I’ve been a dog lover for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid I always owned little dogs, but when it came time for me to get a pup of my own, I decided to adopt a retired racing greyhound.

Darryl and I adopted our first greyhound in 2003 and our second in 2009. Since that time we’ve also adopted a whippet (a smaller breed very similar to the greyhound; the “mini-me” of the grey).

Adopting greyhounds is totally addictive. Because of this, most greyhound owners have more than one. In greyhound culture, adopting multiple greys is called “chipping” because people find greyhounds to be more addictive than potato chips. ☺

If you are thinking about adding a dog to your family, I highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend a retired racing greyhound. They are wonderful dogs that will add unconditional love and grace to your home for years to come. In my experience, greyhounds are low-maintenance dogs that require very little training.

Greyhound Racing Basics

How to Adopt a Greyhound Although greyhound racing is illegal in many parts of the world, it is still a very popular spectator sport in the USA. Greyhound racing is legal in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Since greyhounds only race for the first few years of their lives, there is always a need for homes for the retirees. Every year, over 26,000 greyhounds are registered with the National Greyhound Association, which means that at least this many greyhounds (possibly more) need loving homes to retire to.

How to Adopt a Greyhound:
Step One – Research the Breed

The first step to adopting a retired greyhound is to fully research the breed. Adopting a greyhound can be a long process; almost like adopting a child! So you want to make sure that a greyhound will suit your lifestyle before you go any further.

Many people (including me!) find greyhounds to be the perfect dog, but that doesn’t mean that you will. If you can’t handle shedding, if you’re OCD about your lawn, or if you work 60 hours a week, you shouldn’t adopt a greyhound.

Greyhounds don’t need a ton of space, but they do need soft, warm places to curl up in. Don’t adopt a greyhound if you want a dog that you can leave outside for long periods of time.

One of the best books to read is Retired Racing Greyhounds for Dummies. You can also lurk around on the Greytalk forum and ask questions. Once other greyhound owners know you are interested in adopting a retired race dog, they will be eager to answer any and every question you have.

I would also be happy to answer any question you have about how to adopt a greyhound! Just leave a comment at the bottom of this post and I will respond ASAP.

How to Adopt a Greyhound:
Step Two – Find an Adoption Agency

If you know for sure that you want to adopt a greyhound, the next step is to find a local adoption agency.

The quickest way to find a local greyhound adoption agency is to Google it. If you don’t live near an agency, find the closest one and email them. Volunteers will often arrange to transport dogs to people who meet the adoption qualifications.

Greyhound racing is unlegislated here in Canada, which means that you can race dogs but you can’t bet on them. As a result there are no racetracks here, but there are plenty of adoption agencies. Dedicated greyhound lovers across the country travel to the USA and bring back retirees to adopt out. Darryl and I adopted both of our greyhounds from GRA Canada.

How to Adopt a Greyhound:
Step Three – Apply to Adopt and Receive a Background Check

Now that you’ve found an adoption agency, it’s time for you to put in an application and receive a background check.

This can be a lengthy process. The adoption agency will probably want to know what you do for a living, how much money you make, how many hours you spend at home, and what previous dog experience you have.

They may also want to come over to your house to do a home inspection. They’ll want to make sure that your house is in good condition and that you have a fence.

If it’s the type of agency that chooses a greyhound for you, they’ll want to get an idea of your personality and lifestyle in order to find a suitable match. Do you have cats or other pets? Do you have small children? These are all things that the adoption agency needs to know.

It may seem irritating that you have to go through all this just to adopt a dog. But adoption agencies simply want what’s absolutely best for the greyhounds. They also want to avoid the inconvenience of having to accept a returned dog that didn’t work out.

How to Adopt a Greyhound:
Step Four – Pick a Dog (or let them pick you!)

How to Adopt a Greyhound Some adoption agencies let you pick your own greyhound; some pick the dog for you. If you’re working with an agency that picks the dog for you, skip this step!

The agency that Darryl and I deal with lets you pick the dog from the 20 or more dogs they house at their kennel. I don’t have any magic formula for picking a greyhound except to say that I’ve always used my intuition.

However if you have cats or other small animals, pick a greyhound that is “cat-safe”. This is a dog with a lower prey-drive. The people at the agency can usually tell you which dogs are cat-safe.

If you have small children or elderly people in your home, pick an older dog (around 5 years old) that is calm. Almost every greyhound is calm anyways, but the younger ones are more rambunctious.

If you work a lot, either adopt 2 greyhounds (yay for siblings!) or ask the adoption agent to recommend a dog that is solitary. Separation anxiety is common when it comes to retired greyhounds since they are used to being around other dogs. Greyhounds like company!

Just like people, every greyhound has a unique personality. Getting a feel for the dog’s personality will help you make the best choice when picking out your greyhound.

How to Adopt a Greyhound:
Step Five – Go Shopping for Your Dog

After you choose your greyhound, there is usually a 1 – 2 week delay before you can bring him or her home. At this time the dog will go to the vet to be neutered or spayed, have his or her teeth cleaned, and get a final checkup.

