Thinking of buying your own greyhound? Here are a few pointers to purchasing and looking after your hound, from first race to retirement.
How much does a racing greyhound cost?
It is possible to purchase a greyhound from as little as £300. If the parents have any track form, or the youngster is already racing, the price will increase accordingly, often up to £1,500/£2,000. Dogs already proving their worth with regular results can fetch £5,000, while big race winners can sell for £25,000+.
Buying your greyhound
Contacting one of your local track trainers can pay big dividends. They usually have young dogs they are bringing on available, and can often provide background information on other saplings you may be interested in. Most trainers have contacts with breeders in Ireland from whom they purchase the majority of their greyhounds, and can usually therefore find a dog to suit your budget
Greyhound auctions and sales trials are regularly held in the UK and Ireland, and are popular on both sides of the Irish Sea. Interestingly, greyhound sales (like horse sales) take place in guineas. For those of you not old enough to know what a guinea is, it is a unit of currency equal to £1.05. Owlerton usually hold a couple of greyhound sales each year. These can be the ideal place to meet trainers and other owners If you want to keep your initial outlay and outgoings as low as possible, consider forming or joining a greyhound syndicate to buy your dog. Finally, on completion of the purchase, make sure you have all the relevant paperwork including a veterinary certificate, a transfer of ownership and the dog’s stud book all in your name.
Many people find that owning a greyhound under a syndicate is a huge benefit, not only do you share the funding of the greyhound with others, like kennel costs and veterinary bills, but you also get to share the excitement of race days and potentially winning with a group of friends.
What will your trainer feed your racing greyhound?
Talk to ten successful trainers and you’ll get ten different diets for your hound. Wherever you buy your dog, ask the seller for a dietary sheet and stick with that, at least in the early stages, while the dog settles into its new environment. Any dietary changes should be made over time if the dog is not to suffer digestive problems, as such it is important to communicate often with your trainer.
For racing greyhounds, the diet varies with training, racing levels, and weight. While some trainers feed twice a day, morning and evening, others just feed in the evening. For example, for a 30 kg dog fed twice a day the diet could be something like this:
- Breakfast: 150g of dried food containing 12% milk and protein.
- Evening: 600g of lean meat containing 10% fat, 450g of kibble containing 20% protein and 10%-12% fat, and 18ml to 25ml of fish oil.
Nowadays, scientifically formulated complete dry foods are available for racing dogs, but many trainers still prefer to feed their own mix of protein, carbs and fats. Especially so, when their style of training and type of diet produces results on the track.
On racedays, the feeding regime is completely different – depending on what time the greyhound is racing, most trainers will only feed the dog with a light breakfast, as a greyhound should not race on a full stomach, and then when the greyhound returns home after racing, it will then be given its normal full meal and a bit of a treat
Greyhound racing training
In the early days, all your young greyhound needs is a good diet for growth, and regular, but not extreme, exercise. Race specific schooling shouldn’t begin until the dog is at least ten months old, although many successful trainers wait until the animal has passed its first birthday. A greyhound can not race until it is at least 15 months, as its bones are not yet strong enough.
Doggy swimming pools and inclined treadmills are often used to help increase muscle and bone strength, as well as regular field walking. Because greyhounds have two speeds, walk and sprint, sprinting needs to be built up gradually. Get a friend or family member to slip the lead, with you about 100 yards away, then slowly increase the distance to 200 – 250 yards. By now the time is fast approaching when you need a dedicated training track. Most stadiums offer a range of training options and for around £50/wk. a professional experienced trainer can train and bring your dog to race fitness.
Is greyhound racing safe?
Often called ‘the working man’s answer to horse racing’, greyhound racing has had its fair share of bad publicity over the years. And, just like horse racing, much has been done to improve its image with better quality tracks, and improved dogs welfare. A qualified, licensed vet must be present whenever a greyhound is racing at the stadium. This includes trials. Dogs are checked both before, and after a race, and vets are on hand to deal with any mishaps on the track.
This small quote from the,’ Trainer’s Guide to Medication Control in Greyhounds,’ will indicate the importance attached to any racing greyhound’s wellbeing. ‘The veterinary surgeon’s welfare duties to the Greyhound are recognized by the Greyhound Board of Great Britain: It is essential that any racing greyhound requiring veterinary attention receives it promptly. It is against the law to deny a greyhound access to veterinary treatment if needed. Therefore treatment for an illness must take priority over racing or trialling.’ In other words, the welfare and wellbeing of your greyhound takes preference over all else.
At Owlerton Stadium we follow the Greyhound Board of great Britain’s Greyhound Commitment which you can read for a much more in-depth breakdown on how we help keep greyhounds safe. You can also read about our Owlerton Stadium Welfare Fund, a fantastic scheme that means if a dog does happen to pick up a career ending injury and the owners can’t afford to pay for the treatment, Owlerton pay for the treatment and place the dog into our rehoming scheme with the Sheffield Retired Greyhounds.
How to house-train an ex-racing greyhound
Life After Racing
Like your average athlete, a greyhound’s racing career is relatively short lived, with most dogs retiring between five and six years of age. When buying a racing greyhound, you need to make sure you have plans for the dog once it has retired. You can keep the greyhound yourself or re-home with a family friend. It is not uncommon for the trainers to keep them as pets or you can place them with Sheffield Retired Greyhounds for re-homing. To help ensure a long and happy life for all the retired dogs, many UK stadia are involved with charitable organisations dedicated to homing as many ex-racing greyhounds as possible.
Having lived a racing kennel lifestyle, your newly retired greyhound will very quickly adapt to living in a home as a normal family pet, but it will need a little domestic training as he/she settles in, and will likely have a few toilet accidents. The move to a new home will be stressful enough, becoming a part of the family 24/7 will be totally alien. A little TLC rather than scolding, will produce the desired results a lot quicker.
Although greyhounds are friendly and placid by nature, always err on the side of caution. If you have other dogs or pets at home, make sure to put your greyhound’s muzzle on, to avoid the risk of potential problems.
Greyhounds will instinctively chase small animals like cats, rabbits, guinea pigs etc, so they should spend time getting to know these other animals. Even when walking your greyhound outside, you should keep the muzzle on and keep them on the lead until they are well trained. Within a short time your pets should begin to accept each other, and your retired racer will become a fully paid up member of the family.
Greyhound Racing – Where to go?
Now that you have your Greyhound racing ready, where do you take them to race? Trainers are usually allocated to a track but some trainers travel around the country entering Open Races at different tracks.
Owlerton Stadium have a fantastic track and facilities to match. We are based in Sheffield, just a stone’s throw from the city centre and have races every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday evenings plus Monday and Thursday afternoons. Open racing usually takes place on a Tuesday evening or special events such as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
We have some exciting open race competitions coming up that see the winners take home £10,000! The final of the 3 Steps to Victory Final takes place on Tuesday 4th September 2018 and the Steel City Cup Final takes place on 2nd October 2018.