Information on Greyhounds and Galgos

Information on owning greyhounds as pets to get you started. You can find more information and articles about greyhounds as pets in our library. Click here.

Give a galgo a home

Can you offer a home to a Galgo?

Galgos (breed name galgo español) are Spanish bred greyhounds used widely by hunters in the rural areas of Spain, for coursing the hare with betting but the season is only 4 months after which time many are abandoned or brutally killed.

Some have not been handled kindly, have suffered victimisation in overcrowded shelters in Spain, making them wary of other dogs, and some need gentle socialisation and a lot of reassurance that they are never going to be hungry or hurt again. They were rescued in the first place by volunteers who themselves often suffer the hostility of their own countrymen for showing such concern and care.   As the galgos are often abandoned in the countryside of Spain we know little of their background.

The galgos are largely beyond the reach of other UK rescue groups who already have their hands full. We home most of our rescues in mainland Europe but a small percentage we bring to the UK to help share the load. All our dogs are wormed, vaccinated and sterilised/castrated and microchipped before adoption.

Galgos are sighthounds and have been taught to hunt the hare. Some galgos take time to lose that instinct and care must be taken when introducing them to cats and small animals. We always recommend that a muzzle be used in the early days as you start to introduce your new dog to other animals. We have successfully homed many galgos to families with cats and even some with house rabbits!


Galgos tend to be smaller than the English and Irish greyhounds. They are mostly smooth coated, leaner than the racing greyhounds and have a very long tail. They are quiet, gentle dogs, often described as couch potatoes and contrary to popular belief they do not need a lot of exercise, they like their walks and very much like a routine but I think most owners would agree that what they like the best is a nice warm soft bed.


They are particularly sensitive to the cold and wet weather as they do not have a lot of fat on their bodies. In cold weather a waterproof coat is recommended and in the autumn/winter months they may need an indoor coat at night if you turn your heating off.


We are always surprised at how quickly the majority of galgos settle into their new life, people often ask if they understand English but “dinner” and ”walkies” seem to be the same in any language. So often our adopters come back to us totally amazed at how well their new dog has adapted to his/her new home and many soon come back to adopt another!


Sometimes the galgos can be quite timid and need a special home where the adopter has the time to help them accept that they are safe and loved. It is so rewarding to bring a timid dog round and see them start to enjoy their life again.


Adopting any dog is a big commitment and time must be taken to read up on the breed to decide if it is the right dog for you. We are always happy to answer any questions potential adopters may have so please call us if you would like to know more and/or visit our website to read more about greyhounds and galgos as pets.   




Galgos make wonderful pets and the majority settle very well in their new homes, we receive lovely photographs and feedback from our adopters,

Key points on day 1

Adopting a Retired Greyhound or Spanish Galgo

Sarah, now 16 yrs old seen here sipping from Watendlath Tarn in Cumbria, was an Irish greyhound rescued from the Barcelona race track in 1992.

Greyhounds have been bred and trained to chase, and it behoves us, as higher beings, to protect both the greyhound and other small creatures around him, like cats, birds, and small dogs, and to teach him with kindness that another type of behaviour now pleases his master. A greyhound wants most of all to love and be loved and, given the chance, he will prove to be a wonderful companion, almost disbelieving of the attention he receives from you. Scores of greyhound rescuers have been surprised by the joy of greyhound ownership, some sacrificing much of their lives to dedicate themselves to these creatures, so gentle and beautiful, so misunderstood and in many countries, so mistreated by those who exploit and discard them.

Some Key Guidelines on the Care of a Greyhound

• Use a special greyhound collar tightening it cosily just behind the ears at the narrowest point of the neck, complete with disc with your address and phone number from the moment of adoption and never remove it. Keep your dog securely on a lead of about 1.25m (44ins) winding it securely round your hand. Your dog will walk gently beside you at your pace but do not be complacent, as the sight of something moving in the distance can trigger your dog to take off like a jet engine. Be aware from the start that your dog may still view small animals as fair game. Wearing a muzzle is a safe way of testing his ‘keenness’ with safety. In time your dog will settle down. Only consider releasing him in an open area after at least 3 months and only after rigorous recall training, or perhaps never.

• Females should weigh approximately 26-29 kg and males, 30-35 kg. Meals are best divided and fed 2/3 times a day. A male greyhound will eat the equivalent of a small ‘washing-up bowl’ size of food daily and usually eats what he needs and no more. Most dog foods except the richest tinned foods, are acceptable, but dried foods should be soaked first otherwise greyhounds cannot swallow, with their long gullets, what they need. Dry food can also swell dangerously in the stomach causing bloat (gastric torsion), prevalent in deep-chested dogs. An adequately fed dog is a contented, quiet dog.

• A warm, soft bed, away from the hubbub of the family, is essential for his thin skin and bony prominences. Remember they may need a coat/pyjamas if you turn off your heating at night as they have no fat for insulation. Greyhounds love their comforts and quiet, reliable human companionship!

• In first few days of adoption, you are advised not to encourage too close a bond (like allowing your new dog to follow you everywhere). This can lead to serious ‘attachment ’ problems later when your dog may become distressed, noisy or destructive in your absence. There is plenty of time later for showing your emotions and protectiveness when your dog has acquired self-confidence. Having said this, everyone in the house would get a better night’s sleep the first two or three nights if a human sleeps within the ‘hearing’ of the dog, for example, with the dog on the landing near an open bedroom door.

• Sterilisation avoids emotional instability, pregnancy and pyometra in the female dog and the testosterone problems of seeking a mate, and dominance in the males. Breeding from ex-racing greyhounds is much frowned on by us rescuers who already have many thousands of unwanted adult greyhounds on our hands. A greyhound has a different physiology from other dogs. The lack of body fat means he is unable to excrete certain drugs like barbiturates and other anaesthetic agents, so special care needs to be taken by your vet if your greyhound undergoes surgery. Greyhounds have worn muzzles much of their lives and hence their teeth may need attention and benefit from dental cleaning under anaesthetic.

Anne Finch, author of Pet Owner’s Guide to the Greyhound ISBN 1860540775 & The Ultimate Greyhound Part 111’Retirement’ ISBN 1860541410 (Interpet )

Guidelines for new owners of retired greyhounds

Thank you for offering a loving home to this most abused and undervalued breed of dog. In England, once they were permitted to be owned only by Kings and Noblemen, and to kill a Greyhound was a capital offence. They are the dog of dogs; gallant, gentle, generous and ever grateful for love, care, comfort and companionship which has been denied them since they were born into the world of racing.

We will be asking the new owner to sign a contract, which will safeguard the dog’s interests for the rest of its life. It will state that the dog will not be used for personal gain, for racing or for breeding.

Ex-racers have not been in a home. They are usually bred in kennels in Ireland and transported to Spain in lorries at about 18 months old. They have been trained to chase small, moving, furry objects, so great care must be taken with regard to their contact with cats or small dogs. Some dogs are safe immediately they are retired; others respond to detraining; others can never be trusted. A muzzle can be used. On the positive side, Greyhounds are very well mannered on the lead, and will not tug and are generally very happy kept on the lead walking beside you do not let them run free for at least three months or more, or even never until you are quite sure that your dog will come back to you when called. They do not need vigorous exercise. By nature they are very lazy and in addition they probably have joint, toe and muscle injuries from racing and should only have gentle exercise. Their injuries will then not normally be apparent as companion animals.

Toilet training needs to be done sensitively. In the kennels the dogs are usually clean in their sleeping area but regard the floor as the toilet. Some adapt immediately to the notion that the floor of the house is taboo and that they must be taken outside. Others need patience, understanding and encouragement and time to understand the new regime. Frequent attention to taking the dog outside hourly during the first day and praising him/her when he/she performs, may be all that is necessary. Punishment after the accident indoors, serves only to frighten the dog, and perpetuate confusion, panic and more accidents.

A Greyhound has a sensitive physiology and may not be able to eat all he/she needs in food just once a day. It may be best to divide the meals into three smaller meals per day Usually they are not greedy and should be given all they want. As a racer they are usually kept underweight and should be fatter as retired dogs. The Sacro-iliac joint and ribs should not be visible. A well-fed dog makes a happier more restful companion. Bitches generally weight 24-29kg and males 27-32kg.

The dog should have a soft bed of its own; somewhere to retreat from the children and hubbub of the home where he/she will not be disturbed. It can be an old duvet, eiderdown, or settee cushions. Their leanness necessitates protection of the bony prominences and joints over which sores and swellings can develop

An identity disc should be worn at all times, even in the house and particularly during the very vulnerable time when the dog is being transported some where.

Leaving a dog alone can be a problem for some. They have always lived with many other dogs in kennels. A dog should not be left for more than 4 – 5 hours because of the need for the toilet. Greyhounds crave companionship. Adopting a second greyhound can help.

Dogs can be looked after in apartments if the owners are dedicated enough to take the dog out 3-4 times a day, especially late at night and early in the morning. A garden must be fenced 2 metres high if the dog is alone in it. They can jump when motivated but are usually too lazy. 

If you have any problems, please contact Greyhounds In Need.

What's a greyhound?

Greyhounds are wonderful dogs however they do have a few simple needs.

  1. A Greyhound is:

Eager to please


Highly Intelligent


Quiet (rarely barks)


26 – 29 inches at the shoulder


Clean with minimal shedding


Between 59 and 80 pounds


Gentle and non aggressive


Affectionate and friendly


Good natured with children and other pets


The perfect companion


Grateful for his new home



  1. They are better with children than most breeds and will usually walk away rather than growl or snap at children if they become overbearing. They cannot be tormented for long periods of time. Even a gentle Greyhound has his limits.
  1. Due to their very low body weight, Greyhounds are indoor dogs. They are very sensitive to cold or hot weather; A run in a fenced enclosed garden for exercise is fine. However they should not be left in a garden all day while you are not at home. 
  2. Greyhounds do not require a lot of exercise, as people tend to imagine. Their exercise may consist of a run in a fenced garden or a walk on a lead. A Greyhound should not be walked off a lead. Greyhounds are sight hounds and can see for as much as a kilometre away. They might see something in the distance that you wont see and take off after it. If they do run off you will not be able to catch them, they can run at the speed of a racehorse. 
  3. Because they have been around many dogs for their entire life. Greyhounds usually accept and even welcome other dogs you might have. A common myth is that Greyhounds do not get along with cats. That is not usually the case. Many of our adopted families have cats. 
  4. A former racing Greyhound can be a wonderful addition to your home. As all dogs, each Greyhound will have its own personality, but this affectionate animal can be very loving and kind in its adopted home. If you would like additional information or would like to see Greyhounds waiting for a new home please call Greyhounds In Need.

