Why Adopting a Retired Racing Greyhound Is a Good Idea

L.M. Reid is an Irish writer who has published many articles in magazines and online.

Why Give an Unwanted Greyhound a Home?

If you are thinking of adopting a large dog, why not consider giving a retired racing Greyhound a home? They are gentle and social dogs. They make great pets and quickly become part of the family. Unfortunately, most people would not even think of adopting this type of dog. This is because there are a lot of misconceptions about this breed as a family pet.

Greyhounds Do Not Need a Lot of Exercise

Most people would not consider adopting a retired racing Greyhound because they believe these dogs need too much walking and a large area for exercise to run around in. Two walks of about twenty minutes a day will suit them fine. They love other dogs too so even their walk will be calm and relaxed.

Although they are large dogs, they are very quiet and docile and should be treated as house dogs. They are not suited to living outdoors. Emotionally, they need the company of humans. They are very intelligent and training them is enjoyable for you and your dog. They are then very happy to lie down and sleep for a majority of the day. This makes them ideal pets for older people.

A Bed for Your Greyhound

The most important piece of equipment for this kind of dog breed is its bed. They will spend hours sleeping and relaxing on it. A single duvet doubled over and wrapped in a cover is ideal. It is a lot cheaper than a large dog bed too and easier to wash and dry.

These dogs have very little body fat and bony joints so are unable to lie on hard surfaces. Physically they need to be able to lie on soft surfaces like their bed or the sofa. When your dog lies on its back with his legs stuck in the air that means he is at his most relaxed.

Soft Collars

They have very little body fat on their necks so it is very sensitive. Ordinary thin collars will hurt them, so make sure to get a wider soft collar for your dog.

The Advantages of Greyhounds as Pets

They bark very little, so they are not a nuisance to the neighbours. They do not drool like many other large breeds and do not shed a lot of hair. They are easy to bring on walks because they are sweet natured and calm with people and other dogs while out.

They need very little exercise. Retired Greyhounds are very healthy. They do not have many of the inherited ailments that other breeds have. They live longer than most large dogs too usually over twelve years.


They have fragile skin, so if they cut themselves, they will nearly always need stitches compared to other dogs. They can be very stubborn if they decide they do not want to go in a certain direction when out for a walk. They will stop and refuse to move. They are very friendly to all humans so do not make good guard dogs.

Adopting a Retired Racing Dog in Ireland

There are many Greyhounds in Ireland who need homes too. If you are thinking about giving one a home, look into the Irish Retired Greyhound Trust and consider emailing them. They will give you the details of the nearest adoption group in your area.

What Happens Next?

Go to the centre and pick the companion you would like to adopt, and the Trust will make a home visit to assess the suitability of this match for you and your home. They will see what the sleeping arrangements are for the new dog and check that the garden has a secure fence.

They will emphasise that Greyhounds are house dogs and need to be warm and comfortable sleeping indoors. They will also see if there are other pets in the household. Most Greyhounds get on well with other animals in the house. They will explain the dietary and exercise needs of the dog. Once you are approved you will pay an adoption fee of €130. This will mean that your dog is neutered, fully vaccinated and micro-chipped.

The Story of an Adopted Greyhound Puppy

'Hades' is a five-month-old greyhound puppy who was adopted from the ISPCA in Ireland. His mother and father had been voluntarily handed over to the dog charity by a racing owner when the facility was classed as overcrowded. The mother gave birth to eight puppies three weeks later.

My sister always had dreams of giving a Greyhound a home. So, when she was in a position to do so, she was delighted to be able to bring this beautiful puppy home. He has settled in well and everyone in the house loves him. This photo above is of 'Hades' on his way home with his family from the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty Dog Shelter. He is about to start a new life in his adoptive home.

Facts About Greyhounds

Interesting things about the Greyhound:

  1. This is the only dog breed mentioned in the Bible.
  2. Most retire from racing at between three and five years of age.
  3. Black Greyhounds are the hardest to adopt.
  4. They do not have a 'doggy smell' because they lack the oils in their coats that causes this in most other dogs.
  5. They should be adopted as house dogs and not left in a kennel outside.
  6. They can not cope with extremes of heat and cold.
  7. Can live up to 12 to 14 years old.
  8. Are very friendly to strangers, so do not make great guard dogs.
  9. The average age of retirement from racing is 3 to 5 years old.
  10. Require very little exercise compared to other large breeds.
  11. They love to sleep on a soft dog bed, but also the couch and beds too.

Greyhound Rescue Association of Ireland

This is a collection of animal rescue organisations in Ireland that are actively involved in the promotion and education of retired greyhounds as pets. These dedicated centres take in dogs from dog pounds and those abandoned at the vets.

They also have a good working relationship with owners and trainers of racing dogs so that when it is time to retire their greyhounds they contact the centres so they can find a loving home.

