Today, Greyhounds are known for being the fastest dog breed around. But did you know that Greyhounds are among the oldest domesticated dog breeds ever? Historians can trace the Greyhound (or Greyhound ancestors) back 4000 years to the times of Ancient Greece, Egypt, and Persia!
Since then, Greyhounds have played various roles throughout history. They’ve served as companions to the gods, held a place in royal courts, worked as hunting dogs, and been used for racing and entertainment purposes.
And there are several different types of Greyhound or other dogs that are very similar. Greyhounds are considered sighthounds and share common characteristics such as a lean build and an elongated muzzle. Let’s take a look at some of these variants.
1. Spanish Greyhounds
Also known as the Spanish Galgo, the Spanish Greyhound is an ancient dog breed once primarily bred exclusively for Spanish nobility. However, they’ve lost their noble status and are now utilized as hunting dogs throughout Spain. Unfortunately, these pups are often treated horribly and discarded once they’ve “outlived their usefulness.” Thankfully, an international push has come forward to help rescue these dogs and put them in the arms of loving homes.
The Sloughi — also known as the Arabian Greyhound — is another variant of the traditional Greyhound. This lean sighthound was once used in an exceptionally popular hunting game throughout North African deserts. As a matter of fact, the Sloughi was believed to have crossed the Alps with the great general Hannibal, which brought them to Europe. They are known to be generally aloof with strangers, but loving and loyal to their families.
3. Borzoi (Long-haired greyhound)
Often described as long-haired Greyhounds, Borzois are large Russian sighthounds that were used to course wolves. Although they have a fearsome working background, these dogs are often anything but. They’re known for their noble and respectful demeanor towards their masters.
4. Afghan Hound
The Afghan Hound is one of the most recognizable show breeds due to its elegant sighthound body and long luxurious coat. Afghan Hounds trace their roots back thousands of years to Afghanistan where they were originally called Tazi. They are one of the more playful breeds of the sighthounds and are wonderful companions for children.
The Saluki — AKA the Gazelle Hound or Persian Greyhound — is one of the oldest dog breeds ever. They can be traced all the way back to the beginning of human civilization in the Fertile Crescent region of the Middle East. There are even theories that the name Saluki is derived from ancient Sumerian meaning to “plunge-earth” because they actually were thrown towards prey by camel-mounted hunters.
These Greyhound descendants are among the most friendly of all sighthounds. While most sighthounds are generally aloof to strangers, the Whippet is very social and kind to just about anyone. And they’re generally quiet dogs, only barking rarely. Let’s just say, they aren’t known for their abilities as great watchdogs. However, Whippets do make excellent family dogs and have even shown to get along with other dogs or cats.
7. Scottish Deerhound
Commonly referred to simply as Deerhounds, these dogs are one of the larger sighthounds with males weighing up to 110 pounds. They’re also one of the tallest dog breeds you’ll find, with fully-grown Deerhounds standing at 28 inches at the shoulder, some even taller. It’s easy to see why they’re known as the “Royal Dog of Scotland”. However, they aren’t the most popular of dog breeds due to their high energy and need for wide-open spaces.
8. Ibizan Hound
Ibizan Hounds can be traced back to approximately the year 3400 B.C. when Phoenician traders first brought Egyptian hounds to the island of Ibiza. One of the first things you’ll notice about this breed is its wide, upright perky ears. Although originally used as a rabbit hunting dog, these hounds have evolved over the years to be absolutely wonderful family dogs.
9. Pharaoh Hound
The Pharaoh Hound can trace its lineage all the way back to ancient Egypt where it’s been found depicted in hieroglyphics as companions to the Pharaohs and gods themselves. As a matter of fact, the jackal god Anubis bears such a close resemblance that some scholars question whether the Pharaoh Hound was the actual basis instead of the jackal. They’ve since outgrown their otherworldly roots and have become great family dogs and the official dog breed of Malta.
Basenjis are among the most compact of the sighthounds, maintaining a short and dense stature compared to others. They are also very unique in that they don’t bark. Well, not in the traditional sense anyway. They communicate through a sound described as something between a yodel and bloodcurdling scream. But they’re super independent dogs that are great for apartment living and can be left alone for extended periods of time.
The Azawakh is closely related to the Sloughi above, but that doesn’t mean they’re exactly alike. Both breeds hail from Northern Africa and were used as hunting dogs. Out of the two, the Azawakh is more headstrong and regal. While they are loyal to their masters, they have many more reservations about strangers and are generally less affectionate. This isn’t the best of breeds to have with small children as they can easily take over as the dominant personality.
Owning a Greyhound or any other of these sighthounds is a remarkable opportunity. They’re all highly dedicated and loving to their families. And despite their high energy outbursts, these dogs are some of the biggest couch potatoes you’ll find.
If you’re serious about owning a Greyhound, we highly recommend that you check out adoption agencies for retired Greyhound racers. These dogs deserve a loving home where they can relax and live out their lives pampered and spoiled by you.
Featured image credit: Susiwusi, Pixabay