Thank you for your concern

Greyhounds In Need

is a registered charity


Dogs don't lie about love

” I went to see some Greyhounds that had been rescued by a woman who had turned her ranch into a sanctuary for them. These had been in danger of being shot because they were not fast enough. Many people assume that because racing dogs make money for their owners; they are treated well. In fact, they are often confined in small cages, except during the race, and are never shown any affection on the grounds that they need to be aggressive to win.

After brief careers, they are no long profitable and are difficult to place as pets, so they are often simply destroyed.

What struck me about these dogs was their extraordinary forgiveness. They forgave all the terrible things that had been done to them.

When you step on a dog’s foot by mistake, somehow it knows that it was a mistake. The dog will immediately make up with you, lick your hand and let you know that it holds no grudge.

The Greyhound does this at an even more profound level. As the dogs were brought out of their cages to see me, I found that each Greyhound gazed up at me with absolute trust and sweetness to be almost unbearable. How could their friendliness have survived their being neglected, abused and then discarded, like so much rubbish?”

Reducing adaption anxiety in the retired racer

Bringing home a new dog presents a multitude of training challenges. A retired racing Greyhound has a unique background that needs particular consideration during the introduction to its adoptive home.

Your Greyhound has led a very structured life that presented very few changes on a day-to-day basis. Familiarising them properly with a different routine can make the initial adjustment much less stressful for you and your new pet.

Remember that they have been in the company of other dogs since birth. They have essentially never been alone and they could depend on seeing one or more humans at least four times a day, like clockwork. Greyhounds should be “weaned” gradually from this predictable environment, especially if brought into a home with no other pets where the family is gone most of the day.

A retired racer can be taught to accept being alone provided each family member, during the adjustment period, is patient and doesn’t try to rush the process. Each dog responds differently, but in most instances they will learn to patiently await your return and suffer little or no anxiety.

Your Greyhound should be brought home when someone will be present to supervise the adaptation for at least two or three days. When you arrive home with your new Greyhound, make every attempt to stay with the dog the rest of that day and night. During this period, you can concentrate on introducing the dog to the house and the area that is to be used for relieving itself. The following morning leave the house (dog inside) for 10 to 15 minuets. Take a walk around the block, then return. That afternoon, repeat the same procedure, only stay away about an hour. The next day try two hours in the morning and two in the afternoon. The first day the family leaves for work or school, someone should return home at lunch. Repeat this for the next two or three days, continually reassuring your pet that you will be back. Hopefully by the end of the week, your Greyhound will understand that someone will always return home. This helps alleviate the dogs fear that it has been abandoned whenever you leave the house.

Having more than one dog (making sure that they have been introduced properly) reduces the likelihood of anxiety, when the dogs are left alone. Leaving the radio on helps too, as this is a common practice in many Greyhound kennels. Always “child proof” your house before leaving your dog inside, especially now, if the crate is no longer necessary. Don’t leave the closet door ajar and be sure no food is within reach on any counters. Put shoes away and remove any articles that may be conceived as “toys”, do leave a blanket or dog bed on the floor where the dog normally sleeps, or leave the crate door open. Some Greyhounds like the accessibility of their crate even when they are accustomed to their new home. Remember, the learning process can be very easy for some dogs and not so easy for others, so be patient and you will be rewarded with a loyal loving companion.

By Judy Kody Paulsen

Your best friend - the retired greyhound

Greyhounds needs are quite basic. The main point to keep in mind when you and your Greyhound get home is don’t take anything for granted.

The Greyhound you are adopting has never seen the inside of a house. He has lived his whole life in a kennel. He will be nervous, scared and stressed. They usually adjust within two weeks but more often it’s only a matter of days.

To help relieve the nervousness and stressfulness walk your dog often during the first few days. This also brings about a bonding between you and your Greyhound.

Greyhounds are easy to house train since they are kennel trained. Take him outside a lot in the first few days. If he has an accident in the house, take him to the spot. A sharp verbal “No” is all that is needed. Never hit him. When he goes outside praise him. Tell him he’s a good boy and give him a pat or a hug to ensure his security for the first few days.

All Greyhounds have never seen stairs. Many Greyhounds will go halfway up and become confused, panic and refuse to move. A little help and patience is all that is needed. Help him one paw at a time. They quickly learn this and become pros. Occasionally their long legs become clumsy and he will fall. Ensure he’s not injured and persuade him to try again.

A Greyhound can become a best friend with a cat or small dog. Yes, we have successfully placed Greyhounds into homes with other dogs, cats, birds and even rabbits. Be very careful at first. The first few days are critical. Instinct is telling your Greyhound to chase the smaller animal, and can injure or accidentally kill it.

The Greyhound should be introduced to your other pets slowly and carefully. Greyhounds are quick to respond to all kinds of encouragement. Try to show your Greyhound that the smaller animal is a loved member of your family and is off limits. Time and patience is needed. Always use a muzzle. This way no matter how the first meeting goes the Greyhound cant hurt the smaller animal. Never leave the Greyhound and the smaller animal alone together until you are comfortable that a relationship has been formed. You as the owner must make this decision based on your personal feelings and observations

Remember that your Greyhound has never seen a cat before. If you are lucky your cat will help by being bold and swat the Greyhound with its paw making it clear the cat is not to be messed with.

If you have small children, you will be happy to know that Greyhounds are one of the best breeds for children. They are very tolerant, affectionate and gentle. But, Greyhounds do have their limits as most animals do. Children must be taught how to handle the pet.

Do not allow your children to pull tails, poke eyes or sit on the Greyhound. You cannot expect any dog to tolerate pain and torment and not become upset. So please teach your children how to treat your new Greyhound.

Always be careful when your Greyhound is sleeping. He is used to sleeping in a kennel and alone. Always talk to your sleeping Greyhound before you touch him. Some Greyhounds sleep with their eyes open, so take care not to startle him. Do not shut your Greyhound away from everyone, he wants to be a member of your family and will much prefer to be in the same room as you. Always watch your Greyhound closely with children during the first few weeks.

Often the change in the Greyhounds life style from track to your home and the change of food can give him diarrhoea. Give him plenty of cooked rice with dry dog food. Dog food that looks pretty is bad for the Greyhound because of the dyes that are used.

Be sure to walk your Greyhound outside often, as he can’t hold it for long. If the diarrhoea has not cleared up in 2 to 3 weeks, please seek veterinary treatment.

Greyhounds make great jogging companions, but remember they can’t tolerate the summer heat. Please don’t take your Greyhound walking or running without a lead, not until you are extremely comfortable with your decision that he wont run off. The problem is the Greyhounds know nothing about roads. They hunt by sight not smell. Your dog could spot a squirrel or rabbit up to half a mile away, lose all sense of trained behaviour as instinct take over, run out into traffic, and possibly be hit and killed. No matter how well trained your greyhound is and no matter how long you own the dog this is always a possibility when you expose your Greyhound to the outdoors without a lead. The Greyhound is safe in a fenced area without the worry.

Spaying / neutering must be done within 90 days of adopting and a copy of the certificate must be returned to the relevant rescue group. If necessary have their teeth cleaned at the same time to avoid risk by anaesthetising

Please make sure your veterinarian understands the anaesthesia used on a Greyhound. The wrong types or doses can kill them. Please call Greyhounds In Need and we can refer you to a vet who does.

Enough of warning. After you work through the first few days of adjustment, I am sure you will find your Greyhound to be a faithful companion. Remember, time, patience and affection work wonders. Few things in life are as rewarding as taking one of these gentle dogs into your home.

I promise to be good

It never ceases to amaze me…Whenever I am invited to speak to the public on adopting retired racers, I get asked the same basic questions over and over with many terrible misconceptions about the breed. 

” Are they vicious because they wear muzzles?” “Do I need a football field for them to exercise?” “Are they ruined as a pet, being a race dog?” “Are only old or injured Greyhounds up for adoption?” etc. 

I guess the best-kept secret across America (and other countries) is what absolutely wonderful pets retired racers make. Let me try and clear up some of the major misconceptions and to answer some basic questions concerning these loveable, dear and gentle Sighthounds. 

Very young Greyhounds are sometimes up for adoption. If they are not fast enough on the track, they are ready for new homes as early as 18 months. The majority are up for adoption at 3 to 4 years of age, usually because they have been replaced with a younger and faster dog. Greyhounds live to be 12 or 14 years old or more so a four-year-old has a very long life ahead of him. 

Many believe a racer runs 24 hours a day with never ending energy. Not true! A Greyhound is a couch potato. Two minuets loping in the garden brings about a four hour nap! The official race at a track only lasts a matter of seconds and the Greyhound needs at least three days of rest before he is allowed to race again. As with any breed, the ex racer needs adequate exercise; a nice walk per day in an average garden is fine. However, if you would like to see beauty in action, visit your fenced in grass football field or school yard occasionally. 

How about Greyhounds were being ruined as a pet after being used as a racer? Let me try and explain something, If Greyhounds come from good trainers and good kennels, we say he’s been to “boot camp.” He is regimented trained, has been to school. He is kennel trained (house trained), lead trained, crate trained and extremely obedient. 

By the time they are at the age to race, they have passed life’s health test. A sick dog cannot race. Hip displacia is virtually unknown. They have no doggie odour, if brushed no shedding problem. They usually have good conformation. Wrong conformation makes slow dogs…. does all this sound bad to you? 

In this day when most couples are both working, bringing home a dog which is already kennel trained has got to be a plus! Racers are kept in indoor heated / air conditioned kennels year round, let out every four or five hours to go to the toilet during the day so house training usually takes only a weekend for the new owner.

Greyhounds are “love-dogs” with a tremendous will to please. Patient, extremely adaptable clean, sociable creatures, if introduced slowly and properly; they love the company of other pets.

Many chapters and groups are working by educating the public as to how wonderful retired racers are. Thirteen thousand were adopted last year, but it still never ceases to amaze me how much is still unknown. 

Humble, gentle, picturesque in stature, fun loving and so appreciative.     I remember when I went to adopt my own Greyhound as she patiently lay in her crate, I could feel her heart pounding as her soft gentle eyes said, “I’ll be good if you take me home…..I promise to be good….” 

