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Discussion Starter #1
It's much too soon for me to start thinking about a second dog, but I am :) Everything I've read about retired greyhounds make them sound like a great match, but I was wondering if anyone here has first hand experience they can share.

A few questions - (I know the answers depend on the individual dog, but in general, what has been your experience?)
In general, do they tend to be cuddly?
How are they on leash? Can they be taught to walk nicely and not chase small critters (and pull me over at the same time)?
Assuming one is installing a fence, what height do you recommend?

Anything else you would share with a potential adopter?
Thanks!
 

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We used to raise Greyhounds and had some dogs that had raced. We also raised Scottish Terriers and never had any problems except with cats on the ones who had been raced. They are generally couch potatoes when in the house and can be trained like any other breed of dog to be good on leash. Depending on the individual, some are fine with cats.

They have a nice short easy to care for coat and I have found them to be good natured with strangers and usually get along with other dogs. I never found them particularly big jumpers and never had any that tried to jump a fence even though they would bounce up and down on the other side of the fence plenty high to have leaped over if they had thought about it.

If I did not live where it is cold for over half the year, I would get another Greyhound in a minute, I think they are overlooked as a great pet.
 

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It's much too soon for me to start thinking about a second dog, but I am :) Everything I've read about retired greyhounds make them sound like a great match, but I was wondering if anyone here has first hand experience they can share. A few questions - (I know the answers depend on the individual dog, but in general, what has been your experience?)
Our experience thus far had been with retired racers - we're not yet ready for a third permanent resident. A good friend of ours has a greyhound from a breeder (not a retired racer)


In general, do they tend to be cuddly?
Retired racers vary a lot in personality. They have had only limited - and very constrained - human interaction. One of the goals of fostering them is to get them used to more-or-less constant human attention.

They all tend to be couch potatoes, but their interaction style with people varies from velcro-dog to a more stand-offish behavior.

All greys - retired racers or not - tend to be quite non-aggressive toward people, but whether you would call them "cuddly" is something you will have to decide.


How are they on leash?
Racing greyhounds are taught to walk on a leash, so if you get a retired racer, leash training isn't a problem. If you get a puppy, you will have to leash train it just as you would any other puppy.

Can they be taught to walk nicely and not chase small critters (and pull me over at the same time)?
Greys are sighthounds and they have a very high prey drive. If they see something that they consider to be prey, they will be inclined to chase it. And their eyesight is excellent.

If you get a puppy, you can work on this from early on but you cannot ever assume it won't happen.

Racing greyhounds have actually been trained to chase a lure. In other words, their chase reaction has been highly developed. You have to assume that they WILL chase small animals.


Assuming one is installing a fence, what height do you recommend?
Racing greys are discouraged from jumping as part of their training. Most of the rescue groups require a minmum 5-foot fence. Some require hgher.

A NON-racing grey could develop into a jumper. Our friend's grey has scaled a five-foot fence without much effort. Luckily, it only led him into an area that was deer-fenced so he couldn't go over that.

Anything else you would share with a potential adopter?
Thanks!
Generally speaking, greys are 'easy keepers" but there are some breed-specific things to be aware of.

I suggest you contact one of the greyhound rescue groups in your area. They will be glad to answer any questions, even if you aren't going to get a dog from them.

if you are thinking of adopting a retired racer, there is plenty of information on the web to keep you occupied. You can also consider "Adopting the Racing Greyhound" by Cynthia Branigan.
 

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I grew up with retired racers and own one of my own now while my parents still have greys of their own. Only one of our retired racers ever has been a cuddler, but he is a very soft dog and enjoys his people. Soft as in; loud noises, yelling, and deep voiced men upset him. Obviously, like any rescue dog, they have their unknowns that you get to know over time. Regarding leash walking, like Poly said, they're generally pretty great on leash. The grey I have now is the laziest I've ever met, and has minimal prey drive, and is very friendly with people and other dogs. (We joke he is our dud, because he won't even lure course, let alone chase the other dogs that run and play. Very laid back.)

