Frequently asked questions
Origin of the Greyhound
The first signs of greyhounds were in temple drawings dating back to 6000 BC, in what is now Turkey. Greyhounds in ancient Egypt were companion dogs and hunting partners to the Pharaohs…they were even worshiped. The greyhound was taken to Rome by the conquering armies and then on to the British Isles. There they were used for the first time for “sport”. In the U.S. they are included in the memoirs of General George Armstrong Custer. They helped control the over population of crop-destroying jack rabbits in the 1800’s. Mr. Owen Patrick Smith invented the artificial lure in the early 1900’s and the “sport” of greyhound racing was born in the U.S. This began the demise of the Greyhound as a family pet.
Greyhounds are a member of the larger sight hound family of dogs, a group which includes smaller breeds which were “bred down” from the greyhound (Whippet and Italian Greyhound). Also Basenjis, Salukis, Afghan Hounds, Irish Wolfhounds, Borzois, and others. Sight hounds were bred to hunt by sight, not scent, as do most other dogs. Greyhounds are not only able to scent game, but see clearly at long distances. Racing greyhounds are raised in fenced enclosures on greyhound farms and begin their careers as racers at 18 months of age. They are therefore totally unfamiliar with cars and other hazards puppies usually learn growing up in families/homes. Because of their keen sight, inquisitive natures, and tremendous speed, greyhounds need to be on a leash while being walked or in a fenced area at all times for their own safety (when not in the house). They can reach their top speed of 45 mph in a few, short seconds so using a tie-out is out of the question.
Adult greyhounds usually range from 26″-29″ in height at the shoulder and may weigh between 50 and 80 pounds with females being the smaller dogs. They are so graceful that they do not “live” or “feel” like a large dog. They also do not eat as much as other breeds of similar size.
Greyhounds come in a wide range of colors, including brindle (“tiger striped”), black, fawn, blue, and white with ticking (spots). Even within these color groups there is considerable variation. For example, a black hound might have beautiful white “tuxedo” markings while a white hound might have black, fawn, blue, or brindle spots! These are all beautiful and graceful, and we urge potential adopters to consider personality, temperament, and activity level over physical appearance. We promise you that your hound’s coloration will soon come to seem the most beautiful!
Our Special Seniors Program
We try never to turn away a greyhound in need. Therefore, we periodically have dogs available that were given up by their families, (sad, but at least responsible), left at shelters (sadder), or found lost and starving (saddest of all). Considering that the average lifespan of a racer is 12-14 years, an older dog can still have many years to give love and companionship. Please, consider these special greys.
Greyhounds in the Home Environment
Because of their short coats, thin skin, and low body fat ratio, greyhounds must live indoors. They are companion animals and want and need to be a part of family life. They’ll be happiest if their crate is placed where they can see you. They also need a dog bed in a quiet corner of the family room. Don’t confine them to a separate area. They need to be able to see activity and know they have not been abandoned. Their short coats also mean less shedding than with many other breeds which creates low maintenance grooming. Greyhounds are very clean and need bathing less frequently than other breeds. A monthly toenail clipping and weekly brushing will keep them in top condition.
Greyhounds and Children
Many greyhounds are wonderful with children. They are very docile and have extremely sweet temperaments. You may have seen pictures of the greys racing wearing muzzles that might give the impression that they are aggressive. This is not true. Racing greyhounds are muzzled during life and work at the track for their own safety and protection and to provide clear evidence during photo finishes.
Of course, children must know how to respect animals and give them their space. Since greyhounds have been confined to their own crates and beds, they are possessive of these areas. Eating and sleeping have been very private times in the past for them, and children should be taught not to disturb them during these times. Pets and young children should never be left unsupervised in order to guard the children’s welfare as well as the pet’s.
Greyhounds make wonderful companions for children over the age of 5 yrs old and can also be placed in homes with younger children provided there is proper adult supervision. Just as greyhounds are trained to respect humans, children should be taught to respect the greyhound.
Benefits of Crate Training
Although we do not require that adopters use a crate, we strongly recommend it for several reasons. Racing greyhounds are used to being kenneled. For most dogs, crates provide a safe, comforting environment for them when their owners are not home or cannot supervise a new dog properly. For the greyhound, this is all they’ve known up until adoption. The key to making the crate work is to make it a pleasant environment that is theirs. Place a fluffy comforter or soft padding in it and always praise your dog when it enters its crate. Give it a special treat to enjoy only when it is crated.