Judy Arthur lives near Charleston, W. Virginia, with her husband, son and three dogs. The dogs are active in adoption presentations, have appeared in two nation-wide videos, on greeting cards. In several dog magazines, etc.

By Judy L Arthur,

The importance of vaccinations

A number of dangerous diseases can still affect dogs in the UK, and one of these, Leptospirosis can be transmitted to humans. Vaccination is the only safe way to provide immunity against these diseases.

What can my dog be vaccinated against?

Puppies receive a primary course of vaccination of two injections 2-4 weeks apart from the age of 8-10 weeks, dependent on your vet’s protocols. Then your dog will receive an annual booster, which is also an opportunity for your dog to be examined by your vet and a good time to discuss your dog’s health and well-being.

Parvovirus – Causes depression, bloody diarrhoea, vomiting, and dehydration and can often be fatal in young dogs. Easily spread and survives in the environment for long periods. Remains widespread in the UK.

Distemper – Runny nose and eyes, coughing, vomiting, tiredness, diarrhoea, thick pads, nervous signs, fitting and death in some cases. Treatment is usually not successful. Rare in the UK in recent years but major outbreaks have occurred in Europe.

Leptospirosis (inc. Weil’s disease) – Caused by bacteria that are spread in the urine of rats and/or other dogs. Canals and rivers can be contaminated, and forms of the disease are seen across the UK. Can cause severe disease in humans (Weil’s disease). Affects the liver or kidneys causing fever, lethargy, jaundice, vomiting and death in some cases. Certainly with the recent flooding in the South-East and South-West there have been concerns re Leptospirosis.

Infectious Canine Hepatitis – Attacks the liver and can be rapidly fatal. Still exists in the UK, although now rare.

Other Vaccines:

Kennel cough – Kennel cough is a highly contagious disease of the respiratory tract that results in a nasty hacking cough (sounding a bit like the whooping cough in people), which can last for several weeks. It is caused by a number of bacteria and viruses including bordetella and canine parainfluenza virus. It is spread from dog to dog via airborne droplets and nose to nose contact. Dogs are at risk wherever they gather together – kennels, shows, training classes, and the park.

Vaccination is by a squirt of vaccine up the nose (no needle!) and lasts for a full year. NB dogs can still contract kennel cough even if vaccinated but often develop a milder form of the disease.

Rabies – Rabies vaccinations are needed if you are planning on travelling outside the UK under the pet passport scheme.

Leigh Sobye BVSc MRCVS

Flea and worm preventatives

It is important to ensure that your dog is up to date with routine flea and worm treatment as both external and internal parasites can cause problems, most commonly skin (fleas, mites) and digestive problems (worms). In addition, we are seeing cases of Lungworm (Angiostrongylus vasorum) which can cause a myriad of clinical signs from a small nose bleed to coughing to stroke signs and indeed can sometimes be fatal.

There are many products on the market, from spot on applications to shampoos, flea collars and flea tablets. Wormers also come in a variety of pastes, tablets and spot ons. It is important to seek Veterinary advice before using any products and also to consider the environment when preventing a flea infestation or treating a flea problem.

The way the product works depends on the active ingredient and how it is used. Some products are designed to kill different life stages of the flea or mite or they only act on parasites they come into contact with. For example, a flea spray will only kill fleas that are on the animal at the time and will not have any residual effect should a flea land on the dog in the period after spraying whereas a spot on application will kill any fleas on the animal but will be absorbed into the dogs fat layer under the skin and therefore also kill any parasites that the animal comes into contact with for the products active period. If choosing these products ensure they are licensed for sighthounds, but consult your Vet.

Flea collars are available although there have been adverse events associated with them. It is important if you choose to use such a formulation to use a Veterinary prescribed collar. They work by slowly releasing a chemical which kills adult fleas or releases a chemical which the dog absorbs into their fat layer under the skin which then kills any fleas that come into contact with it. They are a good preventative method for fleas but are not effective in getting rid of existing populations or when a dog is heavily infested. They may cause a contact reaction around the dog’s neck and only prevent against fleas. In sighthounds, with their reduced subcutaneous fat the absorption may be slightly variable and there could be a risk of overdosing these dogs with these collars.

We would advise our dog owners to use a monthly spot on which covers fleas, mites, roundworms and lungworm and to worm their dogs with a tapeworm preventative every three months.

Leigh Sobye BVSc MRCVS

Give a greyhound a home


Greyhounds are, with laboratory beagles, probably the most abused breeds of dog. They are bred in their thousands in Ireland and in Britain, to race at the 70 or so race tracks in the country. They start their racing careers at about 18 months and are retired, if they survive the course, at about 4 years old. Hence, they have 10 or more years of life ahead of them (they can live until 16 years old) when a loving, comfortable, understanding environment is so well-deserved by these beautiful, valiant dogs.

Those of us, who have come to know the greyhound, fall under a spell. They change our lives, our priorities and our sense of values. Their gentle, apologetic, often timid nature draws strong protective emotions from us and once touched by this breed, it is common for owners to say they would never choose any other breed but a greyhound.

Their Lives as Racers

A greyhound is almost always born in kennels in Britain or in Ireland, from where they are exported. Irish greyhounds may have been reared on a farm where they are allowed as youngsters to run wild, to hunt and fend for themselves. At 12-14 months they are kennelled and schooled and their freedom ends. Some have had very little contact with humans and when they start competing, they are treated as running machines and are rarely called even by name. An N.G.R.C, (National Greyhound Racing Club) kennel is traditionally a sleeping bench with paper bedding and 1.5 metres or so off concrete floor area. The dogs are usually kennelled in pairs, male and female. They are released in twos and threes, 4 or 5 times a day into a paddock area. They are fed commonly, boiled meat and vegetables with brown bread at about 1 p.m. and the kennels close mid-afternoon to allow the trainers to prepare their racers for the evening’s race meeting. They are left then until 7.00 the next morning. They adapt well to this routine. They know no other.

The Chasing Instinct

They are trained at 12-16 months to chase a furry object that runs away from them. The “lure’ at a racetrack is often a soft toy like a teddy bear on a wire. I tell you this because one family in Germany euthanased a bitch we had taken enormous trouble to rescue and import from Barcelona because in her first two weeks in their home, she destroyed a toy rabbit. Such tragedies haunt us forever. Some greyhounds are given a live kill. It is illegal but it happens. Hence it is supremely important to understand that these dogs have had their hunting/killing instinct cultivated by man. Pups whom we have had from birth will usually live happily with any small animal. I always say there are four categories of ‘keenness’.

  1. non – existent
  2. mildly interested, be careful
  3. trainable
  4. can never be trusted

The most delicate time is when you first introduce your dog into your home. Beware of your parrot, your cat and your hamster, A muzzle is essential to test the dog safely. Racing kennels and rescue groups know where to get greyhound muzzles, which are slightly different from the usual dog muzzles, found in shops. You may in the end only need to use it when you go to the vet’s surgery where cats and tortoises may be running free, or if you are testing your dog off the lead for the first time in a public place. On introducing your dog to a cat, hold on to the lead, speak firmly, and do not strike your dog if he lunges at the cat. An empty ‘drinks’ can with pebbles inside, thrown on the ground or icy water squirted at the dog’s face, can shock your dog into reconsidering what he has always been trained to do. He will look at you with questioning eyes, ‘But I’ve always been told to do that! Are you mad?’ When you insist with these techniques he will become conditioned to resisting from attacking because he soon learns on what side his bread is buttered.

Detrain with love, firmness, understanding and patience or he will have a nervous breakdown!


Use a lead about 44″ long well wrapped round your hand. Do not be fooled by the magical, slow pace at which your greyhound walks. You may even forget you have a dog on the end of your lead. Until he sees a cat, then he may turn into a bullet and this is why the firmly held lead is essential. Only some dogs do this, but don’t get caught out. Regarding letting your dog off the lead     well, be careful. They either do as my Sarah does, who walks away from me always just that bit faster than I do, so I can’t catch her, much to the amusement of other dog walkers, or they may take off into the blue at 40 mph. I admire the courage of sight hound owners who trust their dogs to come back (Afghans are the same). You will get to know your own dog. Start by having him run between you and your companion, calling him by name and saying ‘come’ and greeting him profusely when he arrives, however long he takes.

This leads me on to say that obedience classes, as long as they are fun, are an excellent aid to training your dog to socialise and obey and they cultivate the communication between you and your dog. Take a muzzle the first day. Your dog will not sit because his hind leg muscles are too toned and developed but he will excel in the ‘down stays’ as he is so lazy he will not want to budge anyway. Greyhounds are low on stamina and he will tire towards the end of the class.

Greyhounds are the laziest of creatures. Three short walks a day will be all he may require. He will love your car. Some will go on hikes but may need building up for this.

He could clear a fence lower than 6′ but probably wouldn’t unless motivated. You could block his view with solid fencing over the lower 4′ so he doesn’t see next door’s cat.


Forget the fact that he was probably fed a high protein diet as a racer. It is not suitable for a retired dog. Neither is rich tinned food, which goes straight through a greyhound. A maintenance dried food, moistened with warm water or standard quality tinned food with mixer or brown bread is perfectly suitable. It is best to feed a greyhound’s sensitive stomach three smaller meals a day (when you eat) than one big meal. Greyhounds do not generally eat more than they need. Keep a record of your dog’s weight. Bitches should weigh between 25kg-28kg and males 30kg-34kg. The pin-bones on the back (hip bones) should be well padded and not visible and the outline of the last three ribs should just be made out. I cannot bear to see hungry, thin greyhounds constantly anxious for food, discontented and dissatisfied. It has to be said however that in old age, 12 years onwards, greyhounds tend to lose weight naturally rather than put it on like other breeds.


The traditional greyhound collar is leather, wide, and fish-shaped. Your greyhound rescue group should be able to get you one, as they are not always available in pet shops. However, I note that in USA martingale collars are always worn which are of double fabric with rings and tighten on exertion. When fitting a leather collar make sure it is cosily fastened at the narrowest part of the neck just behind the ears as greyhounds have a habit of wriggling out of them backwards! I don’t surely have to say that an identity disk should always be worn. Greyhounds have thin skins, they lack fat and they feel the cold (they were originally desert dogs). It is customary for them to wear a waterproof fleece-lined coat when out walking in the rain or cold. At night, if you homes are without heating, then he should wear a kennel coat of wool.