You definitely need a physical fence, and I'd go six feet. No matter how lazy or laid back they seem, greys can never be let off leash in an open, non-fenced area. That being said, I know a family with some rescue hounds that only have a 3 foot picket fence. Their dogs have never tested it. My parents have a 5 foot at one of their houses, and a 6 at the other. They've never gone over either, even though they stand on the 5 ft at a point where the retaining wall makes it about a 3 foot (some builders are stupid.) It all just depends on the dog... had a friend in the rescue world that had to put down her grey that had storm anxiety and jumped through a window into the yard and over their 7 foot fence due to injuries. That is obviously worst case scenario, though.

Greys are great dogs and an honest joy to own, I love the community and the awesome, knowledgeable people I have met throughout the years of owning greyhounds.
 

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My first dog as an adult was a retired racer. She was a wonderful dog, the only reason I didn't get another was because I was too heartbroken to get a dog too similar to her (that's when I got Pip, the most unlike-a-greyhound dog I could find at the time). I know/have known a handful of other people over the years with them, too.

In general, do they tend to be cuddly?
It's pretty individual. In my experience they do have a tendency to be on the sweet side, they are "leaners". So much depends on how they were treated and if they were at all socialized outside their little world before they retired. My girl was EXTREMELY cuddly and sweet, very outgoing and confident, but unusually so. A friend of mine had a boy who was very reserved and shy. Most of them I know are friendly but not all-out ga-ga lovey dovey over every stranger they meet.

How are they on leash? Can they be taught to walk nicely and not chase small critters (and pull me over at the same time)?
Generally IME they walk well on a leash. They may be very interested in chasing squirrels and such, but keep in mind they are also usually fairly sensitive and the greyhounds I have known aren't as inclined to mindlessly choke themselves against a collar as some other dogs. Also keep in mind that there ARE dogs who washed out of racing because they wouldn't chase at all.

Assuming one is installing a fence, what height do you recommend?
Well if you don't already have a fence I'd recommend the tallest one you can afford/your city allows no matter what kind of dog you're getting. I've never personally known a greyhound that was a fence jumper but you never know, and someday you might have another dog that IS. We had to replace our fence because Maisy learned to jump our standard (what are they, 4 1/2 feet?) chain link fence, and she's the smallest dog I've ever had. :/

Anything else you would share with a potential adopter?
Just a note about cats/small dogs -- in my experience they can live quite peacefully with small dogs or cats in their own home, but they DO see a distinction between "theirs" and "not theirs" -- that is, they may consider small dogs and cats out in the wide world as fair game even if they are trustworthy with the ones they personally live with. Their skin is like tissue paper, they are prone to nicks and cuts. And while you don't need a vet who "specializes" in greyhounds, your vet should at least be familiar because there are a few breed related health quirks. Some of their normal lab values, for example, are different than dogs as a whole (particularly thyroid and some parameters on a blood count). There are some drugs they are more sensitive to than other breeds as well, but most vets aren't using those drugs much anymore these days, anyway, so it's a minor concern.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you so much for the information. Definitely much to think about.

My concern with leash walking and prey drive stems from my experience with our 10 1/2-month-old standard poodle. She's improved greatly, but still ready to take off after anything that moves (squirrels, deer, birds, butterflies). I'm trying to imagine walking a dog with actual prey drive and 20-30 pounds heavier.

I guess an important question is, would a standard poodle be considered large enough to not be a small critter as far as a greyhound is concerned?

There's a local greyhound adoption group that I could contact when the time is right. They have a vet clinic associated with the rescue; although it would be inconvenient to use as a regular vet, they would be good to have for anything out of the ordinary.
 

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:) Your standard poodle will be fine.

Actually, my grey lives with a 26 pound terrier and a small poodle, and is just fine. He DOES have a prey drive (bunnies and birds - has caught a bird mid flight), but is just fine with his dogs. And dogs we meet out. I just watch him a closely around small stranger dogs.
 

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I just adopted a ten year old broodie (former Mama of racers) and she is awesome, and I have had so many Greyhound fosters I can't count them all anymore. I did the adoptions quite successfully, matching dogs (which I knew from the racing kennel) into good pet homes.
I have worked at a professional racing kennel feeding, walking, exercising, and caring for the dogs, and I am obsessed with all things sighthound!

