Our placement area is continuously expanding. At the moment, our primary placement area includes DC, MD, and NoVA. Our ability to serve an area depends on the availability of a volunteer to do a home visit. If you are curious about our ability to work with you, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to ask. Please be assured that we make every effort to try and work with qualified applicants!
We place dogs to applicants 21 years and older, whose lifestyle allows the addition of a dog. Part of our application process is a home visit. Since our volunteers drive out to you on their own time, we may have to refer you to an alternate group in case we do not have a volunteer local to your area.
Greyhound Welfare does not place to homes with children under the age of 6. Families with children over 6 years old will be considered on a case-by-case basis. If you have children under 6, we will be happy to refer you to other groups who do place to families with small children.
To start, please fill out our online adoption application. Please complete all fields in the application as an empty field will reject the application. Once you submit your application, you will receive an email within 48 hours from one of our volunteers. The form should take 10-15 minutes to fill out and gives us the information needed to have a productive conversation with you. Click here to view our adoptable greyhounds!
All applicants must read the following book: Retired Racing Greyhounds for Dummies by Lee Livingood. In addition to the above book, if there are children 16 years of age or younger in the home, or children frequently visiting the home, the following book is also required reading in order to adopt: Living with Children and Dogs without losing your mind by Colleen Pelar. Greyhound Welfare does not adopt to households with children under 6 years of age.
Our adoption process is simple – our goal is to learn as much as possible from an applicant so we can make good placement recommendations for our foster greyhounds. The process starts with an applicant filling out our on-line adoption application. An initial email response acknowledging receipt of the application generally goes out within 48 hours. Over the course of the next 2-4 weeks, we check your references, do a phone screen with you and a home visit with you, and then make a decision about approving your application to adopt from us. Our primary means of communication is by email, so once you fill out an application, please check your email regularly.
The last, and most important step, of our process is a home visit, in which an adoption counselor visits your home with a greyhound. This is a fantastic opportunity for everyone in your household to meet a greyhound in your own home. We give all of you important lessons and tips in everything from grooming to crate placement to helping you dog-proof your home, greyhound style! Some family members who are less involved in the adoption process will have their own questions for us. At the home visit, they are all invited to participate, and ask us anything they would like to know about. While at your home, we need to take a look at all the areas the dog would be allowed in. This is not to invade your privacy, as much as to help identify potential hazards and help you fix them. Getting to know your home environment is a time-consuming step for our hard-working volunteers. However, we are committed to getting to know you as well as possible for two important reasons – a) helping guide your choice of dogs, and, b) helping you work through any problems and issues that might arise after adoption. The more we know, the better we can help you, and the better the chances the adoption will be a happy and successful one.
The adoption fee is $500 per retired racing greyhound.
No. Many greyhounds live quite comfortably in apartments, condos and townhomes. For single family homes, a fenced yard is optional….but if the yard is fenced, the fence height should be at least 4 feet high. Regardless of where a greyhound lives, the greyhound will need 2 daily walks totaling an hour, and once a week allowed to run in an enclosed area. Greyhounds are sprinters, and expend all their energy in little bursts. A greyhound spends the better part of the day preparing to sprint (sleeping). Greyhounds routinely catnap for 18 hours a day! As long as your home has the space for a crate and a dog bed, you have the room for a greyhound.
All Greyhound Welfare greyhounds spend at least a week in the home of a volunteer “foster” who helps the dog make the transition from the track to life in a home. This makes the work of the dog’s new family easier – your greyhound may already have been introduced to stairs, cats, other pets and children. During the fostering period, the volunteer learns about the dog’s personality and needs, which gives you, the adopter, necessary information about a potential greyhound to ensure a good match with your family.
We hold open houses frequently, where you can meet greyhounds already settled into home life, as well as greyhounds that are recently retired and looking for a home. There are usually volunteers and adopters on hand to answer your questions. The setting is generally quite informal. Although it depends on the venue, your other pets are usually welcome. For a list of events, please visit our events page.
