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Retired greyhound Good idea?

(46 Posts)
ebaynovice Sun 28-Aug-11 08:16:30

I'm looking for advice from anyone who has a greyhound please. We've been thinking of getting a dog for ages and now that the youngest Ds is 6 we thought it was time to look. Could anyone give me some views, advice, tips etc about the pros and cons of having a greyhound?

I've read up a little about them but would love sone real life advice
Realistically we are all out of the house all dsy two days a week. Could my mum pop in for an hour lunch time to take him ouside? Do they get lonely on their own?

How much do they cost to keep?

Do they get any specific illnesses? Are they generally healthy?

Is there anything bad about them? Temprement or anything you found put you wished you knew before hand

Alll and any advice gratefully received

Scuttlebutter Sun 28-Aug-11 08:47:59

Hi, we've got three greys and do a lot of voluntary work with them too. Obviously, there is quite a difference between individual dogs but some generalities would be:-

Yes, they are generally very healthy. They are bred to work not to show, so are in pretty good shape. Typical life expectancy will be to mid teens, sometimes even older. Occasionally you will get a grey that may have an old racing injury, but usually the rescue will know about this (often this is why they've stopped racing) and for being a pet, they will be fine.

DON'T expect a lively, bouncy, full on dog who wants to play endlessly with your children, walk for three hours a day or will be bored if not doing a Krypton Factor puzzle twice a day. They are not the brainiest of dogs (being kind here grin), are very gentle, sensitive souls and generally like to spend the day resting peacefully with a couple of shortish or one longer walk each day. They will usually colonise your sofa, bed or other comfy spot (being so bony!) and will lie there, farting contentedly with all four legs in the air. Usually their working life will mean that they are used to being handled, travel well, are good on the lead, and will "learn" housetraining in a weekend.

Depending on if they've spent time in a foster home, they may need to be introduced to things like hoovers, stairs, washing machines and so on. They may need to be taught to "play" having never had that in their racing life. Once they get the hang of it, they become utter love sponges, who are always up for a cuddle and are deeply affectionate, doing a "power lean" when wanting some fuss.

Possible downsides - firstly, they are very addictive. Second, prey drive. Greys are bred and trained to chase small fluffy creatures and don't always distinguish between lures, cats and Yorkshire terriers. Generally a rescue will assess a dog's prey drive and will let you know if the dog is cat safe/small fluffy safe - most can be safe with other dogs and around 20% will be cat safe. You should be aware of this chase instinct though since it is hugely powerful and can over-ride even very careful training. So you should only let them off lead where you are pretty sure you are safe if they suddenly see a paper bag half a mile away and decide to run. And when they run, they are very, very fast indeed.

In winter and in cold, wet weather, they will need to wear a coat, and they will need a proper sighthound collar. They can escape from normal dog collars and they can break their necks if they suddenly decide to accelerate, while wearing a colllar that is too narrow.

I have deliberately overstated the negatives - many families with greys let them off lead quite happily and will have them co-existing with other pets. But I think it is better to be forewarned and also to remember that while many dogs chase cats, for instance, greys are so fast, they can catch them.

Please feel free to ask any more questions- would be happy to talk about them for hours! grin blush

vjg13 Sun 28-Aug-11 09:44:08

We have two lurchers, greyhound crosses. They are the most fantastic dogs for all of the above reasons and I coundn't imagine having any other breed of dog. Scuttlebutter is so right about the addiction factor.

Another downside however is that one of ours especially has had a few cuts that have needed stapling/stitching at the vets. He has vey fine fur and is a playful boucy dog who does like rough and tumble. I would make sure you have good pet cover as for any dog.

silentcatastrophe Sun 28-Aug-11 19:53:04

I think they are gorgeous dogs, and would happily take one on. Our house is full of collies though, and really there isn't enough room.

wildfig Sun 28-Aug-11 20:25:47

Everything I've heard about retired greyhounds makes me want to adopt one - the placidity, the affectionate nature, the grace, the chance to give them some comfort and happiness at the end of what can be a hard life. And the collars and pyjamas, obv.

If some space ever comes free on my houndsofa...