In the meantime you get to go dog shopping! Here are some of the things you’ll want to pick up:

Dog Food – Ask the agency what type of food they recommend. We fed our greyhounds Purina ProPlan for years but now we make our own dog food from scratch.

Crate – Greyhounds are crate-trained and most prefer the familiarity of a crate while they’re adjusting into your home. Buy a large crate and set it up near the door to your yard.

Dog Dishes – I’m a big fan of elevated feeders. Take it from me – greyhounds do not look comfortable when they’re squatting down trying to eat out of a dish on the floor. Elevated feeders are as tall as the dog’s shoulders and make eating a breeze.

How to Adopt a Greyhound Bed – Buy a BIG, soft, cozy bed for your greyhound. If you have a large home, buy two. You might want to unzip the cover and wrap the stuffing in a garbage bag until you’re sure that your greyhound is house-trained. You’ll be able to wash the cover easily, but if your dog pees on the stuffing you’ll have to throw it out.

Stuffed Toys – Greyhounds LOVE stuffed toys. Buy toys with soft eyes or they will bite out the plastic eyes and try to chew them. Toys that squeak are especially popular.

I buy all my greyhounds’ stuffed toys at thrift stores and garage sales because they tend to destroy them quickly. I cut out any plastic eyes and stitch the holes up with thread. Toss stuffed toys in the laundry when they start to smell weird!

The other toy you will want to buy is a rubber Kong. You can avoid separation anxiety by filling the Kong with peanut butter or other yummy treats when you go out. It will keep your dog occupied for hours.

Treats – Have some treats on hand for rewarding your greyhound. We keep treats by the door to our yard as it encourages the dogs to come inside quickly after they pee (Scooby likes to diddle-daddle). Our favorite treats are Mother Hubbard’s Organic Dog Biscuits.

Brush – Greyhounds don’t shed a lot, but they do shed. Brushing them outside twice a week will greytly reduce the amount of dog hair in your home. My favorite dog brush is the Kong Zoom Groom.

Collar & Leash – You will need a leash and a martingale collar for your greyhound. Martingale collars tighten when pulled so that dogs with skinny necks can’t slip out of the collar. Buy a martingale that is durable and is made from nylon wrapped in soft fabric rather than a chain.

Coat – Many people are offended at the idea of dogs wearing clothes. However greyhounds genuinely need warm clothing to wear when it’s cold outside. I bought my dog coats online from Chilly Dogs because they are specifically made for long & lean breeds.

Dog Shampoo – There are all kinds of fancy dog shampoos on the market but we just use human shampoo! In any case, your greyhound will need a bath about once a month so pick up whatever kind of dog shampoo floats your boat.

Toothpaste & Brush – Your vet will recommend that you brush your dogs’ teeth regularly to avoid dental problems down the road. We brush our dogs’ teeth every night before they go to bed using a kid’s toothbrush and Petz Life Oral Care Gel. I thought Petz Life was too expensive at first until I discovered how well it works. It’s totally worth the money, especially when you compare it to the cost of a dental treatment from your vet.

Poo-Bin & Shovel – For lack of a better term, you will need a poo-bin or similar waste management system for your yard. We use a small garbage can lined with a baggie. The poo-bag hits the curb every garbage day.

Cleaners & Rubber Gloves – No matter how well behaved your greyhound is, at some point in time they will have an accident. Buy some rubber gloves, paper towel, carpet cleaner and floor cleaner in preparation.

How to Adopt a Greyhound:
Step Six – Greyhound-Proof Your Home

Before you bring your greyhound home, make sure your yard and house is grey-friendly. Store food in cupboards, off your kitchen counter to avoid counter-surfing. Secure your fence and install a latch or lock if you don’t already have one. Avoid accidents by blocking off certain areas of your home with baby gates.

You may also want to block off your stairs for the first few days since greyhounds have no idea how to go up or down them. You’ll need a few hunks of cheese and a lot of patience in order to teach your greyhound how to climb the stairs.

One of the things we had to do with our greyhound Monty is cover up all the mirrors in our home that were at his level. Since he had never seen his reflection before, he had a hissy fit every time he saw himself in a mirror.

How to Adopt a Greyhound:
Step Seven – Bring Your Greyhound Home

How to Adopt a Greyhound If you’ve completed all the steps above, it’s probably time to bring home your new greyhound!

Before you go to pick up your greyhound, cover up your car seat with a blanket for your grey to sit on. When we brought our first greyhound home, he drooled all over the car because he was so anxious. Remember that many greyhounds have never ridden in a car.

When you arrive at your house, take your grey into the backyard. Close the gate and let him or her sniff around. If he pees or poops, cheer him on and give him a treat.

Sit down with your greyhound and pet him. Let him sniff you and get to know you. Bring out some of his toys and let him play.

Once you’ve spent 15 – 20 minutes in the yard, take him inside and walk him around the main floor of your home. Show him his crate and his toys. Keep the door of the crate open in case he wants to go inside.

Stay with your greyhound as much as possible during the first few days following his arrival. Many people adopt dogs at the beginning of their vacation for that reason. You’re going to need time to bond with each other.

