Whether it is in your own home, at a friend’s home, or out in public, when you’re thinking of getting a greyhound, one of the top questions on your mind is….
“Are Greyhounds Good with Other Dogs?” Most greyhounds get along very well with, and even love the company of, other dogs.
In researching this article, I found examples of every common breed and mix living contentedly with a greyhound. What it really comes down to is the temperament of the individual dogs in question. They must be compatible. This information-packed guide will help you choose a greyhound who is a good fit for your home. If you currently own a greyhound who is having trouble getting along with others, there is help here for you, as well.
Background about Greyhounds
Greyhounds are raised by their mom, with their litter, for the first year of their lives. After that, life is spent with, and revolves around, other dogs. They go from the farm, to the training kennels, to the racing kennels, to adoption kennels! so you see, by the time your greyhound reaches your home, he is a very well-socialized dog, indeed!
Some greyhounds, however, are “breed snobs!” In other words, they behave differently with other breeds than they do with other greyhounds. A Greytalk forum entry sums it up this way:
“If there’s 20 other dogs around, they’ll always single out the one other greyhound.”
It’s kind of like Forrest Gump says about a box of chocolate – You never know what you’re going to get! Some greyhounds are fine with all large dogs, but get on poorly with small ones. Then there are those who are fantastic with all dogs, and cats, as well. And some greyhounds need to be in homes where they are the only dog.
In general, greyhounds tend to get along with any dog who isn’t constantly after them to play. High-energy, young dogs can be a poor fit for the mellow, nap-loving greyhound. One owner gave this amusing example:
“My bulldog/greyhound combo worked great. Both were low energy, calm, loving, and affectionate. Ok, well, they do look a little funny together…”
Reasons Why Your Dog Might Not Get Along with a Greyhound
I’m sure you are wondering if greyhounds are considered aggressive dogs. They are not. When a greyhound lashes out at another dog, it is always due to one of two reasons: fear or prey drive.
Prey Drive in Greyhounds
Some greyhounds have an extremely high prey drive (the urge to chase small, furry creatures). A small dog, who is yapping and running around excitedly, could easily incite the prey drive of a greyhound. Prey drive is the result of thousands of years of breeding. It is more pronounced in some greyhounds than others, and it is not something that you can train out of them.
Small dogs also have a propensity to try running underneath or jump on the tall greyhound, which the greyhound could interpret as an attack, or at least an invasion of his personal space, and react accordingly. Before you can react, or even realize that any trouble is brewing, the greyhound can have the smaller dog by the neck, and be shaking it and tossing it up in the air.
In these cases, the greyhound may not even realize this cheeky, yipping little moppet a dog! Even though greyhounds spend their whole lives with other dogs, those dogs are all greyhounds. Your greyhound will be able to recognize a large breed, like a lab or golden, as a fellow dog right away; but if the other dog is small and fluffy (like the lure your greyhound was trained to chase at the track), things might not go as well.
CAREFULLY Introduce your Greyhound to Other Dogs
Likewise, if the other dog advances before the greyhound has had a chance to assess him from a comfortable distance, the greyhound may feel the need to strike out in self-defense, or even to defend you. Careful introductions are the key!
Any dog will attack, if he feels provoked. The difference between a greyhound and just any dog, is that a greyhound is a powerful, natural athlete, who is bred to hunt. A greyhound who feels the need to lash out will do so suddenly and, seemingly, with no warning. After all, in nature, the creature who gets the prey is he who can strike by surprise or chase down his quarry. So you see, though many dogs would strike out, the greyhound is the most likely to strike successfully.
This doesn’t necessarily mean a greyhound will never be able to live with your little dog. The new greyhound would need to be taught to accept him as a member of his new “pack.” Also, extra caution would need to be taken when they are outdoors together, until the greyhound learns that you don’t approve of his chasing down the little dog.