Greyhounds are a large breed of dog, but their gentle and quiet demeanor can make them seem invisible. In fact, people end up being more sensitive to a dog’s personality rather than size – a small, active dog can seem to be 10 times larger than a quiet, large dog. Females typically weigh between 50 and 75 lbs, with the vast majority weighing around 60. Males can weigh anywhere from 55 to 100 lbs. Most of them, however, weigh between 70 and 80 lbs.
Most of the dogs retiring from the racetrack are between two and six years old. Sometimes, dogs are held back for breeding, so we may occasionally have an older dog.
Your greyhound will want to be treated like any other member of your family-with love and respect. Greyhounds generally adjust fairly easily to the rhythms of your home and family. You will need to build time into your schedule for walking/exercising your greyhound, feeding, and training. Since the dogs have come from such a different environment, they need some space and some patience as they learn about you and your home.
Greyhounds are phenomenally long-lived. As you know, in general, the larger the dog, the shorter the lifespan. However, greyhounds buck the trend, and have an expected life span of 12-14 years.
Racing dogs are athletes, and are generally in extremely good physical condition. Beyond injuries any athlete might sustain (the occasional cut, scrape, fracture or dislocation), they have few health problems. Some of our dogs may limp a little as they heal from a past injury. In most cases, once healed, the injury does not bother them anymore. As a breed, greyhounds do not have hip dysplasia, and do not have a tendency to get arthritic.
Our dogs are spayed or neutered before they are placed. They are treated for internal and external parasites, so they are free of worms, ticks and fleas. All dogs are heartworm tested. If needed, we have dental work done as well. The dogs are inoculated for rabies and distemper. While in our care, dogs are kept current on heartworm preventative and flea and tick preventative. Adopters are given all the information we have on a dog’s history, as well as original copies of vet work and vaccination records. Approved adopters can keep in touch with the fosters of dogs they are interested in, and can learn all about an individual dog prior to adoption. We encourage the sharing of information, since we want every placement to be successful.
Our ex-racers come to us from tracks in the Mid-Atlantic and South, and the dogs are transported to our area by truck. Our volunteers meet the truck drivers at rest stops off the highway, pick up our dogs, and after giving them a chance to stretch their legs, take them home. For most of these dogs, this is their first car ride, and boy, are they good at fogging up car windows as they gaze out at the world! Once they come home to their foster homes, dogs are groomed and bathed, fed and walked, and given a well-padded crate to rest in after their long journeys.
We only hold a foster dog for an approved adopter who has met the dog in his/her foster home and has spoken for the dog. We will hold the spoken for dog for up to 7 days to allow the approved adopter to obtain necessary supplies.
Greyhounds thrive with about an hour of exercise a day. This can be divided according to your schedule—morning and evening walks for a half-hour each, for example. Although greyhounds are sprinters and your retired racer will likely still love to run, these walks are preferable to simply allowing your dog to run around your backyard each evening. Please make sure not to exercise the dog strenuously within an hour of eating. A walk shortly after a meal is fine, but an ears-pinned-back run around the fenced yard is too much. Their stomachs can become twisted and blocked due to their deep, narrow chests (Gastric Torsion, or Bloat.). Symptoms can include pacing, restlessness, a swollen stomach, and attempts to vomit – your dog will be in pain and showing great distress. This medical condition needs emergency veterinary care, and is best avoided.
Greyhounds are high-performance athletes with a high proportion of muscle mass. They need a high-quality diet consisting of 28% to 30% protein. High-quality foods helps with tartar control, as they do not have excessive carbohydrates. Typically the dry kibble is moistened with 2 cups of water to ensure hydration. Good sources of protein are salmon, duck, venison, bison, and lamb. Stay away from kibbles with corn, wheat, gluten, soy, rice, meat and grain meals and by-products.BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole), BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene), Ethoxyquin. Food Dyes (Blue 2, Red 40, Yellow 5 and 6, 4-MIE), PG (Propylene Glycol), and Rendered fat. For advice on various dog foods, please access www.dogfoodadviser.com.
