Throughout history, the Greyhound has been the favorite dog breed of royalty and nobility. From the ancient Egyptians, who frequently mummified and buried pet dogs with their owners; to the English nobility, who enacted a legal ban such a fine animal because it belongs to mere citizens. Even the Bedouins (who, as devout Muslims, generally avoid dogs because of alleged impurity) have always revered the greyhound (or its descendant or ancestor) to such an extent that not only contact but even consumption of game caught by such dogs was permitted became .
Fast forward to today and it’s hard to believe that this dog breed once held such a prestigious position. Currently, over 100,000 greyhound dogs are destroyed worldwide each year as a result of the cruel sport of dog racing!
In times long past, a messenger who brought both good and bad news would always deliver the good news first, to lessen the impact of the bad news and thereby increase his chances of surviving (hence the expression: don’t shoot the messenger!) by analogy So, in keeping with that tactful approach, this article aims to first address the greyhound’s glorious past before delving into its murky present:
This is a dog that stands out from the rest of the dog breeds not only by the fact that it is the speed champion of the canine world, but also because it holds an unprecedented set of records including:
1. The fastest dog in the world over short distances, the Greyhound dog can reach speeds of over 40 mph
2. He has the longest stride of any dog breed while in full flight. A dog is said to have covered a distance of 9.14 m (30 feet) in a single jump. The greyhound’s sprint is described as a double flight gait in which the dog eventually lifts all feet off the ground. When a dog sprints, it propels itself first with its hind legs and then briefly lands on its front paws before lifting off of them while reaching forward with its back paws (at this point all four paws are momentarily off the ground). ).
This double flight gait is extremely fast but also very unstable, which explains the many injuries racing dogs sustain. The cheetah, the fastest mammal on earth, has a similar sprinting pattern that also results in the cheetah’s four limbs eventually lifting completely off the ground. However, the greyhound is no match for the cheetah, which can reach speeds of 71 mph and maintain that speed for 3.5 miles!
While the greyhound cannot match the speed of the cheetah, it is obviously not a slow trainer either, and the reason this breed of dog is able to reach such speeds (aside from their obviously aerodynamically enhanced morphological structure and muscle mass) is because they are so blood contains a lot of hemoglobin. These increased levels of hemoglobin ensure the transfer of more oxygen to the tissues, which also gives the greyhound dog’s blood a sludge-like quality (thick blood). If the human heart tried to pump such a thick mixture of blood, it would most likely fail.
3. This dog breed has the longest documented history of any dog breed. Old drawings and records identify them as a distinctive breed over 6000 years ago.
4. The Greyhound is the most expensive dog breed; It’s not uncommon for champion greyhounds to fetch over $70,000!
5. The Greyhound dog is the single breed most favored by royalty and aristocrats throughout canine history. In fact, this breed of dog was so regarded as the epitome of canine quality that in 1014 an act was passed in England – part of the Forestry Acts – categorically forbidding citizens from owning such a dog! Persons other than nobles who were permitted to own a greyhound, such as freemen, could only do so so long as the hound was intentionally mutilated if they lived within 10 miles of a royal forest.
Interestingly, royal households employed select dog mutilators whose job it was to roam the countryside and ensure that no one who was not of noble birth or titled by the king was in illegal possession of them who was not paralyzed! However, as the area of the great forests dwindled and with the increasing importance of food sources for farm and livestock, the greyhound dog’s function decreased accordingly! Despite this, the greyhound still remained the favorite dog of the gentry, especially as the popularity of rabbit coursing increased. By the 19th century, hare racing had become a popular pastime of upper-class England.
Origins & History
The Greyhound dog is obviously a breed of dog that is thousands of years old. There are multiple references from many ancient cultures citing this dog breed throughout history. Although many dog books state that they are British, this is very unlikely. It would be more correct to admit that this breed of dog in its modern form is the closest thing to the selectively genetically enhanced dog by English standards.
Historical data suggests that the greyhound evolved from early sighthounds that existed in ancient Egypt. Paintings, decorations and other artifacts from early Egyptian culture celebrate a dog that looks a lot like the greyhound. In fact, several pharaohs are known to have owned greyhound-like dogs. Some of the pharaohs were: Cleopatra (yes, the seductive femme fatale), Tutankhamun, Queen Hatshepsut to name a few. The greyhound is also the only breed of dog mentioned by name in the Bible (Proverbs 30:29-31 KJV). Ancient Greek and Roman mythology is replete with stories describing greyhound-like dogs.
