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Are Greyhounds Aggressive?

Are Greyhounds Aggressive?

Reading time: 6 minutes.

Greyhounds are beautiful and graceful creatures and make great pets. They are known to be gentle souls and loving to their families, while they tend to be a little aloof with strangers. If you consider adopting one of these iconic racing dogs, you might wonder if Greyhound is aggressive?

Are Greyhounds Aggressive? Greyhounds are generally not aggressive dogs to humans or other dogs. However, being sight dogs, they have a well-developed prey drive that may come out as predatory behavior towards small animals. However, training with positive affirmation can rectify or control these behaviors.  

Like most canines, each dog’s particular life experiences may shape how they express aggression. Typically a greyhound will show aggression as a response to fear or anxiety rather than an act of dominance. Please read on if you would like to learn more about the Greyhound’s aggression levels. 

Are Greyhounds Aggressive?

Greyhounds don’t appear on the most typically aggressive dog breed lists. In a clinical study, data showed that of over 30 breeds of dog tested, and their aggression studied both to humans and other dogs. The sweet-natured Greyhound made one of the top 6 lists of dog breeds least likely to show aggression to both humans and dogs along with:

  • Whippets
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Bernese Mountain dog
  • Brittany Spaniels.
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Furthermore, The American Kennel Club rated the Greyhound in their own established temperament tests that measured six categories of tests including:

  •  Social
  • Auditory
  • Visual
  • Tactile
  • Proprioceptive (motion)
  • Unexpected stimulus.

The AKC described the Greyhound’s temperament as:

  • Sweet-natured
  • Gentle
  • Independent 
  • Affectionate to family
  • Reserved with strangers. 

So as a breed-specific expression, aggression is not typical of the nature of a Greyhound. That being said, each dog’s life experiences may shape their personalities much the same as human beings. 

How Do I Deal With an Aggressive Greyhound?

The most important aspect of dealing with an aggressive dog is not using physical punishments or aggression in response to aggressive behavior. Responding with aggression will only encourage fear, which will increase the dog’s aggression. 

Be calm, gentle, and consistent, and use positive reinforcement to encourage good behavior rather than punishing the bad behavior. Greyhounds thrive on affection and reward, and you will find they respond eagerly to positive training. 

Recognize the triggers that provoke your Greyhound to become aggressive and try and prevent them from reaching the level of acting out their aggression. Animal behaviorists are also a great option if you feel that your pet is not responding to your training.

Exercise is also a vital means to reduce anxiety and stress in your Greyhound, and sometimes aggression may be an expression of frustration caused by lack of stimulation. 

Are Greyhounds Aggressive to Other Dogs?

Although Greyhounds are not a naturally aggressive breed, their life experiences may make them exhibit aggressive behaviors like most dogs. Greyhounds adopted from racing institutions can sometimes exhibit anti-social behaviors such as space aggression. 

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However, these are the consequences of the deprived life of a racing Greyhound rather than a trait of the breed. Racing Greyhounds raised in individual kennels sometimes find it challenging to share their sleeping space with others.

Positive reinforcement and patience work tremendously well with the lovable Greyhound to reduce these responses. Typically, a greyhound will exhibit aggression to other dogs as a reactive mechanism to the following causes.

Pain 

If your Greyhound is experiencing physical pain, they exhibit aggression to protect themselves from further harm. They may experience internal pain, which makes them act out against touch in aggressive displays. Even the most affectionate dog may display aggression when handled, as the handling may increase the pain to intolerable levels.

Fear and Anxiety

Fear aggression is a form of canine self-defense that a Greyhound may express to humans and other dogs. When faced with a situation they fear, they may exhibit the flight or fight reaction humans experience in similar situations. It is essential to understand what triggers your Greyhound to exhibit these behaviors and find ways to modify your dog’s behavior gently.

