Greyhounds are known for their slender physiques and racing backgrounds, so it’s a common misconception that they need an excessive amount of exercise compared to other dog breeds.
But do greyhounds need a lot of exercise? Greyhounds are generally couch potatoes, and much prefer lazing around on the sofa rather than going out for long walks. They sleep for approximately 16-18 hours a day on average, and exercise definitely isn’t their top priority.
Because they’re bred for racing and have a body explicitly built for chasing down prey, they actually often find long walks too taxing.
They’re sprinters rather than long-distance runners, so the exercise that they need should match their strengths.
Let’s see why greyhounds need exercise, and what type of exercise they need!
Why Greyhounds Need Exercise
Unfortunately, 1 in 3 pet dogs is overweight. A lack of exercise can cause your greyhound to gain weight, putting a strain on their hearts, bones, and lungs, eventually leading to more severe health problems.
Greyhounds’ muscles are equipped perfectly for a fast getaway. They need to keep their muscles sharp to allow their body to move as it should.
If they don’t exercise enough, their muscles will degrade, eventually meaning that they won’t be able to run or move without it causing them pain.
Arthritis is common in greyhounds due to their bone structure and stature. Their figure, built for speed, naturally puts stress on their hip and knee joints.
You can purchase specific food to help their joints move more smoothly, but the best prevention method is regular exercise.
Just like us, dogs need to exercise regularly to help their hearts function normally. This usually occurs because of the weight problem we discussed, but a lack of blood flow from sitting around all day can also play a part.
Exercise releases endorphins which are ‘feel-good chemicals’ in the brain. And greyhounds are prone to separation anxiety if they’re left alone for large portions of the day. (Read more about that in a new tab).
A walk just before you leave them will help make the transitions (you leaving) easier and will make them feel good for longer while they’re by themselves.
Exercise also helps to tire your greyhound out, so they are more likely to fall asleep when they get home and won’t miss you as much while you’re out.
Greyhounds have a natural chase instinct that kicks in when they go outside. They might look for small animals to chase around the park. This keeps them mentally stimulated and encourages their natural behavior.
If you have a retired greyhound who used to run on the track, they’re likely to miss their former life.
Cutting out running altogether might make your greyhound age more quickly, as they lack the mental and physical stimulation that their body is used to.
They will appear to mourn the loss of their former racing life and may become lethargic and even depressed (yes, dogs get depressed).
Exercise isn’t just about keeping physically healthy. Going out of the house daily to see other dogs will help your greyhound develop their social skills.
This is particularly important if your greyhound is a puppy, as you’ll need to ensure that they can be around other dogs safely. Greyhounds are friendly dogs and need that interaction to help sustain their mental health.
How Much Exercise Do Greyhounds Need?
Two 20–30-minute walks daily should be fine for your greyhound to get all the exercise they need and keep their bodies healthy.
What Type Of Exercise Do Greyhounds Need?
Walking is the obvious choice of exercise. It gives them a chance to let loose and is even good for you too.
Make sure you walk them to a place where you can safely let them off the leash to run around. Short walks around the city won’t do the job.
Try to avoid long walks too. Greyhounds are built for acceleration, not stamina. A 20-minute sprint will do them just as much good as an hour’s rambling.
Also, consider where you’re walking. Greyhounds have delicate limbs and are best suited for walking on flat ground.
Their natural reaction to being let off the leash will be to burst into a sprint, and this could be dangerous if the ground is rocky or steep.
How Often Should Greyhounds Be Walked?
You’ll need to walk your greyhound at least twice a day, but preferably three times. This isn’t just to keep them healthy, but also because they’ll need toilet breaks.
Set up your routine to take them out once in the morning, once around lunchtime, and once in the evening.
If you can’t fit in a walk during the day, it might be best to get someone to look in on your greyhound and just let them outside for a toilet break.
Never skip a day when it comes to exercise. It’s easy for your greyhound to fall into bad habits and the less you walk them, the less they’ll want to walk.
Do Greyhounds Like Walking?
Like all dogs, greyhounds love walking, not just because of the exercise they’re getting, but because of all the exciting sights, sounds, and smells that they get to experience when they’re outside.
If you have a greyhound puppy, they’ll be so enthusiastic about going out walking and will sprint around a field until they tire themselves out.