Fear Aggression in Greyhounds
The other instance in which a greyhound can strike out is if, sometime in his past, he has been attacked or harassed by another dog. Sadly, it only takes one such incident to make a greyhound extremely wary of other dogs. This type of aggression, however, can be trained out of the greyhound, with a lot of diligence.
Reasons Why a Greyhound Might Not Get Along with Your Dog
How well-socialized is your current dog? Would you describe him as the type of dog who gets along with every dog he meets? If so, that is a good sign that he and a greyhound would be good buddies.
Next, how does your dog react when he likes another dog? If he is polite, and careful, and not physical, that is good. When dogs greet each other politely, first they will sniff it each others faces delicately, and then they’ll walk around to the other end and sniff around the tail area. If you see the dog who is being sniffed gently lift his tail up a bit, that is a sign that he is being receptive to the greeting.
A dog who enjoys wrestling won’t make a good match for the greyhound, who would rather run and chase with his pals. Greyhounds don’t seem to understand wrestling; and the thinness of their skin makes it an unsafe activity, anyway.
If your current dog is the type who tries to jump on, jostle, or mount every dog he meets, he may not be compatible with a greyhound. Again, greyhounds are well-socialized dogs, and that socialization includes reprimanding the bad “pack manners” of their fellow dogs.
It is in taking matters into their own hands, or paws, that misunderstandings can occur!
Choosing the Right Greyhound
If you already have a dog, it is necessary for you to adopt your greyhound from a situation where you can bring him to meet the available greyhounds, as part of the final choice.
Presumably, you can tell when your own dog likes a new dog. But how do you assess the greyhound’s behavior?
The key to choosing the best greyhound buddy for your dog is being able to sense the difference between healthy interest and predatory aggression. This type of behavior is very distinct; you just need to be watching for it, and not confuse it with casual interest. In other words, there’s interest … and then there’s interest.
The following warning signs of predatory interest come from an experienced dog trainer over at the Greytalk forum:
- An odd, fixed stare (off in the distance or directed at the other dog)
- Excited, and/or difficult to distract
- Shaking or trembling (often just at the lip, shoulders, or hind legs)
- Stiff stance with arched neck and raised tail
- May encourage the other dog to move; by placing a paw on him,or pushing him with his forehead or nose
- May whine if held back
Getting Started Off on the Right Foot at Home
Before you bring your new greyhound home, set up the following two spaces for him, which will be separate from your current dog.
Creating a Daytime Space for Your Greyhound
The first space should be the one where the new dog will be spending most of the family-time during waking hours. Make sure this space has something very comfortable and cushy to lie down on, and is well away from the space your current dog occupies. If your current dog’s pad is off to the side of the couch, set up the greyhound on the other side of the couch, or on the other side of the room. Wherever it is, be sure it’s a spot where you can easily keep tabs on things.
Creating a Nighttime Space for Your Greyhound
The other space will be where your greyhound is going to be spending the night, and it should be in the room where you sleep. If you already have your current dog in the bedroom with you, then simply set up a large crate in the bedroom for your new greyhound. He will feel safe and secure, having his own cozy space. Put in the crate, a nice, soft, fresh dog bed, with us some cushy touches, such as a blanket and a durable pillow.
Firmly restrict your current dog from both of these spaces, right from the start!
Devise a way to feed the two dogs separately from each other. There are a number of ways you can do that. You can stagger their feeding times, allowing only one dog into the room at a time. If you can, find a way to partition off a section of the room where you feed them. You could feed them in separate rooms. There are a lot of options.
If you decide on feeding them at separate times, be sure you feed the Greyhound first. New people in our homes always eat first, guests eat first; in the army, the new guys always eat first. It’s common courtesy; so common, that even dogs understand it.
Getting Along with Other Dogs Away from Home
We have been focusing on greyhounds getting along with the other dogs in your home; but, perhaps, a better question would be what to do if your greyhound is not getting along with other dogs when you have him out for a walk. When I was doing research for this article, this complaint was far and away more common, by about 10 to 1, than complaints about a greyhound not getting along with another dog in his own home.
