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Personality and Disposition
Greyhounds have a very gentle and quiet disposition. They are very pack oriented dogs and will quickly adopt human masters into their "pack." To allow different Greyhounds to hunt and race together, aggressiveness towards other dogs and people has been nearly eliminated from the breed. Many do retain a strong prey drive (which is a component to their racing) and are sometimes unsuitable for houses with other small pets such as cats or rabbits. Their sensitivity and intelligence make them quick learners, and good candidates for obedience training.
Greyhounds are often tolerant of children, especially if they have been raised with them. Being non-aggressive, a Greyhound will generally walk away from a worrisome child, rather than growl or snap. However, even the gentle Greyhound has its limits, and should not be subjected to continuous harassment.
Although Greyhounds are the fastest breed of dog, they achieve their incredible speed in one all out sprint, and do not have a lot of endurance. A Greyhound is quite content to be a "couch potato" and spend most of the day sleeping. Since they don't have a lot of endurance, a Greyhound actually requires less exercise time than most dogs.
Greyhounds are the prototypical sighthound, a group of hounds that pursue their prey by sight rather than scent. As with all sighthounds, Greyhounds have a very strongly developed chase instinct. In spite of this, it is possible for Greyhounds to peacefully coexist with other pets, including cats, dogs, and even rabbits. Cohabitation will be easier if the other pets do not run away. Even after you've trained the Greyhound to not chase the family indoor cat, this does not mean that it won't chase the neighbor's cat, or even the family cat outdoors.
Greyhounds' livers metabolize toxins out of their bloodstream more slowly than other dogs of comparable size, so it is possible for harmful concentrations of these toxins to develop. Also, the breed has a very low percentage of body fat in proportion to its size. There is, on the average, only 16% fat in a Greyhound's body weight versus about 35% fat in body weight for a comparably sized dog of another breed.
Greyhounds are very sensitive to certain medications, including anesthesia. Before allowing your Greyhound to undergo any surgery, make sure that your vet is aware of the special anesthesia requirements for Greyhounds. In particular, barbituates are to be avoided. Do not be afraid to ask questions of your vet; not all are aware of a Greyhound's special anesthesia requirements. Rodger I. Barr, DVM, has written an article on the safe method of anesthesia for sighthounds. For further information on the use of anesthesia in Greyhounds, contact the Small Animal Teaching Hospital of Colorado State University at Fort Collins, Colorado (303/484-9154).
Flea collars, and long lasting pesticides such as Hartz Blockade, can also be harmful or even fatal to Greyhound. Any product which releases flea killing chemicals into the bloodstream of the dog should be avoided, as should those applied monthly to the length of the dog's spine or a spot on the base of the dog's neck (i.e., Rabon, Bayon, ProSpot, Ex-Spot, etc.)
Products containing Pyrethrins are generally safe to use on Greyhounds, and given their very short coat, flea combs are especially effective. Other safe products are Rotenone and d-Limonene. The Rotenone is often sold in the gardening sections of feed stores, but it is organic and directions for treating pets for fleas are included in the "approved uses". Several companies make d-Limonene dips, sprays and shampoos. D-Limonene is derived from citrus fruits and is a fairly safe organic pesticide. Additionally, the human shampoo Pert Plus kills fleas on the dogs, although it has little or no residual effect. Lather, wait a few minutes, and then rinse. Care also needs to be taken when deworming a Greyhound, as they are extremely sensitive to anything with an organophosphate base.
Some relatively safe choices for worming Greyhounds: For hookworm or roundworm infestations: pyrantel pamoate. This is the active ingredient in these non-prescription wormers: Evict, Nemex, Nemex2; and in the prescription wormer Strongid-T. For tapeworm: Droncit tablets. Droncit injections are also effective, but some dogs find them very painful. For whipworms, hookworms and tapeworms: Panacur. However, keep in mind that adverse reactions can happen with any individual animal to any particular medication
Bloat or Torsion
As with other deep chested breeds, Greyhounds are prone to bloat, or torsion. Bloat is a life threatening disease where the stomach flips over. Immediate medical attention is required to avoid death. Preventive measures include avoiding excessive exercise just before and for an hour or two after eating; avoiding ingestion of large amounts of water immediately after eating dry kibble.
Symptoms include distended abdomen, repeated unproductive vomiting, pacing and restlessness. It can kill quickly, an immediate trip to the vet is in order. You may wish to discuss bloat with your vet, to set up in advance what to do should it happen to your dog. Your vet may also suggest other things you can do while driving to the vet's for emergency care to improve your dog's chances for survival.