All that said, my experience is that these are AWESOME, easy care dogs. They can absolutely live happily in an apartment, probably better than most breeds. CERTAIN Greyhounds do need a yard, but many do not. They naturally walk well on leash thanks to their racing days. They usually only pull on the way to the race since they LOVE to race so much!!! They are NOT abused (and don't argue this if you haven't worked at a dog track and handled hundreds of racers like I have) and they get loving and cookies and have nicknames and we get to know their quirks and habits. It's the most fun job in the world!

Most Greyhounds are fine with small animals, at least indoors, and those that are not still make super pets for the right owners. We have five dogs, two cats, a toddler aged child, and a snake collection- no issues. Most Greyhounds like to lean on you and get petted. Some love to cuddle. Some are more touchy about their space. Tell the trainer or adoption group what you're looking for... they will find it for you :) Not much is sweeter than a big goofy boy Greyhound... except maybe a wise old Mama dawg!

A note about Greyhound PUPPIES. It is possible to locate one, but they are not called Land Sharks without good reason ;-) THEY absolutely need a yard or daily free running. If this is not possible, look for a dog at least three or four years old, with a laid back temperament.

Finally, most Grey folks prefer the term adoption to the term rescue. Those of us who actually work with racing Greyhounds aren't too fond of having our babies referred to as rescue dogs after we've spent years loving them, making their special food, massaging their muscles, worrying about them, and then making sure they have a safe and loving home to go to! When people ask if I rescued my Greyhounds, I say nope. They rescued me! I know there are some bad apples in racing, and I hate them passionately, but we're mostly good people!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Mizuno & Foyerhawk - Thanks for the additional information. It sounds as though I would safely be able to walk a 60-80 pound greyhound without his attempting to pursue a squirrel and taking me along for the ride.

Finally, most Grey folks prefer the term adoption to the term rescue. Those of us who actually work with racing Greyhounds aren't too fond of having our babies referred to as rescue dogs after we've spent years loving them, making their special food, massaging their muscles, worrying about them, and then making sure they have a safe and loving home to go to! When people ask if I rescued my Greyhounds, I say nope. They rescued me! I know there are some bad apples in racing, and I hate them passionately, but we're mostly good people!
I apologize for my careless wording. I was using adoption and rescue interchangeably, but can see that the different connotations may not be appropriate in all circumstances. Thank you for sharing your experience with all aspects of greyhound life.

Now I need to work on transforming my little diva into a civilized member of society so we can expand our family :)
 

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One thing I must add as a kind of counterbalance to what has been said here.

You CANNOT assume that every grey will be good with cats and other animals, including other dogs.

One of the things that is evaluated in fostering is whether a grey wil tolerate other dogs, and, separately, if they will tolerate cats and other small animals. That information is always included in the adoption description. If you have a cat, the adoption groups will seriously discourage you from adopting a grey that is not cat friendly. If you have a dog, especially a small dog, you are strongly encouraged or even required to set up a "meet" with the grey you want to adopt. The meets do NOT always go well (and not always the fault of the adopted grey, BTW)

As a rule, greys do tend to get along quite nicely with other reasonably friendly dogs that are about "greyhound size", even if those other dogs aren't actually greyhounds. Some even NEED the companionship of another dog, and that should be indicated in the adoption description. This isn't so strange - after all, they've been living with other greyhounds for years. But even so, you do get the occasional grey that doesn't seem to like other dogs of any size.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
One thing I must add as a kind of counterbalance to what has been said here.

You CANNOT assume that every grey will be good with cats and other animals, including other dogs.

One of the things that is evaluated in fostering is whether a grey wil tolerate other dogs, and, separately, if they will tolerate cats and other small animals. That information is always included in the adoption description. If you have a cat, the adoption groups will seriously discourage you from adopting a grey that is not cat friendly. If you have a dog, especially a small dog, you are strongly encouraged or even required to set up a "meet" with the grey you want to adopt. The meets do NOT always go well (and not always the fault of the adopted grey, BTW)

As a rule, greys do tend to get along quite nicely with other reasonably friendly dogs that are about "greyhound size", even if those other dogs aren't actually greyhounds. Some even NEED the companionship of another dog, and that should be indicated in the adoption description. This isn't so strange - after all, they've been living with other greyhounds for years. But even so, you do get the occasional grey that doesn't seem to like other dogs of any size.
Thanks Poly! I have been looking at adoption sites and saw that individuals are noted as some combination of dog / cat / child (un)friendly. My only concern is that my current dog and the potential new dog get along - no cats or children here. My dog lived with other dogs until she was 5 1/2 months and seems to do well with dogs she meets once her initial excitement passes. That said, playing nicely at the park or meeting politely on walks isn't the same as sharing a house.

