The 70km/hr Couch Potato – Greyhounds as Lazy Pets
Jul 08, 2022
Ask Usain Bolt to run a marathon and you’ll watch him lose – badly. But what about a greyhound?
Many people believe that a retired racing greyhound will need a lot of exercise once they have transitioned into its life as a pet. It’s understandable that people think this – racing greyhounds are, after all, elite athletes. When we picture a greyhound, we invariably picture them hitting over 70km/hour on the racetrack.
However, much like world record holder Usain Bolt was trained for the 100m dash and not the marathon, greyhounds were built for sprinting. Over a short course, a greyhound will outstrip any one of us – but they weren’t built for endurance, and this doesn’t change one bit when they retire.
My experience with retired racing greyhounds has always been a cycle of watching them sleep for up to 18 hours a day, followed by a short burst of zooming about, and perhaps a walk. Most greyhounds like a 20-30 minute walk a day, and not terribly much more. Some basic enrichment toys and a comfy place to sleep is all you really need to make a retired racer a very happy dog. For this reason, greyhounds are often well suited to apartment living, and homes with small backyards.
This isn’t to say they lose their skills completely – nothing will entertain you more than the absurd speeds a spinning hound can get up to as they do zoomies in your back garden. But at the end of the day, these dogs were bred and trained for short bursts of high speed, not for endurance, and they’re likely going to spend most of their time with their legs in the air on their cosy bed.
Once living as a pet, however, you absolutely can work on building a greyhound’s endurance if you so desire. Starting your walks at 20 minutes and increasing them by around 5 minutes per week is a great method for getting your hound used to your preferred walking schedule. Another option is to have two shorter walks per day - one in the morning and one in the evening - to keep your pet stimulated and fit.
If you were considering a retired greyhound as a pet and the thought of running endless laps around a track with them exhausted you, then take this as your sign. Greyhounds are just big, lanky couch potatoes who want nothing more than to curl up for a nap – perhaps in your lap.
Author: Charlie Jayde
Greyhound Owner for 4 years / GAP Volunteer
Experienced Dog Trainer