We tend to think of Greyhounds based on what we have seen on TV – which basically just amounts to sprinting the moment that the gates open and very little else. This breed is much more complex than that, of course, but that leads to a bottom-line question: Are Greyhounds a good family dog?
Yes, Greyhounds can make for excellent family dogs, though you will need to make them feel at home and you’ll also want to learn a little about pack behavior. Greyhounds aren’t weaned as early as other breeds, so they need to learn the family ‘hierarchy’ in order to feel comfortable. Once they do, they’re as sweet as honey!
In today’s article, we’ll go into more specifics on what it’s like to add a new Grey member to your family. We’ll go over whether or not retired racing Greys make good pets, how Greys get along with kids, and much, much more. Let’s talk about Greyhounds and their unique take on ‘living the family life’!
Are Greyhounds Good Family Dogs?
Yes, retired racers can be amazingly good family pets. While they might seem a little stand-offish at first, if you are patient and kind then they can and WILL respond to this. Many of these dogs simply aren’t used to having so much attention, as they’ve spent a lot of time on their own.
These dogs have a strong pack mentality, so to get started in the bonding process we recommend that during feeding times, you have different family members feed the dog. Hold your Grey in place for a few seconds before letting them eat – this sounds weird, but it’s a ‘pack thing’.
In dog packs, when you eat is decided by your place in the pack, and making your dog wait teaches them to start viewing the other family members as being above them in ‘rank’. This is important for making them feel comfortable and to avoid any dominance-type behaviors from a dog just trying to find their place.
Once you’ve put in these ‘ground rules’, the rest of the bonding process is much the same as with other dogs with one exception — avoid dog parks! That heavy pack mentality can lead to misunderstandings with other breeds – though monitored one-on-one visits are okay.
Are Greyhounds good for first-time owners?
If you’ve never owned a dog before, then a Greyhound can still be a find first dog, simply because you won’t have any preconceptions about their behavior. Greyhounds spend more time with their mother when they are young and so they speak a different ‘language’ then other dogs. It’s all about the ‘pack’ with them.
They tend to be quite gentle and shy, though the shyness part will go away with you and your family once your dog has adjusted to their new home. They might still be a little wary around strangers, but if you have friends visiting then you can keep some treats nearby for your friends to give your dog.
This kind of socializing will help your dog with their shyness and once they open up to new friends, they are some of the friendliest and most playful dogs that you will ever meet. We do recommend, however, that you invest in some plastic ‘baby gates’ during your dog’s initial adjustment period.
This will help to limit where you little lightning-bolt can run to until they become comfortable with their place in the home. As long as you are patient and give them lots of love, Greyhounds are perfectly fine for first-time owners, and you’ll probably find that they’ll spoil you against wanting any other breed ever again!
Do Greyhounds bite kids?
No, Greyhounds are actually quite docile, and you really have to push at them to elicit an aggressive response. These fast little guys and gals will typically just move away from whomever is annoying them and keep their distance.
Greys WILL do one thing that you might misinterpret and that is called ‘nitting’. Nitting involves the teeth, but it’s not an actual bite. Rather, your Grey gently nibbles at your hand, pushing the fronts of their teeth into it. It doesn’t hurt but if you are ticklish, thenit will definitely surprise you.
Nitting comes from a place of love, however, and it’s just one of the ways that your Greyhound will show their affection. When introducing them to your children, we recommend letting the kids feed them while you hold the dog to make them wait before they eat.
Just let your child set the bowl down and hold your dog for a few seconds, then let your child tell the dog ‘go get it’ or another verbal cue to indicate it’s time to eat. This puts your child above the dog in ‘pack language’, and will help to ensure that your kids and your new Grey get along smashingly.
What are the pros of having a Greyhound?
There are a lot of perks to having a Greyhound in your family. While they are a little different than other breeds, if you take the time to get to know them then you’ll be amazed at how you ever got along without your furry friend. Let’s take a look at some perks of Greyhound ownership:
- Low maintenance – Greyhounds need about 1 hour of exercise a day. Yes, this sounds weird, but you’ve go to remember that they are sprinters, NOT endurance runners, so in this case that speed doesn’t mean that you’ve got to take them out 4 hours a day. 1 hour is all that they need!
