and how much?

Your Greyhound will probably come to you at pretty much racing weight, i.e., very thin. To bring the dog up to pet weight, you will want to add about 5 pounds – just enough to eliminate the protruding hip bones and to barely cover the ribs. Because of his long legs and skeleture, however, it is important that the Greyhound be kept sleek, with the last two ribs remaining faintly visible.

We advise that you purchase the best dry food that you can afford. You will probably find as many recommendations as there are Greyhound owners you talk to. The current trend is to look for “grain free”. Nutro, Natural Balance, Iams, Eukanuba, Purina One, Hill’s Science Diet, Blue Buffalo, and Waltham / Royal Canin seem to be favorites. Both Cosco and Sam’s Club carry good brands. Websites like www.dogfoodadvisor.com may be of help in making your choice. Feed about 4 cups per day (5 cups while you are trying to add weight) divided into two meals — one in the morning and one in the early evening. We moisten our food with water to make it easier to eat. In researching the Internet you will find all kinds of recommended diets — from those that are completely raw or totally home cooked to those that include fruit, vegetables, yogurt, etc. For more information on “Feeding”, see GREYHOUNDS 101.
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13. Do Greyhounds jump fences? How high a fence do you need for them?

Although Greyhounds are capable of jumping to considerable heights, they normally respect any barriers. While a 6-foot fence would be recommended, a 5-foot one will suffice. A 4-foot fence could be “iffy”.

The important thing to remember is to never leave a Greyhound out in a fenced yard and then go away. Under those conditions, in an effort to find you, the dog may very well successfully scale a fence he would previously never have attempted.

In the house a 36″ high baby (or pet) gate works fine.  Just make sure it is sturdy and firmly kept in place so that the Greyhound will not knock it over.

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14. Do Greyhounds require a special type of collar?

Because of their long necks and sensitive skin — plus a head that is smaller than the neck — we recommend that the usual buckled leather or chain-type collars not be used. Not only could they be too irritating, but the dog might just back out of them. What we do advise is a martingale collar that utilizes a double-strap system that tightens up and catches just behind the ears. A martingale collar and leash will be provided to you at the time of your adoption. Very elaborate martingale collars can also be found on many sites on the Internet. (You’ll find some of our favorite vendors in our GREYT LINKS section.) Greyhound owners frequently like to dress up their favorite pal with one of these custom-made ones.
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15. Where is the best place to keep a Greyhound?

Greyhounds have been raised in air-conditioning and are definitely indoor dogs. With little fat to protect them, Greyhounds cannot tolerate extremes in temperature, either hot or cold. Many will say that, if you feel the need for a jacket when going outside, so does the Greyhound. However, unless you go for long walks or hikes in freezing temperatures or live in wintery climes (snow and ice), we find that most Greyhounds prefer to be unbundled for short walks or runs in the yard in cold weather.

Greyhounds are especially prone to dehydration and heat exhaustion so should never be left outside on a sunny day, in a garage, an automobile, a closed-up apartment, or any enclosed area without adequate ventilation.

In the house they will be happiest with a soft dog bed ideally placed in the master bedroom.
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16. Do Greyhounds need to be crated when you first bring them home?

“To crate or not to crate; that is the question.” This is so dependent upon the dog itself. Greyhounds are raised in crates, so crates are familiar to them.  Since they are usually familiar with a lot of free-range time during their stay at Greys’Land, a number of dogs transition into new homes without any problems or the need for a crate. Some will absolutely rebel against the crate. For others, however, the crate can serve as a safe den and haven while they adjust to their new surroundings. First of all, you must be sure the crate is a very large one and will accommodate the Greyhound standing up.  Secondly, a crate should never be used for punishment, and confinement should be limited; it should not be considered a permanent lifestyle. Over the long term, adopters who opt for a crate will often leave it with the door open so that it becomes a familiar sanctuary for the Grey, and he will voluntarily seek it when wanting some quiet time. (We urge adopters to teach their children not to disturb the dog when he is in his private space!)

If the dog is going to be left alone for any length of time, we do recommend that his access to the home be limited in order to guarantee his well-being as well as that of your property until you have determined that he can safely be given the run of the house unsupervised. Our first choice is to confine him to an area by means of a baby (or pet) gate. Do NOT place him in a room behind a closed door, as he may feel trapped and panic!  For more information on this subject, see Question #17, as well as “Separation Anxiety” in GREYHOUNDS 101
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17. What is “separation anxiety” and how do I deal with it?

Greyhounds have spent their lives from birth never being alone. In addition to being raised and trained with numbers of Greyhounds, they live in busy kennel rooms and are constantly being handled by trainers and their assistants, veterinarians, dog walkers, and others. In addition, they are by nature a very sociable and affectionate breed. Therefore, when they are suddenly placed in their “forever” home where everything is different, there are no other pets, and they are left alone for any length of time while the family goes to work, school, etc., they can become very stressed and panicky. This is known as “separation anxiety” and can result in many types of negative behavior — barking, destroying property, messing/urinating around the house, etc. Here is where a baby gate or a crate can be helpful in preventing the Greyhound from doing damage to himself and your property.

Most of the time, “separation anxiety” is temporary, especially if it is properly addressed. Once the Greyhound becomes comfortable in the home and learns that you will return, the symptoms disappear. To reach this point, it is important that you acclimate the dog to your absence by first leaving him alone for very short periods and then extending those periods over time. In any event, please give us a call.  We may be able to give you some suggestions that will help you get through this issue.

Greyhound owners will almost always advise that the quickest way to cure separation anxiety is to adopt a second Greyhound.

For more information on this subject, see “Separation Anxiety” in GREYHOUNDS 101
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18. Can I change my Greyhound’s name?

Absolutely! And most new owners do. While we are always given the Greyhounds’ official racing names, we don’t always know what they were called back at the kennel. And, frankly, a goodly number of them don’t appear to know — or at least don’t respond to — any particular name. Therefore, a new name is not a big adjustment for them. If they are familiar with a name, using that name together with the new name for a period of time and then gradually dropping the old name is all that it takes.
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19. How good are Greyhounds as watchdogs?

Because it is necessary at the track that the Greyhound be around a lot of other dogs and be handled routinely by a variety of people, virtually all aggression has been bred out of them. While they may bark to let you know someone is at the door, they are generally known as being non-barkers. That, together with the fact that they are by nature sociable and affectionate, rules them out as watchdogs.
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20. How good are Greyhounds at riding in a car?

Greyhounds are accustomed to being moved from farm to track, kennel to kennel, and track to track, so traveling in a vehicle is not new to them. Most enjoy car trips and can curl up and quietly ride for long distances. Because they may have always been lifted up into the hauler, they might need a little assistance in learning how to jump up into the car on their own.
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21. What kind of shots do Greyhounds need?

Your ex-racer will come to you fully vetted — spayed or neutered, with all shots up to date. AAGA complies with the following schedule for vaccinations on adult dogs as now recommended by all of the veterinary teaching schools:

RABIES – every 3 years

DHPP (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parinfluenza, and Parvovirus) – every 3 years (Depending on the manufacturer, a 1-year DHPP may be good for 3 years.)

CORONA VIRUS – Beneficial in puppies, but routinely not recommended in adult dogs

BORDETELLA (Kennel Cough) – intranasal or oral administration annually.

All other vaccines are considered “non core” vaccines and should only be given in certain conditions.  The amount of vaccines our pets actually need is a rather hotly argued topic these days.  We recommend you read our section on VACCINES plus do some research on the subject yourself and then discuss it with your veterinarian.
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22. Where can I get more information about ex-racing Greyhounds?

There are a number of good books available about living with retired racing Greyhounds. Two of the most popular are “Adopting the Racing Greyhound” by Cynthia A. Branigan and “Retired Racing Greyhounds for Dummies” by Lee Livingood. While we don’t necessarily agree with everything in them, overall they contain some pretty good advice. You can find these books at pet stores, bookstores, and online.

There is a virtual font of information on the Internet covering a lot of the subjects of interest to new greyhound owners; all you need to do is google “Greyhounds” or “the Greyhound breed”. Also, YouTube features dozens of videos on what it’s like to live with an ex-racer.

We’ve tried to include a lot of useful information about Greyhounds on this AAGA website that we invite you to read as well as check out our recommended Links.
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23. How do I go about adopting a Greyhound? What is the adoption fee?

Please refer to the AAGA adoption process. One of the most important steps is your completion of our no-obligation Adoption Application form available on our website. That form provides us with valuable information regarding your preferences and lifestyle and assists us in helping you choose the perfect Greyhound for your family. Once that form has been reviewed, AAGA will contact you to discuss further the adoption process, to answer any questions you might have, and to arrange an appointment for you to meet available dogs.

The adoption fee is $245. For that you get a purebred Greyhound, registered with the National Greyhound Association, that has been spayed or neutered, tested for heartworm, and fully vetted with all necessary shots up to date. We also provide a martingale collar and leash plus a numbered tag that identifies the dog in our database should he ever get lost.
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24. How often do you update your Adoptable Greyhounds?

We try to keep our Adoptable Greyhounds as up to date as possible.  However, because we are routinely getting in new Greyhounds, and we have a high turnover rate (3 weeks is an average stay, but many are adopted much quicker), we cannot guarantee that all of the dogs we have in house and available for adoption are listed on the website OR that all of those shown are still here. Therefore, we ask you to please give us a call (770-469-9533) to find out which Greyhounds are available and to schedule a time to meet them.
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