Crate training can also make house training easy, as greyhounds are very unlikely to soil their “space” unless they are sick. Crating a new dog when you are gone means that you will not make the dog feel lost and alone, rather, they are in their home. It also decreases the chance that you will come home to an accident. Maximum time in their crate should be 8 hours. If you will take the dog outside as soon as you return and praise it for taking care of its personal business in the proper place, you will soon have a house trained pet. They will treat the entire house like their crate. Some adopters choose to wean their dogs from their crates after they have adapted to home life. Your dog will let you know what it prefers…some enjoy retreating to their crate for naps yet establish a place beside (or on!) your bed at night.
Greyhounds are very intelligent dogs and learn quickly. They respond best to positive reinforcement and enjoy praise. Their gentle temperament makes them sensitive to correction, and most quickly learn what a firm “NO’ means.
Most greyhounds break into the “easy life” very quickly. Walks around the neighborhood are usually enough to satisfy their activity needs, although all greyhounds really enjoy an opportunity to stretch their legs in a fenced yard. We prefer homes with fenced yards for this reason but do make exceptions on a case by case basis.
Greyhounds and Other Pets
Many racing greyhounds never see dogs of a different breed until they leave their racing environment. However, most greyhounds will soon treat other dogs as members of their families. They may never share their bed, but enjoy the company of other pets. We will assist you in planning your initial meeting with other pets before we make our home visit with the greyhound candidate.
Some greyhounds are cat and small animal friendly while others seem more anxious and cannot accept a small animal as anything other than something to chase.
A Few Final Words
Greyhounds make wonderful pets. Many retired racing greyhounds find their happiness and best friends because of your decision to adopt. If you should choose to adopt one, you’ll agree that they are the best breed you’ve ever owned. Many greyhound owners come back for more…sometimes for a companion to their present dog, or because of their love of and need to help greyhounds. We hope you become one of them!
We are a part of the National organization of Greyhound Pets of America and operate under its charter and rules. We have been in existence since October of 1999 and operate from the greater Knoxville area. We have placed dogs from Bristol, Tn. to Nashville and from Knoxville to northern Georgia. We hope that you join the growing number of people who report that their adopted greyhound is one of the nicest and most loving pets they have ever owned.
How Can I Help
Naturally, the best way to help is to provide a loving home for one of these wonderful pets. However, we understand that not everyone is in a position to take on this responsibility. Here are two ways that you can help us support these marvelous dogs until we can find caring and loving families to adopt them.
GPA-TN is a non-profit 501 ©3 organization. We are supported by volunteers and donations. Your gift is tax-exempt and we will provide you the proper receipt for tax purposes. Please consider a donation for this worthy cause. Please include your Name, Address, and Phone number with your donation so that we can send your receipt to you. We appreciate your generosity.
P O Box 23231
Knoxville, Tn. 37933-1231
Sponsor a Special Greyhound
In addition to the greyhounds we have available for adoption, GPA TN also has those with special needs. These greyhounds want only to give love and to be loved but are frequently not selected due to their appearance or medical needs. Retired racing greyhounds have come a long way and many are not perfect. Our program does not discriminate. We believe that all greyhounds deserve a chance …… older greyhounds, those with scars, shy ones, and greyhounds with injuries ……. all of them have wonderful hearts and have worked hard during their racing career. THEY ALL DESERVE A CHANCE!!
Your contributions can help us care for them until they are ready for adoption. If you cannot adopt a dog at this time but would like to help, please sponsor a greyhound with special needs. Your donation will provide care for these special dogs and help prepare them for their new life as a pet.
Become a Foster Family
You don’t have to adopt a greyhound in order to become a foster home. If you have a fenced yard and are willing to become educated about greyhounds and our foster requirements we would welcome you into our foster program.
We love talking to people about Greyhounds and hope we have a chance to meet you soon. Please check out our Events page for a list of places we will be in the near future.
If you are unable to meet us at these events, feel free to send us a letter:
Greyhound Pets of America
PO BOX 23231
Knoxville, Tennessee 37923-1231
Or call us at: 865-671-2749