LordOfTheFlies Sun 28-Aug-11 22:34:22

Scuttlebutter - can you expand on ( this is what I've read on various sites and I think would be useful for the OP. I might be talking bollox but I'm sure I haven't dreamed this)

Grunds need a specialised vet who is experienced in the type of injuries they can suffer (like all retired athletes they will have had sprains, strains and knocks while racing). Their skin is more fragile than alot of other dogs.
And because they are a low-fat option they have to have different anaesthetic to other dogs

They need to be fed off the floor, or they are at risk of bloat (I'm going to leave the explanation to you, I know it's something to do with their guts and it's an A&E type situation) but that's as much as I know.

Some don't like laminate flooring (thinking of Bambi on ice here grin )

they don't sit (though I've seen photos of sitting greyhounds but they don't look happy)

they can sleep with their eyes open, so small children (and adults) need to be aware and not startle them

they are prone to corns on their feet

and dodgy teeth- due to racing diet

(You did say you could talk for hours wink )

Gay40 Sun 28-Aug-11 22:43:47

Oh lord...even I'm tempted to look at adopting one now.

Scuttlebutter Sun 28-Aug-11 23:15:45

They don't need a specialised vet - our vet is an all purpose small animal practice that works just fine. Yes, they can occasionally have specific ex racing injuries but any vet worth their salt will be able to treat, or refer to specialist orthopaedic if required. A vet who is familiar with ex racers can be helpful but I'd say that a good vet needn't be a grund specialist. Many vets will have done their anatomy practice in vet school on them. These days, with their increasing popularity as pets, more and more vets are becoming familiar with them.

They have a very low percentage of body fat and slightly different blood chemistry to other dogs - due to their oxygen uptake capacity. See link here for more details. Their high haemoglobin levels and placid nature make them very popular as dog blood donors.

Anaesthetics used to be an issue for them - as they weren't able to process certain barbiturates (again due to low fat levels) but these days, modern anaesthetics are just fine, as used in most British vets.

Um, yes, the low fat level and the fine thin skin mean that if they go wandering into a thicket of brambles they will come out in a mess. Most grund owners very quickly become quite blase (or bankrupt!!) - generally, they don't want to go wandering into undergrowth or diving into shrubbery. We get used to cuts, scrapes and the fact they bruise very easily. Salt water is your friend, and the fact they like wearing their coats. grin

Like all deep chested breeds, such as Great Danes, deerhounds, bloat can be an issue, so I'd ensure they are fed after exercise not before. Not necessary to raise feeders - we have two who eat off raised feeders and one who eats from the floor (or the worktop, or anywhere he can steal from...). However, many grunds find it more comfortable eating from a raised feeder. We find an Ikea flowerpot is just the right height to accomodate a bowl and keep a hound happy.

Yes, most greyhounds don't sit - it's not at all comfortable for them. They will however lie very regally.

Yes, they can sleep with their eyes open (though their third eyelid will be across the eye).

Grunds and lurchers are the only dog breeds to get corns on their feet. Not all greyhounds get them. Many different theories as to causes.

The teeth are not intrinsically dodgy - many racing dogs are fed a soft pappy diet so will have tartar on their teeth when they come off the track. Most rescues will ensure a dental is done before rehoming. Once rehomed, they should (like all dogs) eat plenty of things like bones etc (and have teeth cleaned if you are brave) to help keep tartar down, and gums healthy.

We've got laminate flooring downstairs - yes, there is a certain amount of comedy skidding but we have rugs at key cornering points so that works fine.

Any more questions? grin

LordOfTheFlies Sun 28-Aug-11 23:53:52

We met 3 today at a fund raising event, and I was gobsmacked how elegant and beautiful they are. They are all long legs and necks and the most beautiful ears folded back like angels wings. The softest coats like moleskin.

They took all the crowds and attention in their stride - nay, their right.

But they stood/ lay about yawning. Lazy buggers, you need to promote yourselves grin

Scuttlebutter Mon 29-Aug-11 00:04:41

Yes, they are the supermodels of the dog world. Legs that go on for ever, swan like necks and then the arse of Beelzebub! grin The ears stand up if there's a breeze or something particularly interesting is going on. You can tell a lot from the ear position.

