The greyhound is the second-fastest runner of all land animals and the fastest of all dog breeds. Greyhound top speed is about 35 to 39 miles per hour, and it can hit its top speed in just six strides. Cheetahs are the only other animal that can top that.
How do greyhounds run so fast?
The greyhound's lean body creates an inverted "S" shape, from a deep chest curve and a high, tucked-in waist that's close to their back legs. Their streamlined body makes them perfectly suited to fast, short-distance running. The American Kennel Club says that greyhounds have a narrow, aerodynamic skull and shock-absorbing footpads, creating a running style and gait built for speed.
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Like cheetahs, greyhounds run using a rotatory (or rotary) gallop style, which lends itself to sprinting, explains the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. In this gait, the order of the legs hitting the ground rotates: First the front left leg touches down, then front right, then rear right, and then rear left. In one stage, their bodies and legs are stretched out parallel to the ground, and in the other stage their bodies are compressed with front and rear legs overlapping beneath the animal. This is when the legs pound the ground to push forward with speed.
Animals that use this gait include carnivores (like cheetahs), rodents, swine, and small ungulates. The rotatory gallop is the fastest of all gaits but the animals that use it can only keep up the gait for short periods of time. The greyhound can achieve speeds of 37 mph, although some sources say they can run up to 45 mph. The cheetah is even faster, though it usually keeps its speed up for only 15 seconds or so at a time.
What is a greyhound's personality?
Just because greyhounds run fast and like chasing things doesn't mean that they are high-strung dogs. Generally speaking, they are mellow dogs who do well around children, are not territorial, and seldom bark. They may be healthier than the average dog too. According to Greyhound Pets of America Minnesota, greyhounds are less likely to develop health problems found in other dogs because of their selective breeding.
One of the things that make greyhounds able to run so fast, and interested in running so fast, is that they may have a high prey drive. This could make them have a harder time getting used to living with other small animals such as cats. The AKC says that hares (rabbits) are a greyhound's natural prey. Greyhound Pets of America Minnesota says it's a myth that greyhounds are high strung, and while they enjoy their exercise time, they are also just as likely to enjoy couch time.
Male greyhounds weigh 65 pounds and up, and females weigh between 50 and 65 pounds. Their average life span is 12 to 15 years.
Greyhounds as racing dogs
Because of their speeds, greyhounds have a long history as racing dogs. However, that's starting to change. The Humane Society says retired racing greyhounds are increasingly in need of loving homes as greyhound racing is now illegal in more than 40 states. Many racing dogs suffer injuries or die while racing.
Speeds in the animal world
According to Speed Of Animals, a greyhound's top speed is 39.5 mph. A cheetah's top speed is 75 mph, though it usually runs at that speed for only 15 seconds at a time. Relative to their heights, the length of the cheetah's stride is about twice that of the horse. The three-pronged antelope uses the rotatory gallop most proficiently. It has been clocked at 60 mph and can cruise at 45 mph.
A domestic cat can run along at an impressive 29.8 mph, while an African elephant cruises along at 24.9 mph. In contrast, a Galapagos tortoises's top speed is a poky 0.2 mph. The peregrine falcon is the fastest animal in the air, at a top speed of 242 mph while flight diving. The fastest ocean animal is the sailfish, which sails along at 68.4 mph.