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Why Retired Racing Greyhounds Make "Grrreat" Pets


The Greyhound would have to be one of the most misunderstood dog breeds in the world. Everyone knows these lean, athletic dogs are super fast and used for racing, of course. And because they’re often seen wearing muzzles, there’s a misconception that they must be somehow aggressive or vicious. As a result, many people believe that Greyhounds simply aren’t suitable to be kept as pets — but this couldn’t be any further from the truth.

In reality, Greyhounds make wonderful pets. They’re gentle, easy-going, get along well with people and kids, and can even adapt to life in an apartment. Rather than being vicious, they’re affectionate, sweet-natured dogs who just want to spend as much time with their people as possible.

So in honor of National Adopt a Greyhound Month, which runs all the way through April, let’s count the reasons why a retired racing Greyhound might just be the “pawfect” pet for you.

light brown greyhound dog

Hunter, racer, pet: A brief history of the Greyhound

An ancient breed, the Greyhound can trace its origins back to Egypt around 5,000 years ago. These noble sighthounds were bred as hunting dogs, but they also became the companions of royalty.

More recently, Greyhounds became synonymous with the sport of Greyhound racing. With these dogs capable of reaching speeds of up to 45 miles per hour, pitting them against one another to chase an artificial lure around a track made for fast and furious fun.

Sadly, the life of a racing Greyhound usually wasn’t a happy one. The animal welfare issues surrounding the Greyhound racing industry have been well documented, and one of the key problems centers on what happens to a dog when they’re no longer needed for racing.

The truth is that most dogs’ racing careers are very short, with many running their last race as early as between 2 and 5 years of age. And once upon a time, when they retired from the sport, these beautiful hounds would often end up unwanted, unloved, and homeless.

But not anymore. In recent decades, the Greyhound adoption movement has grown from a handful of individuals, concerned about the welfare of racing dogs, to a global community of dedicated dog lovers. 

Right around the nation — and in countries all over the world — scores of Greyhound rescue and adoption groups now work tirelessly to help retired racing Greyhounds find loving homes. These groups are dedicated to giving gorgeous dogs a second chance at happiness, and thousands of pet parents have discovered the joys of Greyhounds as a result.

Why adopt a Greyhound?

What’s so great about adopting a Greyhound? Well, the most obvious benefit is the same as if you adopt any pet: you could save a dog’s life. Retired Greyhounds end up unwanted through no fault of their own, so why not give one of these cute canine athletes the chance to find their "furever" home? 

But there are plenty of other great reasons why you should adopt a Greyhound, and they all have to do with the fact that Greyhounds make truly wonderful pets. Here’s why.

  • They love their people. Greyhounds may be reserved around strangers, but that’s definitely not the case when they’re with their family. These handsome hounds simply love being around their humans and thrive when made to feel included as a much-loved family member. 

  • They’re affectionate. The word that’s used the most to describe the Greyhound’s temperament is probably “gentle”. These sweet-natured dogs may have Superman’s speed but they’re as mild mannered as Clark Kent. They’re easy-going and polite companions, plus they’ve got a whole lot of love and affection to share with the people they care about. They get along well with kids too, so a Greyhound is well worth considering if you’re searching for a loveable family pet.

  • They don’t need as much exercise as you might think. No, really — Greyhounds don’t need a whole lot of exercise. They’re ridiculously fast, sure, and need regular activity, but this isn’t the sort of high-energy breed that likes being on the go all the time. In fact, these lounge lizards will happily laze around on the couch all day with you, a trait that has earned the Greyhound the nickname of “the 40 mph couch potato”. Find helpful tips on how to keep your pet entertained in our guide to the top activities for Greyhounds.

  • They’re low-maintenance dogs. Greyhounds need little in the way of grooming, don’t shed a great deal, and don’t have the same strong “doggy” odor you get from some other breeds. They also don’t tend to bark too much, and that laid-back temperament means your Greyhound will be the politest house dog you’re ever likely to meet.

  • They can even live in apartments. Provided there’s enough room on the couch, Greyhounds don’t take up a whole lot of space in your home. Combined with their trainability, easy-going nature, and low-maintenance care requirements, this makes them great apartment dogs. 

Of course, just like every breed, Greyhounds have special care requirements that mean they won’t be the perfect fit for every pet parent. They’re sensitive to cold weather, they’re not much use as guard dogs, some aren’t able to share a home with a cat, and they need a whole lot of love and attention to feel happy and content.

But if you’re searching for a loving, affectionate, and low-maintenance canine companion, a retired racing Greyhound might just be exactly what you're searching for.

brown and white greyhound dog lying on a brown and blue pillow

Where to adopt a Greyhound

If you’d like to adopt a retired Greyhound, there are dozens of adoption and advocacy organizations around the country that can help. Some of them run kennels and shelters, others rely on a network of foster carers, and yet more focus on spreading the word about why Greyhounds make such fantastic pets. Here are just a couple of rescue and advocacy groups out there with a national focus:

  • Greyhound Pets of America. Founded in 1987, Greyhound Pets of America has three purposes: to find responsible, loving homes for Greyhounds; to educate people about why Greyhounds make great pets; and to spread the word about Greyhounds available for adoption. It has multiple chapters around the country and has helped place over 100,000 Greyhounds in loving homes.

  • GREY2K USA Worldwide. This non-profit advocacy group works throughout the United States and overseas to support stronger Greyhound protection laws and put an end to Greyhound racing. GREY2K USA Worldwide also promotes Greyhound rescue and adoption, and you’ll find links to US and international Greyhound adoption organizations on its website. 

There are also plenty of local Greyhound adoption groups in cities and towns right around the country.

Take the Greyhound Adoption League of Texas, for example. Since 2001, this non-profit has helped more than 3,900 Greyhounds and other sighthounds find their “furever” homes. It also runs educational presentations to educate and inform the public about the benefits of Greyhounds as pets.

In California, the non-profit Greyhound Adoption Center (Houndsavers) has rescued and rehomed thousands of Greyhounds since 1987, while FastFriends has rescued 4,000 former racers. 

And you’ll find stacks of other groups across the country, like Northern Lights Greyhound Adoption in Minnesota, Colorado Greyhound Adoption in Denver, and Nittany Greyhounds in central Pennsylvania. To find adoptable Greyhounds near you, search for Greyhound rescue groups in your local area.

A thriving community of pet parents

There’s one more wonderful reason why you might want to make a Greyhound your next furry family member: you won’t be doing it alone. There’s a real sense of community around the Greyhound adoption movement, and when you adopt a retired Greyhound, you become part of that community.

So if you’re ever in need of support and advice, or just looking to share some cute pics of your new fur-baby, there’s always someone out there who can help. The adoption organization you choose can put you in touch with the pet parents of other retired racers, while you can also search for online groups and forums dedicated to caring for adopted Greyhounds.

So if you’re ready to welcome a new dog into your life, there are lots of good reasons why the 40 mph couch potato could be the “pawfect” choice.

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