A soft bed is essential to protect his bony prominences; for example, a duvet folded over or a couple of old settee cushions on the floor. You may need to consider whether you want your greyhound to occupy your sofa! Remember he was used to jumping up on to his bench to sleep. Start as you wish to continue.

Veterinary Care

We recommend sterilisation but check carefully with your vet that the anaesthetic to be used is correct for a greyhound without the fat to metabolise the drugs. A greyhound bitch’s seasons may come 6/9 or 12 monthly. We suggest too that the teeth be cleaned under the same anaesthetic. Their teeth can be in very poor condition due to sloppy racing foods and the frequent use of muzzles. Afterwards keep the teeth clean yourself with regular brushing. Your dog won’t mind at all!

Greyhounds get worms badly in racing kennels so de-worm on adopting your dog with the best wormer from your vet, which takes care of tape and round worms, and continue this 6 monthly.

Your dog may experience some musculo-skeletal aches and pains from strains and stresses from his racing days. The damp cold weather exacerbates them. The wrists (‘knee-like joints of the front legs) are the worst affected. Hocks (the rear elbow-like joint) are also vulnerable when an old mended fracture becomes arthritic later in life. Apart from their thin skin however, which tears easily, greyhounds have no particular inherited defects and their careful breeding which has to be made public on a race card, prevents problems, both physical and mental, of consanguinity which sadly affects so many other pure bred dogs.

Alone in the House

Some greyhounds develop a strong attachment to their saviour immediately. Be careful of this, as leaving your dog alone may then become a problem. They may be destructive, ‘toilet’ inappropriately or whine. From the start, teach your dog independence even though this will be difficult for you also. Don’t let him follow you everywhere. Getting a second dog may solve some of these problems. Greyhounds are used to living with their own kind, and you will feel more comfortable about leaving your dogs in each other’s company.

Toilet Training

Be aware that your greyhound has always lived with the notion that the floor is his toilet. Some adapt immediately to the new idea that this is taboo on internal floors, while others need to be gently guided through the new regime of toileting outside. Don’t punish your dog harshly. Gently lead him outside when he starts circling or starts to ‘toilet’. A firm ‘no’ and a loving cuddle when he performs outside may be all that is needed. Severe punishment or punishing him after the event will make matters worse and he will start toileting inside out of insecurity and fear. If overnight bowel movements are a problem then do not feed him after 2 pm after which time he can ’empty’ before settling for the night.

So where do I find a Greyhound?

Several greyhound rescue groups exist throughout Britain. Most N.G.R.C. race tracks have homefinders attached to them; ask the racing manager. Most refuges and dogs’ homes have greyhounds. There are thousands of retired and unwanted greyhounds condemned to kennels up and down the country, longing for individual recognition, companionship, comfort and a happy new life as much loved pets. 

Greyhounds In Need

Rehoming an ex-racing greyhound

Getting your greyhound to successfully adapt to his new life depends not only on you offering him the stability and environment for him to thrive in, but also trying to see his new life from your dog’s point of view.

Arrival Home

Depending on the history of your dog, this may be the first time he has ever been away from kennels and inside a house. Everything will be new (and possibly frightening) to him. Although it may be tempting to make a huge fuss of him, it is better to allow him a few hours just to explore this strange new environment and settle down. He is not used to having someone to turn to for reassurance, so until he learns to do this try not to be disappointed if he seems a little aloof. The two most common difficulties experienced at this stage tend to be glass doors and stairs. If your dog has come straight from kennels it is unlikely that he has ever come across either of these before. He may get up stairs easily, but need help to get back down on the first few occasions, either that or he will be too uncertain to attempt them for a little while. If this is the case it is best not to try and pull the dog up, but simply wait until curiosity gets the better of him. Large windows or patio doors need to be introduced before your dog sees a cat in the garden and tries to run straight through them. This can be done by slowly leading or calling the dog over to the doors, tapping them, then encouraging him to touch the glass with his nose or paw.

Before your dog arrives it is a good idea to decide exactly where he will be allowed to go within the house, and think about some ground rules. If you do not want him to sleep on the sofa or go upstairs, then it is unfair to let him do these things even once. He will not understand why something which was alright one day is not the next, whereas if he is never allowed to do these things then he will never expect to. Areas you want to prevent him from entering can be blocked with a stair gate, which avoids shutting him off behind a door and allows him to see and hear what is going. Sofas are particularly inviting as not only are they soft, but in many kennels the dogs sleep on a raised platform at the end of their kennel which is set about the same height off the ground as the average sofa. If you do not want your dog to lie on the sofa, offer a good alternative such as a large duvet folded in half on the floor (a thick double duvet can be bought from Argos for under £10).

If you do decide that your dog will not be allowed upstairs or in the bedroom, then you must understand that they may find being totally on their own for the first few nights very difficult. If you are determined that he should remain downstairs, it may be necessary to either sleep down there with him or accept that there will possibly be a certain amount of whining or barking. If noise at night becomes a problem, it is often reassuring enough for you to come to the top of the stairs where the dog can see you, and speak gently to him. Remember that if you go downstairs and pat him every time he whines/barks, you may be establishing a behavior pattern, which could be difficult to break.

Establishing a routine

For all of his racing life your dog has been used to doing the same thing at the same time every day. He has always known what to expect, and suddenly this has changed totally. Obviously this will make him feel very insecure and uncertain, and different dogs react in different ways to this uncertainty. One of the quickest ways you can help your dog to settle is to establish a routine and stick to it. If possible it is helpful to find out roughly what time things such as feeding and exercise took place at the kennels he was in, and try to follow this at least for the first week or so. Once your dog has settled down it will become easy to gradually change his routine so it fits in more easily with your lifestyle.

Other than helping your dog to settle in more quickly a routine is particularly helpful to aid the process of house training. Most greyhounds are naturally clean, and even though they have never lived in a house before, it is generally quick and easy to housetrain them. As long as adequate opportunities are provided for them to relieve themselves outside, it should not be necessary to lay paper in the house for them as you would with a puppy. Routine plays an important part in establishing where you require them to relieve themselves. By providing regular walks or access to a garden most dogs by choice will wail to go to the toilet. This can be further aided by going on the same route at the same time each day, as the dog will quickly learn just how many lamp posts and grassy patches there are before you return home. If your dog does have an accident in the house it is better to clean the area with a product specially designed for this purpose (available from most pet shops), as many common household cleaners are ammonia based, which simply encourages the dog to use the area again. If you catch your dog in the act of relieving himself in the house you should say ‘No’ firmly, and take him outside immediately. When he performs outside it is important to let him know that this is good behaviour by praising him.

General care and training


The vast majority of greyhounds have terrible teeth for their age. They are usually covered in tartar and the traditional method of removal involves scraping the teeth while the dog is under general anaesthetic. If your dog must have an anaesthetic for another reason such as neutering, then it is worth asking the vet to do his teeth at the same time. The other way to improve the condition of his teeth it to provide hard things for him to chew. At first many greyhounds are reluctant to even eat a hard biscuit, as they have only ever eaten soft soaked food in kennels. Many dogs that will not eat hard foods still find things such as pig’s ears irresistible. Other things such as ‘Jumbones’ and ‘Rasks’ are also good. Many dogs are keen on rawhide type chews, although there are some concerns over them swallowing large unchewed pieces. The best thing to do if you do decide to give these, is to watch the dog carefully for the first few times to make sure he is careful about chewing them thoroughly (my two both regularly have rawhide chews and have never had any problem). Over several months the plaque build up on your dogs teeth should decline which should also improve his breath. Most greyhounds are fairly amiable about having their teeth brushed which is beneficial, even if only done a couple of times a week.


Depending on the reason your greyhound was retired, and the amount of exercise he has been used to, you may find that initially he becomes stiff or lame after exercise. This will often pass in time as your dog becomes fitter, and adjusts to a new exercise regime. In the short term or after any particularly arduous bursts the homeopathic remedy Arnica can help to ease bruising and stiffness. A more long-term measure is to add Green Lipped Sea Mussel to his food on a daily basis (Seatone is a good brand, which is also relatively cheap – under £10 for 90 tablets). Although it may take several months for the benefit to be visible, there are many people who swear by this for long term maintenance of their dogs.

Stomach Upsets

   Upset stomachs are another common problem. Quite often this will appear to get worse over the first few days, as it is probably at least partially stress related. Usually this will settle down of its own accord over time. Although it may be tempting to spoil your new pet with lots of treats, it is best to avoid these as much as possible at first, and just stick to the complete food you have decided to feed. There are several homeopathic remedies that seem to help. These are Arsen alb. and Merc sol. which are available from most chemists. One of the things which commonly causes upset stomachs are dairy products.


If your dog has come straight from kennels it is most likely that he is used to being fed twice a day on a mix of complete dry food mixed with wholemeal bread, all of which will have been soaked with water to soften it. It is not common for non-racing dogs to be given meat on a regular basis. If you find that your dog bolts his food, try to feed several small meals rather than one large one. Unless your dog is overweight it does no harm to feed him as much as he seems to want to eat, and if you do this then he will quickly become far more relaxed about food- If you have a large dog or slippery floor surface where you feed him, raising his bowl up off the floor will make his life a lot easier. You can do this simply by placing his bowl on a box or nearby chair, or buying a specialty made bowl stand (usually between £20 – 30).

Teaching basic commands

To begin with your main objective is to have a well-behaved dog that is under control in a variety of situations. This can be achieved with just a few basic commands. 

No At first it may seem like you say this word more often than the dog’s name! When the dog does something undesirable (jumping on the sofa for example) say the word No gently but firmly, and if necessary take his collar and move him to where you intend him to sleep. Once he is in the area you want him to use for a bed give him lots of praise thereby reinforcing the idea that this is a pleasant place to be. If you calmly repeat this every time the dog gets on the sofa he will quickly learn what is expected. It is also important to fuss him just for going on his own to his bed, and not always wait until he has been guided there by you.
Come The ultimate goal with this command is that eventually you will be able to have your dog off the lead in safe locations’ and always get him back to you, regardless of the distractions around him. To achieve this he must want to come to you more than anything else, and this will only happen if he always associates his return to you as pleasant. You can begin teaching this command in the house by calling the dog at dinnertime. Say the dog’s name followed by the word ‘Come’. It may take a little while for him to catch on initially, as many greyhounds won’t actually know their name, so you are introducing two new words. This can be carried on out in the garden, and the dog rewarded with a tit bit when he responds. It is important at this stage that you never chastise the dog, even if he has taken quite some time to return, otherwise chances are that next time he will return even slower. Once you think that he actually understands the come command you can begin to reduce the tit bits until they are given only for the fastest returns. Work on building up fast returns with more distractions and in different places (on a flexi lead in the park is good).

