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10 Greyhound facts that might surprise you

Greyhound facts
(Image credit: Getty Images)

These Greyhound facts will help you learn more about one of the oldest purebred dog breeds. Greyhounds are so old, ancient paintings of them can be found on the walls of Egyptian tombs - so there's plenty of interesting facts about these majestic, long-legged dogs. 

Ancient remains of what was identified as a Greyhound or Saluki were excavated in modern Syria - they were dated as being around 4,000 years old. So yes, Greyhounds are very, very old. If you're interested in getting a Greyhound, there are tons of local Greyhound rescues across the United States, so definitely check them out and do some research to see if Greyhounds are the right dog for you. 

If you're keen to learn even more about this gentle and ancient breed, this list of 10 Greyhound facts is a great place to start.

Greyhound facts

greyhound

(Image credit: Getty Images)

1. Greyhounds are one of the oldest breeds

As mentioned above, the oldest dog remains were found in modern-day Syria and were of a Greyhound/Saluki breed. The remains were dated at around 4,000 years old - so there's no surprise that Greyhounds can be found on the walls of ancient Egyptian tombs. An archaeological fort in the Czech Republic contained bones believed to be from the 8th or 9th century CE and were determined to be genetically related to the Greyhound. Greyhounds were recognized as an official American Kennel Club breed in 1885.

2.  Greyhounds are the fastest dogs in the world

Greyhounds are incredibly fast - faster than any other dog in the world. A Greyhound's top sprinting speed is 45 mph - by comparison, a cheetah can run around 68mph. Greyhounds even use the same gallop as cheetahs when sprinting, called a rotary gallop. When running, Greyhounds spend around 80% of the time completely off of the ground. When they aren't running faster than any other dog, however, they're known for being couch potatoes. 

3. Greyhounds use sight to hunt - not smell

Greyhounds don't use their sense of smell to hunt, which is why they are called "sighthounds." They use their incredible eyes to hunt animals by sight, as they can see clearly for half a mile, and have 270 degrees of vision because of their narrow head and spaced-out eyes. 

4. Greyhounds in literature

Writers love Greyhounds. In Homer's Odyssey, Odysseus has a faithful dog friend named Argus, who is a Greyhound. There's a Greyhound in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales - in fact, it's the first breed of dog Chaucer ever wrote about it. Shakespeare mentions Greyhounds in several of his plays, including Henry V. 

5. Greyhounds were considered royal dogs

During medieval times, only members of the royal class were allowed to own Greyhounds - if you were caught with Greyhounds and weren't a royal, you could be punished by death. In the 10th Century, England made killing a Greyhound punishable by death. Queen Elizabeth loved Greyhounds, and the breed was associated with nobility and royalty for centuries. You could only own and breed them with permission from the royal family. 

6. Greyhounds are in the Bible

Greyhound facts

(Image credit: Getty Image)

Greyhounds are the only breed of dog mentioned by name in the Bible. In Proverbs 30:29-31, King James version:

There be three things which go well, yea,
Which are comely in going;
A lion, which is strongest among beasts and
Turneth not away from any;
A greyhound;
A he-goat also.

7. Greyhounds have had famous owners

A lot of celebrities and historical figures have owned Greyhounds, from kings and queens to famous gangsters to New York Yankee players. The list includes Cleopatra, Alexander the Great, the Simpsons family (from the animated series), Elizabeth I, New York Yankee Don Mattingly, Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails, US President Rutherford B. Hayes, US President Woodrow Wilson, Al Capone, and Babe Ruth. 

8. Greyhounds are very gentle

Greyhounds aren't just known for being incredibly fast - they are well-known for being gentle, kind pets that are great with children. The AKC rates Greyhounds as being incredibly affectionate with family, and good with children, calling Greyhounds "gentle, noble, and sweet-tempered." Despite being incredibly athletic, Greyhounds can be serious couch potatoes, so expect them to love to cuddle with you.

9. Greyhounds come in 18 primary colors and 55 different color combos

Greyhounds can look incredibly different when it comes to color and coat pattern. Their short coats come in 18 different primary colors with 55 color combinations. Solid grey may be the most iconic Greyhound look, but grey Greyhounds are actually incredibly rare now. Brindle Greyhounds (a coat pattern that looks like tiger stripes) are the most popular color combination. 

10. You can rescue a retired Greyhound

However you feel about Greyhound racing, retired Greyhounds often need homes after they've put the racing life behind them. You can rescue a retired Greyhound looking for a home by heading to the site Adopt a Greyhound, or looking for local Greyhound rescues in your area. Do some research to make sure a Greyhound is a good fit for your home, but remember these zippy pups are gentle couch potatoes. 

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