Why Does My Greyhound Stare: guide to startling facts

Ever have that feeling you’re being watched? I know I do! And the usual suspect is my greyhound, Lily! I have had three greyhounds, and every one has been a gawker. But the quality of my life with my greyhounds improved DRAMATICALLY, once I came to fully understand why they stare.

If you ask, “Why does my greyhound stare at me,” the answer is, simply, this:

Greyhounds stare as their major form of communication. Greyhounds are sighthounds, so staring is a major part of their nature.

Retrievers retrieve, border collies herd…each dog has his purpose in life. Learn what your greyhound’s stares mean, and you, my friend, will be speaking fluent Greyhound.

Staring: How a Greyhound Forms a Relationship

If greyhounds had iPhones, they would have their own personal set of emojis! You would never discount the idea that humans have different facial expressions, each with a distinct meaning. Well, it’s the same for greyhounds. Every time your greyhound stares at you, it means something. Stay with me here, and I will give you the whole rundown on what your greyhound is saying to you, compiled from my experience of over 22 years with my own grey, and that of many other experienced greyhound owners and professionals.

 We all want to gawk when we think something interesting is going on, and greyhounds are no different from us in that sense. It’s just that no one ever taught them that it is rude to stare! Since greyhounds cannot talk, however, it is not rude for them to stare– It is how they communicate. 

Your Staring Greyhound is Not Being Confrontational

Many people find it odd, since the common knowledge says that a dog stares to be confrontational, but it’s just one of those ways in which greyhounds, AKA “gazehounds,” are a breed apart (greyhounds will also give the “thousand-yard stare, which we’ll get into a little later). Staring at you is the greyhound’s way of starting a connection, bonding with you, and maintaining that connection with you over his lifetime. Many owners say your greyhound stares at you because he loves you, and that’s true. One of the great charms owning a greyhound, or any dog really, are the frequent looks of adoration and gratitude they send your way.  Before long, you’ll find yourself saying, “He’s doing it again,” as those eyes continue to bore a permanent hole in your psyche.

Your Staring Greyhound is Introducing Himself

Many owners report their greyhounds staring at them right from the moment they met. In fact, sometimes you don’t choose your greyhound – He chooses you, and he will do so by simply staring at you. An adoption kennel volunteer in Florida recalls the day a new greyhound arrived. The dog stared at him for his entire 8-hour shift, and they’ve been inseparable ever since.

My greyhound, Lily, was certainly looking at my family with interest that day we walked into the adoption kennel, and she had just had all her vet work done that morning. She had already had a big day, but -as usual – Lil was ready for anything! She stared all the way home in the car, too; taking in everything around her & just enjoying the adventure. She stared, goggle-eyed, at passing cars & even up at burly drivers of huge tractor-trailer trucks. People were smiling and waving at her. 

So often, the first thing your greyhound will say with his eyes is, “Take me home. Please.”  

If you’ve recently gotten your greyhound, he will stare at you just to try to figure you out. I know it looks weird, but you’re probably doing the same to him, and he doesn’t think you’re weird… although maybe he does. He may be interested in everything you do, and even follow you around the house, taking in your every move. Remember, your cozy home is a whole new environment to your greyhound, especially if he has been a racer. They can sneak up on you, too – You’ll think your greyhound is fast asleep at the other end of the house, and next thing you know, there’s a long snoot in that space between your elbow and your ribcage! There’s ol’ Nosy! In addition to being close by your side, staring makes your dog feel more secure. Some greyhounds will stare less, as they settle in. Some are more insecure by nature, and will gawk at you for their lifetimes.

Types of Greyhound Stares/How You Should Respond to Them

Now that you know that staring is normal, and that your greyhound is trying to communicate with you, you’ll want to know what he’s trying to tell you, and how you should respond. Since staring is your greyhound’s main way to communicate with you, he has several different types of stares. One caveat: regardless of the type of stare, it is important to watch your entire greyhound, not just his eyes. With greyhounds, body language is all! Yes, they can bark, but it’s simply not their way. Now, let’s take the deep dive into the “Staring” section of the greyhound dictionary…

The Request: How Greyhounds Communicate Their Needs

One type of greyhound stare you will see many times a day is The Request. Greyhounds are generally very well behaved, but when they are not, it is not unusual for an owner to comment that the behavior “just came out of nowhere.” Typically in these cases, what has happened is that the greyhound has made The Request, or multiple requests, which have gone unheeded. The greyhound becomes frustrated, and mischief can ensue. You will find something shredded, or worse, an ominous puddle on the floor.

