Anatomy & Physiology
Greyhounds can see and track prey from a half mile away. All sight hounds hunt by sight rather than sent; although their noses work perfectly well.
A greyhound runs in what is called double-hung suspension. There are two phases of their gallop during which all four feet are off the ground. In fact when running competitively, the greyhound is in the air 75% of the time. They run somewhere between 40-45+ miles an hour.
They are intelligent — they need quick wits to avoid accidents when running. Many greyhounds think that tricks on command are beneath their dignity. Others think pleasing the human is a great way to get a nice snack.
It is common for the greyhound to live well into the teens, although forever is not long enough.
They range in size from 50 to 95 pounds. Females tend to be smaller than males.
Greyhounds come in many beautiful shades and coat patterns. The National Greyhound Association recognizes 27 colors in registering dogs for racing. Their coats are soft and have been likened to soft, huggable and non-allergic warm velvet. They radiate heat and are great for cold winter snuggling.
Many new greyhound owners have been told of the special anesthetic requirements of the breed. These comments can instill a great concern over future surgical procedures. There are, in fact, many safe anesthetic protocols for sight hounds and other types of dogs which also have an absence of body fat. Most anesthetic agents are distributed throughout all body tissues, including fat deposits. Without a significant amount of body fat, a greater proportion of the anesthetic agent is distributed to other body tissues. This may result in prolonged recovery times from anesthesia. This especially holds true if thiobarbituates are used. (However, owners should NOT consider allowing their greyhound to gain weight before surgery.) Fortunately, today there are many anesthetic alternatives which have proven quite safe for greyhounds.
To alleviate any anxiety regarding anesthetizing a greyhound, it is advisable to discuss the subject with your veterinarian well in advance of any anticipated surgery. Hopefully this will make the surgical procedure easier for both the owner and pet.
Your veterinarian may have experience with greyhounds, but these issues should definitely be discussed. If he/she is unwilling to learn, find another veterinarian. In the Western New York area, GReAT will be happy to make a recommendation.
A handout of information written by Dr. Harry Newman regarding anesthesia is available. In addition, it is advisable to make a copy of the handout and place it in the glove compartment of each car. If the greyhound is injured in an area where greyhounds are uncommon and needs emergency anesthesia, the information will be handy.