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About Greyhounds

Author: Robert Leighton

Greyhound Character and Care

Greyhounds are gentle, quiet dogs who are usually couch potatoes at home, but can run at up to 40mph when out!    They do not need longer walks than any other breed of dog, and enjoy exercise in short spurts.  Their laid back nature make them ideal pets for families with children and also for older people who want a nice easy going dog.  Sadly, many greyhounds who are bred for racing never make on to the track and end up being abandoned or badly neglected, and greyhound rescues are always looking for homes .  Also, many ex-racing greyhounds also suffer abuse and end up in rescues.  It is a myth that no greyhound can live with cats.  Many greyhounds and cats live happily together.

Greyhound History and Origins:

The Greyhound is the oldest and most conservative of all dogs, and his type has altered singularly little during the seven thousand years in which he is known to have been cherished for his speed, and kept by men for running down the gazelle or coursing the hare. The earliest references to him are far back in the primitive ages, long before he was beautifully depicted by Assyrian artists, straining at the leash or racing after his prey across the desert sands. The Egyptians loved him and appreciated him centuries before the pyramids were built. In those days he wore a feathered tail, and his ears were heavy with a silken fringe of hair.

His type was that of the modern Arabian Slughi, who is the direct and unaltered descendant of the ancient hound. The glorious King Solomon referred to him (Proverbs xxx. 31) as being one of the four things which "go well and are comely in going--a lion, which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away from any; a Greyhound; an he goat also; and a king against whom there is no rising up."

That the Greyhound is "comely in going," as well as in repose, was recognised very early by the Greeks, whose artists were fond of introducing this graceful animal as an ornament in their decorative workmanship. In their metal work, their carvings in ivory and stone, and more particularly as parts in the designs on their terra-cotta oil bottles, wine coolers, and other vases, the Greyhound is frequently to be seen, sometimes following the hare, and always in remarkably characteristic attitudes. Usually these Greek Greyhounds are represented with prick ears, but occasionally the true rose ear is shown.

All writings in connection with Greyhounds point to the high estimation in which the dog has always been held. Dr. Caius, when referring to the name, says "The Greyhound hath his name of this word gre; which word soundeth gradus in Latin, in Englishe degree, because among all dogges these are the most principall, occupying the chiefest place, and being simply and absolutely the best of the gentle kinde of Houndes."

It was not until the reign of Queen Elizabeth that coursing in England was conducted under established rules. These were drawn up by the then Duke of Norfolk. The sport quickly grew in favour, and continued to increase in popularity until the first coursing club was established at Swaffham in 1776. Then in 1780 the Ashdown Park Meeting came into existence. The Newmarket Meeting in 1805 was the next fixture that was inaugurated, and this now remains with the champion stakes as its most important event. Afterwards came the Amesbury Meeting in 1822, but Amesbury, like Ashdown, although for many years one of the most celebrated institutions of the description, has fallen from its high estate. Three years later came the Altcar Club. But it was not until eleven years after this period that the Waterloo Cup was instituted (in 1836), to win which is the highest ambition of followers of the leash.

At the present time the run for the Waterloo Cup, which at the commencement was an eight dog stake, is composed of sixty-four nominations, the entry fee for which is P25. The winner takes P500, and the cup, value P100, presented by the Earl of Sefton, the runner up P200, the third and fourth P50 each, four dogs P36 each, eight dogs P20 each, and sixteen dogs P10 each. The thirty-two dogs beaten in the first round of the Cup compete for the Waterloo Purse, value P215, and the sixteen dogs run out in the second round for the Waterloo Plate, value P145. The winner in each case taking P75, and the runner up P30, the remainder being divided amongst the most forward runners in the respective stakes. The Waterloo Cup holds the same position in coursing circles as the Derby does in horse racing.

The National Coursing Club was established in 1858, when a stud book was commenced, and a code of laws drawn up for the regulation of coursing meetings. This is recognised in Australia and other parts of the world where coursing meetings are held. The Stud Book, of which Mr. W. F. Lamonby is the keeper, contains particulars of all the best-known Greyhounds in the United Kingdom, and a dog is not allowed to compete at any of the large meetings held under Coursing Club rules unless it has been duly entered with its pedigree complete. In fact, the National Coursing Club is more particular in connection with the pedigrees of Greyhounds being correctly given, than the Kennel Club is about dogs that are exhibited; and that is saying a great deal. It holds the same position in coursing matters as the Jockey Club does in racing. It is in fact, the supreme authority on all matters connected with coursing.