Letting your dog off the lead

Many people believe that greyhounds should never be let off the lead as they can cover such great distances very quickly, particularly when motivated by a moving object. They have a very well developed sense of sight and will often spot something long before you. If you have reason to believe that your dog would attack another animal or not return if called you should wait a little longer before letting him off the lead. Most greyhounds really enjoy the opportunity to have a good fast run at least once a week. It may take some time to achieve a level of control where this is possible, and as all dogs are different it. is difficult to put a time scale on how long it will take.

In many cases, letting your dog off in the small confines of a crowded local park will never be an option, and under these circumstances it is a good idea to consider the alternatives. Depending on where you live it may be worth approaching a local farmer or landowner and asking if they have a fenced field that you could let your dog off in (when there are no livestock using it of course). You may be surprised at how helpful people are when the situation is explained- Many parks have fenced dog exercise areas, which are only usually busy at certain times of the day. Talking to other local dog owners is often the best source of information about facilities in your area. It often also helps to have a friend with you the first time you let your dog off. If you are worried, get the friend to hold his collar allowing you to walk away from him, then call him, this often works particularly well if you can borrow another dog that your dog knows and likes, so even if he decides to ignore you, he will usually follow the other dog. As long as the second dog can be guaranteed to return to his owner, then you may find yours will simply follow. One further piece of advice before you let your dog off the lead is to attach two metal tags to his collar instead of the usual one. Even if the second contains no added information, it means that together the tags will jingle, making it easier to keep track of your dog if he disappears into long grass or a hedge.

Common problems

Chasing other animals. One of the most common problems with ex-racing greyhounds away from the track environment, is their reaction towards small moving animals such as cats and squirrels. This is not unexpected as you are dealing with a dog that has not only been conditioned from birth to chase, but also selectively bred for thousands of years to do exactly that. This is a deeply rooted instinct, and must be prepared for it to take a little while for him to understand that this is no longer what he needs to do. Try to bear in mind that up to this point it is his enthusiasm for the chase that has kept him alive. Many greyhounds have a reputation as cat killers, but what most people conveniently forget is that many dogs chase cats. The only difference between other dogs and greyhounds is that greyhounds are fast enough to catch them. Although initially this may seem like an insurmountable problem, in most cases it can be overcome and again it is just a matter of getting your dog to understand that this type of behavior is no longer expected of him or is acceptable.

The best method is simply an extension of the ‘No’ command. Whenever your dog becomes excitable about other animals you need to be able to distract him and get his attention back on you. This is best done by throwing something on the ground in front of him designed to make a noise (an empty aluminum drinks can with a few stones in the bottom is ideal) and simultaneously saying “No” in a firm voice. Do not try to grab his collar or pull on the lead. The noise of the can hitting the ground coupled with its unexpected appearance from nowhere should break his focus of attention from the animal in question. This backed up with your voice should cause him to stop and look up at you for reassurance.

As soon as you have his attention praise him both physically and verbally, so he understands that turning back to you when he is unsure is a good thing to do. Eventually this will become habit and every time you shout No he should look back to you, giving you the opportunity to give him further commands (such as ‘Come’ if he is off the lead) and keep the situation under control. Be patient if this takes some time to achieve, as you are trying to override his natural instinct to lock onto prey and chase. If your dog does not respond to the noise from the can, there are other things you can try to divert his attention. Sprays designed to deter dogs from jumping up are available from most pet shops, or even a small squirt of water from a squeezy bottle at the back of his head can be effective. It is simply a matter of trying one thing at a time until you find the most effective one for your dog- The success of this depends on the dog not associating the noise/spray with you, otherwise he may become distrustful and confused. Eventually you can start to use the No command prior to the can/spray and save these as back up measures when he doesn’t respond immediately to your verbal warning. All of this gives him an opportunity to make choices (respond immediately to your voice or ignore you) and once he realizes that immediate response removes the noise or spray aspect he will usually choose to listen to you.

Aggression towards other dogs.

Occasionally greyhounds that are perfectly friendly with other greyhounds will show aggression towards other breeds of dog. This is usually due to a complete lack of exposure and socialization with anything except their litter and then later kennel mates. This can be overcome simply by giving your dog time to work out that dogs come in different shapes and sizes. Rather than avoiding areas popular with other dogs and their owners, it is important to take your dog to these areas as often as possible (this works on the same principle that children who are never allowed to watch the television, are consequently far more excited and absorbed by it, than their peers who have had greater exposure). To begin with your dog should always be kept on a lead until you have had the opportunity to observe how he reacts in a variety of situations. If you know that there will be lots of other dogs around, and you are worried that they may approach your dog, then it is best to keep a muzzle on him, again until you know how he will react. It is not law to have a greyhound muzzled in public once his racing career is finished, but initially it can prevent problems and make you more confident handling the dog, Attending dog training classes is another good way to expose your dog to lots of others in a controlled situation, with the added back up of experienced people on hand to assist and advise. If after providing many opportunities for you dog to come into contact with other dogs he is still showing aggression, the same method as outlined above for cats and squirrels can be used. Do try to remember though that other dog owners will not always understand why you are throwing things near their dog! However if it was their dog that was off the lead and approaching yours then they should have checked that this was ok before allowing their dog to approach. Most people are pretty reasonable if you take the time to explain the situation, as many are well aware of the plight facing ex-racing greyhounds.

Fear of people

Depending on his previous experiences you dog may show a fear of people in general, or to a specific group (men/children etc). This can be easily overcome by altering your dogs perception of the person or group in question. The dog must be allowed to do this of its own free will, but the process can be aided by the use of an incentive such as food. The person/people who your dog appears wary of should never force their affections onto him, but wail until the dog approaches them. When this happens they can offer a small treat and then ignore the dog again. Slowly build this up until the dog will allow itself to be stroked once before receiving the treat. Eventually the dog will begin to realize that this person is actually a source of many pleasant surprises, and will not harm them. If the problem is a little more severe and the dog shows no interest in even approaching, then whenever that person arrives home take the dog out for a walk with you handling the dog and the person of whom he is frightened simply coming along (if this is inconvenient then feeding the dog will achieve the same result). What this is doing, is showing the dog that the arrival of the person in question is not something to be feared, but rather an event to look forward to.

Destructive behavior when left.

Your dog has so far spent his entire life in kennels surrounded constantly by noise, people and dogs. While many dogs are happy to be left alone in their new environment others find this a stressful and frightening experience. This can be shown in behaviors such as barking and chewing. In most books on dog training it is recommended that to overcome this you vary the times you go out to prevent the dog anticipating your departure and becoming stressed and nervous before you even leave the house. In the case of greyhounds I have always found the exact opposite to be true (again it all comes back to them feeling secure with routine). When you leave, your dog is frightened because as far as he is concerned you may never come back, so right from the start it is a good idea to leave him on his own for short periods of time. This can be achieved by simply going into a room where he is not allowed, or going into the back garden for five minutes. If he does begin to whine as soon as you disappear, it is important to try not to return to him until he is quiet.

This reinforces the idea that being noisy gets him nowhere, and being quiet is rewarded. Try to build up the time he is left very slowly, and try to do this at the same time each day. Although it may seem like a mammoth task to get from five minutes to four hours, once he gets the idea that you are always coming back it will happen very quickly. Most dogs, if they are going to exhibit any separation anxiety, will do so within the first thirty minutes of your departure, so once he can be left without problem for half an hour then there is no reason he won’t be fine for longer.

Another method that can help your dog to understand that he is expected to remain at home is to give him a signal just before you get ready to leave the house (I use a chew or bone). The only time he should ever have these particular treats is when you are going out without him.

If your dog is ok when left for short periods, but becomes destructive when left for longer then this may be because he is bored. Leaving long lasting chews and bones can help by giving him something to do, but many dogs will not show any interest these. Toys such as a Kong, or a specially designed ball with holes, can be filled with smaller more appealing treats that must be worked for, can often alleviate boredom. Failing that, a hollowed out bone (available from most pet shops) can be filled with something which the dog then spends hours trying to lick out (peanut butter or cream cheese seem to be popular choices).

Above all please bear in mind that like people, every dog is different, and will react in different ways to the experiences that life has dealt them so far. They will take time to adjust to their new lifestyle. and many ‘problems’ suffered in the first few weeks may simply disappear of their own accord as the dog settles down. In all of the methods outlined above remember that greyhounds are gentle and sensitive creatures who will thrive in a secure and loving environment. You should never hit your dog for bad behavior, but rather try to focus on and praise good behavior. Chances are that he is trying desperately hard too not only adjust to a new lifestyle, but understand what it is you want, so he can please you. A few months of patience and understanding will be rewarded by many years of loyal and loving companionship.

And finally my thanks must go to Jack and George, two very special greyhounds. Although the road has not always been smooth, my life has been much enriched by travelling along it and, in hindsight, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Fiona Mason – 13/2/2000

An Educational Video in Spanish

In an effort to ameliorate the harsh, outdated conditions under which the greyhounds exported to Spain for track racing live, Anne ‘faute de mieux’, created this video:

It took her 2 years of research, filming and editing to make. It was completed in 1996 and 1000 copies were distributed, mostly free of charge, to trainers, handlers, owners of greyhounds and to the hunters, breeders and owners of galgos.

In 7 chapters it outlines in utmost detail, in Spanish, every aspect of greyhound care from cradle to grave, including breeding, rearing, schooling, racing, general and particular greyhound veterinary care, physiotherapy, and finally retirement. To make it entertaining it contains nice music, at one point with Anne herself as pianist!

We sell it at cost to the Federacion Espanola Galgos who market it all over Spain and we are please to say that it is still in demand.

A book of the spoken commentary throughout comes with it in Spanish and English. Copies of the DVD are available to welfare workers at cost at £10 each.


Click cover to open as PDF


Greyhounds in Need CIO - Galgo Care Card

In the event of you being unable to continue to give your galgo a home please contact us regarding your dog’s future.


We are here to help.


