FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT GREYHOUND RACING Courtesy of the American Greyhound Council and the National Greyhound Association *With annotations from the Alabama Greyhound Adoption Center 2018
How many Greyhounds are born in the United States each year?
Breeding registrations, as recorded by the National Greyhound Association, have dropped steadily in the last five years. Individual Registrations dropped from their peak of 39,139 in 1993 to 11,759 in 2011.
Why are so many bred? Why don’t you limit the number bred to the number that can be adopted?
NGA and AGC have encouraged their members to voluntarily curtail the number of breedings, focusing on quality instead of quantity, in the early 1990s. The response was impressive, contributing to the large decline in breedings witnessed during the decade. Steady progress continues to be made, to the point now where in a country of about 200 million households, over 90% of all registered greyhounds are being placed as pets. Recent track closures are also contributing to a reduction in the number of greyhounds that are bred.
How old are Greyhounds when they begin racing?
Most begin at about 18 months, and continue until they are 3-1/2 to 4-1/2 years old. Some will race beyond their fifth birthday, and a select few past their sixth. Greyhounds live to be 12-13 years old, on average. Due to careful breeding, with an emphasis on speed and stamina rather than conformation, they do not have many of the genetic problems of other large breeds.
Does racing come naturally to Greyhounds?
Greyhounds love to run, and are competitive by nature. In racing, nothing other than the mechanical lure makes a Greyhound run. When the starting box opens, the dogs’ natural instinct is to chase the lure, and try to reach it first.
Is racing safe for Greyhounds?
Yes. If an injury does occur, each track has a veterinarian on the premises to attend the animal immediately. However, prevention of injury is a top priority. The industry has funded extensive research into methods for ensuring the safety of racing Greyhounds while they are competing. Much of that research is conducted at the University of Florida's Center for Veterinary Sports Medicine, the only facility of its kind in the nation. Managing the Greyhound Racing Surface Evaluating the Greyhound Racetrack Surface for Proper Management by Robert L. Gillette, DVM, MSE “The goal of any racing facility should be to have no racing related injuries. The track management program should be designed to meet this goal. Once this goal is accepted, it should be recognized that injuries can occur in any sporting or working environment. In a survey reported by Bloomberg and Dugger, there were 761 injuries reported for a total of 47,323 races ran at sixteen racetracks between the years of 1984-1990. Eight Greyhounds run in a race, so the total number of greyhounds competing at one time or more included in this survey were 378,584. This means that the injury ratio is 0.2%. This number of injuries is miniscule, when compared to figures from the field of human sports medicine.”
How often do racing greyhounds get injured?
Many Greyhounds will go through their entire racing career with no injuries, or at most a few minor injuries. Even when major injuries occur, the Greyhound is very often able to resume its racing career. Fortunately, career-ending injuries are rarely life threatening. When such an injury does occur, the Greyhound is still able to begin a new career as a breeding animal, or be placed into an adoption program.
What do you do with an injured dog?
An injured Greyhound still represents a sizeable investment for its owner, as well as a potential loss in earnings when he or she is not able to compete. Good kennel owners and trainers ensure that an injured Greyhound receives the best possible care and rehabilitation, involving an experienced veterinarian when appropriate. *Greyhounds injured during a race at the Birmingham Race Course are immediately taken to the commission veterinarian on call, usually Dr. Pete McCann. After an initial exam and care by Dr. McCann, the Greyhound is then either further cared for by its trainer and trainers/owners veterinarian of choice; or brought to the AGAC as soon as possible. Once in our care, they are seen by Dr. Darcie Odom at VIP Mobile Clinic and/or Dr. Mark Jandrlich at Central Valley Animal Hospital and/or the veterinarians at Mercy Animal Hospital. The AGAC assures that each Greyhound is given proper treatment as directed by our veterinarians. This is including, but not limited to, surgeries, cast changes, crate rest, laser therapy, hydrotherapy, and any other suggested treatments.
How are Greyhounds trained to race?
At about one year old, Greyhound puppies are transferred to training kennels. They run and chase by instinct, so initially their training consists of chasing a lure dragged along the ground. As they mature, they are taught to run on circular tracks, with the mechanical lure suspended above the ground. At about a year and a half, they graduate to longer, oval tracks, starting boxes and competition.
Does the industry use live lures?
State laws prohibit the use of live lures. Industry members who violate this practice may be expelled from the sport for life and/or be prosecuted under the law. *The lure, “Smitty”, at the Birmingham Race Course is actually two “pom poms” tied together!
