Ask a Vet

Greyhound: The Ultimate Guide

By Kerry
Updated on

Tall, sleek, and supremely quick, the Greyhound is a distinguished and instantly recognizable canine.

They are classified as a sighthound due to being driven by sight rather than scent when it comes to hunting. With top speeds of over 35 miles per hour when running, their athletic build and musculature allow them to have complete focus when chasing or running.

Greyhound the ultimate guide

Today, we are going to guide you through the world of Greyhounds. Our ultimate guide will look at their average lifespan, coat lengths, costs, grooming, and much, much more.

Key Facts

Average lifespan

Greyhounds are generally a very healthy breed, and despite their quite large size, they tend to manage a healthy lifestyle for most of their lives. In general, a greyhound can expect to live for up to 15 years, with the average lifespan being around 10 to 13 years.

While they have a reputation as racers, greyhounds are actually quite a lazy breed. They have a limited demand for exercise, especially when compared to other larger dogs. One key aspect that helps them live longer than many other breeds is their lack of hereditary genetic health issues.

This isn’t to say they do not suffer from certain health conditions, however. We will go into detail about some of these common health problems below.

As long as a greyhound lives in a calm, happy home, enjoys a balanced, healthy diet, and has the daily exercise required, they should be able to live long, happy lives. Even race dogs that exert far more energy than regular greyhounds can expect a similar life expectancy.

Minimum exercise (per day)

Despite being best known as athletic, fast athletes, greyhounds are more like couch potatoes. They love to spend time relaxing on the sofa, so be prepared to scooch over to give them enough room to lie comfortably.

Just two thirty-minute walks per day with some free running could see them sleep for the remainder of the day. On weekends, they do love longer walks, so don’t be afraid to try new areas, as greyhounds love to experience new surroundings and exciting new scents.

Adult greyhounds are not usually the most playful dogs. But, if you find a particular toy they love, you can still bring out some of that hidden playfulness. We suggest getting them furry, squeaky toys that can be dragged or thrown. These will stimulate their chase instincts so they can run freely.

Coat length

Greyhounds are pretty easy to deal with when it comes to grooming. They are generally clean, low-odor dogs with very thin coats. Just a soft brush or gentle brushing glove will help minimize seasonal shedding.

Their coats can vary in color. In general, you will find the colorings of red, brown, black, fawn, white, and even blue. Their patterns can also vary, including brindle, bicolor, jet black, and tanned coats.

Minimum cost (per month)

To lovingly care for a pet, you will need to spend money on them. They will need adequate food, toys, bedding, and other accessories to help them live a happy, content life.

When owning a greyhound, the average cost per month is approximately $66 to $84 a month. Over a year’s span, this tends to be around $800 to $1,000. This price includes food, treats, toys, and routine medical care such as vaccinations and dental cleanings.

Some months may cost more than others, but this is the average cost for greyhound owners. Overall, they are one of the lowest maintenance breeds with the lowest costs.



Greyhounds are a large breed of dog. Adult males can stand between 28 to 30 inches at their shoulders, whereas females are only slightly smaller at between 27 to 28 inches. Racers tend to be smaller than show dogs, but the difference is only minimal.

Average height

As mentioned above, the average height of a greyhound tends to be around 24 to 29 inches at the shoulders, with females being slightly smaller. This far exceeds the Italian greyhound, a greyhound’s cousin, as these only measure around 13 to 15 inches on average.

Average weight

There is no doubt that greyhounds look incredibly skinny. They tend to have low to zero body fat, with their ribs often being outlined under their thin coats and skin.

On average, a male greyhound will weigh between 67 to 70 pounds, while a female weighs 60 to 65 pounds.

When they are pups, care is required so they can grow to their proper adult size. Over-supplementation and excessive exercise should be avoided to see them grow healthily.


Apartment living

The size of your home is not important when owning a greyhound. In general, your greyhound will just want to be wherever you are. They only need space for their dog bed so they can lie down peacefully beside you.

