The Fate of the Racing Greyhound?

When you mention Greyhound racing in a conversation you are likely to receive an emotional reply. No matter which side of the argument people are on they are steadfast in their opinion—it seems to be a topic similar to religion and politics that is more enjoyably discussed with like company. I fall on the pro racing side of the argument. My journey to shape my opinion was based on facts and my personal experiences.

Many people love racing Greyhounds. Greyhounds are a social media sensation; for example, #Greyhound currently has 1.2 million posts on Instagram. People find these dogs charming and want multiple in their homes due to their exceptional temperaments. At the same time many of these Greyhound lovers want to end Greyhound racing.

If you have been around different types of Greyhounds you can see that there is something different about a retired racing Greyhound. It has to be from their raising. Racing Greyhounds are raised on farms and stay with their mother and littermates longer than most other dogs. Once they are about 12-16 months they are trained for the track and spend months learning how to maneuver an oval track. I own both retired professional racing National Greyhound Association (NGA) greyhounds and a NGA Greyhound that I raised. I love all my dogs, but there is something special about the retired racers, something that I have aimed to recreate in my pup.

Some Greyhound lovers have bought into the propaganda that animal rights (AR) groups promote about Greyhound racing. However, ending Greyhound racing has not been an easy task for these groups. AR groups began focusing on legislators and legislation with their emotionally compelling but inaccurate information. Many AR groups lobby for decoupling of Greyhound tracks. What is decoupling? Decoupling is splitting the Greyhound tracks from casinos. In certain states casinos cannot operate unless they are connected to a racetrack. This allows the Greyhound track to share revenue with the casino to help with their payouts.

Without the revenue from casino sharing profits it would be difficult for Greyhound tracks to pay out their purses—tracks get a small percentage on the dollar from casino revenue. Meaning that this legislation would essentially end Greyhound racing and breeding in states with decoupling.

It seems that in our quest to do the best by our dogs we have missed the big picture.  We have begun to only see the Greyhound as just a social media phenomena couch potato and not the lord of all hounds.  Phenomenally fast and efficient hunters, we have forgotten the Greyhound’s roots. In our slip of memory we have effectively sensationalized inaccurate propaganda about Greyhound racing.

Without the standard of performance professional racing achieves, what do we breed to? What happens if Greyhound racing completely ends? Suggesting that someone would buy a Greyhound from a breeder not committed to the training or the performance standard the racing Greyhound is held to is a misinformed statement. The racing Greyhound is unique and something that is extremely difficult to recreate.

If you admire Greyhounds for their athletic abilities, personalities, and abilities to co-exist with other Greyhounds easily and you are anti-racing you may want to rethink your position. Dogs like retired racing Greyhounds are not easy to come by and there is a reason why. Raising a racing Greyhound takes a lot of work and does not happen overnight but is an ongoing process throughout the Greyhound’s professional career. Greyhound farmers, breeders, and trainers put a lot of work into that special hound on your couch.

22 Replies to “The Fate of the Racing Greyhound?”

  1. I am terrified, but reconciled that we are losing the racing greyhound. Racing greyhounds are bred, raised and trained to make them, not just great athletes, but socially adept pets. I have two lovely greyhounds that were never trained for the track and they are decidedly different than my track dogs. Animal rights propaganda is against, not only racing dogs but purebred dogs in general. “Don’t Shop–Adopt” . Sadly the “I’m a good person because I adopted a rescue dog” fad will soon be over, and where will dog loves get dogs?

    1. Spot on. We need pet dogs! I am an optimist and I am hopeful that Greyhound racing is here stay but we have to all work together promoting facts.

  2. I have owned a retired racer for 3 years, now, and we have met many other Greys in that time. I have never met a retired racer that is not happy and friendly. Yes, they are laid back and take a few minutes to approach you, but they are never afraid (of ANYthiNG).
    And they are NOT emaciated, starved, scarred or aggressive. The old ladies that approach me to tell me all about how bad racing is have usually never been to a Greyhound track or kennel, and few have even met one..

    1. Sorry to counter your comment that they are never afraid of anything. I had a track Greyhound who was fearful of cords and flash lights. Sure made it hard to run the sweeper when he was in the room. I’ve had spooky Greyhounds, too, who were damned near afraid of their shadows. These dogs washed out of racing early on. So these fearful dogs do exist.

      1. Sure there are spokes. There are spokes in any breed but generally speaking Greyhounds are independent and rather fearless.

