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Frequently Asked Questions

Adopter FAQs

What support should I expect to receive from Greyhound Welfare?
The Greyhound Welfare organization will continue to support you, as needed, throughout your ownership of your dog. Our volunteers will continue to answer questions and provide -- as best we can -- any advice or guidance you request. We want your relationship with your new dog to be as mutually meaningful as possible.

We are happy to provide you with all the resources we can. However, we cannot help with hands on training – we simply do not have the resources. Please let us help you by referring you to area trainers and behaviorists as needed.

How much exercise will my greyhound need?
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.

Do ex-racing greyhounds have any special dietary needs?
Greyhounds are high-performance athletes with a high proportion of muscle mass. They need a high-quality diet consisting of at least 30% protein. High-quality foods helps with tartar control, as they do not have excessive carbohydrates. If desired, the kibble may be moistened with water. Stay away from food that lists “animal fat,” “animal protein” or other unspecified “animal” products, as these usually have a high percentage of euthanised shelter animals. They may also contain traces of the barbiturates used in the euthanasia. If the package does not want to specify the source of the food, you probably don’t want to feed it to your greyhound.

For a list of high-quality dog foods, please take a look at our Resources area.

How do I switch to a new food?
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, adjusting the portion of old and new food each day. 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.

What is the “Bones and Raw Food” (BARF) diet? Should greyhounds be fed an organic diet?
Many dog owners, in the interest of choosing a nutritional diet for their pet, have found success with the BARF diet. “BARF” is an acronym that stands for “Biologically Appropriate Raw Food” or “Bones and Raw Food”. Please click on the following link for some basic information on a Raw Diet.

How much should I feed? Where should I feed the greyhound?
A young, active male should eat 5-6 cups of kibble a day, and a female should start with about 4. If the greyhound needs to lose a little weight, start with a little less, and vice versa. After a dog has been fostered with us for a few weeks, they have gained the weight they need (if necessary) and settled into their ideal weight.

How can I tell if my greyhound is over/underweight?
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.

How much water does the greyhound need?
The water bowl should be kept outside the dog’s crate, to help with housetraining. Take the greyhound to the water bowl after the first few trips outside, and they will learn where the water bowl is.

What if my dog whines a lot or barks when I first bring him home?
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 received as part of your adoption packet.

How long should I crate?
(For detailed information, please read the appropriate sections in the Greyhound Welfare booklet About Your Greyhound (AYG), which is part of 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. Some dogs get there in as little as two months, some take a year. 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. (For more information, please read appropriate sections in AYG.)

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 a few 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. Just imagine the cat running right past a sleeping greyhound’s nose!

I think my dog might have Separation Anxiety (SA); how do I know?

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.

How do you keep your dog from getting over attached? 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.

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.

Please read the relevant sections in AYG. If you need additional information, please email us and we will try to help.

What health issues can I expect my ex-racing greyhound to encounter?
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.

What to do about dry skin, bare butts and blackheads?
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. A humidifier may help if the room is very dry.

Hair that has rubbed off the hindquarters usually grows in over the course of a few months. However, excessive hair loss may be a sign of a malfunctioning thyroid, and a test is simple to have performed. Lying on carpets can damage fur, so provide your dog with soft bedding to lie on instead.

Many dogs have blackheads, as dirt has clogged the pores on their undersides. 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.

Why do I have to clip nails so frequently?
For some reason, many of us are a little tentative when it comes to clipping nails. Our recommendation? Gather together your courage, and get started – soon you will be a pro!

So why is it so important? 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 a regular routine of nail clipping.

We clip nails every week in order to keep them nice and short. It also keeps us (and our dogs) in the habit of getting this done, so that we are not so afraid, and the dogs are used to it. It keeps the quicks from getting too long. While you are getting used to nail clipping, please feel free to come to one of our Open Houses ( with your dog, muzzle and nailclipper, and one of our volunteers will be happy to help you.

How do I introduce my cat and dog to each other?
Please visit our “cat-friendly” information page.

How do I introduce my greyhound and small, fluffy dog to each other?
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.