Various opinions have been advanced as to the best size and weight for a Greyhound. Like horses, Greyhounds run in all forms, and there is no doubt that a really good big one will always have an advantage over the little ones; but it is so difficult to find the former, and most of the chief winners of the Waterloo Cup have been comparatively small. Coomassie was the smallest Greyhound that ever won the blue ribbon of the leash; she drew the scale at 42 lbs., and was credited with the win of the Cup on two occasions. Bab at the Bowster, who is considered by many good judges to have been the best bitch that ever ran, was 2 lbs. more; she won the Cup once, and many other stakes, as she was run all over the country and was not kept for the big event. Master McGrath was a small dog, and only weighed 53 lbs., but he won the Waterloo Cup three times.

Fullerton, who was a much bigger dog, and was four times declared the winner of the Cup, was 56 lbs. in weight.

There are very few Greyhounds that have won the Waterloo Cup more than once, but Cerito was credited with it three times, namely, in 1850, 1852, and 1853, when it was a thirty-two dog stake. Canaradzo, Bit of Fashion, Miss Glendine, Herschel, Thoughtless Beauty, and Fabulous Fortune, are probably some of the best Greyhounds that ever ran besides those already alluded to. Bit of Fashion was the dam of Fullerton, who shares with Master McGrath the reputation of being the two best Greyhounds that ever ran. But Master McGrath came first.

During his remarkable career in public he won thirty-six courses out of thirty-seven, the only time that he was defeated being the 1870 at his third attempt to win the Waterloo Cup, and the flag went up in favour of Mr. Trevor's Lady Lyons. He, however, retrieved his good fortune the following year, when he again ran through the stake.

Fullerton, who, when he won all his honours, was the property of Colonel North, was bred by Mr. James Dent in Northumberland. Colonel North gave 850 guineas for him, which was then stated to be the highest price ever paid for a Greyhound. He ran five times altogether for the Waterloo Cup, and was declared the winner on four occasions. The first time was in 1889, when he divided with his kennel companion Troughend. Then he won the Cup outright the three following years. In 1893, however, after having been put to the stud, at which he proved a failure, he was again trained for the Cup, but age had begun to tell its tale, and after winning one course he was beaten by Mr. Keating's Full Captain, in the second. This was one of the two occasions upon which out of thirty-three courses he failed to raise the flag. On the other he was beaten by Mr. Gladstone's Greengage, when running the deciding course at Haydock Park.

It appears like descending from the sublime to the ridiculous to mention the Greyhound as a show dog, after the many brilliant performances that have been recorded of him in the leash, but there are many dogs elegant in outline with fine muscular development that are to be seen in the judging ring. Mr. George Raper's Roasting Hot is one of the most prominent winners of the day; he is a fawn and white, as handsome as a peacock and, moreover, is a good dog in the field. On one occasion after competing successfully at the Kennel Club Show at the Crystal Palace, he was taken to a coursing meeting where he won the stake in which he was entered. A brace of very beautiful bitches are Mr. F. Eyer's Dorset Girl and Miss W. Easton's Okeford Queen.

Although, as a rule, the most consistent winners in the leash have not been noted for their good looks, there have been exceptions in which the opposite has been the case. Fullerton was a good-looking dog, if not quite up to the form required in the show ring. Mr. Harding Cox has had several specimens that could run well and win prizes as show dogs, and the same may be said of Miss Maud May's fine kennel of Greyhounds in the North of England. In the South of England Mrs. A. Dewe keeps a number of longtails that when not winning prizes at the Crystal Palace and elsewhere are running at Plumpton and other meetings in Sussex.

Greyhound Standard

HEAD--Long and narrow, slightly wider in skull, allowing for plenty of brain room; lips tight, without any flew, and eyes bright and intelligent and dark in colour.

EARS--Small and fine in texture, and semi-pricked.

TEETH--Very strong and level, and not decayed or cankered.

NECK--Lengthy, without any throatiness, but muscular.

SHOULDERS--Placed well back in the body, and fairly muscular, without being loaded.

FORE-LEGS--Perfectly straight, set well into the shoulders, with strong pasterns and toes set well up and close together.

BODY--Chest very deep, with fairly well-sprung ribs; muscular back and loins, and well cut up in the flanks.

HIND-QUARTERS--Wide and well let down, with hocks well bent and close to the ground, with very muscular haunches, showing great propelling power, and tail long and fine and tapering with a slight upward curve.

COAT--Fairly fine in texture.

WEIGHT--The ideal weight of a dog is from 60 pounds to 65 pounds, of a bitch from 55 pounds to 60 pounds.