Greyhound Dog: Elegance of Form, Dignity, and Cleanliness

The Greyhound is probably the oldest member of his race. From time immemorial they have been popular as companions at home and in the hunting field. As a result of the time and care that have been spent upon them, they are the most highly developed domestic animal in existence.

In elegance of form, dignity, and cleanliness Greyhounds are worthy of their long descent. They are much more affectionate and intelligent than is usually believed, and in point of speed, courage, fortitude, endurance, and sagacity, they are the equals of any dog that lives. Well-bred Greyhounds know no fear, turn from no game animal on which they are sighted, no matter how large or ferocious, pursue with the speed of the wind, seize the instant they come up with the game, and stay in the fight until they or the quarry are dead.

The general supposition that Greyhounds are devoid of the power of scent is a mistake, as can be attested by anyone who has ever hunted them in the West on large game. The uses to which they are put do not require keen olfactory organs; consequently their sense of smell has deteriorated somewhat from lack of use, but it is far from being entirely gone.

Coursers have no regular standard of size and weight, but the medium sized dog of about sixtyfive to seventy pounds’ weight is usually the most useful.

With them the head is a part of the dog’s anatomy of little or no account, since he has no particular use for it except to kill with his jaws. For this purpose the longer and stronger the jaws are the better. Ears again count for nothing, but a small eye is objectionable, since it is with his eyes that the Greyhound sights the hare, and a rather large eye, set in not too close, enables him the better to see puss’s many turns. A long and muscular neck is a great essential, set well into obliquely placed shoulders.

The forelegs should be as straight as gun barrels, but the elbows should not be turned in, which prevents a dog from getting down to his work. Rather they should be turned out a trifle. The chest should be deep, the ribs gradually widening as they reach their terminus. The loins should be slightly arched, very broad and thick, like two big Atlantic cables traversing the dog’s back, and merging into broad and big hindquarters, the muscles of which should resemble two big, round loaves of bread stuck on the dog. The thighs should be wide and very muscular, both first and second thighs, the stifles well bent and the hocks well let down, being formed so as to appear from behind perfectly parallel and free from the slightest taint of what is called “cow-hocks.”

Flat or long loins are very objectionable, by which the dog loses control over his hindquarters. The dog should be well “cut-up” under his loins in order that he may have greater freedom for the working of his hind limbs. Briefly, the dog should be comparatively short-coupled on the top, but should, when standing, cover a lot of ground below, and he should be neither too long on the leg nor too short.

Color is an altogether immaterial point; a good Greyhound, like a good horse, cannot be a bad color. The tail should be long and strong, since it is to the dog what the rudder is to the ship.

The chief points to look for in the selection of Greyhound puppies at from two to four months old and after, are: A long neck, well-placed shoulders, great bone, deep chest, well sprung ribs, and big hindquarters.

The following standard and scale of points is commonly used by bench-show judges, but, as previously stated, is given little consideration by practical coursing men:

HEAD.-The head of the Greyhound should be long, lean, and tapering; narrow across the skull as compared with some breeds, but should have sufficient width to allow for brain room. The eyes should be full, clear, and bright; the ears should be small and folded back close to the head; the jaws strong and level, not pig-jawed; the teeth strong and sound, so as to be able to hold the hare. The furrow between the eyes should be slightly marked, with little or no stop; the eyebrows should not be prominent.

NECK.-The neck should be long, lean, and arched, so as to enable the dog to catch up the hare without stooping. It should be set on to the head cleanly, and should widen gradually as it goes into the shoulders.

COAT AND COLOR.-The coat should be short, smooth, and glossy. The color is of slight importance.

LOIN, BACK RIBS, AND HINDQUARTERS.-There should be good length from shoulders to back ribs, which should be well-sprung to afford good attachment for the muscles of the loins. A slight arch is permissible, but not to such an extent as to form a roach or wheel-back. The hindquarters should be powerful and muscular and show great length by reason of well-bent stifles.

SHOULDERS AND FORELEGS.-Shoulders should be oblique. Forearm of good length, in line with the shoulders. Forelegs should be perfectly straight. The leg should be twice as long from the fetlock joint or knee as from the latter to the ground.

CHEST.-Should be deep, but not so deep as to interfere with the irregularities of the ground when running at full speed. It should not be too wide nor too narrow; a happy medium.

FEET.-The Greyhound may have either the catfoot or the hare-foot, provided the toes are well together.

TAIL.-Fine, free from fringe, and nicely curved toward the end.

SCALE OF POINTS.-Head, 10; neck, 10; chest and forequarters, 20; loin and back ribs, 15; hindquarters, 20; feet, 15; tail, 5; color and coat, 5. Total, 100.