How do greyhounds handle stairs?
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 flat buckle collar (not the martingale, so the dog does not get choked) and descending slowly, one step at a time.

When would I need to muzzle my dog? (dog/cat intros, car, dog park, clipping nails, etc.)

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.

How do I keep my dog off the furniture/when can I let my dog on the furniture?

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 two months, till your dog knows some commands, and respects 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 them, and we would not recommend it.

FAQs for those considering adoption

Where do the greyhounds come from?

We take ex-racers in from east coast tracks, in the Mid-Atlantic area and Florida. 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.

How will a greyhound fit in with my family?
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.

How old are the greyhounds?
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.

What physical condition are the dogs in?
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.

How large is a greyhound?
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.

We think of greyhounds as being perfect when it comes to size -- they are large enough to make a shady character think twice about approaching you, but gentle enough to have the neighborhood kids come and pet them.

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. (more information about greyhounds )

What vet care have the dogs received?
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 prior to surgery. 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.

Do I need to have a fenced yard? Do I need to have a large house?
Greyhounds are sprinters, and expend all their energy in little bursts. In fact, with just a few minutes of sprinting a couple of times a week, all a greyhound needs is a long daily walk.

Trust us, no house is large enough for a greyhound to really exercise in, so the size of your house or apartment does not matter. This is especially true as sprinters spend the better part of the day preparing to sprint (sleeping). Greyhounds routinely catnap for 18 hours a day! As long as your apartment or house has the space for a crate and a dog bed, you have the room for a greyhound.

Some of the happiest greyhounds live in homes without yards. In doggie lingo, “no yard” translates as “four walks a day!”

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.

Placement area
Our placement area is continuously expanding. At the moment, our primary placement area includes DC, MD, and NoVA.

If you are curious about our ability to work with you, please email to ask.

Could you tell me more about your adoption process?
Our adoption process is simple - the goal is to learn as much as we can about an applicant in the week or so we dedicate to the process. This helps us help our applicants with adopting the right dog for them. We're not just trying to be nice! A well-placed dog is a happy dog.

To kick-off the process, an applicant fills out an adoption application. An initial email response generally goes out within 24 hours. Over the course of the week, we might contact you by email or phone. If things get that far, we schedule a home visit, and then make a decision. Our primary means of communication is by email, so once you fill out an application, please check your email regularly.

Tell me more about the home visit?

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 that 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.

Why choose to adopt through Greyhound Welfare?
Greyhound Welfare is a nonprofit, volunteer-run organization that strives to match you with the retired racing greyhound that will best fit with you and your household. Our fostering program helps ensure that you and your new pet will be a good match for each other. Our home visit is a great opportunity for you to get guidance about adding a dog to your home.

Greyhound Welfare is the only organization that we know of that fosters all our dogs, and does home visits for all our adoptions. This is probably why we have such an excellent placement record. Yes, it is hard work, but our dogs are worth it!

How are dogs fostered?
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.

How do I meet a greyhound nose-to-nose?
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.

How do I apply to adopt a greyhound?
To start, please fill out our adoption application . Once we receive it, you will hear from one of our volunteers promptly. The form should take 10-15 minutes to fill out and gives us the information needed to have a productive conversation with you.

Will you hold a dog for me? (or, I am interested ONLY in this particular dog)
Our goal is to find the right placement and move the greyhound to his forever home, while making room in our foster program for new dogs. We will hold a dog for up to one week, only for approved adopters that have already met the dog.

If you are just starting the adoption process, the specific dog you are interested in may be placed by the time you are approved as an adopter. However, there are likely many other available greyhounds with very similar personalities and behaviors to the one you were initially interested in. Are you seeking a small couch potato male? A feisty female jogging companion? An easy-going grey that can live with two cats and visiting grandchildren? There are many, many greyhounds with the traits you are looking for that are hoping you will pick them. Many of them are still at a racetrack kennel, waiting for a chance at adoption. You may be the one that gets to give them their new home!

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Greyhound Welfare
PO Box 27 , Spencerville MD 20868
Telephone: (301) 949-0615 | Fax: (866) 727-7881


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