While larger dogs often suffer from shorter lifespan, the greyhound is different. It can live from up to 12 to 14 years. Since race dogs are between two and six years of age, you can adopt an ex-racer and still get many good years from the dog. There are still some lifespan issues that come with owning a greyhound, but for the most part they are a very healthy and long-lived breed.
One of the biggest issues with greyhound longevity is the potential for bloating. This condition causes the stomach to twist and turn over, which can be fatal for the dog. No one knows why some dogs torsion and die while others do not. Bloating may have a number of contributory factors including diet, exercise, and hereditary issues. Even stress has been implicated in dogs that torsion and die.
If your dog is starting to torsion, you may see the belly extend and even hear gas in the stomach or see it twisting and turning. You should get your dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible, if you suspect your dog might be torsioning.
Another issue for greyhounds is cancer. Many greyhounds can succumb to cancer early. Seeing as this is a hereditary condition, there is not much you can do about it.
You can get your dog a regular veterinarian checkup to screen for different conditions like thyroid problems and cancer. This will help you catch things early and improve the chances of lengthening the lifespan of your dog.
While the dog itself isn't that sickly, the thin, fragile skin can make it very susceptible to allergies and poisoning through environmental chemicals. You don't ever want to put a flea collar or medication on your dog, without first checking it with the veterinarian. This breed can get very sick with the same flea medications that don't bother other large dogs. The same is true for exposing your dog to lawn chemicals. It can easily absorb the toxins through the pads of its feet and have it be fatal. Keep your dog away from chemicals and only treat it with medications your veterinarian approves.
As long as you are providing your greyhound with a good diet and plenty of exercise, you should be reasonably assured of having it for quite some time. Just be aware that although the dog has some good genes, it doesn't make it hardy when it comes to environmental poisons and stressors. This is a dog that can startle easily and becomes stressed in noisy environments. If you want to keep the dog healthy, make sure it has a quiet environment and a steady routine it can enjoy. This will keep it from getting stressed out and reduces the potential for stress illnesses.