Greyhound Pets of America Minnesota

Hound 101 - Greyhound History

Retired racing greyhounds make wonderful pets!

4761023.jpgAre you surprised by that statement?  Have you ever gone to the dog track and seen only a long, lean running machine in a racing jacket and muzzle? Perhaps you assumed that they must wear that muzzle to sheathe those teeth! And all that energy; racing greyhounds must need to run all day, every day, just to calm down even a little!

None of that is true! In reality racing greyhounds wear muzzles as a state requirement for safety during racing on the track, and "all that energy" is because that are about to do what they were bred for - a quick sprint around the track. Unlike most sporting dogs, who were bred to be able to run all day, greyhounds are capable of expending enormous amounts of energy in a short few minutes; afte rthe race, it's back to the business of kennel life: a drink of water, a turn in the exercise pen, and a three-day rest before running again.

Greyhound history

7293527.jpgGreyhounds belong to a family of dogs known as Sight Hounds, a grouping that includes the Whippet, Saluki, Borzoi, and Irish Wolfhound, among others. They are called sight hounds because unlike other dogs which typically hunt by smell, these dogs locate their prey with keen eyesight. Greyhounds can identify a small animal up to a half-mile away. This family of dogs is among the oldest identified breeds, tracing their origins to 4000 BC and ancient Egypt. Images of these hounds appear on the tombs of Egyptian royalty. The Greyhound was prized among English nobility for their exceptional speed and hunting ability as well as their success at lure coursing. Until the early 20th century greyhounds were primarily bred for lure coursing. Modern greyhound racing was introduced in England and the US in the 1920s. The name greyhound is derived from the old English greuhund, which means running dog.

From their beginnings, greyhounds have been bred to outrun their prey. Traditionally, they were walked on a lead until game was sighted and then they were released. From that moment on, they pitted their grace and intelligence against that of their quarry. The necessity of making their own hunting decisions has made them self-reliant and quick-witted. Lure-coursing and modern greyhound racing are controlled recreations of this chase. The prestige of owning the fastest running dog led gentlemen to race their dogs against each other. The owners and interested observers would bet on the outcome of the race. If, in the context of the race, a dog interfered in any way, it was put down immediately. Centuries of this type of genetic selection has bred out most aggression and led to the greyhound’s docile demeanor.