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Determining What You Want in a Retired Racing Greyhound

If you're certain you can provide a loving, lifelong home for a retired racer, think about what kind of retired racer you want before you contact an adoption group or a track kennel. If you take the time to list the characteristics you want in your retired racer and any lifestyle issues you need to address, you're much more likely to find one who will soon become a valued part of your family.

Consider the issues that matter in your home, like the following:

  • The Greyhound's size
  • How he interacts with children, including those who may come to visit
  • How he interacts with other animals in your home
  • How much time you have to spend playing with and training him

As you consider these issues, be sure to make clear distinctions between wants and needs. You may need a hound who deals well with children. And you may want a smaller dog but would welcome a larger dog into your home as well. Only you know what your wants and needs are, so be honest with yourself.

The right Greyhound can adapt to almost any lifestyle. But that doesn't mean that asking him to adapt to dramatic changes is always fair. Look at what the Greyhound was bred for. You may be happier if you looked elsewhere for a training buddy for that marathon. And he may be happier in front of the fireplace or the campfire than blazing a trail through a thicket of blackberry bushes.

In short, look at your lifestyle, consider the Greyhound's temperament, and think of the individual personality of the retired racer you're considering. Then worry about things like sex, age, size, and color, all covered in the following sections.

Sex

Each dog is an individual, just as each sibling within a family is unique. Look at each individual dog and how he or she fits into your lifestyle. Unless there is a very specific reason why you must have a male or a female, let the personality of the dog be your guide.

Many Greyhound owners swear that males are better with children. Your child's behavior around your retired racer is more likely to influence your hound's response than his gender is.

If you already have a dog in your family, choose a dog of the opposite sex. They're less likely to argue over who's top dog.

Age

Most Greyhounds end their racing careers between the ages of two and four. Some racers who are particularly good may run until they are five years old, and then they may be used for breeding. Those used for breeding may not be retired until they are as old as eight.

Because Greyhounds don't mature until they are about three years of age, a two-year-old retired racer may still be very much a puppy and quite full of himself. He may need more exercise and more supervision than a dog who is just a few months or a year older.

An older dog — one over six or seven years of age — is a delightful addition to any family. The only downside of adopting an older hound is that he may not be with you as long. Naturally, a senior hound is more likely to need ongoing medical treatment as he gets older. But if you have the financial resources to deal with a problem if one does develop, they have more love to give than money can buy.

Many older hounds are returned to adoption groups or surrendered to animal shelters because they no longer fit a family's lifestyle. The family may be moving to a big new house and doesn't want the lawn ruined by a dog that loves to run. Or maybe they've had a baby and have found owning a dog to be too inconvenient. The reasons are endless, but the result is an abandoned racer who needs a loving family. Because Greyhounds have an average life expectancy of 12 or more years, even a seven-year-old dog is likely to spend another five to seven years with you. That's a lot of love left to give, so don't dismiss older guys.

Size

Racing Greyhounds range from 24 to 30 inches tall at the shoulders, and active racers weigh between 40 and 80 pounds. Because of their early training, retired racers don't tend to pull on their leashes. This makes them easier to manage than other untrained large dogs.

For large dogs, Greyhounds are pretty small. Huh? Although they are very tall dogs and can sprawl over an entire queen-size bed, they are also like a furry folding table. They can tuck in their legs and curl up into the most amazingly small spaces. They also tend to back up rather than try to turn and scurry when they are in the way, which is a real blessing when your arms are full and you can't see that the dog is in the way. Greyhounds just don't seem to get underfoot, even in small spaces.

So unless you have serious physical limitations or a really tiny bed, size doesn't need to be a factor in your decision-making process. Just keep in mind that even a medium-size Greyhound is still a large dog.

Color and physical appearance

Greyhounds are found in virtually every color or combination you can imagine. With so many dogs available, you should be able to find a retired racer in the color you'd prefer. Just keep in mind that a satisfactory, long-term relationship is a function of temperament and personality, not physical appearance.

Even Greyhounds who weren't the fastest racers on the track still have the hearts of champions. Don't count on finding a racer free of any physical imperfections. These dogs are retired athletes. Like all athletes, they've spent years working very hard — and they have the scars to prove it. Your retired racer may have nicks, dings, and scars. He may even be missing a toe or walk with a limp. He may have a crimp in his tail because he wags it too hard or caught it in a door and broke it. None of these things make him a less perfect dog; rather, they add a dash of character.

Naturally, the more restrictive your wish list is, the more time you may need to find the right retired racer. If you have your heart set on a blue female who is cat- and kid-friendly, weighs less than 45 pounds, stands less than 24 inches at the shoulder, and is less than 2 years old, you'll likely have a very long wait. If you have specific, real reasons for narrowing your choices, that's fine. But don't shut yourself off from finding a new best friend for the wrong reasons.

Before you get your heart set on a certain color, sex, or age, think about what's really important — how this particular retired racer will fit into your lifestyle. Leave the fashion statements for the fashion runways.

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