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Greyhounds are known for being the fastest dogs in the world, reaching speeds up to 45 miles per hour. But there are so many more interesting things to learn about these speedsters. Here are 15 Greyhound facts you may not have known:
The Greyhound breed can be traced back to 3,000 B.C. Art from the time period features Greyhound-like dogs with slender bodies and exaggeratedly pointed faces and ears. They are believed to have mingled with Ancient Egyptians and closely associated with Anubis, the jackal god. There is also believed to be a connection to Ancient Greeks, as they are mentioned in The Odyssey.
Greyhounds are physically built to run as fast as they do. Their slender build, flexible spine, thin face, deep chest and long, muscular legs all help the Greyhound run quickly. Their streamlined form and lean, lightweight body allow them to use less energy to take off. Although they are tall (standing around 27 to 30 inches tall), they only weigh 60 to 70 pounds on average. For context, the Newfoundland stands 25–29 inches tall and weighs 100–150 pounds and the English Mastiff stands 28–36 inches tall and weighs 120-230 pounds.
Greyhounds run in what is called a"double suspension gallop." This means that, when running, their feet are completely off the ground at two different - when their legs are fully extending and when they're tucked under their bodies. This makes Greyhounds look more graceful, as if they are gliding through the air.
Due to the length of their legs, in addition to the structure and tightness of their muscles, Greyhounds have a difficult time sitting comfortably. When they do try to sit, their behinds rarely hit the floor. So Greyhounds tend to prefer to stand or lie down.
A Greyhound's skin is thinner than other breeds, which increases their likelihood of injury by cut or scrape. Their thin skin also means they need more clothing to keep warm when the temperature drops. In addition, they are highly sensitive to topical flea products with pyrethrin.
There are actually up to 15 different colors and patterns of fur that a Greyhound can have. Interestingly, gray (referred to as "blue") is a rare color for the breed.
Greyhounds and other sighthounds have long necks, thin heads and wide spread eyes. All of which adds up to 270 degree vision, giving them the ability to see some of what's behind them. By contrast, humans can only see 180 degrees. They also have "stereoscopic vision," meaning they can quickly and easily see when something moves. However, they have trouble seeing stationary things.
Greyhounds are great blood donors for other dogs since they have a universal blood type. Because of this, there are several vet clinics that have greyhound volunteers to give blood. However, Greyhounds have a unique blood chemistry, which makes it easier to misinterpret their bloodwork results.
Although they can run up to 45 miles per hour, Greyhounds are actually quite lazy and low-maintenance. They enjoy sleeping and don't require a lot of exercise, which also makes them great pets for apartment living. Often times, people call Greyhounds the “40 mph couch potato.”
Unlike Poodles and Golden Retrievers, Greyhounds are not natural swimmers. Because of this, they usually need some training or swimming lessons before jumping in the water. However, some specific Greyhounds are able to swim without being taught.
There are a few theories about where the name "Greyhound" came from. One is that it was a mistaken translation of the German word "Greishund," which means ancient or old dog. A second theory is that gray was the original color of the breed and were thus named for this. Yet another theory is that the name comes from the Old English word “grei” (meaning "dog") and “hundr” (meaning "hunter").
History says that Greyhounds were almost driven to extinction in the Middle Ages but were saved by a law. King Canute enacted the Forest Laws from around 1014 AD, which decreed that only nobles were allowed to own Greyhounds and anyone responsible for their death could be executed.
Dogs are mentioned 14 times in the Bible, but the only dog breed mentioned is the Greyhound. It's found in Proverbs 30:29-31, which reads:
"There be three things which go well, yea, four are comely in going: a lion which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away for any; a greyhound; and the goat also; and a king, against whom there is no rising up."
The first Greyhounds came to the New World in September 1493 on Christopher Columbus' second expedition from Spain. 300 years later, the Greyhound became a presidential pet as America's first president, George Washington, owned one. Another notable presidential Greyhound was Rutherford B. Hayes' dog named Grim.
Greyhound racing evolved from a sport called "coursing" that began in Ancient Greece and later moved to England. During these events, dogs would rely on their sight to chase prey (such as rabbits). In 1912, the mechanical rabbit was invented to replace live prey. However, you can adopt Greyhounds to save them from dog racing and you can adopt those ready to retire who need good homes.