One very unusual dog breed is the greyhound! Don’t think it’s too extraordinary? Read on!
Greyhounds were originally bred for coursing game animals and of course racing for sport. But have you ever wondered how a greyhound can reach speeds of 40+mph? (and nearly 20 meters per second at the start of a race?!). When racing a hound can actually lose 5lbs in a single race! Here are a few facts that make this breed of dog quite extraordinary.
Greyhounds have higher levels of red blood cells than other dog breeds, red blood cells carry oxygen around the body making this breed adapted to receive higher levels of oxygen and transport it to the muscles. Interestingly they have fewer platelets than other breeds making them ideal blood donors for dogs in need.
Greyhounds have the highest percentage of “fast twitch” muscles than any breed. Fast twitch muscles are used primarily for sprinting (where as slow twitch muscles are for jogging and endurance). The gait of a greyhound is known as a “double suspension gallop” where all feet are off the ground in 2 phases of running. This means this dog spends 75% of his time in the air! Again only in greyhounds (and similar sighthounds). They also have a flexible spine that literally acts like a spring, propelling them forwards. There was an old saying that a good dip in a greyhound’s back should be able to hold an egg!
This breed is so well adapted, if you even look at the structure of a greyhound’s paw you will see big differences. Their second set of toes are almost directly behind the front 2 rather than 4 in a circular row on a regular dog’s paw. This makes for better contact on the ground and better grip.
Greyhounds have a much larger heart when compared to their body than other breeds and with a beat which is much slower. It’s lungs are also the largest in comparison to its body, altogether making them an extremely efficient animal. It is important to always get a knowledgeable vet when it comes to greyhounds, not just because of their strange blood physiology, which often throws the results, but their body temperature is generally higher than other breeds. They also cannot process anesthesia as well as other dogs so care must be taken.
The majority of greyhound pets come from the racing industry. A greyhound retires from racing between 2 and 5 years but can live happy past 12 years and beyond! On a sad note not all greyhounds get to retire, last year alone (2017) 1,000 greyhounds were either too badly injured on the track to treat or put to sleep because not enough homes could be found.
The temperament of these dogs is one of being very gentle and quiet, well known for being couch potatoes and needing surprisingly little exercise. They get on well with other dogs, but are typically aloof, uninterested in strangers or other breeds and preferring their own family, to which they are very loyal, and of course other greyhounds!
Some greyhounds have a very strong prey drive when they retire and need some help realising that smaller dogs are not in fact rabbits. A lot of greyhounds have never even seen a different breed of dog other than their own so this is hardly surprising! Recall training can also be an issue, however this can all be rectified with a training programme, if you are interested in some help please click on this Dog Training – Home Visiting Sessions link. Small animal and cat introductions can also be worked with.
This is a fantastic breed of dog and fits in very quickly to family life, they come in over 30 colours and there are many dog rescue centres specialising in saving these gentle athletes. A truly remarkable animal and definitely makes the unusual breed list!