Favourite dog: Greyhound
Vital statistics (top trumps)
Instantly recognisable, greyhounds are the Olympic sprinters of the canine world. Their combination of long, strong legs, deep chest and slim build allows them to reach astonishing speeds of up to 45mph in short, sharp bursts, and their supert eyesight means they can home in on something moving in the far distance with lazer precision. Even as puppies they’re amazingly fleet-footed.
The greyhound’s origins are shrouded in mystery, but drawings of sleek, slender dogs have been found in Egyptian tombs dating back to 4,000 BC, and the King James version of the Bible mentions them. Similar breeds can be found all over Europe (Italy has its own distinct variety, with a satin-smooth coat), but the greyhound as we know it was developed in Britain, and became famous through its involvement with hare-coursing.
Recommended videos for you
Coursing is now illegal in the UK, but greyhounds can still be spotted in action at the race track. A common misconception is that these racing dogs are muzzled because they’re fierce. In fact, quite the opposite is true – greyhounds have sweet, placid natures and very rarely bark. The muzzles are worn to prevent accidents, as their thin skin can easily be nicked.
Far from being boisterous, demanding tearaways, greyhounds make wonderful and relatively low-maintenance family pets. Gentle, affectionate and undemanding, they fit in well with people of all ages, and are steadfastly loyal. They only require moderate exercise, sometimes as little
as two 20-minute walks each day. In fact, they can be real couch
potatoes, loving nothing more than curling up somewhere warm for a
Each year, approximately 8,000 greyhounds retire from racing. The Retired Greyhound Trust helps to find them new homes at the end of their racing careers, and has so far re-housed more than 60,000 animals all over the country. If you’d like to find out more about adopting a retired greyhound, visit www.retiredgreyhounds.co.uk.
* Follow Country Life on Twitter