Greyhound Racing F.A.Q.
By the Greyhound Association of America, Inc, reprinted with permission
Introduction by Dennis McKeon
The sport of Greyhound Racing is important to all of us, because Racing Greyhounds are important to us. Without formal, grand scale racing, there would be no way to sustain and to continue to nurture the 46 different female families of racing greyhounds that exist, and comprise the most diverse gene pool of any breed of functional canine. Racing greyhounds are galaxies removed from any other sighthound breed in genotype, phenotype and athletic adaptation. Racing – and breed custodianship – has compelled the emergence of this truly phenomenal breed of sighthound. Racing is the objective means of qualifying the “correct” breeding specimens from among the racing greyhound population. Only the very best specimens of greyhound genotype, phenotype and disposition enter their genes into the collective pool. The racing greyhound is the physical manifestation of greyhound racing – as form is compelled to follow function.
The racing greyhound as a breed benefits from greyhound racing, more than any human or group of them…..as he is the only breed of large dog to not suffer from the degenerative and crippling defects of congenital hip dysplasia. He has the most efficient and highly developed cardio-pulmonary system in the canine world, and is the most highly refined athlete among all breeds of canine.
The racing greyhound, pound for pound, is over 10 times faster than a Thoroughbred racehorse, to get a small sense of his remarkable athleticism. Such is the level of adaptation that has emerged in the breed as a result of greyhound racing, and the unprecedented international genepool that racing has preserved and nurtured. Again – form follows function.
Source: American Greyhound Council
- How many Greyhounds are registered each year in the U.S.?
In the last three years (2014, 2015, & 2016), over 30,000 pups were registered with the National Greyhound Association (NGA). Greyhounds must be registered with the NGA to race at any U.S. track. About 90 percent of all pups born are registered, factoring in pups lost from natural causes at birth or soon after.
- How are Greyhounds trained to race?
Greyhounds begin training at about a year old. They run and chase by instinct, so initially their training consists of chasing a lure dragged along the ground. As they mature, they are taught to run on circular tracks, with the artificial lure suspended above the ground. At about a year and a half, they graduate to longer, oval tracks, starting boxes and competition.
- How old are Greyhounds when they begin racing?
Most begin racing at about a year and a half, and continue to four years old. Some will race beyond their fifth birthday, and a select few past their sixth. Because they are generally well cared for and in excellent health, most Greyhounds live to twelve years or older.
- Does racing come naturally to Greyhounds?
Greyhounds love to run, and are competitive by instinct. In racing, there is no stimulus other than the mechanical lure to make the Greyhounds run. When the starting box opens, the animal’s natural instinct is to chase the lure and try to reach it first.
- Is racing safe for Greyhounds?
The prevention of injuries is a high priority in Greyhound racing. The industry has funded extensive research at leading veterinary universities to find ways of ensuring animal safety and preventing racing injuries. If an injury does occur, every track has a veterinarian on the premises to respond immediately.
- Does the industry use live lures?
No, the industry has banned the use of live lures in training and racing. In all states, state laws and/or racing rules prohibit the use of live lures in training or racing. Industry members who violate this practice may be expelled from the sport for life.
- Where are Greyhounds kept when they are not racing?
Greyhounds live in climate-controlled kennels, usually on or near the tracks where they race. They are turned out several times daily for mild exercise and play, exercised on sprint paths and taken for walks.
- What happens to Greyhounds after they retire?
Registered greyhounds are adopted or returned to the farm as pets or for breeding purposes when they retire. The supply of adoptable greyhounds is now equal to or less than the demand for them because the industry committed to reducing breeding and expanding adoption efforts so all adoptable Greyhounds could be placed in loving homes after retirement.
- How do you justify breeding so many greyhounds each year when you know that thousands will have to be euthanized because they aren’t fast enough to be successful competitors?
Over the past twenty years, we’ve seen the demand for adoptable greyhounds exceed the supply of adoptable greyhounds The animal rights movement is still opposed to greyhound racing, because they oppose all animal use, no matter how humane or beneficial to society. If your concern is animal welfare, the industry has taken aggressive action on several fronts. We’ve dramatically reduced the number of dogs bred and substantially increased the number of dogs adopted. For example, twenty years ago, in 1997, just under 30,000 dogs were bred. Today, that number has settled to around 10,500 bred per year. If animal rights groups really want to do something in the area of animal welfare, they should constructively work with the industry to continue maximizing adoptions and securing good homes.
- Greyhound racing has been banned in several states. Doesn’t that prove many people think it’s inhumane?
The animal rights movement has never been successful in banning greyhound racing in a state where the sport actually exists. In areas where people are unfamiliar with the sport, and there is no industry presence to educate the public, it’s easy for extreme animal rights groups to misrepresent the facts. Often, people are led to believe these campaigns are about animal welfare, but in fact that’s not the case. These groups oppose all animal use, whether it’s for food, clothing, medical research, entertainment or any other purpose. The same people who oppose greyhound racing think it’s wrong to eat a hamburger, wear a leather jacket or go to the zoo.
- Aren’t greyhounds frequently injured while racing?
The safety of racing greyhounds is a top priority in the industry. Each track has a veterinarian on he premises to ensure that the dogs remain in good health. In addition, the industry has funded extensive research into the methods of ensuring track safety. This research is on-going at the University of Florida’s Center for Veterinary Sports Medicine.
- Why are so many greyhound tracks in financial trouble? Haven’t people lost interest in the sport?
Greyhound racing, like many other entertainment industries, has been affected by changing technology and the changing preferences of consumers. People are spending more money on in-home entertainment, and less on activities outside the home. There is increased competition for those outside activity dollars. The successful tracks are those that have found ways to use the new technology to reach new consumers.
This article was originally published by the Greyhound Association of America (www.gra-america.org). We want to extend a “thank you,” for allowing us to republish their content.
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