Make the switch gradually, replacing a small amount of the old food with a small amount of the new food. A good rule of thumb is to make the switch over a 10-day period at a ratio of: Days 1-3 25% New Kibble 75% Old Kibble; Days 4-6 50% New Kibble 50% Old Kibble; Days 6-9 25% Old Kibble 75% New Kibble. As your dog appears comfortable, slowly increase the ratio of new food to old food until you are feeding solely the new food. If your dog is having trouble adjusting to the new food, the dog may have looser stools or even diarrhea. If this happens, keep the proportions of old and new food the same for several days until the dog’s system adjusts.
Many dog owners, in the interest of choosing a nutritional diet for their pet, have found success with the BARF diet. There are many pre-made raw diets available at quality pet stores. Additionally, the internet has many sources for making your own BARF diet. Please consult with your veterinarian to ensure you are providing a nutritionally sound BARF diet for your greyhound.
Male greyhounds should typically eat 4 cups of kibble per day. Some very active males may need 5-6 cups per day. Female greyhounds typically eat 3 cups per day and may need up to 4 cups a day. With most greyhounds, it is advisable not to gain more than 5-lbs over the greyhound's racing weight. While the greyhound is being crated, feed in the crate. Add approximately 2 - 2.5 cups of water to the kibble. Do not leave a water bowl in the crate as the greyhound will have a pee accident in the crate. A water bowl can be left in a central part of the home, usually the kitchen. Greyhounds need 5-7 cups of water per day. With two feedings a day and water added to the kibble, the greyhound is receiving 4-5 cups at meals. So obtaining the remaining 1-2 cups is easy from trips to the water bowl.
Your dog’s hipbones are a great guideline for whether your greyhound is at a good weight – if the tips of the hipbones have disappeared, you should reduce the amount you are feeding. The tips of the hipbones look like two tiny bumps on either side of the spine, a few inches up from the base of the tail. If you don’t see these, try feeling for them, they are 4-5 inches apart. At a good weight, you will just be able to see these little bumps. At this weight, you can usually see at least two ribs on most greyhounds. Maintaining a good weight on the greyhound is critical. Their bodies are not built to carry excess weight. In addition to causing problems with arthritis and lameness, even a couple of extra pounds could (and has) led to broken leg bones when the dog is running at full speed.
Greyhound's need 5-7 cups of water per day. By adding approximately 2 - 2.5 cups of water to breakfast and dinner kibble, your greyhound will receive 4-5 cups of water through his/her kibble. The remaining 1-2 cups of water is easily obtained by taking your greyhound to the water bowl. The water bowl is best placed in a central part of the home, usually the kitchen. The water bowl should be kept outside the dog’s crate, to help with housetraining.
Your dog is extremely stressed out and excited at the change in environment. He needs time to adjust, and may show signs of stress in the meantime. Time and exercise are the best cure. In the meantime, exercise, crate, ignore, and repeat. As time goes on, you will learn to distinguish between anxious vocalization and a call for the toilet. For detailed guidance, please read the appropriate sections in About Your Greyhound, which you will receive with your adoption packet.
You should crate until you are certain that your greyhound is well housebroken, excellent with any other pets in the household, and relaxed and well-mannered in your absence. All this will take time. How long depends on the individual dog. As a minimum most greyhounds take 6 months to settle in to the consistency and routine of the new home. Rigorous crating (as in the kennel and foster home) that gradually allows supervised, increased free time is best for you and your dog, and almost guarantees a successful transition to pet life. Your greyhound has lived in a crate all his or her life. Let’s put that to good use during the transition to home life. Your dog will not eliminate in his crate, so using the crate, followed by a quick leash walk through the house to the outdoors will prevent accidents, and lead to quick housetraining. Crating your dog is the best way to prevent Separation Anxiety, the #1 reason dogs are returned to us. Heavy crating at first (when you are there and when you’re gone), followed by a gradual weaning from the crate (over the course of at least 6 months) will go a long way in helping your dog have a home for life! Most dogs will use their crates for at least 3-4 months. Most of our adopters find their crates useful in the long run – in case of illness or injury, when there are workers or friends coming in and out of the house, when there are visitors with pets or small children, to take with them on vacation… With cats or small dogs in the home, crating at night is vital to ensure the safety of the smaller animals. Once the dog and other animals are thoroughly uninterested in each other, the crate can be left open.
