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Opinions /advice please - Is a retired greyhound a good dog for us?

(47 Posts)
PetraStrorm Sat 27-Dec-14 21:46:12

I am taking the plunge and starting to think about adopting a dog (landlord has okayed it). I grew up with small terriers (cairns and Westies) and started out thinking we'd get something like that, but the more I read about greyhounds and whippets the more I'm wondering if they might be a better fit. We are:
Me (single mum), teenage son and daughter who's nearly 5.
Smallish detached house with a smallish enclosed garden, in a quiet street. Lots of local cats, not many dogs. We have no other pets.

I work from home, eventually would have to leave the dog for one working day a week (9-4) but would get dog sitter/walker in as necessary. Otherwise I'm a real homebody.
I'm looking for a calm, friendly dog that I'll happily walk a couple of times a day but I can't do hours and hours of walking. I'd rather have a more mature dog than a puppy.

My concerns about greyhounds/whippets are - size: will they be too big? And off-lead exercise - do they spot something and bolt? Do they really need a lot of running about in big open spaces or are they happy on the lead?

Any advice/opinions very welcome, any suggestions of other good small/medium breeds would be gratefully received. Thanks in advance smile

MehsMum Sat 27-Dec-14 22:08:45

Somebody who knows more than me will no doubt be along in a minute, but as far as I know ex-racing greyhounds:
sleep lots
need the chance for a bit of running around but not hours and hours
are liable to chase cats if off the lead (and probably try to chase them when on it!)

They are quite big dogs, though. You might do better with a middle-aged rescue whippet (though if you get one of those you will never be able to leave food out unsupervised ever again...) Be aware though that lots of rescues won't consider you if you have a child under 5.

RandomHouseRules Sat 27-Dec-14 22:16:04

I shouldn't really post as have no personal experience but friends of ours got an x-racing gh last year. He is huge. And absolutely gorgeous. They live in a small-ish house (downstairs is 2 rooms) with a small garden (maybe 15 feet square). Lovely LOVELY dog, who is fairly quiet and calm as MehsMum says really. They have a dog walker who comes in during the day when they are at work and also goes for a walk early (about 7.30am) and post-work (5.30). No children though. Can't really be walked off lead for the bolting reason you mention. They do classes with him at a weekend which is intended to help with this over the longer term. I know he has brought them a lot of joy.

PetraStrorm Sat 27-Dec-14 22:24:14

Thanks for the reply Meh Yes, I'm aware DD being young might be a factor, but if we have to wait a while till she's turned 5 that's not a problem. I think greyhound temperament sounds great, but the size concerns me a bit - more for the dog's sake - would it need a huge garden / big house to roam around in. I'd choose a larger dog that was less bouncy over a really boingy small dog.

PetraStrorm Sat 27-Dec-14 22:28:46

Thanks random. I probably need to contact a rescue greyhound place and set out my circumstances to see if they think I'm a good fit, but Mumsnet tends to be my first port of call smile.

I think DD would be happier with a calmer dog even if it was bigger - she likes dogs and is fine with them once she knows them, but finds very excitable bouncy dogs a bit scary - natural really.

LoathsomeDrab Sat 27-Dec-14 22:32:46

Whippets aren't very big at all. My biggest (who is right up at the top end of the breed standard for height) still only weighs 14kg and I can easily scoop him up and carry him round like a baby and my smallest just scrapes into the standard height range and only weighs 12kg. They also curl up really, really small.

Do they really need a lot of running about in big open spaces or are they happy on the lead?

Personally I wouldn't have a sighthound without access to somewhere where I'd be able to let them run off lead on a regular basis. My boys absolutely live to run and I think I'd struggle to keep them satisfied and happy if they were always kept on lead. Whippets are very trainable though, my boys all have excellent recall and spend the vast majority of every walk off lead. They will chase if a rabbit pops up right under their nose but they will also recall mid-chase.

Whippets make fabulous family pets. They're so easy to please, half an hour of off lead running will have my boys upside down on the sofa for the rest of the day. They're immensely loving and cuddly, it's impossible to sit down in this house without ending up with at least one whippet curled up on/up against you. They do shed but their hairs are so tiny that you don't end up under drifts if you don't hoover every day. They're very easy to keep clean, my lot were filthy after their walk today but a quick rinse under the shower and they're spotless plus they dry within minutes so no wet dog smell. They're a very healthy breed and a lot more robust than they look.