Greyhound Rescue Resources

Dog Rescue Ireland

This is a voluntary Irish Animal Charity. It rescues and finds homes for unwanted Irish greyhounds. No healthy dog is put to sleep if rescued by this charity.

These Irish greyhounds are found new homes in Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Greyhound Pets of America

Because of the support of volunteers in many branches over 80,000 greyhounds have found homes throughout the USA.

National Greyhound Adoption Program

Another organisation in America that finds homes for greyhounds.

Gumtree Greys

This charity group in Australia also gets these great dogs homes around the country. It has a list of foster homes that look after the dogs until a forever home is found.

Famous People With a Greyhound as a Pet

  • JK Rawlings – Author
  • Sir Walter Scott – Author
  • John Barrymore – Actor
  • George Washington
  • John Tyler – 10th US President
  • Prince Albert and Queen Victoria
  • Henry VIII
  • Queen Elizabeth I
  • King Henry VIII
  • King James II of England
  • Frederick the Great
  • Don Mattingly – NY Yankees
  • Fictional character – Bart Simpson


  • National Greyhound Association
  • The American Greyhound Council
  • The Irish Retired Greyhound Trust
  • Greyhound Rescue Association of Ireland
  • Dogs Trust Ireland
  • The Greyhound Trust in UK
  • Greyhound Pets of America
  • Gumtree Greys of Australia
  • "Retired Racing Greyhounds for Dummies"
  • "Comet's Tale: How a Dog I Rescued Saved My Life" by Steven Wolf
  • "A Tale of Two Tails" by Suzanne Gibson

All About Dogs

  • How to Make Healthy Homemade Dog Food Recipes. My dogs eat homemade recipes and they love it.
  • The Health Benefits of Playing Games With Your Dog
  • How to Make Peanut Butter Dog Treat Biscuits.

Questions & Answers

Question: Should I allow my greyhound to sleep on my bed and the couch?


Yes these are their favourite places to sleep. Although this is a large breed it has little body fat so needs a soft bed to lie on. They should be treated as house dogs.

Question: Do I need a big garden if I adopt a greyhound?

Answer: No. These dogs are large but need to live in the home not in a kennel out the back.

L M Reid (author) from Ireland on June 11, 2018:

Hello Peggy. Yes my sister and her family really love their greyhound too. It is such a shame that not many people thinking of adopting a rescue dog consider giving these retired racing dogs a chance.

L M Reid (author) from Ireland on June 11, 2018:

Hello Barbara, yes they do make great pets. Homes are needed for many of these dogs all over the world. They are such beautiful creatures.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 10, 2018:

We know people who have adopted greyhounds who were formerly used for racing. They loved them! Everything you wrote about them is what we also heard from them as to them being perfect inside dogs. Thanks for publicizing this.

Barbara Badder from USA on June 10, 2018:

You make it hard not to want to adopt one. Usually we have two dogs. Right now we have just one. I will have to give it some thought.


Your greyhound has been housed in a large crate in his trainer’s kennel. He is used to being put outside in a fenced-in pen to relieve himself four times a day. He may be use to getting up early (about 5:00 am) to be taken outside. To avoid accidents in the house we recommend that you take him outside as soon as he gets up in the morning. You can gradually get him use to sleeping later. If your dog has an accident in the house, a verbal reprimand should usually suffice – then take him outside and praise him immediately when he relieves himself. ** DO NOT ** ever hit your dog or put his nose in “the accident” as your greyhound will respond more quickly and more positively to kindness.

If your dog is a male, he may attempt to lift his leg in a few places around the house to “mark his territory”. Watch him carefully as he walks around the house and try to catch before he does it. If this should happen, it does not usually go on for long, so try to be patient.

If your dog has an accident, clean the spot, then rinse the area with a solution of white vinegar and water. This will neutralize the odor and discourage his going in that spot again.

For the first few days it is a good idea to go outside with your greyhound.

This teaches him where his new home is and where he is suppose to “go”, helps relieve the tension of being in a strange place, and prevents accidents. You can praise him at the appropriate moment.

Never ever confine your greyhound in a room by closing the door. He will very likely become frantic and do damage. Greyhounds have been known to dig through closed doors. If you want to confine you dog to one room, use a baby gate. He will not climb over it and will feel less insecure.

How Long Do Retired Greyhounds Live?

Greyhounds generally live for between 10-14 years. However, they usually retire from the racetrack at around 2-5 years old because racing is hard work and younger dogs are faster and more robust.

So, at 2-5 years old, when they come into your family, you can expect 8-12 more years together.

Why Do Greyhounds Lean?

When you think of greyhounds, you may immediately picture racing greyhounds flying around a track, legs pumping hard as they chase an artificial lure called a 'bunny'. Greyhounds are actually the second fastest land animal as far as their accelerating power is concerned. The greyhound was developed to be incredibly fast they have exceptionally long legs, a deep chest containing a heart that is actually larger than other breeds, and a spine that is so flexible it allows the greyhound to gallop with its signature ground-covering suspension.

