Frequently Asked Questions

Thank you for your interest in adopting a retired racing Greyhound. This document is intended to provide you with enough basic information to decide whether or not a Greyhound is the dog for you. We hope you understand that, for various reasons, not every application will be accepted, just as we realize that not every person seeking a canine companion will choose a Greyhound. Our adoption fee is $200.00, which includes: 

  • spaying/neutering
  • teeth cleaning
  • testing for tick-borne diseases, and treatment as recommended by veterinarians
  • heartworm test, and heartworm preventative medication until adopted (during mosquito season)
  • distemper series and rabies vaccinations
  • deworming
  • microchipping
  • bathing, nail trim and flea and tick treatment
  • martingale collar and matching lead
  • assistance and support from LEGR with adjustment, behavior, or health problems for the lifetime of your dog

 LEGR tests all dogs that enter our program for tick-borne diseases (see “Tick-Borne Diseases”, below), and treats dogs with positive titers for babesia, ehrlichia, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Lyme in accordance with veterinarians’ recommendations.  All of our dogs are in foster care before they are adopted, some in foster homes and some here in our “kennel” room, and we attempt to match each dog's personality with the lifestyle of the adopter. The only policy we have which is unique when compared to those of the average humane society is a requirement for a fenced yard or area. (Our reason for this requirement is explained below.) Exceptions may be made on an individual, case-by-case basis. Our adoption process normally involves a written application which is followed by a home visit to assist us in finding the right dog for each adopter. Adopting the Racing Greyhound (second or third edition), by Cynthia Branigan, is required reading for all who wish to adopt from LEGR. Because of the difficulty of doing followup and assisting if any problems develop, we normally do not do out-of-state adoptions unless there is no adoption group closer to the potential adopter than we are. If you live outside of Ohio, please visit http://www.adopt-a-greyhound.org for a geographical list of adoption groups. 

HISTORY OF THE BREED
The Greyhound is one of the oldest dog breeds and appears in art and literature throughout history. It is the only breed mentioned by name in the Bible. In ancient Egypt, Greyhounds were mummified and buried along with their owners, and tombs were often decorated with Greyhound figures. Alexander the Great had a Greyhound, and the only one to recognize Odysseus (Homer's Odyssey) upon his return was his Greyhound, Argus. Greyhounds are also mentioned in Chaucer and Shakespeare, and have long been associated with royalty. They were initially bred to be hunting companions exclusively for noblemen, and from the 11th to the 14th century English law actually prohibited a "mean person" from keeping a Greyhound. Greyhounds were introduced in America in the 1800s to help farmers control jackrabbit populations; formal Greyhound racing developed from neighborhood competitions. In the early races the dogs sported monkey “jockeys”, but these were quickly discontinued. Today's Greyhounds are recognized by all major kennel clubs around the world. Racing Greyhounds are registered by the National Greyhound Association and show Greyhounds by the American Kennel Club. NGA Greyhounds average between 22 and 30 inches in height at the shoulder and weigh 55 - 80 pounds, with females being smaller than males. Both males and females race successfully. The American Greyhound Track Operators recognize 18 coat colors and/or patterns; the most common is brindle, and the least common is grey (called “blue”). 

GREYHOUNDS’ UPBRINGING
The Greyhounds placed by Lake Erie Greyhound Rescue, Inc. (LEGR) are retired, trained athletes, usually between the ages of two and five (life expectancy is 12 - 14 years). We generally do not have Greyhound puppies or dogs that have never been trained for racing. Greyhounds are usually bred by professional breeders who look for speed, endurance and temperament. Good breeders pay close attention to physical soundness and emotional disposition of the puppies; as a result, hereditary physical and temperament problems have been avoided in Greyhounds. Most dogs are bred on "farms" located throughout the country. During the first year of their lives, Greyhound puppies live with their littermates and are handled by the breeders and staff employed by the farms, but they are not exposed to other breeds of dog. Consequently, Greyhounds are socialized to people and to other Greyhounds and strangers to other dog breeds. Sometime between four and eighteen months, the dogs are usually placed in individual crates in the kennel, and this is where they spend most of their time between exercise periods and training. The crate becomes the dog's private space where it cannot be bothered by other dogs.  Because they are accustomed to crates and because Greyhounds, like other dogs, normally don’t “potty” in their crates (which they see as their dens), they have already taken the first steps toward housebreaking when they retire from racing. 

