In the late 1800's interest grew in developing racing greyhounds as an industry, instead of coursing them for sport. A separate registry was established for racing dogs.
The coursing type continued to be registered with the AKC and are seen in the show ring today. Because of the separate registries and different purposes for which Greyhounds have been bred for the past 100 years or so, there are observable differences in conformation between the two types.
AKC show-bred Greyhounds are taller and more muscular, have more curves to their bodies, and have more angulation in their quarters than racing-bred hounds. This is the type of conformation that developed over the centuries for coursing live game in the open field, rather than the modern introduction of racing in one direction around a relatively flat oval.
People who breed AKC registered greyhounds for show and companionship spend a lot of time socializing the puppies to human interaction and household experiences from an early age so that the dogs will grow up to be a wonderful pet. Racing industry breeders generally do not emphasize the human-dog bond with puppies because they want the dogs to derive satisfaction from the thrill of the race, rather than from human interaction, as related to me by a racing greyhound breeder.
Only about 200 show-bred Greyhounds are registered with the AKC per year by people who maintain them in the best of health for coursing, show, obedience, and other companionship activities. The racing industry may register over 18,000 dogs per year for the pari-mutual gambling industry. More information about rehoming and socializing retired racers is available from placement agencies such as Greyhound Pets of America (GPA).
Greyhounds from AKC-registered stock have a lower incidence of Osteosarcoma than race-bred greyhounds.
Coursing literally means the hounds and hunters looking for live game, sighting it as it breaks cover and runs off. Coursing live game takes place wherever and whatever the game happens to be; perhaps rabbits, deer, foxes, coyotes, etc. The chase takes place over, under, around, and through scrub brush, fences, grain fields, marsh, plains, forests, as the prey animal tries to escape.
Open field coursing is an organized event with rules and procedures and the live game is rabbit or hare. Today, the National Open Field Coursing Association (NOFCA) holds events.
Lure coursing is a an adaptation of Open Field Coursing that does not directly involve live game animals. Instead, a baggie and a squeaker are attached to a long line in continuous loop that a is wrapped around pulleys set up in a large cleared field. The lure is pulled around the course by a battery driven motor.
Organized Lure Coursing events are held around the country in accordance with rules of the American Kennel Club and the American Sighthound Field Association (ASFA).
Greyhounds are like most other Sighthounds in that they can be trained for Obedience, Rally, Agility, Jumping, Tracking, Therapy dogs, and even Tricks! It just takes time and a good trainer who is familiar with the fact that watching humans for cues and waiting around for verbal commands is second , not First, nature to sighthounds. First nature will always be to want to run.
Greyhounds have a low incidence of heritable canine diseases such as hip dysplasia and heart or eye abnormalities, however, these and other diseases do occur in the breed.
Torsion is a life-threatening condition that occurs in deep-chested breeds. It is often preceeded by "Bloat" of the stomach. Bloat looks like a large bulge on the left side of the rib cage, and is caused by a lot of air or gas in the stomach. Torsion is a complete twisting of the stomach which traps gas and food and cuts off blood supply to the stomach. This condition will NOT correct itself. A Greyhound with Bloat or Torsion must be transported immediately to a veterinary clinic for life-saving surgical procedures.
Greyhound Neuropathy (GhN) is an inherited condition that was recently discovered in Greyhounds caused by a genetic mutation which interferes with nerve impulse transmission. This condition occurs in puppies and is fatal before two years of age. The gene mutation can be screened for by DNA Analysis. Most AKC Greyhound breeders today will screen both parents before breeding to determine whether they are "Clear" or "Carriers" of the mutation.
Legends Greyhounds screens and breeds only from genetically Clear stock, or when using frozen semen from a male that pre-dated the DNA test, use only males that were unaffected by the disease, living a normal long and healthy life.
Greyhounds have existed for thousands of years by their unique gift of speed and love of the chase. The hardy ones survived the rigors of varying climates, living conditions, and medical care. Those same harsh conditions weeded out the the less hardy individualas. Although our dogs are immortal in our hearts, Greyhounds can be affected by diseases and health conditions that occur in canines. Today's pet owners should be prepared to provide adequate veterinary attention to their pets for ten, twelve, and even thirteen years. Pet insurance is available from several companies to help defray accident and health-related expenses.
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