But there is so much more to the greyhound than just its ability to fly when it takes off after something.

Retired greyhound Good idea?

I'm looking for advice from anyone who has a greyhound please. We've been thinking of getting a dog for ages and now that the youngest Ds is 6 we thought it was time to look. Could anyone give me some views, advice, tips etc about the pros and cons of having a greyhound?

I've read up a little about them but would love sone real life advice
Realistically we are all out of the house all dsy two days a week. Could my mum pop in for an hour lunch time to take him ouside? Do they get lonely on their own?

How much do they cost to keep?

Do they get any specific illnesses? Are they generally healthy?

Is there anything bad about them? Temprement or anything you found put you wished you knew before hand

Alll and any advice gratefully received

Hi, we've got three greys and do a lot of voluntary work with them too. Obviously, there is quite a difference between individual dogs but some generalities would be:-

Yes, they are generally very healthy. They are bred to work not to show, so are in pretty good shape. Typical life expectancy will be to mid teens, sometimes even older. Occasionally you will get a grey that may have an old racing injury, but usually the rescue will know about this (often this is why they've stopped racing) and for being a pet, they will be fine.

DON'T expect a lively, bouncy, full on dog who wants to play endlessly with your children, walk for three hours a day or will be bored if not doing a Krypton Factor puzzle twice a day. They are not the brainiest of dogs (being kind here ), are very gentle, sensitive souls and generally like to spend the day resting peacefully with a couple of shortish or one longer walk each day. They will usually colonise your sofa, bed or other comfy spot (being so bony!) and will lie there, farting contentedly with all four legs in the air. Usually their working life will mean that they are used to being handled, travel well, are good on the lead, and will "learn" housetraining in a weekend.

Depending on if they've spent time in a foster home, they may need to be introduced to things like hoovers, stairs, washing machines and so on. They may need to be taught to "play" having never had that in their racing life. Once they get the hang of it, they become utter love sponges, who are always up for a cuddle and are deeply affectionate, doing a "power lean" when wanting some fuss.

Possible downsides - firstly, they are very addictive. Second, prey drive. Greys are bred and trained to chase small fluffy creatures and don't always distinguish between lures, cats and Yorkshire terriers. Generally a rescue will assess a dog's prey drive and will let you know if the dog is cat safe/small fluffy safe - most can be safe with other dogs and around 20% will be cat safe. You should be aware of this chase instinct though since it is hugely powerful and can over-ride even very careful training. So you should only let them off lead where you are pretty sure you are safe if they suddenly see a paper bag half a mile away and decide to run. And when they run, they are very, very fast indeed.

In winter and in cold, wet weather, they will need to wear a coat, and they will need a proper sighthound collar. They can escape from normal dog collars and they can break their necks if they suddenly decide to accelerate, while wearing a colllar that is too narrow.

I have deliberately overstated the negatives - many families with greys let them off lead quite happily and will have them co-existing with other pets. But I think it is better to be forewarned and also to remember that while many dogs chase cats, for instance, greys are so fast, they can catch them.

Please feel free to ask any more questions- would be happy to talk about them for hours!

We have two lurchers, greyhound crosses. They are the most fantastic dogs for all of the above reasons and I coundn't imagine having any other breed of dog. Scuttlebutter is so right about the addiction factor.

Another downside however is that one of ours especially has had a few cuts that have needed stapling/stitching at the vets. He has vey fine fur and is a playful boucy dog who does like rough and tumble. I would make sure you have good pet cover as for any dog.

I think they are gorgeous dogs, and would happily take one on. Our house is full of collies though, and really there isn't enough room.

Everything I've heard about retired greyhounds makes me want to adopt one - the placidity, the affectionate nature, the grace, the chance to give them some comfort and happiness at the end of what can be a hard life. And the collars and pyjamas, obv.

If some space ever comes free on my houndsofa.

Scuttlebutter - can you expand on ( this is what I've read on various sites and I think would be useful for the OP. I might be talking bollox but I'm sure I haven't dreamed this)

Grunds need a specialised vet who is experienced in the type of injuries they can suffer (like all retired athletes they will have had sprains, strains and knocks while racing). Their skin is more fragile than alot of other dogs.
And because they are a low-fat option they have to have different anaesthetic to other dogs

They need to be fed off the floor, or they are at risk of bloat (I'm going to leave the explanation to you, I know it's something to do with their guts and it's an A&E type situation) but that's as much as I know.

Some don't like laminate flooring (thinking of Bambi on ice here )

they don't sit (though I've seen photos of sitting greyhounds but they don't look happy)

they can sleep with their eyes open, so small children (and adults) need to be aware and not startle them

they are prone to corns on their feet

and dodgy teeth- due to racing diet

(You did say you could talk for hours )


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