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If you’re looking for an excellent family dog that can join you both on a long hike and on the couch for a long movie marathon, there is no better choice than the Greyhound. Known for their speed, racing abilities, and friendly nature, Greyhounds might seem like the complete package, but they have one shortcoming. Greyhounds are fabulous companion dogs, and they have a large range of skills that make them a highly desirable breed of dogs. Unfortunately, being a quality guard dog or watchdog, however, is not one of those skills.
Are Greyhounds good guard dogs? No, greyhounds, while intimidating in size, are not considered to be excellent guard dogs. They lack the natural aggression towards people necessary to be a guard dog.
The Greyhound, despite their obvious athletic abilities, often prefers to just observe any action happening rather than getting involved themselves, which means they are unlikely to drive off an unwanted human or animal visitor.
Why is it, with all their many talents, Greyhounds can’t also be guard dogs? There are a lot of reasons that Greyhounds don’t excel at guarding homes, including their personalities and the things they have been bred for over the years. Of course, all dogs have individual personalities that set them apart from each other, so every once in a while you may come across a Greyhound with a natural affinity for guarding, but this is the exception, not the rule. Even though Greyhounds are large, and their barks can even be scary at times, they’d much rather make a friend than an enemy. Let me explain why.
Are Greyhounds Good Guard Dogs?
Greyhounds are great racers, running companions, and couch potatoes, but they just don’t make good guard dogs. Greyhounds are not aggressive or protective enough to be excellent guard dogs. They are naturally good-natured and friendly towards humans.
There are quite a few reasons for this. As you may know, Greyhounds are famously incredible runners and have been controversially used in races for decades. While many states are banning Greyhound racing, the desire to be a good working dog for their owners is still part of the Greyhound breed and ingrained in the way they behave. An aggressive or overly protective Greyhound that guarded its owner would be a disaster at the racetrack.
Today, even Greyhounds who never see the racetrack will be friendly, mild-mannered dogs that have very little drive to guard or protect. A Greyhound would much rather greet a stranger entering their house than try to run them off. The same goes for any unwanted animal coming onto your property. A Greyhound’s first reaction will almost be curiosity or even disinterest in this new thing in their space, not hostility.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Dogs with a high drive to guard, like Great Pyrenees and Newfoundlands, that guard enormous flocks of sheep, are still wonderful dogs to own, but they excel at specific tasks. Since historically Greyhounds have never been bred for guarding, it isn’t a task they can perform instinctually with minimal training, like traditional guard dogs.
The only time that the usually timid Greyhound will have the desire to guard is against small animals that activate their innate prey drive. Even then, they aren’t necessarily guarding you or anyone else from the small animal but instead chasing it down for ‘hunting’ purposes. Greyhounds have a higher prey drive for small animals like rabbits because racing Greyhounds are trained to chase a fake rabbit around the track as their motivation to run. This training eventually became an instinct for a large portion of the breed. For this reason, it’s recommended to be careful when introducing a Greyhound to a smaller pet in a house, like a cat. We should never leave prey pet animals like rabbits out to roam freely in a home with a Greyhound.
Can You Train a Greyhound to Guard?
You can train a Greyhound to guard, but it’s unlikely they will ever excel at it.
Greyhounds are a type of dog known as sighthounds. Sighthounds hunt by, as the name suggests, sight, and are known for their swift speeds and impressive endurance. A Greyhound can be a superb hunter for small animals with the right training, but even with proper training, they are unlikely to take to being a guard dog.
Greyhounds lack 3 of the qualities needed for an excellent guard dog:
- A loud bark
- High self-confidence
For a guard dog, these 3 traits need to go hand in hand. In order to be protective, a dog must be confident in themselves and their abilities to protect their master or whatever charge they are looking after. Greyhounds, on the other hand, are timid dogs that would rather their master handle any oncoming threats.
Greyhounds are also not big barkers, and a loud, assertive bark is important in both guard and watchdogs. Most Greyhounds won’t even bark at a knock on the door.
Because Greyhounds lack these traits, they are difficult to train as guard dogs. The best guard dogs are the ones who have the instinct to guard in their nature. Greyhounds just don’t have that instinct.
That being said, if you really want to train your Greyhound as a guard dog, you can seek out a professional trainer to do so. They may never be able to protect a flock of sheep, but you might have success if getting them to bark at a suspicious stranger outside.
Are Greyhounds Protective?
Generally, no, Greyhounds are not protective.
Each individual Greyhound will have a unique temperament and personality, but the majority of Greyhounds are not protective. Greyhounds are notorious couch potatoes and are rather timid in the face of things that frighten them. They are also curious, rather than protective, and like to sit back and watch events unfold instead of involving themselves right away. These careful, easily frightened dogs don’t lend themselves well to protecting humans or other animals.
A Greyhound’s gentle nature is one of the things that makes them such good family pets, but it makes them lousy dogs for protection. The best that you can hope for is that the Greyhound’s intimidating stature will scare off any threats before they become a problem.
So many people assume Greyhounds will make good guard dogs because of how big and muscular they are. Greyhounds can reach up to 30 inches tall and 85 pounds in weight, and since they have so little fat on their bodies, they appear very strong. Their muscular physique helps them run, but it doesn’t do much in the way of guarding or protecting anything.
Greyhounds are actually quite fragile, despite their appearance. They have thin skin with almost no fat underneath, making them at risk of cuts and scrapes. Relying on them for protection can end up with your Greyhound injured, and costly veterinarian bills.
Will a Greyhound Protect Me?
As much as we’d like to think our dogs would protect us in any situation, it really differs from dog to dog how far the dog will go to protect their owner. Greyhounds are more likely to run from danger than to fight back, but some Greyhounds will make an effort to protect their owners if threatened.
Purebred dogs have historically been bred to perform certain jobs. For example, Border Collies are meant to herd, Retrievers are meant to retrieve, and Greyhounds are best for running and hunting by sight.
It just isn’t in a Greyhound’s nature to protect its owner. In fact, a Greyhound is more likely to look at you for protection instead of the other way around. This may seem strange since Greyhounds can reach up to 85 pounds in weight, but Greyhounds are lovers, not fighters.
There have been instances of Greyhounds protecting their owners, but these stories should be considered the exception, not the rule. Even then, these stories usually involve the Greyhound alerting its owner to some danger, not fighting off the dangerous person or animal themselves.
It’s best to avoid any situation where you feel like you may need to rely on your Greyhound to protect you. Keep an eye out for bears and other predatory animals while hiking with your Greyhound, and always keep them on a leash during any walks or runs. Preventing anything negative from happening is much easier than relying on your Greyhound to protect you if something goes wrong.