TEMPERAMENT AND TRAINING
Greyhounds which are in training or actively racing are generally not treated cruelly, although this is not always the case, and they do sometimes have to “run for their lives”. Their handling in training and on the track may be somewhat businesslike, and they usually do not get the amount of attention or affection that companion dogs receive. In spite of this, they love people and are quite sociable. Greyhounds are often curious, sometimes shy, usually very sensitive and surprisingly gentle. If bothered by a persistent child, their tendency is to walk away rather than to snap (of course, small children should never be left alone with any dog). They are intelligent and normally eager to please, but during obedience training they often exhibit the independence which makes them good hunters. A retired racer is generally not a dog whose spirit has been broken by its training or racing experience. Racing Greyhounds go to work at a young age and therefore many retired racers, especially those under three years of age, often take the opportunity to revert to puppyhood after they are adopted. They act out puppy behavior such as chewing and general playfulness but typically quickly outgrow this phase. Greyhounds can and should be trained to standard obedience commands, and contrary to a widespread misunderstanding, they can be taught to sit, and it does not hurt them! They do not know how to climb stairs and have to be introduced to things such as mirrors and sliding glass doors.

Like all other dogs, Greyhounds are pack animals, which means that they are social creatures living in a clearly defined social hierarchy. This social structure is particularly important for Greyhounds because they have been in the company of large numbers of other dogs since birth. All dogs need to know who the "alpha" figure or pack leader is so that they will know how to behave. In a wolf pack, the "alpha" wolf sets the rules, enforces discipline and is responsible for the safety of the pack. There is always competition and testing in a pack for the role of leader, but the survival of the pack is ensured by the pack leader. Of course, dogs are not wolves, and dog packs are different from wolf packs. But dogs still need and look for a leader, and many will take over that role if their humans fail to fill it. There are many good books on dog behavior and training available; a couple are Teaching A New Dog Old Tricks, by Ian Dunbar, and Greyhounds for Dummies, by Lee Livingood. Culture Clash, by Jean Donaldson, is a good read for those interested in how dogs learn. 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Are Greyhounds good with other dogs and cats?
Although they do not know other dog breeds, it does not take them long to learn that these too are dogs, and they normally get along fine with them. Greyhounds should be carefully introduced to cats and very small dogs, as at first glance they look very similar to the lure they were trained to chase.  There are ex -racing Greyhounds that live with birds, cats, rabbits, ferrets...it simply depends on the dog. It has been estimated that 70% of retired racers have no interest in chasing cats, 20% can be trained to live safely with cats, and 10% should not live in a home with cats. However, it’s important to remember that even if you have trained your Greyhound not to chase the family cat indoors, it may still chase the neighbor's cat, or even your cat outdoors. LEGR prefers to place dogs that fall into the 70% category in homes with cats.

Why do Greyhounds need a fenced yard?
Greyhounds are basically like all other dogs, but because of their training and racing career, they have some unique characteristics. They are sighthounds (also called gazehounds), meaning that they hunt by sight rather than smell. As hunters, they work cooperatively with other hounds and develop strategies of pursuit spontaneously during the chase. This natural instinct is reinforced in Greyhounds by training to chase lures (usually mechanical but sometimes live). Greyhounds are not vicious predators, but they do chase things that move by nature. They are sprinters and can run up to 45 miles per hour for very short periods (the average speed on a dog track is generally in the 30's). Some retired racers love to run; others take retirement very seriously and move as little as possible. Likewise, some dogs have a strong prey drive and chase squirrels and other small animals at every opportunity, where others would not give a cat a second glance. Even those dogs with a fairly healthy prey drive can be taught not to chase the family cat or Chihuahua. However, it is important to know that a dog responding to the ancient call to chase will probably be oblivious to its owner's calls to come. This is why a Greyhound can never be allowed to run loose except in a securely fenced area. Even Greyhounds which have been through obedience training should never be trusted off leash in an unfenced area. Potential adopters who do not have fenced yards should be prepared to take their Greyhound for a minimum of four on-leash potty walks and at least one longer walk (for exercise) daily, and will need to find a safely fenced area where the dog can run off-leash about once a week (or more or less, depending on the individual dog). 