Where are Greyhounds kept when they are not racing?
Greyhounds live in climate-controlled kennels, usually on or near the tracks where they race. They are turned out 4-5 times daily for mild exercise and play, exercised on sprint paths and taken for walks.
What happens to Greyhounds after they retire?
The majority of retired Greyhounds (about 18,000 last year) are usually adopted as pets or therapy dogs. Many others are returned to breeding farms. Those that are unsuitable for adoption or breeding program are required to be humanely euthanized by licensed veterinarians. While local humane societies and animal shelters euthanize nearly 4 million unwanted pets annually, a very small percentage of those are greyhounds. The National Greyhound Association and American Greyhound Council continue to work to bring the number down. It continues to decrease each year through reduction in breeding and expansion of Greyhound adoption programs. There are now over 300 Greyhound adoption groups (U.S. and Canada) and the number of Greyhounds placed annually is increasing. Also, many trainers, owners and breeders adopt out their own retired racers that would not appear in any adoption statistics. *The AGAC works hard to be a 100% adoption facility as well as keeping the Birmingham Race Course a 100% adoption track. Sadly there are cases in which the only choice is for the Greyhound to be humanely euthanized. This is done so with extreme careful consideration and veterinary evaluation. These situations have been such as a Greyhound with seizure disorder who has gone into seizures and our veterinary staff have been unable to stop the seizures. Many medical conditions and temperament issues can be easily treated. Those special needs Greyhounds will stay with us until they find a proper special needs home willing and able to take on the Greyhound. The AGAC has NEVER and WILL NEVER send a knowingly special needs Greyhound to any of our Adoption Group Partnership Program Groups without contacting the receiving group and getting written documentation that said group is wanting to take on that special needs Greyhound. Such Greyhounds are, but not limited to, seizure disorders, broken legs, heartworm positive, extreme high prey drive (beyond what we typically consider “cat zappers”), Greyhounds who will not tolerate children, space aggression, all forms of aggression, etc… Each Greyhound is given complete veterinary care prior to being deemed one of these special needs Greyhounds, including, but not limited to, full panel blood work to check for internal issues that might be the cause of the issue, visits to veterinary specialist, and behavior specialists. It is only under extreme medical circumstances and veterinary consultation that any euthanasia is performed at the AGAC. Trainers and owners of Greyhounds at the Birmingham Race Course are permitted to find local homes for their Greyhounds, however they are adopted through the AGAC. This ensures that each Greyhound that retires from the Birmingham Race Course is spayed or neutered, as required. They are also up to date on vaccinations, received a dental, a 4dx Snap heartworm and tick titer test, microchipped, given a dose of Simparica, up to date on intestinal parasite prevention, and given a leash/collar/ID tag collar and ID tag prior to going home.
Where can I find littermates, racing lines and sire/dam information?
Rosnet Racing International: The Greyhound Racing and Breeding Website: www.greyhound-data.com <http://www.greyhound-data.com/> This global website includes pedigrees for 1.2 million greyhounds in 4 centuries and 4 continents and over 2 million race results The American Greyhound Council Website www.agcouncil.com <http://www.agcouncil.com/> This website contains a search engine for international greyhound research and provides information about obtaining grants for greyhound adoption groups. The National Greyhound Association website: www.ngagreyhounds.com <http://www.ngagreyhounds.com/> This website provides extensive information and links to racetracks, sire and dam standings, official pedigrees and pet certificates The Greyhound Hall of Fame website: www.ghhalloffame.com <http://www.ghhalloffame.com/> This website contains the inductees and pioneers of the Greyhound Hall of Fame which is located in Abilene, Kansas. If you visit the Hall of Fame, one of several resident greyhounds will greet you!
What is the process for registering a greyhound?
The registration process begins before birth, when all stock used for breeding must be DNA-registered with the National Greyhound Association. Breeding reports must be submitted within 10 days of mating; whelping reports must be submitted within 10 days of birth. The litter is registered again at tattoo-age (3 months old). The final step is individually registering (naming) the Greyhound, which is done at the owner’s discretion—usually at 14-16 months of age, just before the pup goes to the track.
How do I read the tattoos?
Tattooed in the pup’s left ear is a four- or five-digit number issued by the NGA at the time of breeding. All the pups in the litter will be tattooed with that same number. In the right ear will be tattooed a number representing the month of whelping, the last digit of the year whelped and a letter (beginning with A) identifying each individual pup. A litter of three whelped in April 2000 would therefore carry the right ear tattoo of 40A, 40B and 40C. The letter does not indicate birth order, just the order in which they were tattooed. Tattooing takes place at the age of 3 months.
