Perhaps surprising to many people is the sedate indoor demeanor and behavior of the sight hound dogs considering they are the fastest canines on the planet. These dogs, capable of reaching speeds of just over 40 miles per hour, are still some of the calmest and most relaxed breeds of dogs in the house, provided they have enough routine exercise. This almost dichotomy in behavior is because the sight hounds preserve their energy and small amounts of body fuel for times of sustained running.
There are some sight hounds that don't match well with apartment life or even city life if they cannot have access to a large, fenced yard or area several hours a day. Some the breeds that are not considered ideal for apartment living include the very elegant Afghan, Saluki and the Irish Wolfhound. All other sight hounds can adjust well to apartment life, but even the larger breeds listed above prefer to be indoors at night and are not considered to be good dogs for kennel living. Those breeds from the Middle Eastern areas should not be left outdoors in cold or wet weather and this needs to be a key consideration for many potential owners.
Often sight hounds make terrific dogs for older individuals that want a larger sized, quiet dog as a companion. While they are not generally suited as assistance dogs they are terrific companions and are easy to care for, making them a great match for many seniors. With their shorter, naturally clean and odor free coats they require little in the way of routine grooming or bathing. Some of the larger sight hounds such as the Irish Wolfhound, Afghan, Borzoi or the Scottish Deerhound do need more care and may not be ideal but the shorter coated Greyhound, Whippet, Ibizan Hound, Pharaoh Hound and the Saluki may be a perfect match. Most are good watchdogs but are not problem barkers.
All sight hounds can do with minimal exercise requirements and often require less constant exercise than some of the much smaller breeds of dogs. They do, however, need routine, long walks or jogs on a daily basis, ideally at least twice a day. In a fenced yard they will self exercise to a certain degree but also need play time and routine walks to really get a chance to exercise and interact with the world around them. Socialization on these walks, both with other dogs as well as with other people, is great for the dogs and helps them to gain self-confidence and develop a good trusting relationship with others.
While not a highly demonstrative group of dogs the sight hounds are very loyal to their families and love to be around those that they know. Typically a sight hound is content to sit back and wait for the family to initiate petting and attention and they are rarely dogs that crave the spotlight and need to be in the center of everything that is going on. This typically changes when they see their leash or collar and also becomes an issue if they are allowed to travel in the vehicle and hear the keys jingle at the doorway.
Their varieties in size not withstanding, even the largest of the sight hounds wants to be close to their owner and, if given permission or the chance, will become a fixture on your bed, couch and furniture. They love comfortable bedding that is soft and padded, ideal for protecting their joints and skin. It is important to keep in mind that these dogs have less body fat and lack the thick coats associated with many other breeds of dogs. Providing soft bedding will help avoid wearing of the coat and skin where the dog rubs when getting up and down. It can also prevent damage to the joints and help the dogs stay warm even in slightly cold temperatures.
Most sight hounds are rather reserved around those people that are not considered by the dog to be part of the family group or the family pack. While they are rarely if ever aggressive towards people unless they have been mistreated, these dogs are more likely to just ignore people they don't know. If they are cornered or threatened they can defend themselves but a sight hound's first instinct is to just run or get away, not to stand and become aggressive. Routine socialization and being out and about in public areas helps prevent this natural tendency and helps the dog to become highly socialized and accepting of others.
Kids and sight hounds are overall a great combination and these dogs are very patient with children. As above, if tired of the child's attention the sight hound will simply walk or dash away, but the child has to be taught not to follow or taunt and tease the dog when it has had enough. Very active kids that want a rough and tumble type of dog may find a sight hound to be less appealing since these dogs are not playful in that manner. A sight hound loves games of chase, tag or just running but isn't appreciative of wrestling, tug of war or even of games such as fetch. There are some sight hounds that will engage in these activities, but it is not common within the type.
Although originally all sight hounds were kept as pack dogs, most modern sight hound breeds will also do very well as the single dog in a family provided the family interacts with the dog frequently on a daily basis. Most breeders encourage owners to consider a pair of hounds, not necessarily of the same breed, to allow for more exercise and companionship when the owner and the family aren't at home. Since the dogs are so pack oriented aggression is not typically a concern with well bred and trained sight hounds and there is little concern about leaving two dogs unattended. Breeds outside the sight hound group that are more dominant need to be carefully monitored to ensure that they are not aggressive towards the naturally submissive hound.