It’s almost time for the annual Burgess Greyhound & Lurcher Two-Week Takeover. We can’t wait to share stories of handsome hounds and leggy lovelies looking for a happy forever home – and loading up the van with sacks of Supadog Greyhound & Lurcher food to deliver to rescue centres nominated by you.
Many of these dogs are ex-racers who have ended up in rescue kennels waiting for a loving home to spend the rest of their lives when their working days are over. These special dogs make fantastic family pets – as long as you understand what makes them tick and can give them all the love, kindness and patience they need to thrive. To help you find out more, we answer some commonly asked questions about Greyhounds and Lurchers.
Q: What’s the difference between a Greyhound and Lurcher?
A: The Greyhound is one of the oldest known breeds of dog, dating back to an ancient breed in Egyptian times. They were often the pets of royalty and, by the 11th century in England, were owned exclusively by the nobility.
Lurchers are usually a cross between a sighthound breed – such as Greyhound, Saluki or Whippet – and a Collie or Terrier. Because they’re a mixed breed, no two Lurchers are the same – in looks or temperament. One might have the stamina of a Collie and the gentleness of a Greyhound – another the cuddliness of a Whippet with the swiftness of a Saluki.
DID YOU KNOW?
Burgess Pet Care launched its Greyhound & Lurcher Takeover campaign in 2019 to raise awareness of rescue dogs needing homes and to donate thousands of pounds worth of Burgess Supadog Greyhound & Lurcher food to rescue centres across the UK. Burgess also donates 20p from every sale in the form of free food to help care for these dogs.
Q: Do they make good pets?
A: Independent and non-territorial, Greyhounds are unlikely to bark at the door and may not even be bothered to get up to greet your visitors. And, while they may be large dogs, they’re agile and graceful and won’t get under your feet – they’re often quite happy to just be in the same room with you, most probably snoozing on the sofa. They’re also gentle and polite when meeting new people, which makes them easy to take on outings.
Their friendly and laid-back nature means they tend to get on well with children – although, as with all dogs, youngsters need to learn to respect their space. Greyhounds also make ideal companions for the elderly. They’re very quiet in the home and don’t bark and rush around. Many make excellent PAT (Pets as Therapy) dogs, providing love and companionship to people in nursing homes or people with disabilities.
Dogs Trust advises: “As with any dog, if children are sensible and calm around them, Greyhounds and Lurchers can make great family pets and should not pose a problem in families with young children. However, as with all dogs, children should understand the importance of not disturbing a dog whilst he is eating and that he is not to be encouraged by being given food from the table.”
Any dog being re-homed is likely to be a little anxious and withdrawn, so let them take things at their own pace. Once they feel safe and settled in, their true personality will start to shine through. In the meantime, your Greyhound or Lurcher will be very glad for a quiet bed in an undisturbed area of the house to call their own.
Q: Do they need lots of exercise?
A: Greyhounds are the speed kings and queens of the dog world with the incredible ability to clock up over 50 mph in short bursts. However, contrary to popular belief, they don’t actually need lots of exercise. A couple of 20-minute walks a day, plus the chance for a run (best in a safe, enclosed space) a few times a week will keep them happy. These noble hounds are actually couch potatoes who may sleep for as much as 16 to 18 hours a day on comfy bed or sofa, often with their legs stuck out at the most peculiar angles.
Depending on what mix your Lurcher is made up of will dictate how much exercise they’ll require each day. Unsurprisingly, their mixed-breed genes (a hint of Collie, a touch of Terrier) can mean that they have a tendency to become easily bored, which can lead to destructive behaviour. Hide and seek and fetch games are a good way to keep Lurchers mentally stimulated, along with a selection of chew toys as a preferred alternative to things they shouldn’t be chomping on.
Q: How affectionate are they?
A: Greyhounds have been bred for thousands of years to be sociable, non-aggressive animals who work well with others. Greyhounds are by nature gentle creatures who simply adore human company.
In fact, they’re renowned for being extremely affectionate – there’s even a thing called the ‘Greyhound full body lean’, which is just one of the ways these long-legged canines show that they love you. Greyhounds and Lurchers are at their happiest when they are warm, cosy and in their guardian’s company.
Q: Do they chase small animals?
A: Greyhounds and Lurchers are sighthounds with a highly developed prey drive. This means it’s their instinct to chase small animals, so care must be taken around cats, smaller dogs and other animals that may stir up their hard-wired hunting behaviours.
When playing with a small dog, there is a risk of what’s known as ‘predatory drift’, when the larger dog loses the inhibition that they have learned over generations and a prey drive response is triggered. This can result in the dog no longer seeing the smaller canine as a playmate, but as prey. Ensure you manage any interactions with other animals very carefully and provide plenty of toys to chuck, chase and play with to help channel their hunting urges.
It’s a really good idea to never leave the house without some tasty, high value treats in your pocket, so you’re ready to distract your hound if they catch sight of something small and fluffy on the horizon. Providing a selection of toys to chase and play with can also help to channel their hunting urges away from the local wildlife.
Practicing recall regularly in a safe, enclosed spot is essential, so you can be confident that your hound will come when you call them.