When you leave your dog, he will be a little anxious. This is normal. However, if your dog is barking, whining, drooling, shredding his bedding, losing bladder control…your dog may have clinical SA. We don’t know which dogs will develop SA, but we do know that it is easier to prevent than to cure. Our dogs do not come to us with SA, it is something we create by over handling them when they are at their most vulnerable. In fact, prevention (or cure) is more about human discipline than dog training! Your dog has never had the kind of attention he will get in his adoptive home. He is stressed out, and learns quickly to depend on you to feel better. Then, when you leave, he falls apart. The key to preventing SA is simple – let the relationship with your dog develop slowly, especially during the first few weeks. If the dog is not over-attached, he will not be over-anxious.
It’s simple – during the most vulnerable period – the first two weeks, crate your dog all the time (other than walks, trips to the water bowl, and training sessions). This may mean the dog will be crated for as much as 20 hours a day. Don’t worry, this will only last a couple of weeks, and this is already much nicer to what he was used to at the track. Of course, the dog is getting used to you and your home from the comfortable crate you have set up for him. It is critically important to ignore any vocalization by your greyhound when he or she is crated. Acknowledging the vocalizations only reinforces to the greyhound that he/she cannot cope alone and needs you. Next, slowly start increasing the dog’s time outside the crate. Keep each new routine fixed for a few days. If all is going well, you have a gentle, quiet, relaxed dog. If you are going too fast, you have a dog that whines and barks when you crate him (when he is separated from you.) A common mistake people make is to assume “the dog does not like his crate” because he barks or whines in it. It’s not the crate, it’s the separation from you. Letting him out of the crate will only make this worse. It will stop the barking at once, as the dog is now next to you, but the next time you leave, the dog will be even more anxious. Now, instead of having the safety and protection of his crate, he is loose in the house, where he could hurt himself by trying to break out and follow you, or by chewing on something.
Ex-racers are generally healthy dogs, but they may have a higher than average incidence of pannus, osteosarcoma, hypothyroidism, and seizures. We are not sure why this is. However, though some of these problems may be more common than in other breeds, greyhounds generally have far fewer health problems than most purebred dogs do.
As we have all experienced, stress can be bad for our skins. Dogs are no different! Before you embark on extensive treatment, give your dog a little time to settle in. Make sure his food is of good quality. For dry skin, feel free to use supplements rich in omega fatty acids, such as flaxseed oil and fish oil. For bare butts, fur that has rubbed off the hindquarters usually grows in over the course of a few months. Lying on carpets can damage fur, so provide your dog with soft bedding to lie on instead. Many dogs have blackheads on their underside (chest and tummy areas), as dirt has clogged the pores in these areas. You can either ignore these, or use some sort of gentle scrub to try to remove them. They do not bother the dog. We often find that they vanish on their own once the dog moves to a clean environment.
For some reason, many of us are a little tentative when it comes to clipping nails. You can take your greyhound to your vet or a professional groomer for weekly nail trims. Or, you can gather your courage and get started – soon you will be a pro!
When nails are long, there is undue pressure on the nail beds when the dog walks on hard surfaces. When a greyhound sprints, this pressure can result in broken nails, and dislocated and broken toes. Chronically long nails results in an altered gait, and may even cause premature arthritis. Rather than cause the dog the discomfort of long nails, we highly recommend regular weekly nail clipping.
