How much do greyhounds cost?
If you’re thinking of adopting a retired racing greyhound, you might want to know now much do they cost before adding one to your family.
Regular blog readers will know that I am in love with my greyhound, Kenny. I have dreamed of adding a retired racing greyhound to my family for about a decade. The pandemic was just the nudge Mrs. Gov needed to agree to the adoption.
Table of contents
- Greyhounds 101: Understanding the Breed
- FAQ’s about adopting a retired racer greyhound
- How much do greyhounds cost to care for, our first 6 months of expenses
While I try to mostly write posts that help federal employees, I like addressing broad personal finance questions as well from time to time. Since we track all of our expenses, I felt like I could easily answer the question “how much do greyhounds cost” for would be greyhound lovers. (Don’t worry feds, I’ll be back with another great post for you next week!).
(Note, this post may contain affiliate links. When you purchase something after clicking through one of these links, I get a small (some might say miniscule) amount of money for referring you to the sale at no additional cost to you).
Disclaimer- this is a blog post based upon my experiences adopting a greyhound. I’m not a veterinarian or dog trainer. Your mileage may vary. Also, I don’t address how much greyhound puppies cost. Most people purchasing a greyhound puppy are in the racing industry and already know how to appraise and value a greyhound pup based upon his or her bloodline.
Greyhounds 101: Understanding the Breed
You can easily identify a greyhounds by their distinctive snout, large lungs, and tiny stomach. I’m pretty sure that everyone know that greyhounds are the world’s fastest dogs. They can run as fast as 45 miles per hour (73 km/h) and can reach their top speed in 3 strides. Greyhounds (technically “English Greyhounds”) belong to a family of dogs named “sighthounds”, and as their name implies, they use their keen eyesight to hunt prey far away.
Greyhounds originally appeared in the Middle East and have been bred by Egyptian, Roman, and English nobility to be ultra-fast hunting dogs. According to “Retired Racing Greyhounds for Dummies” the Earl of Oxford formalized the sport of coursing in 1776 and established an extensive greyhound breeding program with “studbooks” to track the dogs’ pedigree. For many years only the nobility could own a greyhound, and a greyhound was even given sainthood by a misguided French priest.
Racing greyhounds (and other sighthounds, such as whippets) have an unusual physiology that helps them race. Compared to other dogs, sighthounds have more red blood cells, a larger heart, and higher blood pressure. These cardiovascular adaptations are part of what makes them so fast. Make sure your veterinarian knows that greyhounds are special- common dog anesthesia can kill a greyhound!
If you adopt a retired racer, you get a greyhound with an excellent bloodline that likely cost its owner a lot of money in exchange for a nominal donation to your local chapter of the Greyhound Pets of America (GPA). (The most prized greyhounds can fetch more than $1,000,000). For example, our dog (Imark Kenny) was sired by a record holding retired racer.
Life at the dog track
One of my biggest surprises about adopting a greyhound is that everyone wants to talk to me about how we rescued him from a horrible environment. While I’m sure Kenny enjoys his current life of leisure, I think Kenny also did just fine at the dog track. I am a big fam of Cesar Milan’s “dog psychology” books. Cesar continually talks about how dogs love being in packs and having a job to do. For the first four years of his life, Kenny was constantly with other dogs; in fact many retired greyhounds can become stressed out when they are left alone as they’ve never experienced this. And while I’m not a dog psychologist, Kenny loves running and chasing other dogs when we go to the dog park. I would like to think that he enjoyed racing at the track.
While I’m sure each dog track is different, Kenny seems to have had a very caring environment. We received a nice handwritten note when we adopted Kenny from his former trainer. The trainer said that Kenny “likes to be where you are” and that he “likes to ‘lean in’ to give hugs”. Both of those are spot on. Mrs. Gov calls him “an 80 pound shadow”, and he loves to stand next to you and press his back into you to hug you. While racing greyhounds don’t have the life of a pet, I would like to think that they’re treated as well as any other working animal.
FAQ’s about adopting a retired racer greyhound
Why do greyhounds wear a muzzle?
Lots of people associate muzzles with mean, uncontrollable dogs. However, for racing greyhounds, muzzles are just a fact of life. Kenny doesn’t mind his muzzle, and in fact, gets excited when he sees us get it out.