Honestly, I could rave about them all day blush

DancingDinosaur Sat 27-Dec-14 22:38:16

I had a whippet cross who was quite lazy and slept a lot. But she did like to run. I had a big garden though so she could let off a lot of steam there. She had terrible recall and I couldn't let her off the lead. My friend used to exercise his at the local race track. She wasn't good with kids so you'd need to check the dogs history. They are all different. But a greyhound isn't a bad choice, although they do need to run.

Gingerfudge Sat 27-Dec-14 22:39:59

I have a whippet, and they are lovely but recall is the Achilles. I train and train, it's possible we'll get there but he enjoys the race more than anything I can offer. We exercise him on a long lead and he gets to run and experience a bit of joy....not all whippets are so hard but I do find myself wondering why I thought I could do this....I do sometimes yearn for a more biddable bred, he is more like a cat.

PetraStrorm Sat 27-Dec-14 22:41:19

Cheers Loathsomedrab, rave away, it's all really useful! I could manage off-lead time during walks at weekends and my day off in the week, as long as I had recall sorted - that's the only thing that worries me, but if whippets are trainable then hopefully that would be ok. I think maybe whippet size might be better for us than greyhound size, much as I love the look of them...

Do you have any opinion on dogs versus bitches? Or is it a case of individual dogs rather than gender?

DancingDinosaur Sat 27-Dec-14 22:44:41

I don't think male / female makes much difference. Depends on the dog itself. I had a male lurcher years ago (grey hound size). Great dog, lots of fun, terrible recall too though. I guess the female whippet I had was a lot more loyal, but that may just have been her.

MuttonCadet Sat 27-Dec-14 22:45:48

We have two greyhounds and they are perfect pets in terms off sleeping and a placid nature.
I would never let mine off the lead in an open area, but we do have an area of land that we can let them off in, and they do love to run.

PetraStrorm Sat 27-Dec-14 22:46:24

Ah, some different experiences coming through now! I'd be happy keeping a dog on a long lead, as long as it was ok for the dog. One of the reasons I'd always go through a reforming organisation rather then a more unofficial route is the way they seem to really know their dogs - it has to be a good fit for us and the dog, so hopefully they'd suggest one that we'd make a good home for.

CMOTDibbler Sat 27-Dec-14 22:49:10

I have lurchers, the older one is more greyhoundy and is the calmest dog around and dpuppy is whippety. They both fold up very small when they want to - dh (large), ds (8) and ddog were all lounging on the 2 seater sofa earlier because ddog didn't want to be left out.

Mine love to run, and recall. Ddog is a failed hare courser, so has a very low prey drive. Dpuppy is more inclined to chase things, but my magic pocket full of sausage is more interesting apparently.

PetraStrorm Sat 27-Dec-14 22:50:54

Thanks everyone - I'll give some more thought to potential safe open spaces I can easily get to round here. Really welcome all your comments, they are helping me a lot flowers. I have to go now but will check back again in the morning.

Gingerfudge Sat 27-Dec-14 22:52:57

Our pup gets a good run on his long line, we play with him, he darts around the garden. Then need to run....but not always off lead at the park. We were told the males were more affectionate. Tbh he's not the most adoring of dogs, I constantly work on eye contact, bonding previous dogs were labs and they were devoted. Current whippet Dpup is loving and attentive whenever it suits him....just like a cat.

Scuttlebutter Sat 27-Dec-14 23:27:14

Just to chip in with a couple of points. Most greyhound rescues will be able to steer you to a field or enclosed area where you can let pointies run off lead safely. In fact, many greyhound rescues have their own field/paddock etc. which can usually be hired by the hour and is a great resource for off lead zoomies. In addition, most rescues will regularly hold sighthound playdates where your pointy can zoom about with others having a ball. There are also lots of opportunities to do informal things like racing after lures, lure coursing etc.

