Dogs are versatile creatures. There are dogs of every sort for any need: lazy little lapdog? Lots to choose from. Exercise partner? The options are endless. Big ‘ol cuddle bug? There are gentle giants for that!
Each breed has a specific purpose for which it was bred. Generally, first-time owners are encouraged to go with popular, well-rounded breed like Labradors and golden retrievers, which were bred to help hunters retrieve waterfowl, but in the past few decades have been raised primarily as family pets.
Any individual dog can defy its breed label, but there are some that are more consistent than others.
Most people know what greyhounds were bred for: Every inch of their sleek, streamlined body, deep rib cage and rounded topline screams “speed.”
And they do love to run. Greyhounds are a sighthound, which means exactly what it sounds like. While many “hounds” use their excellent sense of smell to track prey, sighthounds visually track their prey, which is why they also have to be so fast.
They’ve been around for a long time. According to the Greyhound Club of America, there’s no record of their initial development because they existed before records were kept.
However, while greyhounds were originally raised for their ability to hold their own on the field and hunt, that talent has been adjusted and redirected in the racing world to favor dogs running laps instead of across countryside.
The Greyhound Club of America also mentioned that racing specimens have only been raised for the past hundred years or so, and are put together very differently than non-racing greyhounds.
Part of this is because they have been bred extensively as breeders try to produce the most lickety-split pup they can. Of course, the dark side of this is that puppies get pumped out like products in the pursuit of a champion.
The world of racing is a tricky one to navigate. On one hand, many of the dogs love running and there are enthusiasts and groups who do it more for sport than anything else, just to celebrate the characteristics of their beloved greyhounds. That’s not the issue.
But there are those who take racing very seriously, and that paired with the betting that goes hand-in-hand with this practice means that sometimes people are ruthless in their pursuit of creating and racing “the perfect dog.”
Greyhounds can reach speeds of over 40 mph, and are rivaled only by other sighthound breeds. A tumble on the track doesn’t just mean scratches and bruises, it can mean broken backs and necks.
Because so many of these dogs are raised for racing, there are plenty that never see the track or simply fail out — fortunately some of them find their way to rescues. The ones that are held onto for racing are often kept in very small cages, just big enough for them to get up and turn around, for the majority of their racing days. According to a video put together by protectdogs.org, a dog dies at a Florida racetrack every three days.
Greyhounds are at their peak performance in their early years, so by the time they hit 5, they’re too old for the track and no longer “useful.” But since these dogs can live well into their teens, that’s a lot of life they have left to give.
In order to bring awareness of the dark underworld that these race dogs face every day, protectdogs.org has compiled footage that the industry has released at different points to highlight some of these atrocities.
There are plenty of greyhound rescues out there, so if you have ever considered bringing one of the long-legged critters into your heart and home, please consider adopting one.
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