        1. My labrador is terrified of the vacuum cleaner and he has been here since his was 8 weeks old and is now four. My greyhound that was born here, raised here but never inside until now that he is retired (about two weeks) doesn’t give a toss about the vacuum cleaner or any other house hold appliance. Just like people they are all different.

          1. PS Thanks for posting this. It does get frustrating hearing all the negatives when we work so hard not only to make our dogs great racers but to make them lovely animals too. Their teeth are cleaned, nails clipped and they are brushed regularly. I have seen many other ‘pet’ dogs that don’t get that care. Many other trainers and breeders treat their racing athletes like that too. The big dream is to win a great race. The ultimate goal is to raise dogs that have the attributes needed so they can easily move into someone’s home as their forever pet.

      2. agreed, our 11th adopted grey is the most fearful, timid, backwards dog we’ve ever experienced …. she’s been with us over 5 yrs now and is only this past year becoming less so … and only here in our home, she’s a basket case anywhere else … the shy, frightened ones do exist!

        1. My spookiest girl eventually was fine with just us, and she accepted my parents, but was sometimes just too funny. When she went outdoors her personality changed completely – she’d bark like she was guarding the yard! And boy, was she afraid of storms. She would curl herself around a toilet if the bathroom door was open. I was visiting my mother and she always left her bathroom door open, and imagine her surprise when she went in there, and there was Casey, hugging the toilet :0)!

  3. I have had 12 Retired Racing Greyhounds, and have loved them all dearly. What I love about them is that each one has its own personality. Currently my pack is 6 strong and all different. As different as they are, they all thrive on love and attention and love meeting new people from babies to seniors. I can’t imagine life without my retired racers. I support racing.

  4. Thank you so much for your latest post. My first retired racing greyhound raced at Wheeling, WV. I have learned so much since we got him. We are on #3 and #4 now. Everyday I am thankful for the love, care and attention my hounds got during their professional careers. I am proudly pro racing.

  5. I worry that if racing is stopped, what will happen to the breed? Will start breeding for specific features such as long tails or the ears? If they do, they will be ruined! Right now now, greyhounds are the purest of the pure bred dogs. They don’t get all the cancers that other breeds get from breeding for special looks.

    1. I think some breeders will continue to breed for performance just as they did after the hunting ban in England. The issue is that numbers will be lowers making it harder to get one of these animal and how do you test the performance? Performance is what makes a Greyhound a Greyhound and racing is an objective measure of that performance that is very helpful when aiming to breed the best of the best.

    2. They don’t get all the cancers that other breeds get from breeding for special looks. ??? Let’s see – I’ve had one who I lost to osteosarcoma; one to melanoma in her mouth; another to lympho-sarcoma, another to cancer in her brain. And those are just the ones I remember right off the top of my head. You see, I adopted my first Greyhound in 1989 and I’ve never been without at least 2 Greyhounds at one time, so maybe you don’t have that experience with Greyhounds and what they die from. IMHO they are very prone to cancer.

      1. Breeding for performance vs looks is different and why the Greyhound is still functional today. Melanoma is a cancer of the skin that metastasizes quickly and difficult to treat. That is not related to genetics. Yes osteosarcoma has 33 potential sites for mutation on the Greyhound chromosome but to molecularly subtype this cancer we will need more research. Generally speaking Greyhound do not require the amount of genetic testing that other breeds do due to their large genetic pool.

  6. One of the finest farms I have ever been to was not a fancy Kentucky horse farm, but a Texas Greyhound Farm. Wonderfully large exercise runs, a 10 acre grassy paddock, facilities so clean you could eat off the floor, impeccably groomed training track with exceptional footing, and all for the dogs. Every dog is well cared for, socialized, healthy, and because of the owner – every dog well accustomed to receiving cookies on a regular basis. I’ve gotten several dogs from this place that didn’t work out as racers, and the farm owner knew and cared for every single one. You’d be hard pressed to find a pet owner who affords better or a higher standard of care for their pets than this farm owner/trainer does for his hounds.

    I’ve personally seen this man pay to ship a litter of his hounds to a national meet halfway across the country only to have them shipped home the same week not because they weren’t performing, but because the footing on the track wasn’t up to his standards and he would not risk injury to his dogs. He ate all those shipping fees and was happy to do so for his wonderful racers. That’s the side of Greyhound Racing the propagandists don’t want you to know about. The love and care these owners have for their dogs. It’s a passion.

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