It is not unreasonable to speculate that the ancient Greeks received their first specimens (or at least their ancestors) from Egyptian merchants. In Greek mythology, their gods were often depicted with greyhounds. The Romans, in turn, probably first encountered these dogs through their interaction with the Greeks. However, it’s also possible that the Romans got their original dogs from the Celts, as respected Roman authors Ovid and Arrian often referred to the greyhound as a Celtic hound. Regardless of the greyhound’s origins, however, it is known that since its earliest association with humans, this breed of dog has impressed mankind around the world with its speed and agility, particularly through the sport of coursing. Hare coursing is an ancient sport practiced since Roman times, who probably exported it to Britain when they invaded.
Curiously, it appears that the Romans were much more athletic than their modern dog racing counterparts when it came to the welfare of the dogs and hares involved in the coursing event, as the following excerpt from Roman Flavius Arrianus (Arrian) im Year 124 AD: “The true sportsman does not walk his hounds to destroy the hares, but for the sake of the course and competition between the hounds and the hares, and rejoices when the hare escapes . . . whoever runs with greyhounds should them Also don’t get too close to the bunny, no more than one bracket (two) at a time.“Put simply, no more than two dogs could be used in the hunt and they could not be released too close to the hare!
The dog with many names
Over time, this dog has been given nearly as many names as the breed has had in years (okay… I’ll admit that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point). In the English language alone, the greyhound has had at least 50 names. Not surprisingly, there has been considerable debate as to the meaning of the various names:
1. Grewhound; the “Grew” part of the word means “Greek”. A similar but differing school of thought posits that the “Grew” was actually “Graius”, which still means Greek; Again, these Old English names seem to indicate that the dog breed originated elsewhere than Britain.
2. Greyhounds are certainly anything but gray, so it is highly unlikely that the word ever reflected the color of the breed. Some believe that the “grey” in this dog’s name was once “grei,” meaning beautiful.
3. Big hound; Another school of thought speculates that this dog was once known as a greathound (the name obviously reflecting the dog’s exalted status in gentrified society), but over time the term somehow mutated into “greyhound.”
The few examples given above are a tiny sampling of the various names the greyhound has been called in some variation of the English language at one time or another in history.
The harsh, unforgiving world of dog racing
It’s really hard to imagine how such a sublime breed of dog could end up where it is today – slaughtered by the thousands every year. This is all the more shocking considering that at one point in the history of greyhound dogs, killing one was a crime (during the reign of King Canute). However, thousands and thousands of these dogs are currently being killed each year, a good number before they’ve even reached the tender age of 2!
The reason for this mass slaughter can be described in 3 words: Greyhound Dog Racing! Each year, the dog racing industry breeds several thousand dogs, far exceeding the number that compete. The reason for this overbreeding – ambitious dog breeders looking for that elusive but so lucrative champion dog racer! The dogs that don’t make it are usually destroyed or in some cases actually face a worse fate than death!
The dog racing industry certainly doesn’t take a hit when it comes to animal abuse. Since the dawn of modern dog racing around the 1920s, the greyhound (and related industrial animals that act as live bait) have suffered unimaginable cruelty; There is no grace period or second chances in this industry and the vast majority of dogs will never live anywhere close to their expected lifespan! Instead, most dogs meet one of the following fates:
2. Experimented as a lab animal; The greyhound’s excellent physiology makes it a prime laboratory candidate for cardiovascular research;
3. Shipping overseas to countries like China, where animal cruelty laws are extremely lax (to say the least); and let’s not forget that dogs often end up on the dining table there; and
4. Used as a feed in commercial dog food (euthanized pets are commonly recycled as commercial dog food).
A very small percentage of happy dogs eventually make the transition from Shelter/Rescue Home to permanent adoption! One only has to do a cursory search of online greyhound adoption centers to see just how bad the problem really is. And perhaps the most tragic aspect of this tragedy is that this dog breed really is a good-natured and affectionate dog that some have described as the “fastest couch potato”!
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