The greyhound is among the oldest breeds of dogs, yet it remains one of the most misunderstood. Consider the following facts about this ancient and noble breed:
- The greyhound is the second-fastest land animal. Second only to the cheetah, they can reach speeds of 45 mph in about three strides.
- They are nicknamed “45 mph Couch Potatoes.” Despite their speed, they are not full of boundless energy. When not going full speed, they are almost catlike in the art of relaxation.
- Greyhounds don’t sit very well. They are physically capable of sitting, but their musculature makes the position uncomfortable and unnatural for them. You can train your Greyhound to sit for a treat, but he won’t like it. You’ll rarely see a Greyhound sit down on its own volition.
- The Greyhound is one of the most ancient breeds. Unlike many other old breeds, their roots can be traced to different countries on all of the continents. However, the earliest evidence is from Egypt, where carvings dating back to 2900 B.C.E. clearly depict Greyhound-like dogs.
- In mythology, the goddess Diana (a Roman analogue to the Greek goddess Artemis) is the goddess of wildlife and the hunt. As such, Diana often is depicted accompanied by deer, hunting hounds or both. In many works of art, the dogs by Diana’s side are Greyhounds.
- The greyhound is the only breed mentioned by name in the Bible. Readers can find dozens of references to dogs in the King James Bible and New King James Bible, but there’s only one mention of a specific breed. Proverbs 30:29–31 describes four creatures that move in a “comely” manner: lions, greyhounds, male goats and kings. The translation is probably in error, though, and most other versions go with “rooster” instead.
- At one time, killing a greyhound was a capital offense. Greyhounds almost died out during the Middle Ages, but clergymen preserved the breed. Subsequently, only nobles owned the breed, which England’s King Canute codified in 1014, ruling that only nobles were allowed to have Greyhounds. The dogs were considered more valuable than serfs, and anyone responsible for killing a greyhound faced execution.
- A greyhound once lived in the White House. When Rutherford B. Hayes assumed the presidency in 1877, he brought his many dogs with him to the White House. The first dog he adopted while in office was a Greyhound named Grim. Hayes said of Grim, “He is good-natured and neat in his habits … and took all our hearts at once.” Sadly, Grim was killed by a train not long after Hayes left office.
- The Greyhound is a popular school mascot, representing colleges and universities including Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts; Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, New Mexico; the University of Indianapolis in Indianapolis, Indiana; Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore, Maryland; Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; and Yankton College in Yankton, South Dakota, to name just a few.
- Thousands of greyhounds are killed and tens of thousands are injured each year because of neglect and abuse through the dog racing industry. Read the horrifying report here