adopting a greyhound?

cranberry15(Zone 5 WI)May 15, 2008

Need some feedback here. We're thinking of adopting a retired greyhound from the track in Kenosha, WI. We've got plenty of space and our property is about 2/3 fenced. Any thoughts? What have you heard about these dogs? We're just looking for a pet here. We've got chickens and barn cats (and a squirrel/racoon problem); no kids. Neighbors have a young golden retriever and the other neighbors have a very sweet adult german shepherd. They tend to roam the area occasionally.

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goodhors(z5 MI)

Greyhounds are sight hounds, developed originally for hunting. The fake rabbit is what the racing dogs chase while racing. Not sure how free-roaming small animals would do or if they would excite the hunting instinct to chase.

Greyhounds are NOT small dogs. They stand quite tall, though very slender. They MOVE unbeliveably fast when they go, like smoke on the wind. They miss nothing going on around them because they ARE sight hounds. Still use nose and ears, just not as much as other dogs. Being crated or kenneled 90% of their life, they may have no social skills with people. Unlikely to be housebroke, so they would need training with patience to learn new ways in your home. I have heard of them helping you clean off the counter! Sounds funny, unless it was your Sunday roast dinner.

They are not usually outside dogs, especially in cold or winter times. Really no hair to keep them warm, so they need sweaters and coats for cold weather. They shiver a lot without even in the house, can get frostbite if left outside.

All the ones I have met were pretty nice. Seemed somewhat aloof, but I was not their family or person. They were quiet, well behaved on the leash in groups. I don't know how much homework the folks had put into these ex-racers to gain good manners. Might have been easy, or not. They don't mind confinement with previous crate life. Usually seem pretty quiet. The folks only took them out leashed, because of the speed they can go. Out of hearing in a flash, get lost then. They had fenced back yards, not large spaces or acreage to run far. Some ran the dogs on long lines or off the back of trucks for mileage. Bikes work too. Not fast, just for distances keeping dogs fit.

Know what you are getting into before taking one home. They can be very nice, but you will need to do your homework with them. You might check with a Vet, ask what kind of problems they have. Like Pugs and Dalmations shed constantly. Greyhounds also have that very short haircoat, might shed too.
I would rather deal with my long Bouvier hair, shear it off a couple times a year. No constant hair clean-up. My Corgi is a shedder learned that AFTER purchase. Yet we have developed techniques to deal with it! Vacuum Cleaner!! She gets brushed hard and swept weekly with the sweeper, daily in spring and fall for coat changes. Then she is done shedding in about a week. We certainly don't have the floating hair that other Corgi families complain about. We trained her to the sweeper since she was little, doesn't have a problem with noise or suction on her hair. We also blow off both dogs with the vac, when they are bathed. Blowing with vac removes TONS of water, they dry much faster. Great since them are bathed at least monthly, more often in mud seasons.

Good luck with getting a greyhound. They can be very nice dogs, but you have to work with the breed characteristics, instincts, TRAIN the animal. Know the plus and minus of breed before committing to it. Make a good doggie citizen of them so you can both enjoy living together.

I love both my dogs, but each breed has plus features and some minus ones to deal with. If you can't deal with them, don't choose that breed. There is NO PERFECT breed for all people. They can all be excellent dogs, just not for everyone, in their home setting.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 11:13AM
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sullicorbitt(z5 MA)

We had the pleasure of adopting a retired GH when we were first married, they are wonderful dogs. They are couch potatoes! extremely mild mannered, sensitive and very smart.

I agree that you should learn as much as possible about the breed before adopting. We didn't have any house breaking issues as mentioned above. Ours wasn't crazy about kids but was fine w/our own and the same w/cats (liked ours but not strangers). I'm not sure they would do well w/chickens so if you range your chickens in the same yard as your dog I'm not sure it would be safe.

The biggest thing I can think of to consider is that they can never be let off lead unless they are in a secure fenced yard so if you cannot commit to that than do not adopt one.

They actually do not require a large volume of exercise, they do their runnings (a beautiful site!) and when they're done they sleep (more than our cats!). They are very cat like.

I love this breed, their sweetness is very warm and touching.


    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 12:02PM
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cranberry15(Zone 5 WI)

Hmmm. Interesting. The chickens have their own fenced area - 3' high electronet - so I think they'd be okay until the dog got used to them. We'd probably install invisible fence across our property so the dog would stay on the back half of our lot.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 1:49PM
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I was also going to say, they need a fenced yard.