If you adopt a grey or lurcher through a rescue, many are very happy to rehome where there are young DC - there are quite a few MNetters who have a young child/pointy combo. As with any breed of dog, it very much depends on the individual dog, and a good rescue will be able to advise on their suitability. We currently have three greys, one adores kids, one is OK with them but gets bored after a bit, and one actively dislikes them, finding them noisy and unpredictable. fgrin

Again, the prey drive is the key to how they will be with cats/small furries/recall. Low prey drive dog (we've had one) will be the Fotherington-Thomas of the greyhound world. High prey drive dog (currently two of the three) - no small furry is safe in a mile radius, and we manage accordingly. A rescue will have carefully assessed each dog and will be able to explain this to you and give the relevant facts for that individual dog. It really is difficult to generalise because of this.

Although they are quite big, they do fold up pretty small. There is also considerable variation size wise within the breed. Our smallest bitch is barely 23kg (just recovering weight after an illness) and is dainty and very petite, whereas our largest male is a big old 36kg and is a whopper (comes up to my hip). However, they don't get under your feet, and there's a lot to be said for a quieter, large dog rather than a bouncy, completely bonkers terrier with no off switch - that would drive me nuts.

Hope this helps. If you want advice on good sighthound charities, please do ask.

PetraStrorm Sun 28-Dec-14 08:33:43

Thanks Scuttle, and yes please, would love to know of any charities you can recommend. I'm in the East Midlands, also visit South Yorkshire regularly (I'm a Barnsley native). There must be whippets around there grin

VivaLeBeaver Sun 28-Dec-14 08:46:08

Rgt at crossing cottage near Newark is a great rescue.

I used to have a greyhound from there who had no chase instinct, which was important as I have cats. Dog could be walked off lead and didnt chase anything apart from hares. March, April time she used to disappear across the fields but always came back.

I know other people with greyhounds which they never let off the lead.

I'm not sure a long line would be a good idea. They certainly shouldn't have extending leads. They can hit 40mph very quickly. So if they've got up to speed and a lead suddenly goes taut it could really hurt their neck.

Gingerfudge Sun 28-Dec-14 08:50:22

I have my whippet on a long line and a good quality harness - the perfect fit, I never connect it to a collar. We have an extending lead but t it is rarely used.

MuttonCadet Sun 28-Dec-14 09:56:59

Wortley greyhound rescue near Barnsley are great, and will definitely match you with a suitable dog.

Eloisedublin123 Sun 28-Dec-14 20:34:56

Hi there OP
Was just reading various posts and your one caught my eye. We rescued a starving stray lurcher 3 weeks ago and are looking now for a good home for him. I have a four yr old and the dogs excellent with her. It's a male and the vet says he's about 2. He's v sweet but still jumpy as you can imagine. I would keep him but I have a retriever and a hound ( one also a rescue dog). He will go to his new home with a collar, lead, new coat ( well he was cold smile) bed, food, and I have de flead and wormed him and I will be vaccinating and neutering him also. Might you be interested? Just emailed all the rescue charities last night with his details but there are a lotta dogs looking for homes just now...

Eloisedublin123 Sun 28-Dec-14 20:40:11

To give you an idea of size- here is the crew with my daughter age 4. Photo taken this morn smile

PetraStrorm Sun 28-Dec-14 21:24:54

He's gorgeous, eloise, but I'd feel a bit wary of taking a dog on that wasn't via a rehoming organisation. Not doubting you or your intentions at all, please don't think that. Whereabouts are you based?

Eloisedublin123 Sun 28-Dec-14 21:29:23

No worries! Totally understand. Good luck with your search. 'Twas just a thought.

PetraStrorm Sun 28-Dec-14 21:39:46

Thanks for all the comments so far everyone, it's all very helpful. I think I'm going to visit the Dogs Trust near me, have a chat with them and meet a few different types of dogs, just in case there's a suitable dog or a breed that I haven't considered yet. If I'm still keen on a sighthound (which I am right now, they seem wonderful) I'll contact Wortley, as even though they're further away than some places they're actually easier for me to get to (not driving at the mo so a lot of rescue centres in the sticks are tricky to get to).

Fingers crossed I'll be filling up threads with doggy photos soon fgrin

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