Lack of Socialization 

The most critical socialization time in pups is between the ages of 3-18 weeks of age. The puppies should explore their world, build confidence, and learn to interact with other dogs. In situations such as retired racing Greyhounds, the pups have a severely curtailed socialization stage, resulting in an adult dog with aggressive tendencies towards other dogs. 

Greyhounds and Prey Drive 

Greyhounds also exhibit a powerful prey drive which people may mistake for dog-on-dog aggression. While aggression is a reaction driven by fear or anger, the prey drive response is a more instinctual reaction to what the Greyhound interprets as prey.

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Smaller dogs and pets may trigger the instinctual urge to chase, which is hard-wired into your Greyhounds genetics. Greyhounds were originally bred for coursing in which the dogs caught their prey by speed and sight rather than by scent. 

Owners may easily moderate these instinctual behaviors from a patient and consistent training from puppyhood. However, adopted Greyhounds, particularly ex-racing hounds, may be a poor choice for a home with small animals such as rabbits and cats.

 Although one can’t eliminate this instinctual drive, one can manage it by keeping your Greyhound on a leash in public, unenclosed areas. You should also always muzzle your Greyhound when introducing them to new animals. Greyhounds tend to freeze when they fixate on a ‘prey,’ so you should try to distract their attention before they display prey drive and reward them for good behavior, 

Are Greyhounds Known for Biting?

Greyhounds rank far down in most accredited temperaments tests regarding aggression towards humans. Greyhounds are naturally sweet-tempered and docile creatures and display low aggression levels to other dogs and human companions.

Unfortunately, not every owner is lucky enough to raise their Greyhound from puppyhood, and their adopted pet may have had bad experiences with humans in the past.

Abuse and neglect may take a toll on the kindest dog’s personality, much like humans are shaped by their childhood experiences. Retired racing Greyhounds often struggle with the transition from racing life to family life.

 Animal behaviorist Dr. Karen Dawson addressed a veterinary scientists conference about the prevalence of retired racing Greyhounds in biting their owners or children. The situation in Queensland caused the behavioralist n to caution the public about allowing adopted racing greyhounds the time and space to adapt to their new home and companions.

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 However, she still claimed that they are a docile and loving breed but suggested they be homed in experienced households. Racing Greyhounds need owners who can understand the racing life’s damages and appropriately manage and control the fear and anxiety triggers.

However, biting should not be confused with a really unique habit Greyhounds have to express their affection to their humans. Greyhounds engage in ‘nitting,’ a gentle nibble the Greyhound makes on their favorite human’s skin with their front teeth. It’s an expression of happiness and a Greyhound’s way of showing their love. 

Greyhound Sleep Aggression

Greyhounds may exhibit sleep startle, or sleep aggression is a reaction more common in Greyhounds rescued from the racetrack than endemic to the breed. Sleep aggression occurs when a dog is abruptly woken from sleep by an owner’s touch or presence and responds aggressively.

The dog may react with a growl or a more robust aggressive response in the worst-case scenario. Behavioralists attribute this startle response as a fear-based reaction. Greyhounds raised in racing yards are typically separated into their own space at night, so being petted or touched during their sleep may be a frightening experience for them.

If your Greyhound is exhibiting sleep aggression, you should consider trying the following.

  • Find your Greyhound a secluded space where he may have some seclusion from the hustle and bustle of human activity.
  • When you approach your sleeping Greyhound, you should call them by name and alert them to your approach. Once they raise their heads and are alert, you can then proceed towards them without startling them out of their deep sleep. 
  • Ensure that your family and visitors to your home are aware of your pet’s problem and avoid anyone disturbing your Greyhound while they are in their sleeping area. 
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Closing Thoughts

Greyhounds make excellent pets, although they do have the nickname the 40 mph couch potato! Greyhounds are generally even-tempered and loving and make a loving and sweet addition to your family. You should take care if you adopt one of these fantastic animals and take time to allow them to adjust to their new family and environment.