Greyhounds and Lurchers are extremely athletic, and some can clear a six-foot fence if the mood takes them, so a secure, dog-proof garden to play in is essential.
Q: What kit will I need to buy?
A: Because they’re shorthaired and slender, Greyhounds need their very own wardrobe of coats to match the seasons – from waterproof raincoats to light spring and autumn wear and extra cosy winter fleeces. As a rule of thumb, If the weather is chilly enough for you to need a coat, so do they.
What’s more, because their head is narrower than their neck, they require a specific type of collar that won’t slip off. Raised feeding and water bowls will also be welcome (the floor is very far down for tall hounds).
You may also need to invest in a muzzle – these can be really helpful for taking fearful dogs to the vet or out in public. Blue Cross recommends the Baskerville muzzle – its open basket weave allows the dog to breathe freely – and is available from vets and good pet shops.
Make sure you get the correct size for your dog – the piece that goes across the nose mustn’t rub their eyes. Former racing Greyhounds will be used to wearing a muzzle, but it’s important that your dog associates wearing one with positivity and fun. Blue Cross has lots of tips here >>.
DID YOU KNOW?
The 2021 Greyhound & Lurcher Takeover campaign saw staff from Burgess embark on a 3,000-mile road trip to donate over £6,500 worth of Burgess Supadog Greyhound & Lurcher food to five Greyhound and Lurcher rescue centres across the UK.
Q: What training will be required?
A: Positive, reward-based training is really important for rescue hounds. Some of these dogs may have never lived in a home with a human family before and it can be a very bewildering experience for them to begin with. Positive reinforcement training is one of the ways that your dog learns to trust you and understands what’s required of him or her.
Your new four-legged friend has a lot to learn but dogs are incredibly adaptable. With gentle guidance they will thrive – but stern words or impatience can shatter the confidence of these sensitive souls. Take their training slowly so that they don’t have to take too much on board in one go. If you’re relaxed and affectionate your Greyhound or Lurcher will be too.
Remember that almost everything is going to be new and either exciting or frightening at first and they will be easily confused or distracted by all the things they see at home and on their walks – ex-racers may have never seen other animals or even other breeds of dogs.
Your role is to reassure them and be there for them. Speak softly and calmly, let them explore and use a gentle ‘no’ plus a blocking motion if appropriate to stop unwanted behaviour. As with all training, show an alternative behaviour that can be rewarded instead.
Both Greyhounds and Lurchers have scavenging natures. This, coupled with their long, long legs, means they can easily reach food left on kitchen tops or tables and will seize any opportunity to chow down on things that aren’t good for them. It’s also worth investing in a dog-proof bin.
Q: What food should Lurchers and Greyhounds eat?
A: Greyhounds and Lurchers actually have very specific nutritional needs, which is why Burgess has developed food especially for them. Burgess Supadog Greyhound & Lurcher includes glucosamine to help stiff joints and overworked legs, Omega 3, which is beneficial in helping temperature regulation and promoting a glossy coat and healthy skin, prebiotics to help digestive health, and a slightly lower level of protein, as too much protein may cause anxiety and hyperactivity. Find out more about feeding your dog >>
FINDING YOUR GREYHOUND OR LURCHER
There are all manner of rescue charities with Greyhounds and Lurchers waiting for their forever homes – including Greyhound Trust, Forever Hounds and Greyhound and Lurcher Rescue. Reputable rescue organisations will discuss your situation and work with you to find the most suitable canine companion – and offer you support while your new pet settles in. This may mean that you have to wait for the right dog, but it’ll be worth it.
Helping you to help your pets live their best lives
Burgess Pet Care is a British, family-owned company and one of the UK’s leading pet food manufacturers – and its story goes back more than 300 years. Using the expertise and experience built over the centuries, today Burgess produces high-quality, award-winning pet foods.
At Burgess Pet Care, we’re focused on helping pets and pet people understand more about the importance of healthy nutrition and caring for their animal companions in the best way possible. Here are some of the ways we can help:
- Got a question about caring for your pets or about the best way of feeding them? Ask our vet >>
- Looking for helpful advice for your pets? We’ve lots of great tips to help you give your animals the best life on our pet care pages >>
- Want to stay up to date with the latest news, trends and pet care advice? Head over to our Pet Talk blog >>
Food for every dog
We’ve also developed foods to meet the specific nutritional needs of sporting and working dogs, Greyhounds and Lurchers (20p from every sale goes to help care for rescued Greyhounds and Lurchers) and dogs with sensitivities, along with our brand new Supadog Rich in Salmon, featuring rescued Staffy Cross Jess on the front of the pack. For every bag sold, 20p is donated to dog rescues across the UK in the form of free food.
And we’re very proud of our Paul O’Grady’s ‘No Nasties’ dog food range and Hypoallergenic range. All Burgess dog food is a complete food. This means, whatever variety you choose for your dog, it will contain all the nutrients they need in the correct balance.
From puppy to adolescent, through to adult and senior, as your dog goes through different stages, their exercise and nutrition needs change. Find out how to help them stay happy and healthy every day of their lives >>
CARE MORE Find out more about caring for your dog from Burgess, the pet experts. Training, nutrition, grooming and general care. It’s all here >>
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