Animal anthropologists generally agree that the Greyhound-type dog is one of the seminal canine breeds from which virtually all domestic dogs descend. They can be traced back over 8,000 years to early cave drawings and decorative artifacts. The distinguishable modern Greyhounds are descendants of an ancient identifiable breed that goes back to the Egyptians and Celts. The Egyptians worshipped Greyhounds as a god and frequently showed them on murals in the tombs of kings. In old England "You could tell a gentleman by his horses and his Greyhounds." Old paintings and tapestries showing hunting feasts frequently included Greyhounds.
Legend has it that Cleopatra had coursing Greyhounds, and they are the goddess Diana's hunting hounds. Modern history has been replete with famous Greyhound owners including Frederick the Great, Prince Albert, and Generals Von Steuben and Custer.
The derivation of the term Greyhound is unknown, but has nothing to do with color. One possibility is that it is from old English gre-hundr, meaning dog hunter or high order of rank. Over the centuries, Greyhounds have traveled with explorers and generals, adorned the suites of kings and queens, appeared in fine art and literature, and been the focus of major industries in both Europe and the United States.
The English Waterloo Cup is one of the oldest open field Greyhound coursing events in the world dating to the 19th century. Master McGrath, one of the most famous winners of the Cup, travelled by private train for an audience with Queen Victoria who was a devoted dog lover.
In the U.S. the Greyhound Hall of Fame features famous American racing Greyhounds at the National Greyhound Association in Abilene, Kansas.
The Retired Greyhound
The Greyhounds placed by adoption organizations are generally retired, trained athletes. Although organizations may very infrequently have Greyhound puppies or dogs that have never been trained for the track, these are much more the exception than the rule.
Greyhounds are generally bred by professional breeders who look for speed, endurance and even temperament. Most are bred on "farms" located throughout the country where the breeders pay close attention to the physical soundness and emotional disposition of the puppies. As a result, hereditary physical and temperament problems have been avoided in the breed.
For the first year of their lives Greyhound puppies live together with their litter mates and are handled frequently by the breeders and other staff associated with the breeding "farm," but they are not exposed to other breeds of dogs. Consequently, they are surprisingly socialized to people and strangers but not to other breeds of dog.