The greyhound is a star on the racetrack. It has a natural acceleration that is second only to the cheetah. It reaches a speed of 45 miles per hour in about one and a half seconds. The dog was bred to help hunting prey, but in the 1920’s it really got its fame from greyhound racing activities.
The physique of the greyhound is ideally suited for racing. The body frame includes very long legs and a flexible spine. This makes them able to thrust out of the gate quite quickly. The back hindquarters have large muscles that give them power to run and accelerate quickly. The graceful outline of a greyhound underlies their aerodynamic nature with a gait that causes the paws to leave the ground twice during each step cycle. This is sometimes referred to as a “double suspension gallop.”
The dog has a very powerful heart and set of lungs. The heart is bigger than most other dogs and helps to circulate blood during racing and pump oxygen through the larger lungs too. The heart output is five times the same amount during racing than when it is at rest.
A greyhound is bred to have few hereditary diseases. Problems like hip dysplasia that plague other large dogs are not as common in greyhounds. They are usually very healthy animals. The bark has been successfully bred out so that the dog tends to be quiet during transport and crating from one event to another. The dog does not have the same type of fur as other dogs. It is shorthaired and the skin doesn’t produce oil, so they don’t smell like other dogs. This makes them easier to be around in large numbers.
The greyhound has a natural and quick instinct for prey. It loves the lure of anything that crosses its path. It seems to be unable to resist chasing anything that appears to be prey and this makes it keen to jump out of the gate and down the course. It is a very good sprinter, but doesn’t really enjoy long races. It is a very intelligent animal and can be trained to obey its trainers and learn to run courses. Even though it does have a tendency to run after anything that moves, it is not a high-energy animal and to race they do have to be trained. Otherwise, left to their own devices, they would be just as happy curled up in a corner somewhere snoozing the day away. They are usually timid dogs and need a lot of socialization to be around strangers to be able to be good race dogs that perform consistently. The dog can live up to twelve years or more, but most greyhounds are retired by the time they are four years old.