How do you know what, exactly, your greyhound is asking for? Several factors can help you figure that out. One of the wonderful things about greyhounds is that they become so in tune with you, they will quickly figure out the schedule of the household. As the time gets close for a meal or a walk, your dog will stare to check in with you. Greyhounds love to get in on other family activities, as well, and will appear for duty as though summoned by a bell. The moment you sit back in your chair after a good meal, you may find a four-legged busboy popping in to help clean the plates. If you go to the fridge, and start pulling out bread, cheese, and cold cuts, your greyhounds will be right by your side, watching intently to make sure the floor stays clean. And if you open anything – and I mean anything – that comes in a rigid plastic bag, your greyhound will be right there, letting you know that that is a dog treat bag.

Your greyhound, or liaghound, will have a certain stare and demeanor for pretty much everything he needs or just enjoys. They have good memories, too. For example, if you were laying on the floor with your greyhound, petting him and cooing over him; don’t be surprised if the next day at exactly the same time, he flops down on the floor and stares at you. Just like with little kids, you have set a precedent and now he expects you follow through.

Any time your greyhound gets up from a comfortable spot and walks to the door and stares at you, you want to get him right outside. It is very possible that he has to “go.” Another signal for this is when your greyhound stares alternately at you and then the door. 

Follow the Leader: How Greyhounds Show You Something

Some greyhounds will walk around you, and stop by your side, staring straight ahead. If you take a few steps forward, your greyhound will do the same. Go, and he goes. Stop, and he stops. When this happens, walk slowly, watching your greyhound, and he will lead you where he wants you to go. If he leads you to the door, you know what you have to do! If he leads you to his bed, he may want company, but it is even more likely that there is something wrong with his bed that he wants you to fix. He maybe missing a beloved blanket or toy. There may be a draft, which is making him cold. Lily likes to lead me over to the wood stove to start a fire for her.

Your Personal Therapist, at Your Service

Your greyhounds like to watch you, and gauge your moods. If you are the type who gets impatient about life’s little trials, your greyhound will gaze it you sympathetically, hoping to soothe you.

The Babysitter: Greyhounds are Good with Children!

If your greyhound appears, and stands there, alternately staring at you and back in the general direction of your child, you may want to check on that. Yes, your greyhound may very well tattle on your children!

The “Watch” Dog: Greyhounds as Watch Dogs?

It is often said that greyhounds are the best watchdogs, because if a burglar ever came into your house, your greyhound would watch him steal everything you own! I’m afraid that’s one kind of staring the greyhounds are very poor at: they are not very good guard dogs. Unless you’re squirrel, or possibly a cat, the greyhound’s philosophy is “live and let live.”

The Stink-eye: When a Greyhound is Unhappy

His head tilts down, but the eyes are locked on you, and he stands very still. Something is not right. Somebody has offended. It’s usually not hard to figure out; the answer may be as close as the empty food bowl, or the fact that you are sitting on his favorite toy. I get this look often from Lily, after a meal.  Apparently, dinner and a cookie are not enough…that’s one stink-eye that’s best to ignore (even greyhounds can get fat).

The Thousand-Yard Stare: When to Watch Your Greyhound Closely

Greyhounds are extremely docile animals, but any dog has the potential to lash out. Whenever I hear of this happening, I always feel skeptical. I can’t help but feel that it might have been prevented by better communication with the greyhound. 

When your greyhound stiffens and stares at a small animal or a cat, watch out! That’s his prey drive kicking in, and your greyhound is playing for keeps. If you reach out your hand to pet your greyhound, and he turns his head and looks off in another direction, he does not want to be touched. In this case, don’t press it, until you figure out why he is rejecting you.  A good way to check the greyhound for pain is to gently touch the spot in question, while watching your greyhound’s eyes. If his eyes shift suddenly, it’s a good sign that something there hurts. Don’t do it again, or press harder, though – Greyhounds tend to be very stoic, and often will not react a second time, even if it hurts. 

How to Follow Through for Best Results

Follow these guidelines, take the time to really get to know your greyhound. You will be pleasantly surprised to find that life with your greyt pet can be even better…you may even wind up with fewer ominous puddles!

Get to Know Your Greyhound Even Better with Further Reading!

If you thought staring was an interesting behavior, read this article on why they chatter their teeth.

Here is a rundown on all of my helpful articles on the quirky behaviors of our skinny fur-friends.

Enjoy the video version of this article now!

Gail McGaffigan

The owner of the Greyhound Homecare website and YouTube channel, Gail has had retired racing greyhounds as pets since 1997. Please visit our channel, too! https://www.youtube.com/c/GreyhoundHomecare

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