Does electronic (‘invisible’) fencing work with Greyhounds?
No, electronic fencing is not suitable for use with Greyhounds. A Greyhound in pursuit of a small animal will run right through an electronic fence. Electronic fences also do not keep out stray dogs, stray cats, raccoons and other wildlife, or teasing children. Electronic fences are also useless when there are power outages, unless there is a backup power source in place. Enough dogs have turned up in shelters and pounds wearing their electronic fence collars to convince us that electronic fencing is not a safe, reliable way to contain most dogs. We make exceptions to the fenced yard requirement for the right homes, but we will not place dogs in homes with electronic fencing.

Do Greyhounds shed?
All dogs shed, and the amount that Greyhounds shed seems to vary from dog to dog. Some Greyhounds shed like any other short-haired breed, others hardly at all. Some people think that lighter-colored Greyhounds shed more than dark ones do. However, even a Greyhound that sheds comparatively heavily would shed much less than a Dalmatian or German Shepherd Dog.

Are Greyhounds good with children?
Many books on dog breeds describe the Greyhound as being too "high-strung" for children, which is entirely false. Most Greyhounds have a very quiet, calm disposition and are good with well-mannered children. However, any dog of any breed that has not been raised around children must be watched carefully, and all interaction between dogs and children, no matter how trustworthy the dog or the children, should be supervised by adults. Most Greyhounds have never seen children before leaving the track, and because very young children can behave unpredictably and in ways that are frightening or threatening to dogs, we generally do not recommend placing Greyhounds in homes with children under the age of 6.  Again, exceptions may be made depending on individual circumstances. 

Do Greyhounds need a lot of exercise?
Greyhounds are the fastest breed of dog for short distances, but they are sprinters and don't have a lot of endurance. Therefore, they require less exercise than many breeds, and much less than breeds such as the Dalmatian or the Labrador Retriever. If your yard is large, a Greyhound could get all the exercise it needs there. If you have a smaller yard, a couple of weekly walks and an occasional run in a fenced neighborhood ball field will keep most Greyhounds happy.

Are Greyhounds good watchdogs?
Probably because of their laid-back, non-aggressive nature, Greyhounds do not make particularly good watchdogs. In fact, many owners have never heard their Greyhounds bark! Most Greyhounds love visitors and would not distinguish between those who are invited and those who are uninvited and unwelcome.

If they aren't aggressive, why are Greyhounds muzzled when they race?
Greyhounds are typically very excited immediately before and after and during a race, and may nip at other dogs running near them. Muzzles are also used to help determine the winner in a photo-finish race.  Owners who get together to run their retired racers in fenced areas often muzzle their dogs to prevent excitement-induced bites, especially if the dogs don't know each other.

All the retired racers I've seen look too skinny. Shouldn't they gain more weight after they retire?
Generally, they should gain about five pounds after they retire, depending on the dog's build. Greyhounds should always look lean; two or three ribs and vertebrae should be visible. Unlike other dog breeds, a Greyhound with even a thin layer of fat covering its ribs is overweight.

SPECIAL MEDICAL ISSUES

Sensitivities
Greyhounds' livers metabolize toxins from their bloodstreams more slowly than other dogs of comparable size, and they have a very low percentage of body fat in proportion to their size, so it is easier for harmful concentrations of toxins to develop. Additionally, Greyhounds are very sensitive to certain medications, including anesthesia. Make sure that your veterinarian is aware of a Greyhound's special anesthesia requirements before allowing your Greyhound to undergo surgery. The third edition of Adopting the Racing Greyhound has detailed information concerning anesthesia in Greyhounds. 

Flea collars and long-lasting pesticides such as Hartz Blockade can be harmful or even fatal to a Greyhound. Additionally, products which release flea-killing chemicals into the bloodstream of the dog should be avoided, as should products such as Rabon, Bayon, ProSpot and Ex-Spot. Any product containing organophosphates such as Dursban cannot be used on a Greyhound, on a Greyhound's bedding, or in a house where a Greyhound lives. 