No greyhound worth the name would stand about for a millisecond longer than necessary - they'd be heading directly for the nearest comfy sofa, quilt or dog bed. They will be happy to tolerate a power lean if no bed is immediately available.

Our black ones gleam like satin in the sun - beautiful soft coats - and the blonde one is lovely too. It's virtually impossible to take a bad picture of one.

Pawsnclaws Mon 29-Aug-11 18:02:16

Nearly a year ago I was asking the very same questions (ably and honestly answered by experts like Scuttlebutter) - and decided an ex-racer called Bertie was the one for us.

He has settled in briliantly at home, he "got" housetraining overnight (he was already kennel trained tbf), is wonderful with my three dcs, and is the gentlest, quietest dog we've ever had. He doesn't shed or smell (well apart from the shock and awe of his bottom as already mentioned!), doesn't bark, doesn't chew anything (except bizarrely he once ate one of my sandals), walks beautifully on the lead, travels well by car and is just the most lovely pet. He gets 2 x 20 minute walks a day and a long walk once a day at weekends.

We've had no problems to date with teeth or health (DH cleans his teeth every day). He's great with other dogs but has never been tested with cats and frankly I wouldn't trust him with one (he was a successful racer).

We get so much lovely attention when we go out with him, honestly it's like having a new baby. He's grey and quite a large dog but seems to be able to fold himself up when lying down (which is 95% of the time). I would say his coat took a good couple of months to get up to full gloss after being in kennels, and he is now absolutely stunning.

We love Bertie and can't imagine life without him. Must remember to load some pictures up for you to see when I get the chance!

Pawsnclaws Mon 29-Aug-11 18:08:25

Ooh just one thought actually - if you have outdoor space it needs to be securely fenced as they can jump really high and run for miles if they get the urge to chase. I accidentally dropped Bertie's lead once and he was gone. Quite a shock to see your snoring, farting couch potato sprint elegantly off at 40 mph!

LordOfTheFlies Mon 29-Aug-11 23:18:21

You'll have the tidiest kitchen worktops ever .
I'm reliably informed they can stand up and hoover whatever they can reach and whatever takes their fancy.

One owner I met left bread and butter on the worktop to make a sarnie. Had to answer the door.

Came back to no bread, butter on the floor, one smug, belching hound.

Pawsnclaws Mon 29-Aug-11 23:31:07

So true Lord!

Our dog will do a stealth raid on any food left unattended - sandwiches, crisps, cereal .......

A few weeks ago I heard a curious rustling noise from his bed and found him sheepishly trying to get his snout out of a packet of bacon flavoured Discos stolen from ds3! Obviously the contents of the packet had been inhaled but he couldn't dispose of the evidence!

Pawsnclaws Mon 29-Aug-11 23:32:00

So true Lord!

Our dog will do a stealth raid on any food left unattended - sandwiches, crisps, cereal .......

A few weeks ago I heard a curious rustling noise from his bed and found him sheepishly trying to get his snout out of a packet of bacon flavoured Discos stolen from ds3! Obviously the contents of the packet had been inhaled but he couldn't dispose of the evidence!

Scuttlebutter Mon 29-Aug-11 23:32:01

Yep, we got caught out a few times - our large male can reach right into the corners of the worksurfaces, and can reach the top of the microwave oven that sits on top of the worksurface. Sigh. Scuttle pauses and remembers her butter dish with a fond wistfulness. There were several other, ahem, incidents involving expensive joints of meat. We don't tend to eat meat very often but go for nice, high quality, organic, high welfare meat when we do - let's just say greyhounds thought that was very considerate of us. Now we have immaculately clear surfaces, except strangely enough fruit, and veggies like chillies, garlic, etc. Obviously they have a vitamin detector or something.

FayKnights Mon 29-Aug-11 23:39:35

Amazing advice above and just wanted to add that my mum has 2 greyhounds, one male and one female. They are the most gentle sweethearts and they are fantastic with all the various aged children in the family. YY to the food snaffling stories above, you have to run the gauntlet of the dogs if you bring French stick home. Really hope you go for one (or two).