Stick to a regular schedule. Pick a time to feed and walk your greyhound and stick to it. It won’t be very long before your greyhound is comfortable and settled into his new home. In my experience it takes approximately two weeks for a new dog to settle in.

How to Adopt a Greyhound:
Step Eight – Train Your Greyhound

One thing I love about retired greyhounds is that they arrive on your doorstep pretty much already trained. There is no awkward puppy phase.

Greyhounds are crate-trained, which makes house-training a breeze. They catch on very quickly that the yard is their toilet. Take your greyhound out every couple hours for the first couple of days. When he goes to the bathroom, praise him and give him a treat. Your grey will be house-trained in no time.

Greyhounds have no idea how to “sit”, and are actually very resistant to the idea (we suspect they are taught NOT to sit at the racetrack). It took us about 6 months to get our first grey to sit and 12 MONTHS to get our second grey to sit. So don’t expect them to “sit” anytime soon! It is much easier to teach them how to “speak” or lie down.

Most greyhounds will walk gracefully by your side on a leash. But if for some reason your grey charges ahead of you, you’ll have to train him to heel.

The only thing we had to teach our greyhounds to do was how to walk up and down the stairs. This was a hysterical process; kind of like trying to teach a giraffe how to ice-skate. One of us would stand at the top of the stairs with a lot of cheese. The other would stand at the bottom of the stairs, bracing the dog’s bum. Eventually, the cheese will win.

How to Adopt a Greyhound:
Step Nine – Find a Veterinarian

After your greyhound is settled, you’re going to want to find a veterinarian. This is not be an urgent step as most greyhounds see a vet right before they are adopted. But it’s a good idea to find your own vet anyways, in case of emergencies.

Pick a veterinarian that has experience with greyhounds. Greyhounds have fragile bones, thin skin, and special requirements when it comes to anesthesia and medication due to their metabolisms. Asking your adoption agency for vet recommendations is a good place to start.

I picked our vet office because they specialize in greyhounds and also offer a 24-7 emergency phone service. I can speak to a vet anytime during the night or day. In the case of an emergency, I can bring my dogs into the office at any time.

How to Adopt a Greyhound:
Step Ten – Spread the Word

Now that you are a greyhound owner, you are also a greyhound LOVER. Part of the responsibility of a greyhound lover is to offer information and encouragement to other people who are considering adopting a greyhound.

Carry cards from your adoption agency around with you when you walk your dog. You will be surprised how many people ask you how to adopt a greyhound. Offer advice and information to everyone who expresses an interest in the breed.

Greyhounds are awesome dogs that deserve only the best. Adopt a greyhound today, and save a life.

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8 thoughts on “How to Adopt a Greyhound

  1. Matt

    Good tips!
    One thing we like to tell people when they try to get our Greyhounds to sit (and yep, they can) is that while a Greyhound CAN sit, it’s the same as you CAN stand on one foot…it’s just not very comfortable for you to do.
    We do point out that stairs and Greyhounds are difficult due to their long legs and bodies, they aren’t exactly designed to go up and down stairs. Our female takes the full flight in three bounds, instead of walking/running up them.

    Reply

  2. Fiona

    lovely piece. We just adopted a 3 year old male and he’s had a hard life. He’s settling in well and we’ve got some weight on him already. I’m already thinking of getting a female after Xmas, I’m sure he’d love the company.

    Reply

  3. Blair

    This is so perfect! We are in the process of adopting a grey hound and are so excited! Thanks so much for the tips!

    “until one has known and loved a greyhound, a part of ones soul remains unawakened.”

    God Bless! :)

    Reply

  4. angela ward

    thank-you so much , for your tips . I feel nervous, about the next step . Choosing an adoption place . And strongly leaning towards GRA. I want to meet a few grey hounds .Not have someone choose one for me .
    Glad to hear you choose them twice .

    Reply

  5. eliz

    Greyhounds are the most beautiful creatures in the world, very affectionate , loving, trusting,
    all they want is for you too love them…. in every way possible…………………….!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I have had 2 greyhounds .. and it was very heartbreaking.. when they became old… and ill health set-in……………….. It was totally heartbreaking… I loved them dearly.
    Please give them all your love… they are beautiful creatures !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you !!!!

    Reply

  6. ELIZ

    PLEASE GIVE YOUR GREYHOUND A TWENTY MINUTE WALK DAILY…. THATS ALL THEY NEED!
    IT IS A MYTH THAT THEY NEED A LOT OF EXERCISE. THEY WILL LIE THEY NEED DOWN AND REST AFTERWARDS… THEY ARE NO-TROUBLE AT ALL.
    BE VERY VERY CAREFUL WITH STAIRS… AS THEY ARE NOT USED TO STAIRS .. AND THEY WILL BE FRIGHTENED AND START TO SHAKE A LOT.

    PLEASE REMEMBER .. THEY ARE NOT USED TO STAIRS !!!! AND WILL BE VERY VERY FRIGHTENED.
    HAVE PATIENCE……………… AND AVOID ALL STAIRS IF POSSIBLE.
    KISS AND HOLD YOUR GREYHOUND……………………. I TRULY LOVE THEM !!!!

    THANK YOU !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOUR DOG.

    Reply

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