Greyhounds are not generally aggressive. They’re usually calm, quiet, and polite with other people and dogs of a similar size.
They’re gentle, loving, and loyal and typically don’t display any aggressive characteristics such as growling or snarling unless they feel threatened or triggered.
If you’ve adopted your greyhound, some of their behavioral traits will depend on how they’ve been treated in the past. For example, raised hands or voices may be threatening to them. In this case, an extra gentle approach will need to be taken.
Greyhound puppies will sometimes growl, snap, or snarl playfully, but adult greyhounds will only behave this way if they’re experiencing fear.
If your greyhound is fearful for any reason (for example, as a response to unexpected touch or loud noise, such as fireworks), you can work with them to overcome their fears over time and with patience.
Let’s go through everything you need to know about greyhound aggressiveness and what you can do about it.
Are Greyhounds Aggressive?
The short answer is no. Greyhounds are docile creatures who respond well to quiet and calm owners.
Although some of their inherent personality traits depend on training and upbringing, they’re naturally calm and can actually sleep for up to 18 hours a day.
They’re less active than other breeds of dog, and because they run around in short, fast bursts, they only need about 30-45 minutes of exercise a day to get rid of any hyperactivity.
Greyhounds do occasionally bark, but it isn’t a sign of aggression, more excitement. However, they’re still known to be a quiet breed. They’re naturally affectionate, relaxed, and peaceful.
If you have children or a loud, chaotic family life, your greyhound may take some time to acclimatize to this, but it will very rarely trigger aggression.
Are Greyhounds Aggressive Towards Other Dogs?
Greyhounds are often used as racing dogs, not just because of their speed and agility but because they have a natural chase instinct.
This can be reflected in a chasing behavior towards tiny dogs, but it’s not a sign of aggression per se. Just instincts.
In fact, greyhounds can become very friendly with small breeds of dog and other animals, including cats or other small domestic pets.
Other than that, greyhounds are naturally well-behaved, sociable animals.
They prefer dogs of a similar temperament to themselves, regardless of size or breed, but they are good at adapting to other dogs because of their easy-going nature.
If your greyhound does struggle when coming into contact with other dogs, the best approach is to introduce them to other dogs gradually, one by one, instead of taking them to a place where there are lots of other dogs present at the same time.
Even though some trainers use a method known as ‘flooding,’ where dogs are exposed to lots of dogs simultaneously. This isn’t recommended for greyhounds as they are more prone to anxiety than most dogs.
Do Greyhounds Bite?
Greyhounds are among the least likely dog breed to bite or attack another dog or human. They may ‘bite’ during play as a sign of affection, which isn’t really a bite but is called “nitting” (read all about it).
On the rare occasion that a greyhound bites, it’s almost always fear-based. In particular, greyhounds may find some childrens’ actions stressful.
Their peaceful, calm nature is the opposite of a highly active, unpredictable toddler. Suppose a child runs up to them quickly and tries to grab or hug them, especially while the dog is eating, sleeping, or chewing on a toy or bone.
These are situations that pose the most significant risk of them lashing out. However, this is a risk with any dog (or even cat) and is why kids should be taught how to interact with animals.
And even that, greyhounds are less likely to lash out than most other dog breeds.
Greyhound Bite Force
A greyhound’s bite force is around 220 PSI which is almost twice as powerful as a human bite
The bite force of a dog is measured in something called PSI (Pounds per Square Inch). Many factors affect this, including the shape of the dog’s jaw, their size, strength, and even mood at the time of the bite.
Things That Might Cause Your Greyhound To Be Aggressive
Fear is by far the biggest trigger of aggression in greyhounds. When they’re put into fight or flight mode, their instinctive reaction can be to fight. This is a survival technique and not something that the dog can control.
Not Getting Enough Attention
If your dog isn’t getting enough attention, physically or emotionally, this can lead to stress which could later turn into aggression.
Making sure your greyhound has enough food, water, and attention will ensure they don’t become irritable.
Cross-breeding can make your greyhound predisposed to aggression more than other dogs of the same breed.
You’ll need to ensure you purchase from a responsible breeder, so you understand your dog’s heritage. The good news is that hereditary traits aren’t irreversible.
If your greyhound feels overwhelmed or threatened by another animal or human, then it may become aggressive.
Alternatively, because greyhounds are very prone to separation anxiety; if they are left alone for long periods, this can also be a problem.
Learned Behaviors (Conditioning)
Many greyhounds come from a racing background in their early years, and once their racing career is over, they’re often put up for adoption.
It can be challenging to undo the way they’ve been brought up to chase smaller animals.
Also, because the dogs’ trainers have racing at the forefront of their mind rather than the dog’s emotional well-being, they often have to (sadly) resort to aggression as the only defense that works when they are repeatedly placed in uncomfortable situations.
This could include your greyhound being possessive over their food, space, owner, or toys. It’s often seen as a dominant trait but is caused by insecurity.
Territorial control can make your dog fear safe and usually happens because they’re instinctively going into survival mode.
Your greyhound might become aggressive even when they are shown affection if this is unexpected or from someone unfamiliar.
Changes in their surroundings (e.g., moving home, a change of owner, or the arrival of a new baby or pet) can unsettle greyhounds just as it would upset a human.