Can I find out some information about my greyhound’s past life?
Information on the Greyhound’s breeder, past owners, pedigree, birth date, official name and color are on record with the National Greyhound Association, Abilene KS. For further information, including racing data, a pet owner may contact the previous registered owners.
Why do greyhounds seem to contract bone cancer (osteosarcoma)?
There is no scientific data indicating that bone cancer is more prevalent among Greyhounds than other large breeds. Some bloodlines within the breed appear to have a propensity for passing on cancer to their progeny, but more research is needed before any definitive conclusions can be drawn.
Why does my greyhound prefer not to be left alone?
Some Greyhounds prefer company—others don’t. This is not uncommon with other breeds as well. Genetics may play a role in some cases. Perhaps the fact that most Greyhounds are raised in a highly social environment, with plenty of other Greyhounds around, explains some of it.
What is the diet of a racing greyhound?
The diet consists of raw meat, dry meal (usually high in protein), water, cooked vegetables, vitamins and mineral- all aimed at maximizing the health and performance of the racing Greyhound.
They look so thin, shouldn’t you feed them more?
Greyhounds will appear thin to those not accustomed to seeing them, but there’s no reason for alarm. For centuries, Greyhounds were bred for the speed and hunting abilities. A thin, lean-looking conformation is ideal for such activity. It’s no accident that they are the fastest of all canine breeds, capable of reaching speeds of 47 mph.
Are they vaccinated when racing?
State racing rules and animal care laws require a full spectrum of vaccinations for all Greyhounds when they are racing. * The Birmingham Race Course requires a current rabies, DHLPP, and Bordetella vaccination
How often does a veterinarian check them?
The state veterinarian at the racetrack will check a Greyhound’s health and condition every time the Greyhound is weighed in for its next racing event. In addition, most jurisdictions require a regular inspection of a kennel facility, usually once a week, to ensure that the Greyhounds are receiving proper care. All farms are subject to unannounced inspections by the National Greyhound Association and by the state-governing agencies that regulate state-bred racing programs.
For many years before the beginning of the greyhound adoption movement, racing owners and trainers recognized the pet qualities in these dogs and gave them to friends. Prior to the early 1980s recognized animal advocacy groups, such as HSUS and ASPCA, opposed the placement of retired racing greyhounds as pets.They were seen as vicious dogs that would not make good pets. In 1981, Seabrook Greyhound Park began the first wide scale movement to promote greyhounds as pets. They distributed newspapers highlighting the positive qualities of greyhounds as pets to all their patrons. It is usually believed that the greyhound adoption movement began in Florida in 1982 with the creation of REGAP (Retired Greyhounds As Pets). But even in 1983, HSUS President John Hoyt supported the humane destruction of greyhounds after racing. Therefore, public opinion on this issue was slow to change. The majority of the existing greyhound adoption groups did not form until the late 1980’s starting with the expansion of REGAP in 1986. *This is often how anti-racing groups promote false and drastically outdated information in regards to the truth about Greyhound racing and the facts that as of 2018, there are more homes and groups waiting for retired Greyhounds than there are Greyhounds retiring. This is the reason that the AGAC has RELOCATED Greyhounds, as these retired Greyhounds have come from out of state tracks, farms, and/or owners who have wanted their Greyhounds to be placed into a loving home.
What is the Race For Adoption (RFA) Program and how does it benefit greyhound adoption?
Race for Adoption is a program, begun by racing greyhound owners, in which the earnings from racing greyhounds are donated to specific greyhound adoption groups. RFA began in 2004 and currently there are 5 participating greyhounds. To-date, this innovative program has raised over $150,000 for twelve adoption groups.
How do I read my Greyhounds "racing lines"?
1. Starting position 2. Name 3. Weight 4. Color, DOB, Sire, Dam, Owner, Highest Grade, Lowest Grade, Best Time 5. Most recent races 6. Race number 7. Length of race 8. Track condition 9. Wining time of race 10. Runners weight 11. Runners post position-Position at break-First turn call-Far turn call-Finish 12. By lengths 13. Runners race time 14. Previous odds 15. Race grade 16. Chart writers comment 17. Number of opponents 18. Track Name (2 letter code)-Starts-Wins-Seconds-Thirds-Fourths