Assuming the two dogs are compatible, my other major concern is when walking, will the grey will take off after a critter / leaf / plastic bag and drag me behind :)
 

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Every dog is different, but it's my experience that greys are not really a "drag you" kind of dog once they reach the end of the leash.
 

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You've gotten some great advice here about Greys. I raised a Grey puppy (not racing bred) and she was a really cool dog :)

A few things I didn't see mentioned were some Greys have "startle aggression" issues when they are startled while sleeping or relaxing, they react without thinking. Often this is superficial but I have known a few young children who have been bitten by Greys due to this. Greys tend to be sensitive about their space when resting, so that is something that has to be respected. And while Greys may not need to run (they won't tear your house up if they don't get to run or be bouncing off the walls), I couldn't imagine having one and not giving them a chance to really, really run at least a few times a week. Running is part of who they are, having a Grey that only gets leash walked and off leash time in a small fenced yard just doesn't seem right to me. I know many adoption groups promote that running is not needed, so you'll find plenty of people who assure you it's just fine if they never get to really run. The only dogs I have seen be an issue constantly with Greys are smaller dogs (toy up to beagle sized) outdoors due to prey drive.

This is a really good resource for Grey training: http://www.neversaynevergreyhounds.net/

ETA this magazine is a good resource too: http://www.adopt-a-greyhound.org/cgmagazine/
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Sassafras - Thanks again!

You've gotten some great advice here about Greys. I raised a Grey puppy (not racing bred) and she was a really cool dog :)

A few things I didn't see mentioned were some Greys have "startle aggression" issues when they are startled while sleeping or relaxing, they react without thinking. Often this is superficial but I have known a few young children who have been bitten by Greys due to this. Greys tend to be sensitive about their space when resting, so that is something that has to be respected. And while Greys may not need to run (they won't tear your house up if they don't get to run or be bouncing off the walls), I couldn't imagine having one and not giving them a chance to really, really run at least a few times a week. Running is part of who they are, having a Grey that only gets leash walked and off leash time in a small fenced yard just doesn't seem right to me. I know many adoption groups promote that running is not needed, so you'll find plenty of people who assure you it's just fine if they never get to really run. The only dogs I have seen be an issue constantly with Greys are smaller dogs (toy up to beagle sized) outdoors due to prey drive.

This is a really good resource for Grey training: http://www.neversaynevergreyhounds.net/

ETA this magazine is a good resource too: http://www.adopt-a-greyhound.org/cgmagazine/
Alerondogs - Thank you, too! I'll check out the links you recommended. I've read about the startle aggression issue, although I'm not sure it was actually called that. Katie should grow up to be bigger than a beagle; she's about 20" tall and 43lbs now at 10 1/2 months.

How large a space would you recommend for a grey. Currently we have a portion of our yard enclosed with a temporary fence, but this summer we plan to rebuild our deck and install a permanent fence. If we can plan ahead for height and space, that would be great. Of course, I have to convince my husband that a greyhound would be a wonderful addition to the family ;)

There are a number of adoption groups in my general area (southeastern PA). Is there anything I should look for or avoid in a group (that's different from any other pet adoption agency)? Does anyone here have experience with any particular group?
 

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I forgot to mention startle aggression! I toss wads of crumpled paper at my snoozing hounds until the become immune! ;)
 

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Jack is my third greyhound, and I've fostered others for a few different groups around here. They are wonderful dogs and I highly recommend them! :)