For this reason, I am not a fan of dog parks. There, you will often find a lot of dogs, running and chasing, some with better temperaments and others. Although most owners are good and responsible, it only takes one rogue for things to take a bad turn, and that can happen very quickly.
How Fear Aggression can Develop
The greatest danger away from home, however, is encountering a loose dog while you are out walking your greyhound. If he injures the loose dog, trying to defend himself against an oncoming attack, you could be held liable for injuries incurred to the loose, attacking dog. It depends on the laws in your area. There are actually owners who feel the solution to this is to muzzle their greyhound, so they will not be held responsible; but then, how is the greyhound supposed to defend himself? Greyhounds have notoriously thin skin, which tears, and injures, and necessitates stitches very easily.
But the true damage in cases such as this doesn’t show until later. It only takes one such incident to make your greyhound surly and defensive around other dogs. This is called “fear aggression,” but it is treatable.
New Aggression in Established Dogs
Sometimes, a greyhound will start off peaceful, only to develop an attitude problem later on, after he has been home for weeks, months, or even years.
I have mentioned before (in another article on this website) how my first greyhound, Peaches, was a complete pacifist, until I became pregnant – Then, she suddenly started growling at every dog we passed, whenever I would walk her. It never happened when my husband was walking her. This began a full year after we got her.
In this case, it didn’t really impact anything; but you do want to keep tabs on any behavioral changes, on the part of your dog, during the course of his life. These never “just happen,” there’s always a reason. Always keep an eye on how your greyhound is relating to other dogs, and be ready to deal with any issues that arise.
What to do When your Greyhound Challenges You
New behaviors are always easier to correct. Sometimes, like with children, your greyhound will test the limits. Lily was a perfect angel when we first got her; so I was very surprised by her behavior one day – I was sitting on the rug, and there was just something about the way she was approaching me. I didn’t like it. I got the distinct feeling she was trying to get her head higher than mine, a sign of dominance in the pack.
It was a clear power-play, and I nipped it in the bud. I got up quickly, looked over her head, and gave her a low, firm “No.”
Lily backed off immediately, and there was no look of confusion whatsoever. I had read her correctly, and had set her straight. As a precaution, I warned the rest of my family to act similarly, if any of them saw “the look.” It’s been 4 years, and she’s never pulled anything like that again.
In our last house, we had a fenced yard, and Peaches used to enjoy treeing squirrels, or chasing them over the fence. She could have easily caught them, but didn’t. She just enjoyed the chase. I think she learned to hold back after she caught a skunk; which earned her a lot of unhappy commotion, a bath, and a trip to the vet.
(OK, I’ll finish the story! The next day, Peaches suffered further insults – She was not allowed out into the yard to greet our “guest,” a Ranger, who plugged her “prize” with a .22, and hauled it off for rabies testing.)
Setting Limits on Greyhound’s Prey Drive
I will usually let Lily enjoy a little stalking of chipmunks, on the leash, from a safe distance; but this is completely frowned upon when it comes to other dogs and cats.
The lesson is to memorize the signs of prey-drive aggression, and watch for them whenever you are out and about with your greyhound.
There are a few good ways to stop this. I mentioned one – Look over your dog’s head, which emphasizes your height, and tell him no. For an early warning, I usually just need to say “Leave it,” and move her along.
If the dog becomes fixated and is not listening to you, stand next to him, raise your foot behind you, and flick it gently to tap his side or hip, saying “Leave it.”
Introducing New Pets to your Greyhound Indoors
Always be conscientious when choosing and introducing new pets to your greyhound. Don’t be afraid to put a muzzle on him, and definitely keep him leashed while making introductions.
Never let your greyhound loose in someone else’s home where there are smaller pets present, unless he already has established a good relationship with them.
By the way, if your other dog happens to be a greyhound, your new hound will probably be quite happy – Greyhounds tend to love their own kind, as you can see in this video: