Greyhounds: the most honest dog breed review you'll ever find about Greyhound temperament, personality, and behavior.

DOG BOOKS by Michele Welton

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Greyhound Temperament: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em

Greyhound Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2017


With his quiet dignity and independence, the Greyhound is often likened to a cat.

Once past the puppy stage, he is calm and quiet indoors, moving lightly and gracefully, not toppling your lamps and fulfilling his role as couch potato quite admirably.

Though he needs a safe, enclosed area in which to sprint all-out a couple of times a week, he is built for sheer speed rather than endurance and doesn't require hours of exercise.

The fastest of all breeds (he can outrun a horse in a sprint), once he has exploded into his powerful driving gallop for a short time, he is content to sleep for the rest of the day.

This sensitive breed prefers peace and quiet and soft-spoken people. He does not do well in an environment with frequent tension or loud voices.

Most Greyhounds are politely reserved with strangers, and prefer to lean against their owner's leg rather than approaching people they don't know.

Greyhounds are peaceful with other dogs who are medium to large in size, but because of their heritage, they can be a serious chaser of cats and tiny dogs. However, many individuals can learn to coexist with these smaller pets. If you acquire your Greyhound from a Rescue League (who specialize in adoptions of ex-racing dogs), your dog will have been carefully screened for "cat compatibility."

Greyhounds are nonaggressive (they tend to freeze when challenged or attacked) and they can be touch-sensitive (startling when touched unexpectedly). Because they are so docile, they must be trained with a very light hand and much more praise than correction.

This quiet dog seldom barks. Many individuals take great delight in stealing and hoarding food and toys.


If you want a dog who...

  • Has a tall, slender, elegant build
  • Has a sleek easy-care coat that comes in many colors
  • Is extremely athletic and graceful – can run swiftly and jump great heights
  • Has a calmness and quiet dignity that is often likened to a cat
  • Is polite with people and other dogs
  • Is readily available through the many Greyhound rescue organizations for ex-racing dogs

A Greyhound may be right for you.


If you don't want to deal with...

  • Providing a safe enclosed area where he can occasionally gallop
  • Strong instincts to chase other living creatures that run
  • Potential for fearfulness or timidity if not socialized enough
  • An independent "what's in it for me?" attitude toward training
  • Emotional sensitivity to stress and abrupt changes in schedule
  • Slowness to housebreak

A Greyhound may not be right for you.

Keep in mind that the inheritance of temperament is less predictable than the inheritance of physical traits such as size or shedding. Temperament and behavior are also shaped by raising and training.

  • You can avoid some negative traits by choosing an ADULT dog from an animal shelter or rescue group. With an adult dog, you can easily see what you're getting, and plenty of adult Greyhounds have already proven themselves not to have negative characteristics. Indeed, you can adopt a wonderful Greyhound from rescue groups that specialize in finding homes for ex-racing dogs who desperately need a home.
  • If you want a puppy, you can avoid some negative traits by choosing the right breeder and the right puppy. Unfortunately, you usually can't tell whether a puppy has inherited temperament or health problems until he grows up.
  • Finally, you can avoid some negative traits by training your Greyhound to respect you and by following the 11-step care program in my book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy.

More traits and characteristics of the Greyhound

If I was considering a Greyhound, I would be most concerned about...

  1. Providing enough running exercise. Greyhounds don't need miles of running, but they also can't get by with a small yard and leashed walks around the block. They need regular access to a large fenced area – fenced because these dogs are chasing addicts with sharp eyesight for movement. If something catches their attention on the horizon, they will take off and not come back.

    See if there is a dog club in your area that offers an activity called lure coursing, which is chasing a mechanical lure in a controlled setting. This is an appropriate outlet for the full-speed galloping behaviors that are "hardwired" into your Greyhound's genes.

  2. Chasing other animals that run. Greyhounds are usually fine with the pets in their own family. But they are lightning-fast, and individuals with a strong prey instinct could seriously injure or kill any small running animal.

    Fortunately, most Greyhounds today are placed in their new homes by Greyhound rescue organizations. These groups have already done rigorous screening to evaluate each dog's behavioral tendencies. They are experienced at predicting whether any given Greyhound will be reliable with your cats, for example.

  3. The independent temperament. Sighthounds are very different from other kinds of dogs. They are independent thinkers who don't particularly care about pleasing you. They may display passive resistance by bracing their legs and refusing to move. You must show them, through absolute consistency and encouragement, that you mean what you say. Read more about Greyhound Training.
  4. Providing enough socialization. Standoffish by nature, Greyhounds need extensive exposure to people and to unusual sights and sounds. Otherwise their natural caution can become extreme shyness, which is difficult to live with.
  5. Emotional sensitivity. Be honest... is there tension in your home? Are people loud or angry or emotional? Are there arguments or fights? Greyhounds are extremely sensitive to stress and can end up literally sick to their stomachs, with severe digestive upsets and neurotic behaviors, if the people in their home are having family problems. Sighthounds are peaceful dogs who need a peaceful, harmonious home.

    Should you consider a Greyhound if you have young children? It depends on the individual dog and the individual children. These sensitive dogs often feel overwhelmed by the loud voices and quick movements that children can't help making – and stress and shyness may be the result. Realistically, the final decision won't be up to you, since Greyhound rescue groups have their own policies about children. Personally I prefer to recommend Greyhounds for adult-only homes.

  6. Housebreaking. Some ex-racing dogs are easily housebroken, while others learn much more slowly.
  7. Health problems. Greyhounds are extremely prone to a life-threatening digestive syndrome called bloat, which arises suddenly and can kill a dog in only a few hours. In addition, an alarming number of Greyhounds die early from cancer.

To help you train and care for your dog

book cover To learn more about training your dog to be calm and well-behaved, my dog training book is Teach Your Dog 100 English Words. It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your dog to listen to you and do whatever you ask.

book cover My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a good-tempered, healthy dog.

book cover My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to help your dog live a longer life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.

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