Finally, most Grey folks prefer the term adoption to the term rescue. Those of us who actually work with racing Greyhounds aren't too fond of having our babies referred to as rescue dogs after we've spent years loving them, making their special food, massaging their muscles, worrying about them, and then making sure they have a safe and loving home to go to!
Ah! The huge Greyhound Debate! :) I'm on the other side of the fence from FoyerHawk. I'm not AR (anti-racing) at all but find there are huge problems in the industry. Yes, there are Greyhound trainers that will fund and re-home their own track dogs, but the majority are dumped to adoption groups and volunteers are the ones that have to go out and raise money to fix broken legs- raise money to spay/neuter/run tick panels/vet - pay for dentals- fund the transport fees (if the dogs are moved out of state) - and do all the legwork for getting the dogs adopted. They spend their own money, spend their weekends doing meet and greets, spend evenings at Petco annd Petsmarts desperately raising money to get these dogs vetted and rehomed-- away from their spouses and familes- away from their own lives. Why don't racing owners do this, then? Or provide dowries for their racing dogs when they retire, as they move to adoption groups- so volunteers don't have so much pressure with the huge glut of Greyhounds out there? I consider my dogs rescues. As soon as my dogs stopped turning a profit at the track, their owners dumped them into an adoption program to become someone else's problem. Did any of them fix Jack's broken hock? No. Did any spay or neuter? No. Did any even bother to pull the 43 bloated ticks off Clifford's body before he boarded the transport truck? No. Did any of them check for TBDs, which run rampant in racing dogs? No. Did any bother to check or treat Clifford's strange shakey limp which was a squashed disc? No. What about his dislocated toes? No. Did any of them bother to check Lucy's thyroid and get her help for her DA problem? No. No one at the track seemed to care too much.

Not to get too emotional, but YEAH my greyhounds are rescues.

Okay, requisite picture of my babies- Lucy, Jack and Clifford. Cliffie died last year, and Lucy in 2010:

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_9ta0clY3tiY/S3NJm9txRpI/AAAAAAAAFNY/uqXrlptUpB8/s1600/pups.jpg
 

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CookieFace, I don't have much experience with PA groups but I'd check their websites and see which you feel comfortable with. The Greytalk Greyhound forum is another great place to talk to folks and get a feel for local groups.

In general, do they tend to be cuddly?
How are they on leash? Can they be taught to walk nicely and not chase small critters (and pull me over at the same time)?
Assuming one is installing a fence, what height do you recommend?
My Greyhounds aren't cuddly like a Pug, but they are cuddly in other ways. Have you ever seen the "Christmas Card" episode on Seinfeld? When Cliff wanted to cuddle, he'd come up and mash his head into my chest, just like George got a "Christmas Card" from Elaine, LOL! And he would enjoy rubbing his butt up against me, trying to encourage scratches. :) Jack will come over and sit in my lap, and in the winter burrows under the bed covers and sleeps against me. Lucy, my female- would occasionally come up and lean but wouldn't actively cuddle.

One of the great things about the Racetrack is that the dogs are taught to walk on a leash, be examined, etc. I've never had a problem with leash walking, nail trimming, etc. The dogs take it like champs!

My yard has a 6-foot high fence, but my dogs have been in yards with 4 foot fencing, no problems. Unlike some other sighthounds, Greys don't seem to be jumpers.

A few things I didn't see mentioned were some Greys have "startle aggression" issues when they are startled while sleeping or relaxing, they react without thinking. Often this is superficial but I have known a few young children who have been bitten by Greys due to this.
Very true. I've never experienced it in my Greyhounds or in any of my fosters, but I know people who have.

You CANNOT assume that every grey will be good with cats and other animals, including other dogs.
Agreed. My first two Greyhounds (Lucy and Jack) were "cat-safe." I fostered cats for a local rescue group and they did fine- we even had a feral cat that would hang out in the backyard with them, much to my dismay. The dogs ignored him like the plague, as well as the indoor fosters. My current Greyhound, Jack, is VERY high-prey. He's killed two feral cats that came in the yard and has given naughty looks to tiny dogs like Chi's and Poms, so I would never trust him. On leash, he knows he can slobber after cats and squirrels all he wants but NO DRAGGGING, lol. He's really a good dog- he has much more restraint then my Chow/Beagle/Mix.

Most adoption groups are great and will do their best to place you with a Greyhound that meets all your needs.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Jenz - Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and experiences. Your babies look like sweethearts! I'll admit that I was initially turned off by the grey's ectomorph physique, but who can resist those eyes :) I'll check out the forum you recommended.

Love your description of "cuddling." That question actually came from my husband and I suspect is based on the look of the dogs. His dog experience is with softer, fuzzier breeds like shepherds, labs, and Benji-looking mixes :)
 
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