The career of a racing greyhound is short. They begin racing at about a year and a half and are usually retired by the time they are four to five years old. While some will continue racing for a few more years and some will return to their farms to become brood bitches and stud dogs, many more will be in need of new homes or face euthanization. Thankfully, the greyhound adoption option has become increasingly popular and many track racers find homes as pets when their racing careers are over.
Greyhounds usually live twelve or more years. They are one of the oldest breeds and pictures of them appear on relics of many ancient cultures. Bred to run and hunt, they are fast and love to chase small animals. They were used to hunt deer, rabbits, and even bears and boars. In medieval times they were hunted in huge packs of up to 100 dogs. Dogs bred for racing purposes are bred strictly for speed on a track and do not need the agility and endurance that is required for coursing live game. This difference means that racing greyhounds often do not look like the show greyhounds produced by other breeders. However, one glance at those extremely muscular back legs and you will have no doubts about their speed.
As pets, most greyhounds are actually quite sedate, with minimal exercise needs. Despite having never lived as pets, most racers will make the transition without too many issues. It is important to remember that they have never lived in a house before and things like shiny floors and stairs are completely new to them. They enjoy attention and become attached to their new families quite quickly. They are generally aloof and cautious with strangers.
It is important that, unless you are in a safely enclosed fully fenced area, your greyhound should always be on leash. They are very fast and have absolutely no knowledge of traffic. They are also instinctively going to chase small animals such as squirrels and cats. Hounds are generally known for their independent natures and can be very hard of hearing when on the hunt. Greyhounds are not an exception.
There are a number of organizations devoted to adopting out retired racing greyhounds. As with all rescue groups, ensure you are dealing with a responsible organization. Your pet should be neutered and fully vaccinated before being placed. They should offer counselling and services to help your new pet adapt to his new life and be willing to take the dog back if for any reason the adoption does not work out.
Adopting any dog is a wonderful thing to do. You are saving a life. In the case of retired greyhounds, you are giving a dog the opportunity to have a brand new life, very different from the one he has always known. That’s a greyt thing as the greyhound rescues say.