There are few animals on earth that are better known for their ability to run than the elegant and athletic Greyhound. We all know that they are speedy dogs, but exactly how fast can Greyhounds run?
Greyhounds are the fastest breed of dog in the world, and they can easily reach speeds of over 40mph. Greyhounds are natural sprinters with flexible bodies, long legs, and fast-twitch muscles. There are several records that have claimed to be the fastest that a Greyhound has ever run but, in general, they can be expected to move at speeds of up to 45mph.
The incredible running speeds of Greyhounds is one of the reasons why these dogs are such fascinating animals, and it is certainly an impressive sight for an owner. This article will go into detail about the speeds at which Greyhounds can run and how they are capable of achieving them, including information about the history of the breed and comparisons to other fast animals.
Exactly How Fast Can Greyhounds Run?
The question of exactly how fast a Greyhound can run is a slightly complicated one because every dog is unique. Some will be able to move at greater speeds than others, but there is no doubt that all Greyhounds have the capacity for incredible sprinting.
Most Greyhounds can run as fast as 40mph, and some will reach speeds of up to 45mph. These high speeds can only be achieved in short bursts of acceleration. As with most of the famously fast animals on the planet, top speeds are not sustainable over time.
There have been several records set on the track for average speeds over the course of a race. Famous racing dog Shakey Jakey holds the current record for the fastest average speed around a track at 41.8mph, set in Australia in 1994, but many other dogs also have claims to that title.
Do Greyhounds Enjoy Racing?
Almost all Greyhounds love to run around and burn off energy, so it might seem like racing would be an enjoyable pastime for them. When it comes to the practice of dog racing, this is just not the case. No animal should be forced into competition for profit and the dog racing industry is widely considered to be unethical.
Cruel breeding practices and harsh living conditions have caused many Greyhounds to suffer and lose their lives over the years for the sake of racing, many spending 20-23 hours out of the day confined to cages. The Humane Society of the United States says that “Greyhound racing is cruel and inhumane and there is no place for it in the modern era.”
Fortunately, the practice has become illegal in many places around the world and its popularity is quickly dying out. This also means that there are many ex-racing Greyhounds looking for loving, supportive homes. In an ideal world, all Greyhounds would run purely for their own enjoyment.
How Do Greyhounds Run So Fast?
There are many different reasons why Greyhounds are able to run so fast, but it essentially comes down to their breeding and the incredible bodies that they have.
Greyhound Breeding History
Greyhounds have the perfect body for rapid acceleration, which has been developed over years of breeding. They belong to a category of dog breeds known as “sighthounds” which were bred to use their vision and speed to chase down prey, rather than stalking using scent and endurance.
Sprinting at top speeds was essential for these dogs if they were going to chase down fast-moving animals like hares and other small game. There are many different sighthounds, but Greyhounds are widely considered to be the fastest of them all.
One of the main distinctions between sprinting dogs like Greyhounds and slower breeds is that they run using a special gait known as a double suspension gallop. In this gallop, a Greyhound’s body will contract and extend like a spring and it is the only running gait in which a dog’s body is fully extended.
They push off with their hind legs and their flexible bodies allow them to achieve full extension in the air, with all four feet off the ground. Then, they are able to flex their backs as they plant their front feet, so that their hind legs overtake their front legs before the next cycle.
Greyhounds have very large hearts, and not just because they have so much love to give. Their hearts account for around 1.5% of their total body mass and are 10-15% larger than the average canine, in comparison to their size. This allows blood to be pumped more powerfully around the body, providing oxygen to their muscles as they run.
The size and strength of Greyhounds’ hearts means that they have a lower resting heart rate than most dogs, sometimes as low as 40bpm. They also have more red blood cells than other breeds, so oxygen is transported around their bodies more efficiently.
To help their muscles to get as much oxygen as possible, Greyhounds have very large lungs. They have deep chests which give their lungs lots of room to expand and allows them to take deeper breaths while they are running.
It is easy to see just from looking that Greyhounds are muscular and athletic dogs. They have a high percentage of fast-twitch muscles which help with sudden bursts of activity, and they are both strong and flexible.
Greyhounds have long legs and flexible spines, which allow them to take big strides and move at faster speeds. They are also very slender and aerodynamic, reducing the impact of air resistance on their bodies while they are accelerating.
Is There a Faster Dog Than a Greyhound?
Though Greyhounds hold the record for the fastest dogs on the planet, there are other speedy breeds out there too. Here is a list of some of the top speeds of other breeds that are known to be fast runners.
- German Shepherd: 30mph
- Border Collie: 30mph
- Siberian Husky: 30mph
- Doberman Pinscher: 32mph
- Borzoi: 35mph
- Whippet: 35mph
- Dalmatian: 37mph
- Vizsla: 40mph
- Afghan Hound: 40mph
- Sloughi: 42mph
- Saluki: 42mph
While Greyhounds can undoubtedly clock the highest top speeds, there are other dogs that could outpace them if a race goes on for long enough. Many other breeds can run at high speeds over long distances, while Greyhounds will slow down and tire after a while. Huskies, for example, can run for almost unbelievable distances and would easily surpass a Greyhound given enough time.
How Fast Are Greyhounds Compared to Other Animals?
When it comes to running on land, there aren’t many animals that can reach speeds as high as a Greyhound. In fact, it is believed that they are among the top 10 fastest land animals on the planet. Some of the species that have top speeds higher than a Greyhound include:
- Hare. The animal that Greyhounds were originally bred to hunt, hares have been known to reach speeds of up to 50mph, which is a little bit faster than the Greyhound’s maximum of around 45mph.
- Blackbuck. Also known as the Indian Antelope, the Blackbuck is found in southern Asia and can also reach speeds of 50mph.
- Lion. Running as fast as 50mph, lions need to reach top speeds to compete with their prey.
- Wildebeest. These large grazing mammals can run surprisingly fast, also moving at around 50mph when in full sprint.
- American Quarter Horse. This particular breed of horse is considered to be the fastest in the world and has been clocked at speeds of up to 55mph.
- Springbok. These little gazelles can be found in southern Africa and can move as fast as 55mph to escape from predators.
- Pronghorn. Not only can the pronghorn sprint as fast as 55mph, but they are known to be able to keep up high speeds over long distances.
- Cheetah. Famously the fastest land animal in the world, cheetahs have been known to achieve speeds of an incredible 75mph.
How Much Exercise Do Greyhounds Need?
Knowing that Greyhounds can run so fast, you might expect them to be very active dogs that need a lot of exercise, but they are generally happy with around 1 hour per day. Greyhounds like to tire themselves out with bursts of high activity, and then rest for much of the day.
It is important that Greyhounds get daily exercise to keep their muscles and joints active and to make sure that they maintain a healthy weight. Alongside walks and a chance to run around outside, they should also benefit from other activities that keep them mentally and physically stimulated.
Greyhounds actually have a reputation for being almost lazy most of the time, because they love to relax and have a good snooze.
The Verdict: How Fast Can Greyhounds Run?
So, how fast can Greyhounds run? They can reach speeds of between 40 and 45mph, making them the fastest dogs in the world and among the fastest animals alive.
Greyhounds have incredible bodies that allow them to accelerate to mind-blowing speeds over short distances. As a result of their breeding history, these dogs have the hearts, lungs, and muscles required to reach higher speeds than any other dogs. They can’t run at top speed for very long, but it is very impressive when they do.
Over the years, Greyhounds have been mistreated by people looking to exploit their natural talents, but the practice of dog racing is now on the decline. If you want to raise one of these beautiful and elegant animals, you will get to see their amazing speeds first-hand.