Debunking common greyhound myths…

There are several myths surrounding what ex racing greyhounds can and can’t do.  At Happy Hounds, we’ve worked with hundreds of ex-racing greyhounds and, time and time again, many of these hounds have completely dispelled some of the common myths surrounding greyhound behaviour.   The following are the five most common myths that I encounter.

1. They must needs lots of exercise

Generally speaking, greyhounds are bred for short bursts of speed – not extended periods of stamina. Most are happy with two 20 minute walks a day, which means they’re often suited to homes that may not have the time for very long walks each day. They can walk for longer but their stamina should be built up before embarking on a lengthy walk.

2. You can never let them off lead

Whilst it’s true that greyhounds have been bred and trained to chase, it’s not true to say that they can NEVER be let off a lead.  Like any dog, training a reliable recall takes time and every dog is different. Some greyhounds may struggle with recall but many can learn it (check out Mina’s video).

However, it is always better to err on the side of caution. If you haven’t trained a recall – DON’T let your greyhound off the lead and expect them to come back when you call them! Also, if you’ve not worked on impulse control, you’ll find it difficult (if not nigh on impossible) to call a greyhound back to you when they’re in chase mode.

3. They can’t live with cats or other small ‘furries’

This is another common misconception, many greyhounds (including my own) can adapt to living with cats and other small animals. However,  not all greyhounds are suited to living with cats or other small furries. For some the chase instinct is so strong that it would be dangerous to place them in a home with another small furry.  All reputable rescue/rehoming centres can advise you whether a greyhound is cat-friendly, cat-trainable or can’t live with cats.

Many greyhounds, with careful training, can adjust to life with cats, chickens and even rabbits!  Our 1-2-1s can provide tailored advice to help make sure your hound and other pets get off to the best start and become friends.

Why not check out our FREE ‘Greyhounds: Living with cats & small animals’ leaflet to see how greyhounds can learn to live with other small animals.

4. They can’t sit or go into the ‘down’ position

This is another myth; greyhounds can learn the positions of ‘sit’. However, for some greyhounds the ‘sit’ is simply too uncomfortable (if you look at their conformation, this isn’t particularly surprising).

My rule of thumb is that if a greyhound does not sit naturally, I will not teach them a sit. For those that can and do sit, lure and reward works well. Anecdotally, what I have noticed is that even when a greyhound will sit they may often slide into a down, as it’s just more comfortable.

5. You can’t train a greyhound to do anything other than run

Whilst most greyhounds won’t have been taught any voice cues or basic ‘obedience’ training during their racing careers, that doesn’t mean that they are incapable of learning new behaviours post-racing.

Each greyhound is different in the way they learn and has different  capabilities (just like us humans).


*Duffy, D. L., Hsu, Y. and Serpell, J. A. (2008). ‘Breed differences in canine aggression.’ Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 114 (3-4), p.441–460.