A dog labeled “cat trainable” (CT) has shown us a low prey-drive. This means that even if they show some interest in small animals in indoor settings, they have been correctable with a verbal “uh-oh” or a mild tug on the leash. Few dogs are disinterested in small animals in outdoor settings. Some of our CT dogs have been fostered in homes with cats. Others have simply been tested and observed around small animals, as the foster home doesn’t have cats. A CT dog, even one that has lived in a foster home with a cat, is not trained to live with every single cat in the world. However, the dog has demonstrated to us that he or she is highly likely to be able to live in a home with cats, or other small animals. Of course, our adopters must continue the training we have started. The dog’s muzzle, lead, and crate are going to be your best friends for many months. Intelligent as these dogs are, it will take some time for the dog and cat to get to know each other, and recognize each other as individuals. In the meantime, your paramount responsibility is preventing any interaction that could be dangerous to the dog and cat, and provide the wrong lesson to either. For the first week or two, keep both the muzzle and the leash on the dog. Why a leash? You can control all interaction with the leash. The leash will also prevent your dog from running after the cat. If you can, try to get your cat to be as mellow as possible around the dog. Why a muzzle? The muzzle will ensure that any rough play will not injure your cat. It is an easy and humane way to help equalize the big size difference between them. And the dogs are used to them. Once things are going well (the dog and cat ignore each other), continue, for several weeks, to use either the muzzle or the leash when the dog is outside the crate. If the cat does occasionally run, the leash may be the best choice. Once the two have been interacting in a fashion you are very comfortable with for at least a week, you can move on to using just the muzzle. Even when you are doing without either, the dog should be supervised, or crated when unattended, for the first several months. The biggest cause for failure? Rushing this process. Remember – this is a lesson that will serve for years to come – give yourself and your dog the time to get it right. The bottom line - There is no way for anyone to create a foster dog that will walk in and adjust perfectly to a home they have never been in, and to people and animals they have only begun to interact with. With careful avoidance of potentially dangerous situations, and encouragement of desirable behavior, our CT dogs usually adjust well to living with cats within several months.
The process for introducing your greyhound to small dogs (Yorkies, Dachshunds, toy breeds, etc) is the same as the process for introducing your cat to the greyhound.
Anytime there is potential danger to other animals, and you are not sure how your dog will behave, it is best to use a muzzle. The most common instances are when you first have your dog and are not sure how he will do with new dogs he meets on walks, around smaller dogs and indoor cats, and when he is approached by gentle children. Greyhounds should always attend dog parks and greyhound runs with muzzles on, as a high-speed friendly nip can accidentally do some damage. Some greyhounds have high prey drives, and it is best to always use a muzzle when they are around small dogs or cats. A muzzle is a handy tool when you are grooming the dog, as the dog may snap if you accidentally hurt him. This is particularly true when the dog doesn’t know you yet, so err on the side of caution. Soon, you will be a good judge on when you should use a muzzle.
Until the dog is a well-adjusted member of your household, he has no place on your furniture. The main reason for this is safety. Dogs often don’t share bedding well. In addition, taking over a coveted couch or chair could give the dog the idea that he rules the roost, and you may start to see other signs of bossiness. In a home with dogs, the only safe situation is one in which you are clearly in charge. Allowing the dog on the furniture is a privilege. Unless your dog has earned it, please don’t allow him up there. If you really would like to share your furniture with your dog, please wait at least six months. This will give your dog time to learn some commands and respect your authority. Ideally, you would have completed an obedience course at this point. When you are ready, please take a seat on the couch. Then invite your dog to join you. If he is already on the couch, ask him to get off. Then take a seat, and invite him up. The order is very important – to dogs, possession is not 9/10ths of the law, it is the law. They may decide that they don’t want you sharing their couch. It’s better that you claim the couch first, and then invite the dog onto your couch. This should avoid misunderstandings with most dogs. If you are having aggression, dominance, or resource guarding problems with your dog, it is dangerous to share furniture with your dog. We do not recommend furniture privileges.
Along with the many new experiences your greyhound is having, stairs are something that just doesn’t exist in the racetrack environment. Your dog many have learned how to manage the stairs at the foster home, but your stairs are probably different – different number of steps, wider, different carpet, etc. You may need to coach the dog on how to manage the steps. Going upstairs may involve putting each of the front paws up one step, then coaxing (or boosting) each back leg. Patient but firm encouragement (and possibly really great treats at the top of the steps) should get the grey on its way! Going down the steps is a slightly different issue. A greyhound’s tendency will be to try to leap down the steps in one jump. Stand beside the dog and take the the martingale, and descending slowly, one step at a time.