A friend brought out her adopted greyhound a couple of years ago ... I do not have a fenced yard ... she let it off leash to run ... it went around the 3/4 acre pond twice in a blink of an eye and then was gone. Took off down the road. Luckily, it responded pretty quickly to her calling it back, but I have never seen something run that quickly .. impossible to actually catch.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 2:06PM
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What a wonderful idea to take a greyhound into your home. We are considering it also, but need to get more settled here on the farm before committing to a dog.
Our research has led us to these points: racing dogs are on a high protein diet, and you will need to slowly bring them down to a normal diet--best to talk to a vet about this; greyhounds are naturally kind and gentle dogs, so be prepared to spend a lot of time with your g'hound, giving it the attention it needs; they are fast, fast, fast, and if you don't have them confined or on a leash you can lose your dog; they don't handle heat or cold well and need to be protected from extreme temperatures by bringing them inside to air conditioning or to a heated room.
Please talk to someone who has adopted a g'hound and has had it for a while. That is the best way to decide if a g'hound and you are made for each other.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 2:58PM
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johanna_h(Z5 SW MI)

My sister adopted a beautiful, gentle Greyhound. The moment you spoke nicely to him, he would lean against your leg to be patted. As mentioned above, he was quite the couch potato, and always on leash (I think they used a harness, because the smallish head and neck made it possible for a collar to slip off?).

These dogs are rehabilitated when they come off the track, before going to homes. They are housebroken, taught about things like stairs and dishwashers and other common household things that might otherwise flummox them.

Unfortunately, about six months after my sister got Mac he had a heart attack and died. The vet said it was probably a result of having been a track animal. The running puts tremendous stress on their hearts and lungs and if there was any problem lurking, the stress might be too much.

It's funny that you posted because just this morning I was pondering what kind of dog I might enjoy if I changed breeds (I have two Briards). Greyhound came immediately to mind. Not only are they very pleasant companions, but you are doing a tremendously kind thing by adopting one!


    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 4:05PM
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jan2(z5 Illinois)

I have an AKC show greyhound and she is a lovely creature. Both the retired racers and AKC greys have the same needs. Because of their thin skin, they get cold very easily and need coats in the winter. Because of the thin skin, their skin cuts and tears easily. Being sight hounds, they never lose the urge to chase so they cannot be left off lead and must have a fenced enclosure. They will chase anything, some cannot live with cats or small dogs. This is not something they will outgrow. They also require a high protein food for proper muscle development and maintenance and a high fat content food to help them hold weight. They are delightful pets, very intelligent. They are usually good with people and other dogs but can be aggressive over their food. They are not outdoor dogs nor are they farm dogs. Their preferred place of rest is on your bed or the sofa.


    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 4:30PM
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sullicorbitt(z5 MA)

I would not recommend an electronic fence, or at least check with your rescue organization first. Greyhounds are highly sensitive, a regular wire fence would work well.

Like Jan2 mentioned, our Butchy was a total couch potato, he was very content sleeping most the day away. Here is a painting I painted about 14 years ago! the kitten was my beloved Rosie, we adopted both shortly after we were married. We lived in a tiny apt. but would run Butchy at a near by fenced baseball field. Butchy and Rosie were great friends, they used to nap together all the time. I miss them both dearly.


    Bookmark   May 17, 2008 at 8:56AM
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De-lurking to add my input :)

I've adopted two retired racers in the past and they make wonderful pets. As someone mentioned, they are mostly couch potatoes. Until they get a bug to run. Mine used to love to run just for the heck of it.

Depending on your adopting organization, they may be able to pre-screen a hound for your particular conditions. One of the organizations I worked with in Montana would foster each dog for 6 months in a "real" home so they could guarantee temperament, how they were around cats and other animals, how they were with kids, etc. If you can, go with an organization that pre-screens each dog.

Yes, these are sighthounds, but each dog has a different amount of desire to chase small white animals. Our female didn't care about other animals at all, our male always wanted to chase anything small and white that was moving. Just depends on the dog.

Sighthounds in general DO NOT do well with radiofence or "invisible fence." They typically run too fast and are very focused on running when doing so, and can easily run right over the buried wire without hesitation. Once out, they can't get back in because of the collar zapping them. Our adoptive organization would not allow the use of these types of "fencing" with greyhounds.

That said, ours were not jumpers or climbers, so even a 3 ft fence would have held them in. I think we were required to have a 4ft fence at a minimum.

These are lovely, gentle dogs who make great pets if you train them and treat them well. Ours were disciplined with verbal reprimands only - that was enough to get the point across to them (very sensitive). They will be partially trained when you get them, but they have to be trained on how to live in a house. Ours didn't know how to navigate stairs! I was also amazed that they didn't understand all of the smells of the great outdoors - it took our male 6 months of going on walks outside before he realized that things had a smell! After that, his nose was his best friend.

Give them a soft place to sleep, warm coats in cool weather, be careful of sun exposure and excessive heat. And here's a couple of downsides...they don't live very long for the most part. Ours died at 6 yrs and 9 years, but within a few months of eachother. They are very susceptible to stomach cancers so do NOT use herbicides/pesticides at all in their yard. Also, because of their low body fat, they can't tolerate anesthesia very well, so locate a vet who knows how to work with sighthounds.

Good luck to you :)


    Bookmark   June 4, 2008 at 3:14PM
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The ones I know are beuatiful dogs with extremely good manners:)
except they do run away every chance they get!! I think you'll be fine with your setup,and I think it's wonderful that you're giving a dog a chance. I do recomend on getting 2 together though...they depend highly on eachother and sleep close to keep warm on the cold nights. Also,they're less likely to run away with another companion of the sort. Good luck,,let us know what you do!

    Bookmark   June 4, 2008 at 3:51PM
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