Common Misconceptions About Owning A Sighthound + A Q&A
Whilst I believe sighthounds are absolutely wonderful, some don't share those thoughts and I've come to understand just how misunderstood they are as a breed. And ever since we got Josie I've been asked some incredibly strange questions, some offensive and some a little bizarre. So I thought today I'd try and debunk some of the biggest misconceptions about the breed and shed some light on just how wonderful they can be.
THEY NEED WALKING FOR HOURS
Probably the most popular question we get when out and about with the girls is that people presume that they need very long walks. Which isn't true at all, sighthounds are sprinters, not marathon runners so on average 45 minutes to an hour is perfect for the girls off lead zooming around. Retired greyhounds are known to need less as they've ran for years and will quite happily go for half an hour or so. If you want to go longer then they will happily go with you but they don't need to go miles to burn their energy! We often hear from owners of springers and collies that they have a tough time keeping on top of their energy and stimulating them.
THEY'RE TOO THIN
Possibly one of the most upsetting comments that we get is that we are starving our dogs and they're not fed enough. It's something that we hear far too often or get screamed at us by passing children. Due to the nature of their breed, they are slender in shape and they are all muscle which they require to run at the speed that they do [30-40mph]. They are one of the only breed of dog where is it perfectly normal to see their ribs and ideally you should be able to see their end three ribs. And all hounds differ in shape and size, which I think is one of the best parts of the breed. Some are larger than others and some are slimmer than others, Josie is very slender and has always been that way but she's perfectly healthy.
If you're used to seeing dogs playing, then you will be all too aware that sometimes it can look intense and like a scene from Lion King. And not all dogs like playing like that, which is fine but a lot of dogs do. Whippets and sighthounds, in particular, we've learned like to play a game called 'bitey face' and they like to zoom at high-speed shoulder barging each other mouthing at the back of the other dog's neck. And that is just their form of play, other dogs have their own method of playing. Any dog can be aggressive but there is a huge difference between play and anger and it's important to be responsible as a dog owner and understand how dogs play and interact with each other. They are wild animals that we have domesticated but they will never ever lose their natural pack instincts. Dogs will tell each other when they are being too rough and having faith in your pup in an appropriate situation is so important.
THEY'RE IMPOSSIBLE TO TRAIN
The breed is known for being hard to train due to their natural instincts but it's not impossible to train a sighthound. Typical training methods only work to a point we've found and then you have to work with your dog as an individual. They do not want to please their owner like a lot of dogs do which means you have to make training incredibly fun for them and almost like a game so they're mentally stimulated rather than just being told what to do again and again. Of course, they need discipline and how you do that is up to you but they do require boundaries.
THEY WILL RUN OFF AS SOON AS YOU TAKE THEM OFF THE LEAD
One of my biggest regrets is that I paid too much attention to the internet when it came to taking Josie off her lead. Far too many articles like to scaremonger people into never taking their hounds off the lead, which is what they need to burn their energy properly and also to grow their muscles properly. Recall is difficult, the clue is in the name of the breed but it is possible. I'm going to write an entire post on this topic as I have a lot to say but the tastiest treats you can find and the excitement of a child being given a pick n mix is where to begin.
THEY'RE NOT FRIENDLY AND DON'T LIKE PEOPLE
Something that is very important to remember, especially with retired greyhounds is that they often might have suffered abuse so will be understandably a little fearful of people. Both Edie and Josie love people and are probably too friendly sometimes but any dog can have fears around strangers. We've socialised our pups since day one and I think that's super important, also keeping them on the floor is something else I believe is key. Unless it's for a medical reason no dog requires to be carried.
they're too high energy
When hounds are young, they have a lot of energy but that is the same for so many dogs. Once they've burnt their energy in their favourite fashion [zooming around] then they are the biggest couch potatoes. They are actually really lazy, as much as my dogs love to run around they also really love being on the sofa or in their bed of choice snoozing the day away. You don't have to spend hours and hours throwing a ball for them, it's almost like they need a HIT session and then they're done.
- Do they like fuss & cuddles? Yes, mine are the cuddliest most affectionate dogs I've ever known. All they want is to feel loved which is exactly what a dog should feel every single day.
- Do you know any animal shelters in the UK? There are the obvious ones like Battersea Dogs Home, Dogs Trust and the Bluecross. Then there are hound rescue centres such as Greyhound Trust, Whippet Rescue, Evesham Greyhound & Lurcher Rescue and so many more. This a question that could have it's own post!
- Ideal owner and living situation for a whippet? They don't need loads of room which helps! And I would say in general, don't get a dog if you're going to leave it for 10 hours a day as it's incredibly unfair for the dog and you. If you do have the time for a pup then any home with a lot of blankets and somewhere they can rest their long bodies is all they want.
- Are the hyperactive? As puppies yes but it's nothing unmanageable and that's the same for any dog. Making sure your dog is properly exercised obviously helps with any hyperness and also destructive behaviour, a bored dog is not a good dog. Once sighthounds get older they tend to just poddle around looking elegant and regal as ever instead of looking a little bit like Sid from Ice Age.