Frequently Asked Questions
Don't they need a big yard and a lot of exercise?
The minimum requirement for exercise is a 15 minute walk, every other day, ideally daily. They have about the same exercise requirements as other dogs. They sleep about 20 hours a day. We call them "45 MPH Couch Potatoes" for a reason. Greyhounds MUST be kept on a leash in any unfenced or partially fenced areas, and cannot be turned loose to run at open parks, or on hiking trails in the foothills. They have no street smarts, and are sighthounds... will take off after something they want to catch and will be more than a mile away within two minutes. Even if you take them through obedience training, never trust them to return when off leash.
Do they jump?
We like to see yard fences be between 5 to 6' high. They are not big jumpers. In fact, they tend to respect barriers like baby gates and ex-pens. However, until recently the canine high jump record was held by a greyhound until he was older.
How are they with cats?
We test them with cats when they initially come off the track, and also get to see their response to cats in the foster home cats. Most are cat-tolerant, some are not. We guide you in how to introduce your greyhound to the cat, and safety precautions to be aware of.
How are they with small dogs?
Greyhounds are not familiar with other breeds of dogs, due to their life as racers. They are introduced to small dogs on their first day of retirement, most are fine, some are not and will consider them prey. During foster care, they get opportunities to meet other breeds, and their response is further evaluated. As a rule, greyhounds are not aggressive dogs.
How are they with children?
Some greys are great and others will just walk away from children and ignore them. During foster care, we try to give them some exposure to children so we can see their behaviors. FastFriends' general policy prefers that families to wait until their children are 6 years old or older before considering adoption. One of the main concerns regarding children under 6 is the risk of the child leaving a door open and letting the dog out. FastFriends has a policy to not place a greyhound with families with children under 6 years of age. We recommend the book "Child-Proofing Your Dog".
How big do greyhounds get?
Most greyhound males stand 26 to 30 inches tall at the shoulder, and weigh between 65 and 85 pounds. Females stand 23 to 26 inches tall at the shoulder, and weigh 50 to 65 pounds. Although the average greyhound consumes up to two pounds of food per day at the track, they burn off excess weight when they run, so are naturally thin and carry little body fat.
Are all greyhounds grey?
Greyhounds range in color from fawn to black, and almost anything in between. Grey is actually one of the more rare colors, called "blue." The word "greyhound" is derived not from the animal's color but from its history. The ancient Greeks may have called them "greekhounds," or may have named them "gazehounds" since they relied on sight rather than smell in hunting. The name may also have been derived from the Latin "gradus" meaning degree, which related to the care exercised in breeding these aristocratic animals.
What kinds of medical problems do greyhounds tend to have?
We do thorough blood work, testing of TBD's (Tick Borne Diseases), and treat any medical problems (like broken bones or infections) that a dog may have when they come from the track. Some dogs may require a low dose of thyroid medication twice a day (inexpensive) and annual blood work. We provide you with information about signs and symptoms of TBD's so you can watch for any changes in your grey's health. We recommend monthly Heartworm and flea/tick preventatives (Heartgard, Frontline, Advantage, Sentinel, etc.). Older greyhounds may benefit from supplements for arthritis like Glucosamine. Greyhounds have thin skin, and can get cuts and tears rather easily, such as when running through a row of rose bushes, or during play with other dogs. We do a home visit and recommend changes to improve safety as needed. Greyhounds are INDOOR dogs, and are very sensitive to temperature extremes, such as hot or cold weather. Fleece coats are recommended for chilly winter evenings, even inside, if the house is not heated.
Do they shed much?
We recommend occasional grooming with a rubber mitt to remove hair and help with bonding. Greyhounds shed some twice a year, and stay clean-smelling without a "doggie" odor. Bathing is recommended every 3 months or less frequently.
Do they bark much?
Greyhounds, as a rule, are quiet dogs and seldom bark. When they do bark, it is typically just a few warning barks.
Are they housebroken (or easy to train)?
As racers, greyhounds are crate trained, with turnouts about every 6 hours. During foster care, they learn that the whole house is their crate. The first couple of days are most essential to teach the greyhound where it's okay to do their business, and to catch them in the act of having an accident. They are sensitive dogs and respond well to a firm "No!" as well as lots of praise for doing the right thing. Greyhounds want to please their owners, and are generally quick learners.
What kind of problem behaviors do I need to know about?
Because they're tall, greyhounds can be great counter surfers. They are naturally curious, and will explore all areas of your home. Put things up high or in cabinets/drawers that are valuable, including things like remote controls, cordless phones (batteries are toxic), glasses, and paper. When you are gone, some will collect items with your scent on them to comfort them in your absense. Favorites are dirty laundry which they will carry to their beds. Because greyhounds have always been with lots of other greyhounds, they can experience separation anxiety when they are left home alone. We provide you with guidelines about doing "leave and return" training, and have some suggestions about how to help a dog cope with this change in life such as using an interactive food dispensing toy to keep occupied, limiting space in the home - crate or ex-pen if necessary, or babygates. Greyhounds are used to structure and a routine, and do best with one including regular feeding times, adequate exercise, and general predictability.
How long can they be left alone? Generally, greyhounds are used to turnouts about every 6 hours. If you're gone more than 8 - 10 hours per day, a doggie door should be installed so the pet has access to the yard to potty. However, you need to be sure the dog cannot or will not jump out, or dig out if bored or anxious. Many people find that adopting a second greyhound or having a second indoor dog works well.
What other kinds of safety issues should I be aware of?
We recommend a certain way to hold the leash for safety with a loop (slip knot) over the wrist and DO NOT recommend using retractable leashes with greyhounds. Because they have a small head and regular collars can easily slip off, a Martingale collar is the safest type to use. Children need to be older (generally 12 years old or more) before walking a greyhound. We recommend putting padlocks on gates, and being very careful about open doors, getting in and out of cars, etc. Put stickers or post-it notes at eye level on sliding glass doors for the first week or so until the dog learns what they are.
Aren't these dogs abused on the track?
The dogs are generally not abused, but they are given a different type of care than a loving home will offer. The dogs are technically considered livestock; they receive decent food, medical care, exercise, and lots of handling. Our goal, as an adoption group, is to find safe and loving homes for them as retired racers.
Where did these dogs come from?
The majority of our dogs come from the Caliente track in Tijuana. Please see additional information in this section – From Track to Couch, Part 1
How many greyhounds are adopted each year?
Thanks to the tremendous efforts of volunteers across the nation, most retired American-bred racing greyhounds do find homes. Current statistics indicate that about 80-85% of the 30,000 greyhounds leaving the track each year are adopted. Our goal is to increase this percentage to 100% placement for the available dogs.
How are greyhounds trained to race?
Greyhounds begin training at about a year old. As sighthounds, they love to run and chase by instinct, so initially their training consists of chasing a lure dragged along the ground. As they mature, they are taught to run on circular tracks, with the artificial lure suspended above the ground. At about a year and a half, they graduate to longer, oval tracks, starting boxes and competition.
Why do greyhounds wear muzzles?
Greyhounds wear muzzles while racing to identify themselves so racing officials can determine the outcome of a photo finish race. It also protects them from injuring themselves or one another during the excitement of the chase, since they have light coats and thin skin. They do not need to be muzzled in a home environment, since they are gentle and docile by nature. We will send along a muzzle to new adopters in homes with cats, for the introduction to the cat and settling in period.