An Insight into Sighthounds – Facts about greyhounds and whippets

What are sighthounds?

To define sighthounds, let us get a little bit technical * ahem *:

Sighthounds, or gazehounds, are a breed of dog with exceptional vision and ability to spot movement. As opposed to scenthounds, which hunt primarily through scent, sighthounds have, as their name suggests, a much better sense of sight. 

Essentially, these long-doggos see real, real good (and they're also very handsome and luffable). 

There is a diverse range of sighthound breeds, including Lurchers, Deerhounds, Afghan Hounds and plenty more. We'll be talking about greyhounds and whippets (surprise, surprise), our favourite sighthounds.

Facts about greyhounds

Let’s get physical – facts about greyhounds’ unique build

  1. Greyhounds can see in 270°, meaning they can see motion behind them and over 800 metres in front of them.
  2. Greyhounds see in 'stereoscopic vision', which means their eyes are especially suited to seeing moving objects.
  3. If you want to get a greyhound's attention, it helps to make movement, like waving your arms.
  4. These gentle doggos have larger hearts than most other dogs (awww). We want to say this is because they've got a lotta luff to give (which is true), but it's also a design of evolution to help them sprint.
  5. Greyhounds are built for quick bursts of energy rather than sustained periods.
  6. Greyhounds have large lungs, which make them efficient sprinters.
  7. Their backs are very flexible, which helps with their unique running ability and excellent roaching skills. 
  8. Thanks to their long quick stix, greyhounds can reach speeds of 70km/h within 30 metres (that's super duper fast!) 
  9. Many experts believe the greyhound is the healthiest purebred dog – they don't typically have hereditary issues and live 10 to 14 years with the right care and lots of luff!
  10. Dogs spend about 75% of their time running in the air! Yep, they basically hover due to their speed and 'double suspension' technique of running.
  11. Greyhounds have unusual blood chemistry, so make sure any vet seeing your greyhound knows how to interpret their unique physical characteristics for accurate diagnoses. 
  12. Greyhounds’ blood is universal, so they make greyt donors to other dogs.
  13. In just 30 seconds of running, a greyhound can generate enough energy to boil 600ml of tap water in two minutes – that's a quick cuppa!
  14. Greyhounds have more red blood cells than any other dog breed, which helps them stay oxygenated for faster running on their quick stix.
  15. Greyhound's often have sensitive tum tums, so quality food is a must! Not only is it better for them, but it can also save you from some of those room-clearing greyhound farts! 

Let’s get personal – facts about greyhound personalities

  1. Greyhounds do have quite distinct personalities – each one is different. 
  2. Greyhounds naturally have quite gentle and loyal temperaments. 
  3. Greyhounds prefer quiet spaces.
  4. Greyhounds don't usually bark! Their quiet nature makes them great dogs for suburbs and cities as they don't usually disturb neighbours.

Misconceptions about greyhounds

Greyhounds are a very misunderstood breed. These gentle giants are truly derpy pals that wanna sleep all night and, if they have their way, sleep all day too!

Myth #1: Greyhounds are aggressive

They may look big and strong but the idea that greyhounds are aggressive and scary is often untrue. Greyhound fosterers should be aware of two things when it comes to 'aggression':

  •  'Sleep aggression' is when they drift off with their eyes open and become quickly startled if suddenly approached when people assume they're awake. Can you blame the derpy things? 

HOT TIP: Never wake up a greyhound suddenly, and always make noise before approaching them even when their eyes are open, as they may be sleeping.

  • 'Food aggression' is a tendency that is not a natural instinct of greyhounds but occurs in some hounds that have experienced a kennel environment where they weren't sure if or when food would come. While they're adjusting to a new loving home, it might take them a while to understand that food is coming no matter what.

HOT TIP: Always feed your greyhound before you sit down to eat, and always feed them at the same time of day in the same place – they love routine! 

A 2008 study found that greyhounds are among the least aggressive dog breeds, not only toward their owners but also toward other dogs and strangers. Myth well and truly busted!

Myth #2: Greyhounds are hyperactive

If anything, greyhounds are lazy! They sleep for up to 18 hours a day (that's only six hours for eating, roachin', zoomies and cuddles!). They've also evolved for expert sprinting, so they don't like running around for too long. A 45- to 60-minute walk is enough exercise in a day! 

Facts about whippets 

Whippets and greyhounds are very similar in appearance. Their faces can look identical, and the main visual difference is their size, whippets being much smaller doggos. 

  1. Whippets have evolved from breeding small greyhounds with long-legged English Terriers.
  2. Whippets don't drool! Perfect for dog lovers who could take or leave the slobber.
  3. Whippets don't smell! Their short coats aren't as oily as other dogs', so they can go a long period of time without a bath. If your whippet gets actively dirty, please remember to bathe them even if they don't smell.
  4. Whippets can get so excited by quick movements in their range of vision that they can pull hard and fast against their own collar. Special whippet collars are wider and thicker than typical dog collars to help reduce pressure on their throat if they do pull.

Facts about sighthounds

A couple of important facts apply to both greyhounds and whippets!

  1. Greyhounds and whippets both require a lot of socialisation. Without it, they might be quite timid around new people. We told ya they're gentle!
  2. Because of their lean body and thin coats, greyhounds and whippets easily feel the cold. Dressing your doggo in a coat isn't just super cute, it's actually crucial! 
  3. If your long-dogs ears feel cold to the touch, they need a sweatshirt.
  4. Sighthounds need soft outerwear and soft places to rest to avoid damaging their thin and sensitive skin. Think about those bony bods on the hard ground! Blankets, bedding and a Hound-Tee can all help keep them warm and comfy.

Check out Hound-Tees for whippets, greyhounds and Italian greyhounds to find the right style for your long-dog. They'll thank aroo for it. 

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