Dogs Trust

Greyhounds and Lurchers as Family Pets

Episode three of ‘Dog Tales with Andrea Hayes’, which airs this Thursday at 8:30pm on TV3, highlights the concerning issue of Greyhound Welfare in Ireland and abroad. Andrea is also involved in the rescue of a large number of ex-racing Greyhounds and is determined to find them loving families.

Greyhounds are very often discounted as suitable pets due to the misconception that they require huge amounts of exercise, so we would like to set the record straight and tell you all about these fantastic family pets!

Greyhounds belong to a larger grouping of breeds called sighthounds, which includes Salukis and Whippets. Lurchers are a cross between a sighthound and another breed of dog, often a Collie or Terrier. Originally bred for hunting, they share many sighthound traits, both in temperament and intelligence! They vary in appearance depending on breed mixture, and their coats can be long or short, and colouring can differ too.

There are hundreds of Greyhounds and Lurchers in Ireland’s rescue centres, and if you choose to welcome one of these adult dogs into your home, you will be rewarded with a gentle, loyal, intelligent and surprisingly laid back pet. Contrary to popular belief, adult Greyhounds and Lurchers are often couch potatoes and demand little exercise. Quite lazy at heart, they love to cosy up on a comfy bed and snooze. However, it’s worth remembering that, like all puppies, ‘pointy babies’ are full of beans and quite active!

Sighthounds are athletic, and usually get on well with other canines, although some will chase cats and small animals. Being so fast, they may be quick enough to catch them! Others, however, learn to live with small animals, and accept them as part of the family.

Dogs Trust recommends a secure garden for every dog and this is especially essential for Greyhounds and Lurchers because, if they are motivated, some are willing to clear a six foot fence! Depending on their breed mix, Lurchers can require mental stimulation to prevent boredom. Agility training and fetch games are a good way to occupy them, and food is a great reward tool. Tasty chews or chew toys can also prevent them from chewing your possessions.

These leggy lovelies eat the same food and same quantity as other dogs. Some can be angelic-faced, food stealing ninjas, so make sure you don’t leave your dinner where they can reach it – you may also want to get a dog proof bin too! Generally, they adapt to home life quickly and become solid citizens. Many are gentle enough to have qualified as therapy dogs in nursing homes and hospitals!

We cannot over emphasise what amazing and affectionate pets Greyhounds and Lurchers are, so please don’t overlook them if you are considering adopting a dog. For more insight, read Understanding Greyhounds: Our Companions Through the Ages by Mary Fox, who has more than twenty years’ sighthound experience.