If you are considering adding a new four-legged family member to your household, you may want to start at your local rescue or humane society. There are plenty of wonderful best friends available at shelters and rescue organizations around the country, including an abundance of one of my favorite breeds of all time, the Greyhound.

Unfortunately, most Greyhounds are bred specifically for the racetrack, and when their racing careers are over, they really have nowhere else to go. There are many retired Greyhound rescue organizations such as The Greyhound Project and Grey2K, but sadly over one million of these racers have been euthanized in dog racing’s century-long history.

What to know about adopting a retired Greyhound

Although many rescued dogs available for adoption are already adults, adopting a pet who is longer in the tooth (and quick to the couch, in the case of the Greyhound) can save you some of the frustration that comes with potty training and other puppyhood tribulations.

The retired racer is a unique animal. Though they are at least two years old when they are retired (and likely three to four years old when they reach the shelter), they often have not been socialized to everyday sights and sounds. Patience is required when first introducing your new Greyhound to your family and household, as many of the things there are brand new to them! Climbing stairs may be terrifying, and sleeping on the couch is a luxury they may have never even considered (although it’s fair to say that once they find the couch, they’ll be reluctant to leave)!

How they're trained

Greyhound puppies that are born into the racing lifestyle live with their moms for eight weeks before being housed with their litter mates. Here they practice running and chasing each other, building muscle and stamina while learning the “ropes” of leashes and muzzles. When they are 12 months old, they are moved closer to the track to begin their real race training.

Greyhounds often lead very sheltered and regimented lives before they are rescued, and many times they need to be taught how to be a dog. Some of them have never seen a toy in their life! On a more positive note, most of these dogs come potty trained and are great with children and other dogs. They can live peacefully with cats, but caution should be exercised when taking them out for a walk. Greyhounds are trained to chase things, so anything on the run (like a squirrel or the neighbor’s cat) is fair game for chasing!

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How much exercise do Greyhounds need?

You may think that this breed is high maintenance and needs a ton of exercise, but generally nothing is further than the truth. Moderate exercise such as a walk or two a day will suffice for these 40 mile per hour couch potatoes. I did mention that once they found the couch, they’d be unlikely to leave, right?

Despite their athletic background, Greyhounds, like all dog breeds, are prone to hereditary and congenital conditions. Dental problems, blood clotting disorders such as hemophilia, eye conditions such as pannus and osteosarcoma (bone cancer) can all commonly occur with this breed. Thankfully, having dog insurance coverage can help with the veterinary bills for hereditary and chronic conditions that develop. Which means if your speedy new friend runs head-first into any health issues, you’re protected.

Oct 13, 2011

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