Perhaps most known for their prowess as racing dogs on the track, you might think that Greyhounds are thrill-seekers that could be filed under “live fast, die young.” However, that isn’t the case! Greyhounds are actually usually able to live fairly long lives.
In fact, the average Italian Greyhound lifespan is between 10 and 13 years. Some Greyhounds have lived for up to 15 years.
Of course, this doesn’t guarantee you’ll have an animal that will live into double digits, but chances are good this generally healthy breed will stay with you for a decade or more. To help understand why the lifespan of a Greyhound is as long as it is you’ll learn about the history of the breed, as well as what you can do to help your dog live as long as possible.
The Greyhound Breed History
The Greyhound is among the oldest of all dog breeds, with cave drawings and Egyptian artifacts portraying the dogs as far as 8,000 years back. Greyhounds have long been associated with royalty in England, having been depicted as a noble dog in numerous paintings and pieces of literature throughout the centuries.
There was even a decree from the 11th to the 14th century that declared that no mean person would be allowed to keep a Greyhound.
You might wonder, “why the name Greyhound?” and there is actually much debate in this area. Some believe Greyhounds used to be exclusively gray in color. Others think the name comes from Old English, where “grei” means dog and “hundr” means hunter.
Since they did originate as hunting dogs, there is some merit to this argument. Lastly, there are others who think the name may have emerged from “Greekhound” since the dogs first arrived in England from the Greeks.
The Greyhound was bred to hunt prey for thousands of years, and because of this, is the fastest of all dog breeds. Greyhounds are capable of topping speeds over 40 miles per hour, and can easily turn on a dime to track its prey. There are very few animals that are able to outrun or outfox the Greyhound, making them the perfect companion on a hunt.
Breeding practices over the years have turned the Greyhound into a more intelligent and affectionate companion to go with its blinding speed. Of course, the breed eventually became a star on dog tracks, and in recent years, the Greyhound has seen a resurgence in popularity as a family pet because of the number of retired racers that were being adopted.
Why Is The Greyhound Lifespan So Long?
There are a lot of factors that may contribute to the lengthy Greyhound lifespan. First, despite being racers, they are pretty low maintenance, lazy dogs. Their low exercise demands mean they have pretty minimal stress levels. They also have a general lack of hereditary health problems that tend to plague some other breeds.
Overall, they are just healthy dogs! And as long as their owners maintain a calm, happy home, feed them a healthy diet and give them the exercise they require, they should be in good shape to live a long, happy life.
What About Retired Race Dogs? Do They Have The Same Lifespan?
Fortunately, yes! Even retired track stars have the same average life expectancy. Greyhounds are typically retired from racing when they are two to five years old, although sometimes older dogs will be available for adoption.
They might require a bit more exercise throughout their lives to maintain their trim physique, but their overall life expectancy should not be affected by having been a racer.
How To Extend Your Greyhound’s Lifespan
Now you might be wondering what you can do to help your Greyhound live as long as possible? It’s a pretty easy two-step process.
First, make sure you’re feeding your Greyhound a healthy diet. This doesn’t mean just getting the biggest and cheapest bag of dog food you can find. To maintain a healthy weight, shiny and healthy coat, and to maintain strong energy levels, you’ll want to give your Greyhound a diet that is high in protein, and with a pretty good dose of fat as well.
You might balk at that, but consider how skinny the Greyhound breed is. Especially in winter, this breed needs a good amount of fat in their foods to help them stay warm. The exact amounts will vary based on your dog’s size and activity levels, so make sure you discuss with your veterinarian the right diet for your dog.
The other thing you can do is to help extend the lifespan of Greyhound dogs is to make sure they get the proper exercise. As mentioned earlier, this should be relatively easy, as a good, long walk every day should be all they need. Even retired racers won’t need to run around like crazy all day — they are relative couch potatoes, so if a low maintenance dog, that’s healthy and affectionate is what you’re looking for, then the Greyhound might just be for you.