About 25,000 greyhound pups are registered every year in the British Isles, but thousands of greyhound pups and young dogs are put to death because they fail to reach racing standards. Greyhound Action estimates that over 10,000 are killed annually in the British Isles.
Dogs which actually make it to the track are very likely to experience suffering during their racing careers. It has been estimated that greyhounds running on British tracks sustain more than 12,000 injuries every year and that 10% of dogs that race are already suffering from injuries. Injured toes, torn muscles, strained tendons and arthritic joints are commonplace.
At least 10,000 greyhounds “retire” from racing in Britain every year, at an average age of just 2½ years old. This is either because of injury or because they are adjudged to be no longer good enough to race.
Very few of these dogs manage to find good homes. This is hardly surprising, given a situation where many thousands of ordinary dogs are put to sleep every year because no homes are available for them.
Many ex-racing greyhounds are simply abandoned and a large number are killed, sometimes by extremely cruel methods such as drowning or poisoning, because some owners and trainers are not prepared to pay the cost of having them put to sleep by a vet.
There have been reports of trainers shooting dogs when their racing days are over.
Of course not everyone involved in greyhound racing is cruel or insensitive. There are some “owners” and trainers who love their dogs and take good care of them for the whole of their natural lives. But this only applies to a small minority of the thousands of dogs which enter racing, and thousands more are put to death before even reaching that stage.
Greyhounds make wonderful pets. They are gentle and adaptable and are very lazy in the home. All they ask is for a soft bed to lie on, good food and someone to love them and give them lots of affection. Contrary to popular belief, they do not need more exercise than other breeds. In fact they need less than some other breeds of dogs. A minimum of two 30 minutes walk a day should be sufficient, although if you can take them out for longer they would be enjoying doing so. Greyhounds love to run. When training them on recall, try to find an area with high boundaries to do recall training. Greyhounds usually walk very well on the lead. If using an extendable lead for your greyhound, please use it attached to a harness. Greyhounds are fast dogs, then can easily injure their necks if they accelerate quickly, as these lead can jar when fully extended. A harness gives you better control.
If you adopt an ex-racing greyhound, take care when you meet small dogs for some time as they have been trained to chase and try to catch small furries! In time, though, most greyhounds lose the chase instinct and become perfectly safe with small dogs. Some greyhounds are not safe with cats, but many, particularly those that have not raced, are fine living with cats. Because of their gentle natures, they are they are also good with children.
As they have very little body fat, a greyhound feels the cold and wet weather. A coat is essential.
Ex-racers are only used to other greyhounds, and not other types of dogs, so going to dog training classes is a good idea as it will get them used to all other breeds.
Greyhounds need two smaller meals a day, rather then one big one.
Playing with your greyhound gives them enormous pleasure. Interaction and praise for your dog’s good behaviour, works much better than an angry voice, or worse. No-one should ever hit their dog. Play, training, exercising and grooming all help build a happy and worthwhile relationship between you and your hound.