He knows he is going to get to play with other dogs!
Remember how I said that greyhounds have a different dog physiology? Part of that selective breeding resulted in greyhounds having extremely thin skin and less platelets than other dogs. As a result, greyhounds can get cut more easily than other breeds AND bleed a lot more than other breeds. Greyhounds wear muzzles to protect themselves from themselves as even a play bite might make a mess or require stitches.
How big are greyhounds?
Greyhounds are pretty tall- male racers can be as tall as 30 inches and weigh more than 80 pounds. I’m never sure how they measure dog height. Kenny can easily eat food from our dinner table while standing on all four paws without straining or reaching. That’s tall.
Kenny attracts a lot of attention since he’s almost always the tallest dog around. I’ve had several people ask me if he was part Great Dane and about every 3rd walk we go for, someone stops to tell us we have such a beautiful dog. To use the parlance of our times, Kenny is sexy and he knows it.
Do greyhounds need a lot of exercise?
I’ve seen several great memes about what people think greyhounds are versus what greyhounds actually are. While greyhounds can run faster than any dog, they have almost no endurance. In fact, greyhounds need at least 18 hours of sleep a day. A common joke is that greyhounds are “45 mile per hour couch potatoes”. Kenny is happiest on his dog bed where he spends almost all of his day. He has a very strict schedule of a post breakfast nap, mid-day nap, and pre bedtime nap.
All mammals need some exercise. While greyhounds are a very low energy dog breed, they do need some exercise every day. If you have a fenced in yard, you can let them outside to do “zoomies” (as greyhound aficionados call them). Otherwise, you can take them for walks. We happily walk Kenny 2 miles in the morning and another 2 sometime in the evening and would walk him more if he would tolerate it.
This also means that greyhounds save you some costs; you don’t need to hire a dog walker to come to your house while you work.
For what it’s worth, I’ve tried to take Kenny running with me many times and it never goes well. While he happily sprints the first couple of blocks with me by the time we make it to a half mile he has slowed to a trot. Other greyhound owners have told me that you can train your greyhound to running up to 3 miles with you, but Kenny has made it very clear he has no intention of going that far.
Do retired greyhounds need to be housebroken?
One great aspect of adopting a retired racer is that they are a lot easier to care for than puppies. Greyhounds are trained to not soil their crate during their life at the dog track. They can quickly learn to treat their new home as a “giant crate”.
However, introducing your greyhound to a people house does require some special care; many common household objects are completely alien to a greyhound. Many greyhound adoption groups will give you a checklist to go through with your dog to help him or her acclimate. For instance, greyhounds have never seen stairs before. Likewise, you should put masking tape (to make an “X) on windows and glass so that your greyhound won’t walk through them. I always found this advice odd since greyhounds are supposed to have incredible eyesight. Check with your local chapter of Greyhound Pets of America and see if they have a message board. They know all about greyhounds, have lots of experience, and can set you and your greyhound up for success. (Our GPA chapter even sends each dog to a foster home for “house training” before sending them on to their forever home).
Do greyhounds get along with children and/or cats?
If you sampled 1,000 humans, you would find some that loved children, some that tolerated children, and some that loathed children. Greyhounds are no different. After their life on the track, your local GPA chapter will spend some time with the dogs and get a feeling for their temperament. Some greyhounds will be more apprehensive or skittish than other ones. The greyhound group will try to place those greyhounds into households who can handle a dog that can handle their special needs.
They also “cat test” each greyhound to test its prey drive. Some greyhounds feel the need to chase after any small prey. These greyhounds get sent to households without cats. Kenny cannot be bothered to chase our cat at all. Nor does he show any interest in bunnies or squirrels on our walk. In fact the only things that seem to interest Kenny are sleeping on his dog bed and stealing our dirty laundry.
What should I feed my greyhound?
We spent a lot of time on message boards researching what food to feed our greyhound. If you ask 20 greyhound owners what kind of dog food they feed their dog, you will get 20 different answers. One of the most common health problems (if you can call it that) with greyhounds is that many of them have loose stools. I think that every greyhound owner has tried many types of food.
