The noble greyhound is prized for its ability to reach speeds of up to 70 km per hour, but experts and owners say there’s a lot more to love about these gentle giants than their performance on the racecourse.
In fact, as director of Greyhound Racing NSW rehoming and adoption program Greyhounds As Pets Jamie Palmer explained, their status as the fastest canine species, as well as their somewhat ubiquitous (and perhaps misleading) muzzle, has led to some pervasive misconceptions that do a disservice to the breed.
“People often see them muzzled, so they have safety concerns. People think they’re high-energy animals that need to run a lot, that they eat a lot and that they’re not particular people-friendly dogs,” the former NSW Police officer said.
“The reality is they’re the most empathetic, calm and gentle souls by nature, they absolutely love people and they’re nowhere near as serious as they appear.
“All they like is to be with people and to sleep. It’s their natural state.”
Though the breed’s baseline personality is calm and gentle, Greyhounds As Pets uses a “matching” service to rehome former racing industry greyhounds to the right home.
This has included every kind of environment from aged-care homes, where the breed’s height is an asset to residents who don’t want to bend to stroke their glossy coats, and to schools, where they are considered the ideal breed to teach children about canine safety.
They’ve even been trained as companion animals for ex-servicemen and police, who tend to treasure them for their soothing presence.
“They have what’s called the ‘greyhound lean’ where they just lean against a person’s leg. It’s kind of like a weighted blanket,” Jamie said.
“They’re quite happy to lounge around, they love a couch and they adore human connection.”
Greyhounds are a quiet breed of dog that rarely barks. They are very clean and described as almost “cat-like” in their grooming behaviour. Due to being a “single layer” coat breed, once they settle into their new home and shed the initial “kennel coat”, they shed very little and carry little or no odour. No undercoat means they’re less likely to trigger allergies as well.
Many greyhounds sleep up to 20 hours a day, making some (not all) great for busy working families. Despite their height, many are happy in apartments and townhouses, where they will curl up for the better part of the day.
Austinmer residents Bronte Ward and Alex Zanoni vouch for this profile. They adopted their greyhound Taco from Greyhound Rescue about a year ago and said he loves nothing better than a nap.
“We’d already done our research and this was one of the reasons we decided to adopt a greyhound over another breed. That, and the fact that they don’t shed much and are not known to bark – making them ideal apartment dogs,” Bronte said.
“They love a zoomie session now and then, but usually they’re the world’s biggest and laziest couch potatoes. Taco often needs convincing to go for a walk, and when we do it’s pretty slow going – these walks are meandering sniffaris.”
In accordance with NSW laws, all greyhounds must be muzzled in off-leash areas regardless of whether they are on or off-leash unless they have an exemption from the Greenhounds assessment program.
“Unfortunately, muzzles tend to give the impression that a dog is aggressive. In our experience, this couldn’t be further from the case with greyhounds – they are gentle giants,” Bronte said.
“Muzzles do, however, keep everyone safe in an unpredictable environment. We wish more owners would muzzle their dogs in off-leash areas.”
In the lead-up to Christmas, as people consider the possibility of pet adoption, Jamie says it’s a lovely time of year in a lot of ways to consider a greyhound.
“Many people take time off at Christmas, some might have the kids at home, so it’s a beautiful time to expand the family and give your greyhound the full experience of being part of it,” he said.
The last Greyhounds As Pets Greyhound Adoption Day of 2023 will be held on Saturday 16 December from 3 pm to 6 pm at Dapto Showground, 89-99 Princes Highway, Dapto. The adoption fee is $150 on adoption day (otherwise $250.00) inclusive of vaccinations, lead, collar, desexing and more.