- Unsurpassed loyalty – Greys spend more time with their mother than most other breeds. While other types of dogs are weaned at around 8 weeks, Greys stay with mom for months, and they learn the rules of a proper pack. When your dog sees you as the pack leader, you’re practically a medieval king to them, and it’s a strange and amazing feeling.
- Dress-up is okay – Greys get cold easily, so when it’s chilly out, you are encouraged to play a little dress-up. These dogs usually don’t mind and a winter coat will help to keep them warm and comfortable. That running physique makes them thin, so dress up your dog without guilt – they’ll appreciate it!
- Affectionate – It takes time to earn a Greyhounds trust but once you do, they become sweeter than honey. They’ll nibble your hand affectionately with their front teeth (a behavior called ‘nitting’), follow you around, and regularly plop on the couch to watch TV with their best friend if you allow it. Once they feel safe with you, they’re sweet as pie!
- Great with kids – With the exception perhaps of multiple toddlers, Greyhounds and kids normally get along like gangbusters. Kids are fascinated with having a 45 mph best friend and when you see them bonding, we suggest that you make videos because it’s nothing short of magical.
What are the cons of bringing home a Greyhound?
Greyhounds realty are a breed apart and if you have experience with other dogs, you’ll need to forget most of it because it simply won’t apply. Let’s take a look at some of the cons of Greyhound ownership to help give you an idea where they might seem difficult if you aren’t prepared:
- Pack instinct – All dogs have some pack instinct, but not like Greys do. They need a structure in place so that they know who is in charge and who isn’t. If you have another dog at home, you MUST monitor them carefully as it will take awhile for them to adjust to each other. Stay away from dog parks, too – they’re dangerous.
- Different body language – Greys have their own body language. While some dogs put their ears back as a warning of aggression, when Greys do this, it means that they are stressed. They’ll tuck their tail behind them and they might even get vocal if you approach, so be gentle with them. Your dog isn’t angry, they’re scared.
- Fragile physiques – As they are bred for racing, these dogs have very little body fat, so they’re basically a bit on the bony side and need more protection than other dogs. You’ll want to dress them up against the cold and any meetings with other dogs need to be watched carefully until you’re sure it’s safe.
- Shedding – They have short coats, but somehow Greys manage to shed all over the place. You can minimize this by brushing your dog 2 to 3 times per week and this will help your dog to bond to you in the process, as they absolutely love it! This takes time, though, so it’s worth considering.
Are Greyhounds easy to housetrain?
Yes, Greyhounds are actually quite intelligent and easy to housetrain, but you should know something about this breed – when they get sick, there will definitely be messes! Greys have sensitive tummies, so if your dog has a bout of diarrhea, check for food changes first and whatever you do, don’t scold them.
Your dog won’t intentionally potty in the house unless you’ve brought a new dog in and it’s a dominance war.
Potty training is the same as with any other dog, though, so just stock up on treats and make sure to take your dog out on a regular schedule. As a general rule, puppies can wait for 1 hour for every month they have been alive, so a 2 month old needs to go out every 2 hours and within 15-20 minutes of every meal.
When your dog potties outside, give them a treat, and keep their schedule like clockwork. You’ll be surprised how quickly your clever little speedster will learn, but you need to stick to that schedule. While they are young, they simply cannot wait for very long, so your Grey will be depending on you!
As you can see, while they have a very different view of family structure, it’s all about pack mentality. Once you know this, your Grey can definitely become a sweet and integral part of your family. These dogs learn quickly, so potty training won’t be an issue, but don’t forget that they can get cold easy and also need your protection.
They’re designed for racing, so those thin physiques make them vulnerable. Make sure that they get regular brushing, as well, so that their shedding doesn’t become a problem, and pay close attention to their body language.
This breed is really one of the sweetest and most playful around, but you’re going to have to ‘forget’ what you think you know about dogs – Greys are something special and they think a little bit differently than what you are used to.
Once you get to know them, though, they’ll run at top speed straight for your heart!