Greyhounds in Need CIO

5A 80 High Street



TW20 9HE


Tel: 01784 483206


Galgos (breed name galgo español) have been bred and trained to hunt in the rural areas of Spain, for coursing the hare with betting but the season is only 4 months after which time they are abandoned or brutally killed. Many have not been handled kindly, some have suffered in overcrowded shelters in Spain, making them wary of other dogs, and some need gentle socialisation and a lot of reassurance that they are never going to be hungry or hurt again. They were rescued in the first place by volunteers who themselves suffer the hostility of their own countrymen for showing such concern and care.

All of the galgos we rescue are tested for Leishmaniasis, Babesiosis, Heartworm and Ehrlichiosis which are diseases that occur in Mediterranean countries but are not commonly known or endemic in the UK. The tests we undertake are to ascertain whether an individual galgo is currently infected with this disease but diagnosis can be challenging and latent infections can be difficult to diagnose. Details of these diseases can be found on our website and we include in our homing pack a technical paper which could be of interest to your veterinary surgeon. Your new galgo will come with a collar, lead and muzzle. We will be asking you, as the new owner, to sign our Homing Agreement which will safeguard the dog’s interests for the rest of its life.


Your galgo will never have been in a home before and will need time to settle in and get used to his/her new surroundings.  Noises from the TV, hoover, washing machine may scare your galgo to start with but with reassurance and patience from you these fears will soon be overcome.

New adopters must take care during the early days after adoption to protect both the galgo and other small creatures around him/her, like cats, birds, and small dogs. A galgo wants most of all to love and be loved and, given the chance, will prove to be a wonderful companion, almost disbelieving of the attention he/she receives from you.

This booklet has been compiled by GIN in order to assist new owners of adopted galgos to ensure a long and healthy life for their pet.  It does not pretend to be exhaustive and we must emphasise that it is no substitute for regular professional care by a qualified veterinary surgeon.

Key Guidelines on the Care of your Galgo

* In first few days of adoption, you are advised not to encourage too close a bond (like allowing your new dog to follow you everywhere). This can lead to serious ‘attachment ’ problems later when your dog may become distressed, noisy or destructive in your absence. There is plenty of time later for showing your emotions and protectiveness when your dog has acquired self-confidence. Having said this, everyone in the house would get a better night’s sleep the first two or three nights if a human sleeps within the ‘hearing’ of the dog, for example, with the dog on the landing near an open bedroom door.

* Use a special greyhound collar tightening it cosily just behind the ears at the narrowest point of the neck, complete with disc with your address and phone number from the moment of adoption and never remove it. Keep your dog securely on a lead of about 1.25m (44in) winding it securely round your hand. Your dog will walk gently beside you at your pace but do not be complacent, as the sight of something moving in the distance can trigger your dog to take off like a jet plane.  Be aware from the start that your dog may still view small animals as fair game. Wearing a muzzle is a safe way of testing his ‘keenness’ with safety. In time your dog will settle down. Only consider releasing him in an open area after at least three months and only after rigorous recall training, or perhaps never.

* A warm, soft bed, away from the hubbub of the family, is essential for his thin skin and bony prominences. Greyhounds love their comforts and quiet, reliable human companionship!

* Coats—galgos are particularly sensitive to the cold and wet weather as they do not have a lot of fat on their bodies.  In cold weather a waterproof coat is recommended and for showery weather a nylon mac. Remember they may need an indoor coat if you turn off your heating at night.  Coats, collars, leads etc can be purchased from our website –



*Cats—Galgos are sighthounds and have been taught to hunt the hare.  Some galgos take time to lose that instinct and care must be taken when introducing your galgos to cats, small animals.  We can give further advice on de-training your galgo and we have been able to home many galgos successfully with cats.


 * Veterinary— a galgo has a different physiology from other dogs. The lack of body fat means that special care needs to be taken by your vet if your greyhound undergoes surgery.  

*Toilet training needs to be done sensitively. In the kennels the dogs are usually clean in their sleeping area but regard the floor as the toilet.   Some adapt immediately to the notion that the floor of the house is taboo and that they must be taken outside. Others need patience, understanding and encouragement and time to     understand the new regime. Frequent attention to taking the dog outside hourly during the first day and praising him/her when he/she performs, may be all that is necessary. Punishment after the accident indoors, serves only to frighten the dog, and perpetuate confusion, panic and more accidents.

*An identity disc should be worn at all times, even in the house and particularly during the very        vulnerable time when the dog is being transported somewhere.    This is a legal requirement.

*Leaving a dog alone  can be a problem for some. They have always lived with many other dogs in   kennels. A dog should not be left for more than 4 – 5 hours because of the need for the toilet.      Greyhounds crave companionship. 

Adopting a second greyhound can help!

* Feeding—Meals are best divided and fed 2/3 times a day. A galgo usually eats what he needs and no more.   Most dog foods except the richest tinned foods, are acceptable. A bowl of drinking water should always be available. An adequately fed dog  is a contented, quiet dog.   It is advisable to feed  your galgo from a raised bowl on a stand as galgos have a long neck and it is awkward for them to eat from a bowl on the floor.

* Fireworks —While many of us look forward to  bonfire night and fireworks season, this can be a very stressful time for our pets.  Around 80% of pet owners have had   a pet that is afraid of fireworks.  There are several medications and herbal remedies available to help your pet during this season.   A full fact sheet is available to download from our website


*Babies and Children—Special care must be taken when introducing your galgo to the rest of the family, especially children.  You must NEVER leave a baby or child alone with a dog however much you think you can trust the dog.  Children must be taught to have respect for the galgo and to be calm and gentle with him/her. 



*You are strongly advised to take out your own pet insurance to cover a variety of risks and veterinary costs.

*We emphasise the vital importance of annual vaccination and regular dental assessments throughout your dog’s life.  Please follow the advice of your vet.


*Worming:  –  Adult dogs should be wormed every three months against tapeworm and roundworm. However, in certain areas of the UK especially Southern England and Wales it is recommended your dog is treated against Lungworm on a monthly basis – please consult your local Veterinary Practice for advice.

*Fleas:  –  It is recommended that adult dogs are treated against fleas on a monthly basis. Many different preparations are available and some even will treat against worms – please consult your local Veterinary Practice for advice.

*Mediterranean Diseases – we recommend annual antibody testing for all our rehomed galgos.

For more information on worms and fleas you may find                       a useful online resource.

If you are uncertain or apprehensive about how to ensure the happy introduction of your dog to your family please ask for our advice.

 More information is available on our website and in the homing pack which is given to all prospective adopters. We love to receive photos of your dog and news of his/her progress so please keep in touch!

Information on Mediterranean Diseases



All of the galgos we rescue are tested for Leishmaniasis, Babesiosis, Heartworm and Ehrlichiosis which are
diseases that occur in Mediterranean countries but are not commonly known or endemic in the UK. The tests we
undertake are to ascertain whether an individual galgo is currently infected with this disease but diagnosis can be
challenging and latent infections can be difficult to diagnose. The aim of this report is not to make you worry
about these diseases but only to make you aware of the existence of these diseases.


Causing agent:

Leishmaniasis is caused by the protozoan parasite Leishmania infantum, which is transmitted by sand flies of the
Phlebotomus species. Dogs are the major reservoir for this infection.
Geographical distribution in Europe:
Leishmania infantum can be found in Spain in the Mediterranean coast, south coast and some central regions like
Madrid, in most of the parts of Italy, being more predominant in the southern regions and Sardinia and in
Mediterranean coast of France.


The Leishmania parasite is transmitted to the dog by the bite of the sandfly when feeding on the dogs’ blood. The
most common time of the year for the sandfly to feed on the dog is from April until late September. Sandflies are
weather dependent and are more predominant near water sources like rivers. The incubation period can take from
3 months to seven years. Leishmaniasis is a zoonotic disease; this means it can be transmitted to humans by the
sandfly as a vector, so the dog can act as a reservoir for the parasite. This transmission can happen in countries in
Southern Europe where the sandfly is present; however, the clinical signs would not be like the dog’s clinical signs.
Recently blood transmission has been reported and, therefore, we recommend none of our re-homed galgos act as
blood donors.

Clinical signs:

Leishmaniasis can have many different clinical signs like skin lesions (scaling, hair loss and ulceration especially of
the head and pressure points), abnormal nails growth, recurrent conjunctivitis, decreased appetite and weight loss,
exercise intolerance and lethargy, vomiting and blood found in the stools. However, the most common ones are
Epistaxis (Nose bleeds), ocular abnormalities and renal (Kidney) failure. On clinical examination enlarged lymph
nodes and spleen can be observed. Renal failure due to immune-complex glomerulonephritis eventually develops and
is believed to be the main cause of death in dogs.


By blood test to detect Leishmania antibodies (ELISA test); more complex tests for identification can be done like
a PCR test. We recommended annual antibody testing for all our rehomed galgos.

Treatment and prevention:

If the dog shows any of the clinical signs found above and it has been in an endemic area it should be taken to the
veterinarian and let the veterinarian know in which country the dog has been to. The main drugs used for the
treatment of leishmaniasis are the pentavalent antimony meglumine antimoniate and allopurinol.
Miltefosine is a relatively new anti-leishmanial drug that can be used for the first month of treatment in
combination with allopurinol instead of meglumine antimoniate. Amphotericin B is also used but it is highly
nephrotoxic (Toxic for the kidneys). These treatments are often designed to improve the dog’s condition
temporarily but sometimes the disease can reoccur. The treatment does not eliminate the parasite. Keeping
infected dogs where the sandfly is present needs to be thought about as a treated dog is considered as a carrier
and can transmit the parasite via the sandfly to other dogs and people.
In endemic countries dogs are given topical insecticides in Deltamethrin-impregnated collars or spot-on drops to
reduce the number of sandfly bites.
A new vaccination has been licenced in Europe offering protection against Leishmaniasis. This vaccination should
only be given to dogs that test negative for diseases and will be particularly useful for dogs travelling to areas
where Leishmaniasis is endemic. Trials are currently underway to test the use of this vaccine in animals previously
exposed to Leishmaniasis but results are not expected for at least 5-10 years!

Babesiosis or redwater:

Causing agent:

Babesiosis is caused by a range of protozoan parasites that parasites the erythrocytes. The most common species
that causes canine babesiosis are the Babesia canis and the Babesia gibsoni.

Geographical distribution:

Present worldwide including in some parts of the UK and in Europe particularly in Southern France. In 2016 an
outbreak of Babesia canis was reported in Essex with the subsequent discovery of Babesia canis infected ticks also
in the area, suggesting this disease may become endemic in the UK.