Especially since they have no control over their situation and are often expected to adapt quickly and without a fuss.
This also applies to unplanned environmental changes that happen suddenly, which brings us to…
For example, thunder and lightning, an alarm going off, and other auditory changes can trigger aggression because of the greyhound’s exceptional hearing and increased sensitivity to noise.
Unlike other breeds of dog, greyhounds are part of the ‘sighthound’ family. This means that they lock on to prey by sight rather than smell or sound initially, using their speed to catch game quickly, rather than having to track over long distances.
This means that unexpected sights can also alarm them, even from a distance away. Lightning has been known to trigger greyhounds into aggression, so keep your drapes closed.
If your dog is hurt then, a natural response may be to lash out aggressively.
Not understanding what is causing the pain and also the level of discomfort can be contributing factors. This could include things like broken bones and lacerations.
If your greyhound is experiencing prolonged discomfort from a medical condition (particularly if this has gone undetected), this may cause aggression.
Some illnesses can also affect the dog’s brain, leading to unexpected aggressive outbursts for no apparent reason.
Chronic pain can be caused by things like arthritis, tumors, or other problems with other internal organs, including those linked with the digestive system.
Greyhounds can be especially sensitive to being touched while sleeping, resulting in them exhibiting aggressive behavior. A crate was often your greyhound’s first ‘safe space’ and can prevent unnecessary sleep disturbance.
If you designate your greyhound a sleeping area, ensure it has soft padding to keep their boney joints as comfortable as possible.
How You Can Help Your Greyhound Stay Calm
Prevention Of Triggers
Identifying signs of anxiety before they escalate into aggression. Keeping a diary (mental or physical) of past incidents of attack and what caused them can help you avoid them happening again.
Giving Your Dog Space
If your greyhound feels overwhelmed or uncomfortable and can’t see a way out of the situation, they’re more likely to react aggressively.
If you can see that your greyhound is showing signs of distress, remove them from the situation. This space will give them time to cool off and return to their usual calm and happy selves.
Touching Your Dog
Squatting down to the same level as your dog and petting or stroking them on the base of their neck, shoulders, and chest can be soothing and calming.
Using slow, massaging movements will take their mind off the reason for their aggression and reassure them.
Being unreactive to your greyhound’s aggressive behavior is especially important. They’ll feed off your mood and temperament. If you rise to their level of aggression, this will only exacerbate the situation.
Greyhounds respond incredibly well to praise (it is important to note that conversely, they don’t respond well to punishment).
You can use treats to reinforce positive behavior. Your greyhound will be more likely to reign in their aggression when they know their efforts are being acknowledged and rewarded by you. They just want to please you.
Recent studies have shown that playing music or white noise can reduce stress hormone levels (cortisone) in dogs. It can also decrease rapid breathing associated with panic.
This has been trialed in animal shelters, and the results have been promising, showing less barking and promoting sleep. There are even playlists compiled, especially for dogs on YouTube. Music can help in the following situations:
- During periods of adjustment.
- To cover up loud noises such as fireworks and thunderstorms.
- To help restlessness.
- Induce sleep.
- During travel.
- When going to the vet.
Pressure Garments/Weighted Clothing
Compression suits were invented for racing to increase blood flow and improve performance.
However, pressure vests are used to promote calmness and in the treatment of phobias. They can also be used as an aid for musculoskeletal problems and pain management.
There are behavioral classes available that have been specifically tailored towards greyhounds who suffer from increased aggression. These usually involve small groups of dogs in an open area.
Standard behavioral groups aren’t always suitable for aggressive dogs because they may be asked to leave if they threaten the other dogs.
Classes offering training and support exclusively to aggressive dogs mean that everyone attending is in the same boat, resulting in a better level of understanding from other owners facing similar issues.
Muzzling your dog is NOT cruel and is the safest option until you’re absolutely sure that their aggression is under control. Your greyhound is often as accustomed to wearing their muzzle as they are to wearing their collar.
Muzzles can be used until trust is established and your greyhound knows precisely what is expected of them.
It will also stop them from chewing their way out of their crate if this is one of the other solutions you are using to help their aggression.
There are many reasons linked to why neutering might be helpful to control aggression. Firstly, it will reduce their risk of contracting prostate disorders and other health problems that will cause them pain.
Secondly, it will reduce the need for dominance and sexual behavior. It will also reduce the risk of being attacked by other male dogs.
Lastly, if your dog is genetically predisposed to aggression, it will prevent this from being passed down to the next generation via breeding.
Medication Or Supplements
In extreme cases, medication or supplements can be used to treat your greyhound’s aggression. It’s vitally important that you seek a registered veterinarian’s advice before administering any of these.
Medication should only be used as a last resort when prescribed by a professional after all other options have been exhausted.
If you’re looking for a pet who’s calm, loving, loyal, and low maintenance, and you can offer them stability and a peaceful atmosphere (without leaving them alone for long periods), a greyhound could be the perfect breed for you.
However, they are also prone to anxiety, emotionally sensitive to their surroundings, and don’t like witnessing conflict of any kind.
So, if your home is loud and unpredictable with different people coming and going, or your routine is prone to regular change because of work or other commitments, then it may be worth considering a different pet.