Greyhounds have actually been named as one of the top five breeds for living in apartments. This breed’s calm temperament is perfect for smaller spaces. They adapt very well to their environment and require little grooming and exercise. These traits make them the perfect dog to travel around the country within a motor home which is something many pet owners do in the US.

Good for novice owners

Greyhounds are one of the most loyal, gentle, and loving breeds you could have the pleasure of owning.

As with all breeds, greyhounds have some specific needs, but they make amazing first-time pets for owners who may not have little to no experience in keeping a dog. As long as you are prepared to put a little extra effort in, a greyhound can become a perfect family pet.


Sensitivity level

Overall, most greyhounds tend to be non-aggressive. Even when they are threatened, challenged, or attacked, they generally just freeze. However, they can be quite sensitive to touch. In other words, if they are touched unexpectedly, they can be easily startled.

They can be quite shaken about some things for days afterward. They will usually show their anxiety or sensitivity by turning their heads away from you or food. They may also shake at times too.

As greyhounds are so docile, they should only be trained very lightly and be praised far more than corrected.

Tolerates being alone

Greyhounds are a quiet and gentle breed. However, they can be quite aloof when meeting strangers. Don’t expect them to run up to strangers and show affection as many other dogs may do.

This is an independent breed and can handle being left alone very well. However, it is not recommended to leave them alone when they are puppies. If a greyhound is new to your home, try not to leave them alone so they can get used to the new environment. Over time, you can gradually start leaving them alone for longer periods.

Greyhounds can also adjust to being left alone when you’re at work, but this should be worked on gradually as well. We recommend hiring a dog walker to ensure your pooch gets an opportunity to use the garden and get some exercise during the day.

Tolerates cold weather

Greyhounds have relatively thin skin with very little body fat. Along with their thin coat, this is a great combination to help them cool down after a run. But this also means that they are more susceptible to colder weather.

Greyhounds must maintain a constant temperature for their core organs. This means their body needs to warm somewhat harder during the winter months to keep warm. This can affect their diets and sometimes cause injuries when exercising.

When the temperature drops, make sure that you keep your greyhound warm. You can put a warm coat or jacket on them during winter walks, especially in the evenings or as they sleep overnight.

Tolerates hot weather

Just because a greyhound has less insulation than other dogs, it doesn’t mean you can leave them alone to deal with the summer heat. Hot temperatures can be a danger to your greyhound. An ideal air temperature for this breed is 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Ensure they have a plentiful supply of water. This includes when going out in the car or for walks.

You can also use a bandana to help cool a greyhound down by dampening it and draping the cloth over the dog. Try to only walk your greyhound in the early morning hours when temperatures are cooler during the summer.

Affectionate with family

Greyhounds are a unique breed and are perfect for families. While all dogs are pack animals, greyhounds, in particular, like to be close to their masters more. They like to show affection by rubbing their bodies against you.

Most of the time, however, they will probably be curled up against you or leaning against you with their weight. This is the reason they are called ‘velcro dogs.’ They also show affection by gasping gently with their mouth agape. And expect a licked hand as a show of affection, too.


Although greyhounds are wonderful pets for families, including children, it is widely agreed that children under the age of four years old are too young to be around them. Nevertheless, greyhounds are docile and loving dogs that are far safer than many other breeds.

From an early age, children should be taught to be kind to all animals. Even the gentle greyhound has its own limits when it comes to children who may treat it wrongly.

Such behavior can include pulling on its tail or ears or screaming loudly around it. As long as small children are supervised around greyhounds (and all dogs), then they are kid-friendly.

Dog friendly

The majority of greyhounds get on very well with other dogs. Many actually live with other breeds, but common sense and careful introductions are always the key.

Due to greyhounds being stereotyped as chasers, you may think that they would chase any small dog, but this is rarely the case. About 20% of greyhounds may show a tendency to chase smaller animals, but, in general, they are quite calm and friendly around other small dogs.

Friendly toward strangers

Greyhounds can be somewhat aloof with strangers. It is very unusual to come across one that is timid or aggressive. If this is the case, then it usually stems from a previous bad experience or bad handling.