Between animals by ticks when feeding on the dog’s blood, the longer the tick feeds the higher the chances of
passing the Babesia to the dog> Blood transfusions, dog bites and contaminated instruments and needles have also
been implicated as possible transmission routes.

Clinical signs

The clinical findings and the severity of these can vary. The most common symptoms are pale tongue, gums and
nose due to low number of red blood cells, fever, loss of appetite, lethargy, red or orange urine, enlarged lymph
nodes. The most severe infections are called peracute infections and show typical symptoms of a hypotensive
shock; pale membranes, tachycardia, weak pulse and depression this associated with organ dysfunction leads to
coma and death. Acute infections signs are fever, anaemia, jaundice, inappetance, weakness and sometimes death.
Low platelet count and anaemia are common signs of Babesiosis.


By blood test either by directly seeing the parasite on blood film analysis or, more reliably using PCR.

Treatment and prevention:

The dog should be taken to a veterinarian to get a correct diagnose and treatment. There are several drugs that
can be used to treat the dog after been correctly diagnosed. These are imidocarb, and Ataquavone often in
combination with an antibiotic. If the dog has a severe anaemia blood transfusion should be considered.
NB: There are no licensed preparations in the UK to treat Babesiosis in the dog.
Prevention is by the use of effective tick control and to avoid tick exposure whenever possible. Any ticks found on
a dog should be promptly removed and a topical ectoparasiticide that is effective against ticks applied
A vaccine that protects the dog for 6 months has been recently developed and it is used in mainland Europe but it
is not licensed in the UK..

Heart worm disease or canine heartworm

Causing agent:

Dirofilaria immitisis a filarial worm that as an adult lives in the, pulmonary artery. The final host are dogs, wild
canids and sometimes cats and ferrets. Dogs develop patent infections (i.e. have circulating microfilariae produced
by female adult heartworms) around 7-9 months after initial infection. Adult heartworms can live up to 7 years in
the dog.

Geographical distribution:

Warn-temperature countries and tropical zones. In Europe countries like Spain and France. There have been some
cases in the UK of animals who have travelled abroad.


Transmitted by mosquitoes of the genera Aedes, Anopheles and Culex. The female mosquito ingests L1 larvae from
infected dogs after feeding on their blood. These larvae develop in the mosquito to the infective L3 stage . These
L3 larvae are transmitted to other dogs again when the mosquito feeds. The L3 larvae spread throughout the dog
and mature through the larvae stages (L3-L4-L5) until they become adult heartworms.

Clinical signs:

Heartworm is asymptomatic in the early stages of the disease. Clinical signs start when there are a high number of
worms obstructing the blood flow. This causes endocarditis and dead worms in the system can cause pulmonary
embolism. Heavily infected dogs suffer from loss of condition and exercise intolerance. It is common to observe a
chronic cough and breathlessness.


The dog should be taken to the veterinarian where it will have a blood test +/-an x-ray and heart ultrasound done.
The blood test maybe one or both of the following tests: An antigen test to detect adult females and/or the
Knott test which allows identification of larval stages. Occasionally these tests will be negative despite

Heartworm infection.

It should be noted that despite our dogs having Dirofilaria prevention treatments whilst kennelled in Spain all our
dogs are additionally screened for Dirofilaria before entering the UK. However, it can take up to 6 months for a
dog to test positive for Dirofilaria and, therefore, recent exposure prior to entering the UK may not be detected.
We, therefore, recommend that all dogs are tested at 6 months post entry to the UK to ensure they are not
infected with Dirofilaria.

Treatment and prevention:

Once the dog is diagnosed before dealing with the parasite the dog may need to be treated for cardiac
insufficiency. Treatment is a combination of heartworm prevention treatments, antibiotics (doxycycline) and
usually three injections of melarsomine over a period of 4 months. During treatment the activity of the dog must
be restricted to avoid risk of pulmonary embolism as a result of the dead worms in the system.
To prevent heartworm infection the use of oral or spot-on preparations must be used when travelling or living in
endemic areas. Ideally you start prevention a month prior to leaving for an endemic country and for a month after
visiting such an area.
The use of mosquito repellants in endemic areas may also be consider for dogs. NB: These are often toxic for cats
and their use in dogs in households with cats should be avoided.

Causing agent:

A bacterium from the Rickettsiaceae family called Ehrlichia canis. This bacterium infects dogs but other Ehrlichia
species can infect humans and other animal species.

Geographic distribution:

Worldwide distributed.


By Rhipicephalus sanguineous tick or brown dog tick. The tick is not endemic in the UK currently although an
increasing number of these ticks have been found in the uK on imported dogs. Transmission from the tick to a dog
can occur within a few hours of attachment.

Clinical signs:

The clinical signs vary depending on the stage of the infection. In the acute phase the clinical sings can vary, the
signs can be depression, lethargy, anorexia and pyrexia and weight loss. Specific signs are enlarged lymph nodes
and spleen, occasional epistaxis (nose bleed) and petechia (blood spots in the skin or gums). In the chronic severe
form the symptoms will be the same as in the acute form but more severe. Systemic signs can be haemorrhage,
shock and multi-organ failure.
Low platelets, (thrombocytopenia), white blood cells (leucopenia) and red blood cells (anaemia) are also commonly


By blood test either by directly seeing the parasite on blood film analysis or, more reliably using PCR.

Treatment and prevention:

Doxycycline, for four weeks is the treatment of choice. However elimination of infection may not occur Chronically
infected dogs can be very difficult to treat and have a very poor prognosis.
Prevention is by the use of effective tick control and to avoid tick exposure whenever possible. Any ticks found on
a dog should be promptly removed and a topical ectoparasiticide that is effective against ticks applied
There is no vaccine


Causing agent:

A protozoan parasite from the Heapatozoon genus called Hepatozoon canis.

Geographic distribution:

Mediterranean Countries, Middle East, Asia and India.


By Rhipicephalus sanguineous tick or brown dog tick. However, unlike most tick borne diseases dogs become
infected by eating the tick rather than via a tick bite.

Clinical signs:

The clinical signs vary depending on the stage of the infection. In the acute phase the clinical sings can vary, the
signs can be depression, lethargy, anorexia and pyrexia and weight loss. Specific signs are enlarged lymph nodes
and spleen, occasional epistaxis (nose bleed) and petechia (blood spots in the skin or gums). In the chronic severe
form the symptoms will be the same as in the acute form but more severe. Systemic signs can be haemorrhage,
shock and multi-organ failure.


By clinical presentation, pathological findings (E. canis invades mononuclear cells, there is a decrease in platelet
number, mild leucopenia and anaemia) and a PCR blood test.

Treatment and prevention:

Once the disease has been diagnosed there are several drugs that can be used such as Doxycycline, tetracyclyine
hydrochloride, oxytetracyclin and chloramphenicol. The dose and time of treatment depends on the drug used.
There is no vaccine therefore the best way to prevent the disease is by using acaricides that will prevent the tick
from feeding on the dog. Remove all ticks promptly using a tick remover.


Causing agent:

Anaplasmosis is caused by a rickettsial bacteria (Anaplasma phagocytophilum) that infects primarily dogs’

Geographical distribution:

Present throughout Europe and recently identified in the UK.


Anaplasma is spread via the tick Ixodes ricinus – transmission occurring between 36 and 48 hours after the tick
starts to feed. A recent survey in the UK found that 0.74% of ticks were infected with A.phagocytophilium.

Clinical signs

Infection is often mild or subclinical but occasionally more severe signs are seen. These include pyrexia (high
temperature), lethargy, anorexia, polyarthritis (multiple inflammation of the joints), neck pain, pallor,
lymphadenopathy and enlarged spleen.
These signs are due to A.phagocytophilium causing a reduction in a dog’s platelet, white blood cell and red blood cell
Signs usually occur around two weeks after the tick bite.


By blood test either by directly seeing the parasite on blood film analysis or, more reliably using PCR.

Treatment and prevention:

A. phagocytophilum is treated with Doxycycline. A 2 week course is usually sufficient although the actual required
treatment duration is not known. Most dogs improve within 24-48 hours of starting treatment, although occasional
supportive care e.g. intravenous fluid therapy, may be required.
Prevention is by the use of effective tick control and to avoid tick exposure whenever possible. Any ticks found on
a dog should be promptly removed and a topical ectoparasiticide that is effective against ticks applied


The UK has recently seen an increase in the number of dogs presenting with symptoms of Brucella canis. Brucella
canis is zoonotic to humans and infected dogs pose a risk to humans especially veterinarians, when performing
surgery, and laboratory staff, when handling blood or urine samples. Transmission to owners is considered low.
Although human infection is rare in the UK it can be extremely severe and can lead to death. If diagnosed
antibiotic therapy of infected humans is usually successful.

Causing agent:

Brucella canis is a bacteria.

Geographical distribution:

Brucella canis is present worldwide however Eastern Europe and the Middle East seem to higher infection rates
than other Europe countries. One recent study showed that the prevalence of Brucella canis in Western Europe
was around 5%.


Brucella canis is transmitted from dog to dog by sexual contact or from bitch to pup. In addition dogs coming into
contact with reproductive tissues, discharges or urine of an infected dog may become infected.

Clinical signs

Infected dogs are often asymptomatic, however, they show signs related to the reproductive system i.e.
infertility, abortion, weak puppies, scrotal swelling or vaginal discharge. In addition dogs may present with
discospondylitis – inflammation of the spine cord.


Unfortunately, there is no perfect test for brucellosis. The most accurate test at present is an antibody test
which needs to be sent to a specialist laboratory.

Treatment and prevention:

It is very difficult to cure an infected dog and therefore currently treatment is not recommended due to the
potential risk the dog poses to the public. Euthanasia must be a consideration as positive dogs must be isolated
from all other dogs and shared dog environments. In addition contact with people must be kept to a minimum.

Travelling to Europe with your pet? Changes you need to be aware of

The rules for travelling to the EU and Northern Ireland with your pet have changed. It’s not quite so straightforward now!

Since the 31st January 2021 you can no longer use a UK pet passport to travel abroad. Instead you will need an Animal Health Certificate. These are filled out by your vet (as long as they are an ‘Official Veterinarian’) but can only be written within ten days of travel. They then can be used for up to four months onward travel within the EU and subsequent re entry to the UK. Each time you travel you will need a new certificate.

