How fast can a Greyhound run?

Greyhound running speed
Photo by Tonia Kraakman on Unsplash

Greyhounds are one of the fastest dog breeds in the world (if not the fastest) and have been perfectly created for long-speed chases and pursuits, and as a new dog owner, you may feel that this breed is intimidating, given their skinny, aerodynamic build, but this couldn’t be far from the truth.

Greyhounds are a lovely breed, they are bright, low maintenance and very submissive, meaning that they like to bond well with their owners and listen to commands. They have an aerodynamic build and very sleek bodies, which include their narrow heads and long legs. This makes Greyhounds well suited for their fast-paced lifestyle.

But how fast can a Greyhound run and what speeds can be expected from this breed?

Do they live up to the expectations of being one of the fastest breeds in the world?

Let’s go into everything you need to know about a Greyhounds running speed.

How fast can a Greyhound run?

Greyhounds were bred to chase and hunt their prey, therefore, over time, they have become excellent runners.

Greyhounds are known to be able to run up to 40-45 miles per hour, which makes them the fastest dog breed in existence.

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To put that into perspective, a Greyhound will be able to outrun Usain Bolt on his best day, and even an Elephant, Giraffe, Grizzly Bear, Zebra and an Ostrich. 

Video of a Greyhound running fast!

Here is a YouTube video from Ricardo Mederios showing a Greyhound running over 40 miles per hour in the park. It’s easy to forget how fast these dogs really are. Very impressive!

Blown away yet? If not, then you will also be amazed to know that Greyhounds have the fascinating ability to sustain their top speed for distances up to 250 metres, so not only are they very fast runners, they have the endurance to be able to maintain those speeds for quite a while too. Unlike the Great Dane, who is able to run very fast, but is unable to sustain its speed for very long!

How are Greyhounds able to run so fast?

There are a lot of factors that come into play that allow Greyhounds to run at such impressive speeds and be one of the fastest breeds known to humans. 

Below are some of those reasons.

Impressive gait – the rotary gallop

Greyhounds have an impressive and unique running style, the technique that they use is the rotary gallop

This style is characterised by the rotatory hitting of legs on the ground, which means that the sequence by which all legs hit the ground keeps rotating. The front left leg hits the ground first, followed by the front right leg. After that, the rear left leg touches the ground, which is then followed by the rear right leg. This unique way of running lets Greyhounds reach impressive running speeds that are deemed impossible for most other breeds.

Just like the fastest land mammal, the Cheetah will sprint in two phrases, like the Greyhound.

In the first phase, they tend to stretch the body as much as they can, parallel to the ground. In the second stage, they pull their legs under them, and this motion propels them above the ground and in a forward direction, this will significantly add to their running speed.

An extraordinary heart

Greyhounds have a heart that’s specifically designed to get their blood flowing around their bodies and the oxygen to their organs. Their hearts are able to circulate their entire blood volume around their bodies twice as fast as humans, meaning that in a 30-second sprint, their blood has been circulated five times.

To put this into perspective, Greyhounds have a heart that accounts for 1.2% to 1.7% of its body mass, whereas, with humans, our hearts only account for 0.7% of a person’s body weight. So they have very large hearts that are able to pump an incredible amount of blood around their bodies in a very quick fashion.

Greyhounds have hearts that are similar sizes to humans, despite us being of a larger size.

Long legs

Given their aerodynamic build and very sleek bodies, Greyhounds are blessed with long legs, which help them reach extraordinary running speeds and make the rotatory gallop running technique even more effective.

As they have long legs, they are able to cover more ground with every step that they take, so this will certainly give them an advantage on the running track compared to other smaller breeds, like a Dachshund, Bulldog and Chihuahua. These breeds stand no chance against the almighty Greyhound!

Flexible spines

Greyhounds are known to have very flexible spines, hence their sleek, long and muscular bodies and this will also give them the advantage while running, as their spines can act like a spring that will help push them forwards during their sprint.

You may notice that Greyhounds have a hinged spine, which is perfectly normal and this is usually known as the small dip that’s behind their shoulder blades. Their forelegs are also set well into the shoulders, and they have very deep chests.

This allows the Greyhound to run at full speed in a rotary gallop, using a galt that allows them to have their legs completely off of the ground at two points.  This is also known as a double suspension gallop.

How can I ensure my Greyhound can run as fast as they can?

Due to their extraordinary running speeds, Greyhounds are no ordinary dogs, and therefore, it’s important to take special care of their health and nutrition. 

Greyhounds are extremely energetic dogs and that’s why it is important for owners to take their dogs outside for exercise.

Greyhounds love playtime and enjoy the freedom that comes with running around in the park. That’s why Greyhound owners must make time to provide their dogs with all the activities they need to promote a healthy lifestyle and mental well-being.

Greyhound owners should also be aware of the fact that any generic dog food will not be a good option for Greyhounds. They require special, high-protein food to get all the energy they need for their sprints. Greyhounds should also be kept far away from fats as they need to maintain their sleek bodies in order to run fast. This is also why normal dog food won’t be a good match for Greyhounds as they contain large amounts of fats.

Conclusion: How fast can a Greyhound run

Greyhounds are one of the fastest dog breeds on the planet and are able to run up to speeds of 40-45mph, so they shouldn’t be underestimated. If you plan to race one on the beach or try to outrun them, then you won’t stand a chance!

This breed is able to run so fast because of its impressive running style, known as the rotary gallop, as well as its flexible spine to help propel them forwards, their long legs and special heart to provide their organs with the necessary blood flow to run at extraordinary speeds.

The Greyhound can run so fast that they can outrun a horse at short distances, a Giraffe, Elephant, Kangaroo and a Grizzly Bear! However, at longer distances, a horse is likely to be the winner, as their top speed can reach over 50 mph, but they don’t accelerate as fast as the impressive Greyhound.

The point is: Greyhounds are very fast runners and they will certainly outrun any human on the planet, including Usain Bolt!

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