They rarely rush up to strangers to say hello and will usually completely ignore a new person they meet.

Health and grooming


Despite having a short coat, greyhounds can still shed their fur. You should brush them daily so shedding is kept at a manageable level.

Greyhounds enjoy being massaged with a rubber curry brush, also referred to as a hound mitt. When bathing a greyhound, use a dry dog shampoo to maintain a clean coat that smells great.


Greyhounds do not tend to drool very much. Giant dogs are usually the main culprits of excessive drooling due to their larger jowls, looser skin, and short noses.

Greyhounds have no loose skin or large jowls so they are not known to be droolers. However, this isn’t to say they do not drool at all. They may drool when they are expecting food, when they are excited, or when they are stressed.

Excessive drooling can be a sign of more serious problems such as stomach issues, poisoning, oral/dental problems, and fevers. If you notice more drooling than usual, have your dog checked out by your veterinarian.


Greyhounds require minimal grooming. Their short, smooth coat is generally easy to care for. But, you should still rush them daily to manage the level of shedding. Greyhounds tend to have poor dental health, so they require dedicated care frequently. Their nails should be trimmed once or twice a month unless they wear them down naturally.

Their ears should be checked weekly for any redness or bad odors. If this is evident, it could be a sign of infection. When grooming a greyhound’s coat, make it a positive experience for the dog.

Praise and reward them as you groom their coats. Also, check for sores, rashes, or other signs of infection on their skin (nose, mouth, and eyes), as their thin coats leave a greyhound’s skin prone to more damage.

General health and common health problems

Greyhounds are generally a healthy breed but are prone to certain diseases. Some of these include:

Always ask for health clearances from a breeder to show the dog has been tested and cleared for any particular condition.

Potential for weight gain

Ex-racing greyhounds can be especially susceptible to gaining weight. This is because they come from a rigid training schedule or excessive exercise to a more relaxed and sedate way of life at home. If you are taking in an ex-racer, you should carefully consider new food and begin a new reduced exercise regime.


Easy to train

Greyhounds are generally easy to train, especially housetrain. Training should begin as soon as they are brought home, whether they are an adult or puppy.

Greyhound the guide

They can be quite stubborn and independent, so you must be consistent and confident when training. However, they can be sensitive, so don’t be too harsh. Be patient and offer rewards such as treats.


Greyhounds are intelligent breeds with a gentle, quiet disposition. Out of 138 qualifying breeds, greyhounds are deemed the 86th smartest. This makes them an average intelligent breed of dog.

Despite being average in obedience and working intelligence, they tend to make up for it with adaptive intelligence and strong instincts.

Potential to bite

You are far more likely to be attacked with a barrage of licks on your hands than any bites with a greyhound. They usually go still when challenged or scared and rarely attack or bite people.

Tendency to bark or howl

Greyhounds do not tend to bark very often. If they do bark more often than usual, it could be a sign of a deeper behavioral problem.


An ancient breed, the greyhound originated in the Middle East and North Africa around 4,000 years ago. They have been admired in many cultures since, with mentions by the Ancient Greeks and depictions in art by the Egyptians, and it is one of the only breeds of dog mentioned in the Bible.

Respected for their hunting prowess, they were brought to Europe during the Dark Ages. Their popularity continued to grow in England thanks to coursing (chasing prey) and racing.

They were eventually brought to the Americas by Spanish explorers and British colonists, where they thrived, coursing coyotes and jackrabbits.

Greyhound racing took off in the late 1800s and has become one of the most popular yet controversial sports today.


You can adopt a retired greyhound for about $325. Greyhound puppies can be bought for around $600 to $1,000.

Fun facts

  • Greyhounds are the fastest dog breed on the planet. Some have been recorded reaching speeds of 40 to 45 miles per hour when sprinting.
  • It is believed that Queen Cleopatra, King Tutankhamun, and Alexander the Great all owned ancient versions of the greyhound.

Photo of author
About the author


Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners.Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.