But as greyhounds get older, they’ll enjoy walks less and less and will likely want to snuggle up with you on the couch. You’ll also find it particularly difficult to get a more senior greyhound to enjoy walking if it’s cold or wet.
Because of their short, sleek coat, they do get cold very quickly. Convincing them to go for a walk in bad weather can become a struggle, even if they’re wearing a coat.
Don’t worry too much though, once you’ve got them out and about, they’ll forget about the weather and enjoy it.
Chasing things will be your greyhound’s favorite thing to do. Take some toys that mimic a chase, such as balls that you can throw for them to fetch back or rabbit-shaped toys to give them the illusion that they’ve caught an animal.
Toys that help them mimic their natural behavior will make your walks even more valuable and mentally stimulating.
Where Is The Best Place To Exercise A Greyhound?
It would be best if you found somewhere that your greyhound can run around freely and get those bursts of energy out of their system.
For this reason, it’s not ideal to take them on a walk through the city or to the shops. Although it’s not bad for them, this kind of steady walk doesn’t cater to their specific muscle needs.
Instead, you’ll need to find somewhere nearby that has a wide-open space so you can let them have a sprint around. Perhaps a park or field? However, you must ensure a wall or fence encloses the area.
Greyhounds have a natural chase instinct and may take off if they spot a rabbit or squirrel. You need to make sure that they can’t get too far away from you and that there’s a barrier to prevent them from getting lost.
Can Greyhounds Be Off Leash?
Just like other dog breeds, you shouldn’t let a greyhound off the leash when you’re in a public space, on the high street, for example.
Although greyhounds are relatively easy to train and are very loyal, their normal behavior might change if they happen to spot a cat or other small animal.
Greyhounds are incredibly fast, reaching speeds of 72 km/h (45 mph), so it’d be impossible for you to run alongside them with a leash on.
However, you will need to let them off the leash once you’ve reached a field or park to allow them to run around and get their daily exercise.
Can You Over-Exercise A Greyhound?
Yes, greyhounds can have too much exercise. If you’re an active person and prefer to do more exercise yourself, make sure you gradually build it up and see how comfortable your greyhound is.
If they’re only used to a 20-minute walk twice a day, but you suddenly increase this time to over an hour, they’re likely to feel some adverse effects. Anyway, they usually won’t like anything longer than 45 minutes.
Signs That You’ve Over-Exercised Your Greyhound
If you notice a limp or if your dog whines when they put weight on a specific leg, it’s likely that they have a joint injury.
These injuries will only improve with rest, but if you don’t see a definite change within a few days, take them to the vet. It may be that they need painkillers to make them feel more comfortable.
Paw Pad Injury
The pads on the bottom of your greyhound’s feet are soft and easy to tear if they’re running on rocky or uneven ground. Unfortunately, these tears don’t tend to heal quickly, especially if they’re always walking.
If the injury is bleeding or looks serious, take them to the vet to get a bandage. This will stop any infection while they’re healing.
Muscle stiffness or pulled muscles will cause your dog to limp, and the muscle will appear more solid than expected.
It might even twitch and be sensitive to touch. Pulled muscles usually aren’t serious and will correct themselves after a few days of rest.
If you live in a hot climate, you should refrain from going on long walks. Heatstroke is a real danger for greyhounds, especially with their thin coat and skin type.
If the weather is hot, it might be best to shorten your walking time to around 10 minutes and only walk first thing in the morning or in the evening when it’s a little cooler.
Heatstroke can cause vomiting and a loss of appetite. In more extreme cases, it could even cause seizures. If you suspect heatstroke, take your greyhound straight to the vet.
If you over-exercise your greyhound, they might get too tired. And as your greyhound gets older, they won’t be able to handle long walks.
If you notice them being overly lethargic, it may be that they’ve just overdone it. Try to reduce walk times for an older dog to stop them from getting too tired.
And even with a younger dog, always see how comfortable they are during walks.
Greyhounds do need regular exercise to keep them fit and healthy, but you need to make sure that they’re getting the correct type of exercise at the right time of day.
Go on 2-3 mini walks a day to an open space with an enclosing fence. Avoid long walks, uneven terrain, and city walking. And always check how comfortable your greyhound is, and when they’ve had enough.