Your dog or cats’ rabies vaccination will also need to be up to date. If you are travelling to Northern Ireland, Ireland, Norway, Malta or Finland a tapeworm treatment will need to be given prior to travel. If you are visiting any other EU countries you will still need to have a tapeworm treatment given between 1 and 5 days before your entry to the UK.

One more thing – you (the owner) will need to travel with your pet or you will need to authorise a specific other person to travel instead, however you will need to join your pet within five days if this is the case. Whoever will be travelling will need to be at the veterinary appointment.

If your pet has an EU passport, this can still be used for travel but only for as long as the rabies vaccine is in date. However, be aware booster rabies vaccinations cannot be entered by UK vets in EU passports unfortunately!

Because of the complexities of the certificate your vet will most likely want you to give them a few weeks  notice to book a certificate appointment.

Happy Travelling!

Leigh Sobye BVSc MRCVS

Galga Bambi


Having said farewell to our dear Perdita (Purdy to her friends) in January 2022 – there was a hole in our hearts which   needed to be filled plus an empty dog bed looking for a new resident! Both of these were quickly taken by a three year old fawn galga called Brandy. I must confess to having a ‘thing’ about names and the name Brandy didn’t appeal so she has become Bambi. This suits her to a ‘T’ from her colouring – to her size and her ability to leap from sofa to sofa with grace, ease and speed. Having such a youngster joining our existing pack of five is a bit of a shock to the system as four of the other hounds are over ten years old. Warrick the elder statesman – also originally from Galgos del Sol back in 2012 is now a teenager as he turned thirteen on 12 February 2022. Bambi was found on the streets of Spain by Tina and her volunteers back in August 2020 at just 18 months old. Given her background she has fitted into home life really well. She has a few things to learn but being a galga – she is intelligent and quick to respond. We may need to consult our Spanish phrase book for the translation of ‘gently’ as treats are snatched and devoured with alacrity – but like so many others with pasts best put behind them, treats are a much prized reward for good behaviour and a new, tasty experience. To show her appreciation, Bambi showers us with ‘kisses’. She loves her meals, sleeps through the night and is virtually housetrained. Unlike many English and Irish greyhounds, galgos are very good at sitting and Bambi does exactly this, looking like a porcelain figurine.

Our ‘new girl’ has been here just over four weeks now and has taken on where Purdy left off in squirrel watching with lurcher pal Lucas (from the dog pound). Neither of these has the stealth and patience that Purdy exhibited but such is the enthusiasm of youth! ‘Watching’ is an understatement to put it mildly, as racing down the garden at breakneck speed with bark chippings flying everywhere is probably a more apt description. Bambi has also discovered squeaky toys much to Dana’s chagrin but to give Dana her due, she just watches this young whippersnapper tossing ‘her’ toys about and squeaking them with great excitement. Having had 22 pups in her time,  Dana is well used to the exuberance of youth. However, like all dogs, they never put their toys away and picking up around two dozen (yes you read that correctly) is a feat in itself.

So if you have a hole in your life to fill with a canine companion, maybe consider a galgo? Check out the Greyhounds in Need website as there are dogs and bitches of various colours, ages and temperaments all looking for a loving, happy and secure future….no more than each deserves.

                                                                                                                        Judy Zatonski – February 2022

Galga Bambi 2

I have at last been given the opportunity to write the latest update myself……so here goes!

I have now been here since 22 January this year and I have really settled in well with Judy, Mark and the other five hounds. I love being fussed and tickled and adore any attention I am given –    rewarding whoever strokes me with a paw, a nudge and several kisses. I have also acquired a couple of nicknames – like most dogs do – one is Bam Bam (I think that is Barney Rubble’s daughter’s name in the Flintstones cartoon series?) and the other is Bambino – however, when this term is used it sounds more like Bambi “NO!” 

I always clean my bowl – and finish anything the others have left if I am allowed. However, as I have put on weight since coming here I am discouraged from eating more than I should. I am told I have an enviable figure and need to keep it that way.

I have taken over from Purdy where the postman, or any other callers at our house are concerned. In fact I am even more protective of my home than Purdy was. I am told that to be a good guard dog it’s quite enough to bark to alert Judy and Mark that there is someone at the door….not to whip myself up into a frenzy and become over-protective. …. So this ‘duty’ is a work in progress at the moment!

I only have one other small fault (that I will admit to) and that is pulling on the lead. I do wear a gentle leader which helps to curb my enthusiasm but where we dogs are walked, the area is full of fascinating smells. At night, various wild      animals come out to forage for food and play, and these creatures include badgers, foxes, rabbits, hedgehogs and muntjac deer. So……you can imagine the wealth of enticing scents for our keen ‘galgo’ noses to explore. Whereas racing greyhounds chase by sight –we Spanish greys are ‘hunting’ dogs and we walk along with our noses pressed firmly to the ground following the trails left by the various overnight visitors. Although the field where we are walked has mown paths, there are still large swathes of long grass harbouring the best smells. Whereas small dogs can’t even be seen in these areas – unfortunately we long  legged hounds are always visible so can’t disappear into the wilderness.  However, I look upon this ‘groundwork’ as valuable research in case David Attenborough decides to produce a second series of ‘Life in the Undergrowth!’ 

Well that’s about all from me and my first few months’ experience of ‘home life’.  I haven’t been threatened with a one way ticket back to Spain…yet – so it seems I have endeared myself to Judy and Mark sufficiently to have set my paws firmly under the table so to speak!!          

Best wishes             BAMBI

Galga Bambi 3

In January 2023, it was Bambi’s first year enjoying home-life. From day one she was house-trained and has never put a foot wrong since.

However, like Purdy her predecessor, she is a ‘grass!’ Should any other dog take up residence in ‘her’ bed then we must be alerted so that the infiltrator can be ‘ousted’.

The main culprit is Sprocket, our (very) elderly lurcher from a NE dog pound. He seems to delight in making himself at home in any bed other than his own. This often puts the other dogs’ noses out of joint as rather than just settle in an unoccupied bed – of which there is no shortage – most of the hounds just stand there looking perplexed but not knowing how to get Sprocket to vacate ‘their’ bed. Bambi however, has no qualms about snitching on him….but if we don’t happen to be around to hear her tale of woe – then she just gets into the bed with Sprocket!

Bambi is still our No 1 guard dog and should anyone dare approach the house then they are met with a loud vocal warning and a frenzied bouncing up and down on the windowsill. Even our neighbours are not allowed visitors as Bambi’s warnings include any delivery vans or cars that dare to come down the road.  It’s just as well we live at the end of a cul-de-sac – at least we don’t get a steady stream of passing traffic!

Despite her faults – none of our hounds is perfect – she is a very loving and devoted companion.  She adores her food, gets on really well with the other five hounds and like the majority of canine companions, she just loves to cuddle up close and enjoy lots of fuss and attention.

Sprocket (left) and Bambi

Galga Bambi

Ear Problems

Otitis Externa (OE) is an ear condition characterised by inflammation of the ear canal, and occasionally the pinna (outside flap of the ear).

Symptoms include:

  • Head shaking
  • Scratching at the ears
  • Redness and swelling in the ear canal
  • Discharge from the ears
  • Foul odor
  • Pain when the ears are touched or rubbed
  • Loss of hearing or balance

If the ear canal is narrowed, this can encourage infection from bacteria and yeasts. It can affect both ears at once or just one and can be acute (sudden onset) or chronic (long-term).

What causes it?

– Parasites (e.g. the ear mite, Otodectes cyanotes)

– Allergies (food allergies, environmental allergies, contact hyper-sensitivities)

– Trauma (excessive ear cleaning or scratching)

– Endocrine disease (e.g. hypothyroidism)

– Foreign bodies (e.g. grass seeds)

– Aural polyps


The most common cause is allergies (atopic dermatitis).

The main perpetuating factor is bacteria (most commonly Staphylococcus spp and Pseudomonas spp) and yeasts (most commonly Malassezia spp). If the infection spreads it can reach the middle ear (past the eardrum), causing a condition called otitis media.


Dogs with longer ears are more at risk of developing otitis externa, such as Basset Hounds and Beagles. Dogs with erect ears have a lesser risk than other breeds. Brachycephalic breeds, like the Pug or French Bulldog, are more likely to develop otitis externa.

Dogs who are predisposed to atopic dermatitis are also predisposed to otitis externa. In addition, dogs exposed to moisture, such as through regular        swimming, are at increased risk. Dogs who are overweight, or produce more cerumen (ear wax) are also at risk.

How is it diagnosed?

Otitis externa is often clearly visible on a physical examination. An ‘otoscope’ –   a piece of equipment with a light to look down a dog’s ear canal – is used to see the extent of the inflammation, any signs of infection or foreign bodies and to see if the tympanic membrane (ear drum) can be seen. Sometimes taking samples of the cells inside the ear canal is useful to understand which germ is causing the problem. These samples are usually looked at under a microscope and can be sent away for culturing, which will help to target appropriate treatment. If the otitis is severe and very painful, some dogs require sedation or a general anaesthetic in order to properly assess the ear canal and the tympanic membrane.

How can otitis externa be treated or managed?

Usually, this is treated by reducing the inflammation in the ear canal by using  anti-inflammatories, alongside painkillers (analgesia) and appropriate anti-microbials (antibiotics, antifungals, or anti-parasitics). Most topical ear preparations contain a combination of medications. Some of these medications  are known as ‘ototoxic’ and should not be used if the tympanic membrane is not intact. If a vet cannot see to the tympanic membrane and suspects it is ruptured, or the ear canal is very narrow, they may use oral medication instead of topical. Management of the underlying cause is important. For example, if allergies are suspected, appropriate treatment should be commenced to manage recurrent  otitis. In very severe cases, where medical management is ineffective, surgery may be indicated: a Lateral Wall Resection opens up the ear canal, and a Total   Ear Canal Ablation removes the whole of the diseased and chronically inflamed tissue.

Overall, appointments with a vet are crucial to effective diagnosis and subsequent treatment of otitis externa. It is important to continue to attend follow-up      appointments to help manage the condition and ensure any underlying conditions are accounted for. By working closely with your vet, you can help ensure that your furry friend stays healthy and happy.

                                                                                                                       Dr Arielle Johnson BSc(Hons) BVetMed MRCVS

                                                                                                                                                              Willett House Veterinary Surgeons

Our ‘Vet’s Corner’ articles in the library might also be of interest.