GeetTallBird Mon 29-Aug-11 23:50:10

My sister has a rescue grund, she's gorgeous. That lovely dog has beautiful eyes, a glamourous shiny coat, and now wears hand knitted scarves.
Sadly she was terribly mistreated by some utter shit who stubbed out cigarettes on her. Bastard.
It makes me glad the RSPCA are around to prosecute people like that.

Tortoise Tue 30-Aug-11 00:05:36

I've had my Greyhound 3 years now. He is a wonderful dog and agree with everything said on here. He is a terrible food thief! Kids take their eye off food in their hand for a few seconds and he sneaks in for the grab! Often winning his tasty reward for his sneakiness!
Twice he has had the guinea pig in his mouth but gently enough not to pierce the skin thankfully. Not sure what would have happened if he wasn't shouted at quick enough! Hopefully DDs have learnt not to let the dog out with guinea!

If i had a bigger house and more room, i would definitely have at least one more greyhound! We have a 2 yr old jack russell too. He is yet to work out why the greyhound won't play with him!

Even now, i always put his muzzle on if i let him off lead, just in case! I really don't trust him with anything small and fluffy!

All in all he is the most wonderful dog and i wouldn't be without him. He often cuddles up with me in bed. In the winter he whines at me and scratches at the bed in the night until i lift the duvet for him to get in and under!

LordOfTheFlies Tue 30-Aug-11 00:10:26

Can I ask a stupid questions.

Do they bark?

BitterAndTwistedChoreDodger Tue 30-Aug-11 00:18:46

I agree with everything scuttle says, except one point. (My next dog will be a rescue greyhound. smile)

But Weimaraners are the supermodels of the dog world. <<stamps foot>>

Scuttlebutter Tue 30-Aug-11 00:20:21

Yes! We have one who barks at the postie, one who barks at invisible Vikings, one who barks when he is very excited and his naughty mistress is slow coming down stairs to take him for his walk. They also do a spectacular pack howl which is very impressive, and make a variety of other noises including growls, squeaks, whines, and a funny sort of "aa-rroo" noise when doing zoomies. There is also a ladylike snore emerging from the corner of the bedroom at the moment, plus the occasional "pfft" from said Satanic bottom. Oh, and did I mention the groaning?

LordOfTheFlies Tue 30-Aug-11 00:41:53

Tsk away with your Weimaraners, supermodelly nonsense.(I can't even pronounce it or spell it! grin )
They are severeley colour limited - bronzey with Twilight looking yellowy/amber eyes- is the only colour I've seen out and about.

Greys are available in a rainbow of colours (well not literally rainbow) and alot of them are black. Black goes with anything BTW.

And their faces remind me of beautiful, elongated rabbits faces for some reason.

And the only Weimaraner I've been up-close-and-personal-with had the smelliest paws ever!

BitterAndTwistedChoreDodger Tue 30-Aug-11 00:48:10

Weis are the best dog ever. Fact. grin

Which other dog will learn that a raised eyebrow = hmm


Best. Dog. Ever. *

* Disclaimer - I now have a bloody Lab/poss lab cross who is thick as mince.

LordOfTheFlies Tue 30-Aug-11 01:04:15

Love the phrase thick as mince BTW .

Seriously though. When you delve into the murky waters of rescue dogs and the reasons why they are there.
Some rehomed because the cute ickle puppy grows up.
Or someone has a dog then a baby ( or baby then dog) and it doesn't work out
Or the owner has to move
Or the dog has behaviour issues.
Or they are taken in as a stray

Most of the dogs in greyhound rescue are there because they are made redundant. Or they are just not good enough to race

They lead a pretty routine based life.Not that heavy on the luxury.
Food, a paddock, an kennel mate, excercise, race, vet inspections.
They don't get a chance to be puppies IYSWIM.

Compare to your average house dog.
Yet every ex-racer I have met, the owner has said how fantastic the dog is.
I know there will be some arsey ones out there.Some are a bit detatched until they get used to a whole new life, a new career if you like.
And most are sadly quite young.
That alone should make you consider one.

BTW I'm not dissing any other type/breed of dog here. It's a Greyhound Thread.

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