Filed Under: Dogs, General Care

Tall, lean, and built for speed, the greyhound is the fastest breed of dog.  With a sharp eye it is classified as a sight hound.  Originally bred as a racing dog they are now accepted as sweet and personable companions.  As part of the hound family they can have some stubborn personality traits.  They are not hyper and will spend much of their day resting in preparation, conserving their energy, until required to utilize their great bursts of speed. 
The greyhound can be any color including white, black, fawn, and red.  Brindle and spotted color patterns are common. 
Most anthropologists agree that the greyhound is a seminal breed from which all domestic dog breeds descend.  The breed dates back to ancient Egyptian times where tombs circa 2900 B.C. depict the dogs surrounding aristocrats.  From Egypt the greyhound made its way to England where they were used to hunt a variety of game, although their preferred quarry is the rabbit.  The greyhound was one of the first dogs brought to the United States by Spanish explores in the 1500s. 
Since the greyhound is built for speed they require plenty of exercise.  They should be confined to a fenced area since they have a tendency to run off, as it is their nature to chase after other animals. 
Males tend to be larger than females, with the breed typically ranging from 60 to 70 pounds. 
Retired racing greyhounds suffer from several medical problems that are uncommon in AKC greyhounds.  Lack of dental care and track diets often cause a variety of problems with dental health. 
Neoplasia is the most common cause of death in retired greyhounds with 58% eventually succumbing to cancer.  Osteosarcoma is the most common tumor diagnosed in these retired animals and is the cause of death in 25% of former racers.  In comparison, osteosarcoma is uncommon in AKC greyhounds.  Osteosarcoma is typically seen at around 9.9 years of age.  The front limbs are affected 75% of the time and male dogs are more commonly affected, accounting for 59% of the cases.  The most frequent sites for osteosarcoma development are the proximal end of the humerus and the distal region of the radius.  The proximal aspect of the femur is the most common site for osteosarcomas to develop in the hindlimbs.
Most osteosarcoma lesions are lytic (cause bone destruction), and approximately 26% of these patients will have endured a pathological fracture of the affected bone area at the time of diagnosis.
The treatment of choice for osteosarcoma in the greyhound is amputation followed by adjuvant chemotherapy postoperatively.  Osteosarcoma in greyhounds is more aggressive than that seen in other breeds.  Chemotherapy typically incorporates carboplatin, doxorubicin, or suramin/doxorubicin.  Up to 40% of greyhounds undergoing surgery will develop severe delayed hemostatic (blood coagulation) complications from 36 to 48 hours following surgery. 
Other common causes of death in racing greyhounds include orthopedic problems such as arthritis 18%, kidney failure 8%, and bleeding disorders 8%.   
Hypothyroidism is reported in 11% of racing greyhounds.  This is believed to be an overexaggeration of the problem since thyroxine concentrations are naturally lower in greyhounds than in other dog breeds, and therefore misdiagnosis is common. 
The most common skin disorder is bald thighs and it affects 16% of racing dogs.


Couto, C. Guillermo. “Greyhounds and Bone Cancer.” NAVC Clinician’s Brief. July 2008. P. 37.

Lord, LK, and JE Yaissle, et al. “Results of a Web-Based Health Survey of Retired Racing Greyhounds.” Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, 2007;21(6): 1243-1250.

Rosenberger JA, Pablo NV and Crawford PC. Prevalence of and Intrinsic Risk Factors for Appendicular Osteosarcoma in Dogs: 179 cases (1996-2005). J Am Vet Med Association 2007; 231(7). Pp. 1076-1080.

Topics: greyhounds

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