Adopting a Former Racing Greyhound

June 13, 2012 | By Amy Lieberman | Category: Heroes | 2 comments
Tags: adoption & rescue, charity, working animals, heroes

Essential information for potential pet parents.

Thousands of racing greyhounds are bred annually to compete in the nearly 30 dog racetracks across the United States, in an effort to produce "winning dogs," according to the Humane Society of the United States.

The routine practice results in many more greyhounds than are needed on the racetracks. Not all will get adopted.

April marked the nationwide initiative Adopt a Greyhound Month, to honor both the urgent need to adopt greyhounds and to highlight the reasons why they can make great pets.

The Philadelphia-based National Greyhound Adoption Program is one of the many national non-profit organizations that facilitate adoptions of greyhounds. Its director David Wolf prefers to refer to the dogs as former racing greyhounds, and not retired, given that most greyhounds stop racing between the ages of 2 and 5, not placing them exactly in their older years.

The National Greyhound Adoption Program has adopted out 7,500 greyhounds over the past nearly 25 years.

Wolf describes adopting a greyhound as life-changing.

"You become a part of an elite group. People will stop you on the street and say, 'Is this an adopted racing dog?'" he told Zootoo in a phone interview. "More and more people know about the plight of greyhounds, much more than they knew 20 years ago, when people would just stop you and say, 'Why is that dog so skinny?'"

There are certain things first-time greyhound adopters should expect. They will be getting a mature dog, who will be housebroken, thanks to its training on the tracks -- so people can expect to forgo the basics with puppy training.

Greyhounds typically adjust quickly to new environments, but sometimes can become upset with sudden changes to their well-established routine.

They are, at heart, intelligent, sociable, people dogs, and "lifelong companions," says Wolf.

"They will wait for you to come home and they will want to sleep in the room where you are, if given a choice. When they are with you they might follow you around from room to room."

But former racing greyhounds' early years spent training on the racing tracks -- and hours spent otherwise waiting in kennels -- undoubtedly takes a toll, to varying degrees, on the dogs now looking to start anew.

"Sometimes if the dogs have been treated badly they may have a sense of fear of certain things, like a fear of men, for example, if they were mistreated by male trainers," said Wolf.

Former greyhounds might also initially be afraid of or nervous around certain everyday things that for them are new -- like smells and sounds of a household and unfamiliar dog breeds, according to But that doesn't mean that with a little time and patience, the greyhounds won't become more comfortable.

The National Greyhound Adoption Program, which is equipped with a veterinary clinic, treats about 1,000 to 2,000 greyhounds per year for dentistry problems.

In terms of health issues, dentistry problems rank high with former racing greyhounds, says Wolf, because they were fed high bacteria foods when they were still racing.

As when adopting or getting a pet by any other means, choosing to adopt a greyhound requires a certain degree of financial responsibility -- and a commitment to the pet. But people considering adopting a greyhound can expect to be joined by a graceful, loyal companion, who is in special need of a new home.

For more information on adopting a greyhound, visit or the National Greyhound Adoption Program.

Do you know of an adopted former racing greyhound? What do you think can be done to help encourage these adoptions? Tell us below!

Comments (2)

add comment


3 years ago

Ches21, greyhound adoption groups are independent, and each one operates with it's own rules and preferences. Most do a great job of matching the personality of the dog with the prospective adopter and many will let an adopter choose the dog that they pick on their own. If you are really interested in adopting a greyhound, don't be put off by just one group, visit several. You can find a list of nearly all of the adoption groups worldwide here:

Good Point | Reply ›


3 years ago

I love greyhounds they are so beautiful they were my favorite breed of dog until I knew about pittbulls, there is a greyhound rescue near me but the way they work is you can meet any greyhound you want but they don't let you choose your dog they pick the dog out for you that you adopt so say there is a real connection with only one dog you will more than likely not get that dog you will get the one they pick out for you these dogs should have a choice of who they go home with they have already been through so much in their lifes if you think about it alot of greyhounds suffer the same amount of abuse as the pittbulls but it is easier for a greyhound to get rescued and find a home than it is for a pittbull. Let the dog and people choose where to adopt to and who to adopt to not the rescue it's self.

Good Point | Reply ›

Add Your Comment

Already have an account? Log in now for faster commenting or Join Zootoo


You might also enjoy:

Top Stories

We’ve all grown accustomed to the many fundraisers and charitable events that the pet industry produces for homeless pets. From pet food companies… more ›

Helping Pet Rescues is Good For Business