We started feeding Kenny Diamond Naturals Lamb and Rice formula. Then we switched to their Poultry and Rice formula in hopes that it would fix his poop issues. Finally, we switched to Rachel Ray’s limited ingredient diet food and we’ve had good luck with that. We decided to use Rachel Ray’s formula because it is the cheapest limited ingredient food on the market. (We’re frugal people after all- and the limited ingredient food has helped with Kenny’s stomach).
Another great find was these Olewo carrots. We add a tablespoon of these to his food every night. They have done miracles for his digestive health and make his poop so much easier to pick up. Even the side of the bag has a testimonial about the wonders they have done for greyhounds. They are definitely worth the price.
How much do greyhounds cost to care for, our first 6 months of expenses
Now that we’ve covered these greyhound basics we can get to the most important part—how much do greyhounds cost? Since we track all of our expenses and receipts in CountAbout, I could easily pull together this report.
How much do greyhounds cost to adopt? ($500)
If you want to adopt a greyhound, you should talk with your local GPA chapter. They will be able to tell you how their adoption process works. The chapter will also be able to tell you how much greyhounds cost to adopt.
We paid $500 for Kenny’s adoption fees. While that seems like a lot, the GPA took Kenny to a vet and paid for
- a checkup
- dental cleaning
- microchip implantation
- deworming treatment
In addition, they sent us home with
- martingale collar (greyhounds can escape a normal collar and need a special type of collar)
- turnout muzzle
- an ID tag
- lots of heartworm medicine
That’s a lot of stuff! While $500 is more than we’ve ever paid for one of our cats (people always seem to be giving them away)- Kenny also came with about $500 worth of care and supplies. In my mind, we got Kenny for free and just had to pay for his veterinary care.
First time dog expenses (272.91)
Because we never had a dog before, we needed some dog supplies.
We needed a dog crate big enough to hold a greyhound. In the end we settled on this dog crate that came with a dog bed for the crate and food bowls as well. We also bought Kenny a dog bed.
Kenny LOVES THIS DOG BED. He spends at least 16 hours a day sleeping on it. He seems to know that the dog bed is “his”. And it might be one of his first possessions ever since he never had anything like that at the dog track.
Finally, we needed a new baby gate. (Ironically we just got rid of our last baby gate about a year ago since our kids had all outgrown them).
Food + Treats ($265.02)
Greyhounds have thin skin and very little bodyfat. They need to wear coats when it’s cold out, and unfortunately we live in a very frigid climate.
We bought Kenny a
- Fall coat
- Rain coat
- Winter coat with tummy warmer. We were lucky enough to “buy” this coat from a former greyhound owner. She actually didn’t want money but instead asked that we make a donation to the local GPA chapter in memory of her former grey.
Veterinary care ($650.95)
In an ideal world, the post-track vet visit provided by GPA would cover all of Kenny’s needs for the first year. However, we needed to take him to our local vet to get a rabies booster several months after adopting him ($81).
Our vet noticed that Kenny’s gums were in bad shape (despite his earlier cleaning). We had to have his teeth cleaned less than 6 months after his post racing career teeth cleaning ($360).
I now brush Kenny’s teeth every day and his gums look much better!
Finally, we needed to buy Kenny some special deworming medicine. Drug-resistant worms can spread at dog tracks and the GPA recommends “Simparica trio”, an advanced deworming medicine that also protects against fleas and ticks. Unfortunately we couldn’t get this medicine for several months and had to buy some Frontline (anti-insect) medicine as well.
We also bought Kenny a few odds and ends.
- Natures miracle
- Retired racing greyhounds for dummies
- Childproofing your dog
- Dremel tool bits (so I could trim his nails)
- Reflective leash
- Rubber matt
- Licenses & registration
So- now you have a better idea of how much greyhounds cost based on our expenses during the first 6 months. We spent less than $300 in 2019 on pets; we owned a cat and fostered two others. Our greyhound adoption costs made me think that dogs were more expensive than cats. However, the Financial Mechanic looked at the adoption costs of three cats and found that the cost after 6 months ranged from $200 to over $3,000. In retrospect, that makes Kenny look pretty frugal.