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Greyhounds do have some medical differences compared to most other breeds.  It is good to be informed about these differences so that you and your vet will know if something that crops up is cause for concern or not. In addition, if you are prepared, maybe you can take some preventive measures to nip problems in the bud.

1.  Greyhounds are generally healthy.  Out of all the purebred dog breeds today, many animal experts have come to believe that the greyhound is perhaps the healthiest breed of dog when it comes to hereditary health issues. Recent studies have shown that greyhounds commonly have issues with dental disease, trauma, and osteoarthritis.

2.  Did you know that greyhounds are considered by veterinarians to be the universal canine blood donor? Their blood type can be used by any other canine. Greyhounds have significantly more red blood cells and a bigger heart and lungs than any other breed.  Red blood cells carry oxygen that helps them to run faster. The more red blood cells an animal has, the quicker the oxygen is carried throughout the body.

Greyhound blood donor

3.  The greyhound’s heart rate is abnormally slow.  The greyhound's heart rate is slower than other dogs - again, due to athleticism.  60-90 is normal at rest, it may be faster if excited (like at the vet's office). 

4.  A typical greyhound’s blood pressure is high. Greyhounds often have blood pressures on the high end of normal (160,170,180).  They can be higher if excited - again, an important consideration at the vet's office. 

5.  Greyhounds have a higher body temperature than any other dog.

6.  A racing Greyhound can lose up to five pounds in a single race!

7.  Fundamentally, the greyhounds have no body fat, and if you decide to be its guardian you should provide the dog with soft places to rest, or pressure sores can easily develop. If they tolerate clothing, they will appreciate a sweater or coat when the weather is cold.

8.  Greyhounds may present with higher than normal creatinine, but that does not automatically indicate kidney disease if the BUN and urine concentration are normal.   A 2000 Auburn study found that greyhound creatinines normally run up to 1.6X "other dog" creatinine.  

9.  Greyhounds normally test lower in thyroid T4s than other breeds (about half is not uncommon).   They should not be on supplement unless there are clinical signs – listless, weight gain, skin problems, abnormal shedding, etc.  Sick dogs commonly have low T4s ("sick euthyroid") - the dog is not hypothyroid.

10. Greyhounds are very sensitive to chemicals, including  anesthetics. Often, the safest anesthetic protocol is the one your veterinarian has the most experience with. It’s ideal to use a vet who has anesthetized greyhounds before. Since the greyhound has historically been touchy with anesthetics, your vet should not mind if you quiz them about it. Also ask if a live technician will be monitoring the dog. If your vet is new to sighthound anesthesia, perhaps the adoption vet is available for some suggestions.  Both of you may be more comfortable when your best friend needs anesthesia.

Greyhound in gown and mask

Greyhounds are a medium-lived breed. Typical lifespans range from 10-14 years. A recent (2016 – 5,000+ dogs) study in the UK found that the median longevity of the greyhound was 10.8 years compared with 12.0 years across all breeds. The most common causes of death are neoplasia (abnormal cell growth), and collapse. Osteosarcoma is the most prevalent type of neoplasia.

With so many internet resources, we have the opportunity to learn so much about our greyhounds’ health. And no one knows your dog as well as you do, so take an active part. We owe it to our dogs to be as knowledgeable as we can be about their health. Veterinarians welcome the input of informed owners. It makes their job easier and we’re helping our dogs live healthier lives.  For a handy reference, Care of the Racing and Retired Greyhound offers a wealth of detailed information for you AND your vet:

Care of the Racing and Retired Greyhound Book



  • Very keen to purchase this book if not too expensive. Can you advise of price please! Thankyou.

    Judy Armstrong
  • Great information thank you


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