The Greyhound -
Most Unusual Dog Breeds
One very unusual dog breed is the greyhound! Don’t think it’s too extraordinary? Read on!
Greyhounds were originally bred for coursing game animals and of course racing for sport.
But have you ever wondered how a greyhound can reach speeds of 40+mph? (And nearly 20 meters per second at the start of a race?!).
When racing a hound can actually lose 5lbs in a single race!
Here are a few facts that make this breed of dog quite extraordinary.
Greyhounds have higher levels of red blood cells than other dog breeds. Red blood cells carry oxygen around the body, making this breed adapted to receive higher levels of oxygen and transport it to the muscles.
Interestingly they also have only HALF the platelets that other dog breeds have, making them ideal blood donors for dogs in need.
Greyhounds have a much larger heart when compared to their body than other breeds and with a beat which is much slower.
Their lungs are also the largest in comparison to its body than any other breed.
Greyhounds have the highest percentage of “fast twitch” muscles than any other breed. Fast twitch muscles are used primarily for sprinting (where as slow twitch muscles are for jogging and endurance).
The gait of a greyhound is known as a “double suspension gallop” where all feet are off the ground in 2 phases of running.
This means this dog spends 75% of his time in the air!
Again only in greyhounds (and similar sighthounds).
They also have a flexible spine that literally acts like a spring, propelling them forwards.
There was an old saying that a good dip in a greyhound’s back should be able to hold an egg!
IMPORTANT! -What Your Greyhound Vet Should Know!
As you’ve already seen, a greyhound’s physiology is very different from other breeds.
This is why it’s so important to have a knowledgeable vet that knows greyhounds. Always check they know these;
- Greyhound’s kidney results run higher in creatinine (1.6 x higher!) and blood urea nitrogen (BUN) levels.
In other dogs these levels would actually indicate kidney disease but the results are different for greyhounds, because of the much higher muscle mass.
The creatinine should run between 0.8-1.6 and the BUN 3.5 -10mol
- Greyhound blood doesn’t clot well, this is even worse with elderly dogs.
This means wounds take a really long time to heal as they don’t scab over well.
It is especially important when pulling teeth!
A good greyhound vet will never take more than a few teeth out at a time.
Many greyhounds have had to be rushed into emergency hospitals because the bleeding just wouldn’t stop (after taking out about 10!) and they had to have a blood transfusion.
Greyhounds are the only dogs where it it actually advised not to pull teeth if the root is exposed.
A proper clean under light aesthetic is much preferred.
- Greyhounds can stop breathing under anaesthetic.
This is known as anesthesia and happens because of their low fat mass.
Their liver processes drugs slower than other breeds, thus taking longer to recover.
(All drugs will have a larger effect on greyhounds because of this and often need a lower dose than other dogs their weight.)
In this circumstance the vet should already have the injection of the reversal drug nearby and be constantly monitoring the screens for signs the dog is about to stop breathing.
Your vet should already know these details, as they have to keep up to date with the latest information but it’s always worth checking beforehand.
Greyhounds are not normal dogs!
This breed is so well adapted, if you look at the structure of a greyhound’s paw, against other breeds, you will see big differences.
Their second set of toes are almost directly behind the front 2, rather than 4 in a circular row, like on a regular dog’s paw.
This makes for better contact on the ground and better grip.
You can see this even more in the prints below!
These were taken as each dog moved naturally.
The back feet, in fact, are almost starting to look like a deer’s foot, where the toes are in two separate rows.
Altogether these adaptations make them an extremely efficient animal at high speed!
Are Greyhounds Good Pets?
These dogs are so gentle and loving. Their temperament is one of being sweet hearted and quiet, a perfect companion.
They fit in so well with family life – they are literally couch potatoes!
You will find your hound is normally asleep (on a sofa) and needs surprisingly little exercise.
Greyhounds get on well with other dogs but tend to be aloof and ignore them, preferring other sighthounds (It’s a very elite club!).
The majority of greyhound pets come from the racing industry.
A greyhound retires from racing between 2 and 5 years but can live happily past 12 years and beyond!
On a sad note not all greyhounds get to retire, in 2017, 1,000 greyhounds were either too badly injured on the track to treat, or put to sleep because not enough homes could be found (UK).
Some greyhounds have a very strong prey drive when they retire and need some help realizing that smaller dogs are not in fact, rabbits!
A lot of greyhounds have never even seen a different breed of dog, other than their own so this is hardly surprising!
Recall can also be an issue, however this can all be rectified with good training techniques and lots of patience.
Cat and small animal introductions can also be successful with your greyhound (even ex-racers), however be sure to get the help of an experienced behaviourist.
Why do Greyhounds Lean?
One common trait among these dogs is that they will lean on you.
Some other dogs do this too but it is a very common greyhound trait.
So why do greyhounds lean? Are they tired or asking for a cuddle?
Actually neither of these reasons.
Greyhounds, like all dogs, build their relationships based on space- who gives space and who takes space.
Most people will give their space by stepping back or not at all. This way of space taking is very non confrontational however.
Rescue a Greyhound!
This is a fantastic breed of dog and fits in very quickly to family life.
They come in over 30 colours ( with black being the hardest to rehome) and there are many dog rescue centres specialising in saving these gentle athletes.
A truly remarkable animal and one who definitely makes the unusual breed list! Below are a couple of links to some great UK rescues, why not take a look!