The monthly pill Program, which renders flea eggs sterile after the flea bites the dog, is safe to use with Greyhounds, but it does not actually kill the fleas themselves. Advantage, which is applied monthly, is also safe for Greyhounds and does kill the fleas. Advantage has been found by some to be more effective for fleas on Greyhounds than Frontline, perhaps because Frontline is distributed by the oils in a dog’s coat and Greyhounds’ coats have very little oil. Advantix, which is Advantage plus tick protection, is not recommended for Greyhounds because it contains permethrins. LEGR uses Frontline, however, because it also kills ticks. Products containing pyrethrins are safe for use on Greyhounds, as are products with d-Limonene. The human shampoo Pert Plus kills fleas on the dog but has little or no residual effect.  In general, if a product contains pyrethrins and the label states that it is safe for cats and kittens, it will be safe for Greyhounds.

Dewormers with an organophosphate base must be avoided. For hookworm or roundworm infestations, use pyrantel pamoate (the active ingredient in the non-prescription wormers Evict, Nemex, and Nemex2, and the prescription wormer Strongid-T). For tapeworms, Droncit is the most effective drug, but must be obtained from a veterinarian. Panacur, which also is a prescription wormer, is effective for whipworms, hookworms, roundworms and some tapeworms. LEGR uses Drontal Plus, which is a combination of Droncit and Panacur.

Bloat
Like other deep-chested breeds, Greyhounds can be prone to bloat, or torsion. This is a life-threatening condition in which the stomach becomes twisted. Symptoms include a distended abdomen, repeated vomiting with no results, pacing and restlessness. Bloat is a very painful condition that can be fatal quickly; immediate medical attention from your veterinarian or emergency veterinary clinic is absolutely essential.  You may wish to discuss bloat with your veterinarian so that you know in advance what to do should it happen in order to improve your dog's chances for survival. In order to prevent bloat, do not allow your Greyhound to exercise just before and for an hour or so after eating, and don’t let it drink large amounts of water immediately after eating dry dog food.

Tick-Borne Diseases
Because racing Greyhounds are kenneled with a large number of other dogs in a transient population, and often come from southern states where ticks are a problem year-round, they have a much higher than normal incidence of tick-borne diseases. It is estimated that 40-65% of racing Greyhounds are exposed to tick-borne diseases, and these percentages are supported by our testing results. The most common tick -borne diseases are Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichia and Babesia. These diseases are relatively uncommon in the "non-Greyhound" dog population, so many veterinarians have never seen a dog with Ehrlichiosis or Babesiosis, and the laboratories they use for their routine work may be unfamiliar with the required procedure for the blood tests used to detect the diseases. Further compounding the problem is the fact that the diseases present with a wide variety of signs and symptoms that are often somewhat vague and are frequently misdiagnosed. Symptoms and findings common to both erlichiosis and babesiosis include, but are not limited to, weakness; depression; anorexia; muscle wasting; seizures; intermittent fever; and protein in the urine. Because affected dogs should be treated as soon as possible, and because we do not wish ex-racers to facilitate the spread of tick-borne diseases, LEGR has decided to test all of its dogs for tick-borne diseases, and treat as necessary.  LEGR was the first Greyhound adoption group in Ohio to test each dog for TBDs and is one of only a few groups nationwide that provide this important service prior to adoption.

Compiled by Lake Erie Greyhound Rescue, Inc.

LAKE ERIE GREYHOUND RESCUE, INC. is a nonprofit Ohio corporation dedicated to promoting and facilitating adoption of greyhounds when their racing careers end, and to educating the public about greyhounds and what wonderful companions they are. LEGR is tax-exempt under Section 501 of the Internal Revenue Code and therefore all donations to LEGR are tax-deductible. Volunteers are welcome, particularly in the areas of fund-raising and publicity, and foster homes are especially needed.

BuiltWithNOF
[HOME] [FAQ] [LINKS] [FOREVER HOME] [IN MEMORY] [DONORS]
LEGR logo04