Buying a Racing Greyhound: The Ultimate Beginners Guide

This guide introduces potential owners to the various methods of acquiring a greyhound. It notes a particularly favored method – sourcing from Ireland, a place globally recognized for its superior greyhound and horse breeds.

Source of Greyhounds: Ireland as Blue Chip

Ireland’s Prominence: It is home to roughly three-quarters of the most premium greyhounds globally. Ireland pops out as an ideal place to look for a greyhound because of two primary factors:

  1. Expert Knowledge: The Irish have an expansive understanding of greyhounds, stemming from a culture where most homes have bred a litter of pups.
  2. Endowed Environment: The pups grow in fields with rich calcium deposits from the grassland, the water, and the limestone-rock formation, a key mineral for bone formation. Additionally, the pups also access large milk quantities, a good calcium source. Such an environment serves as an ideal nursery for growing ropes, explaining why Ireland breeds the best racehorses.


Factors Contributing to Ireland’s Greyhound Superiority Description
Expert Knowledge Broad understanding of greyhounds
Endowed Environment Rich calcium sources promote bone development


Purchasing a Greyhound

Choosing your ideal greyhound can be a continuous journey filled with various sources of advice and purchase avenues to consider.

Role of the Trainer in Greyhound Acquisition

While deciding on which greyhound to purchase, guidance from a knowledgeable trainer can help you navigate the entire process effectively. They may even have a suitable greyhound for sale within their kennel.

Trainer’s Assistance:

  1. Choosing Your Greyhound: Trainers have intimate knowledge about the dogs under their care and can be advantageous resources for selecting a suitable greyhound.
  2. Direct Purchase: It could be a situation where your chosen trainer might already have a suitable greyhound in their kennel up for sale.

Buying Greyhounds via Sales Avenues

For a wider range of options, trainers can also direct prospective owners to greyhound sales.

Greyhound Sales Attributes:

  1. Frequency and Location: Greyhound sales events transpire throughout the year, online or at tracks across the country. The GBGB Calendar provides dates for these sales events.
  2. Budget Consideration: Especially for new owners, maintaining a fixed budget while buying at a sale is crucial. Your trainer can provide guidance to ensure your spend aligns with the value of the chosen greyhound.
  3. Trainer Support: For first-time attendees, having your trainer alongside during sales events can be beneficial. They can employ their experience to ensure you make a valuable purchase.


Sale Attribute Detail
Frequency and Location Year-round online and at-track sales
Budget Consideration Maintaining a fixed budget is recommended for new owners
Trainer Support Handy for first-time attendees, ensuring valuable purchases

Considerations for First-Time Greyhound Owners

For individuals new to owning greyhounds, consulting your trainer’s advice is often beneficial. They can assess the value of a dog and its suitability to race at preferred tracks.

Key Considerations:

  1. Health & Fitness: A vital thing to remember while purchasing a greyhound is to ensure it’s in good health. Always request a veterinary certificate from the current owner or breeder.

Purchasing a greyhound involves a careful understanding of its attributes and potential performance. Knowledge from trusted trainers along with consideration of budget and the dog’s health can assist in making an informed and effective decision.

Purchase Method: Liaising with Local Breeders

Another successful means of acquiring a greyhound involves finding a reputable breeder who raises well-bred litters:

Breeder Identification: Identify someone raising a well-bred litter, which enjoys some success in breeding greyhounds.

Early Selection: Select a male (dog) or female (bitch) puppy of choice at an early age.

Ownership Transfer: Transfer of ownership can happen when the puppy is twelve weeks old, provided you have adequate facilities for their upbringing.

Contract with the Breeder: If the requisite conditions for rearing greyhounds are not met, an agreement could be drawn with the breeder for the greyhound to stay with them up to the age of 16 months (the sapling stage), facilitated by weekly payments. At this age, they will be primed for their first trials.


Step in The Buying Process Action
Breeder Identification Find a reputable breeder raising well-bred litters
Early Selection Choose a male or female puppy
Ownership Transfer Transfer of ownership can occur at twelve weeks old
Contract with the Breeder If necessary, arrange for the greyhound to stay with the breeder until it reaches 16 months


Trial Attendance and Greyhound Selection

Both in the UK and Ireland, it’s an established practice to attend the first trials of young greyhounds, which occur frequently each week. Observers with a keen eye for potential may purchase a promising greyhound for a reasonable price after these trials. Notably, the Derby-winning greyhound Monday’s News, which earned £7,000 in prize money for its owner, was acquired post-trial for just £100.

Selecting a Potential Champion: Observers typically look for attributes such as:

  1. Early Promise: Greyhounds showcasing significant potential in these trials can be acquired for a modest sum.
  2. Historical Pedigree: Greyhound racing enthusiasts and potential owners often look for a strong lineage, which increases the chances of a greyhound performing exceptionally in races.


Key Considerations Description
Early Promise Identifying potential in young greyhounds
Historical Pedigree Assessment of lineage for promising traits

Acquisition through Racing Press

The greyhound racing press, now almost exclusively online, often affords the opportunity to purchase animals demonstrating notable track performances and still young enough for further improvement.

Desirable Attributes for a Race Greyhound: Potential owners should seek out:

  1. Reliable Breeding: The greyhound should come from reputable lineage known for their racing prowess.
  2. Appropriate Age: The potential to improve is best when the dog is not more than three years old. A racing greyhound hits its peak performance roundabout its fourth year.


Ideal Attributes Description
Reliable Breeding Greyhound from a good lineage
Appropriate Age At or below three years old

Performance and Retirement

Greyhounds may continue to perform well for several years, possibly earning significant recognition that facilitates retirement for breeding purposes. A healthy dog generally begins racing at approximately 18 months old and maintains performance levels up to roughly six years old.

Race and Retirement Age: Dogs usually start racing at eighteen months and retire at around six years, although performance can continue up to seven or eight years.

  1. Race Start: Strong constitution dogs usually begin races at about eighteen months old.
  2. Continued Performance: Many dogs continue performing well until they’re seven or eight years old.
  3. Ideal Retirement Age: As a norm, greyhounds are retired around six years for those intended for breeding.


Race and Retirement Milestones Age
Race Start Approximately 18 months
Continued Performance Up to 7-8 years
Ideal Retirement Age Approximately 6 years

Considerations When Purchasing a Greyhound

Purchasing a greyhound requires thorough research and consideration. Whether acquiring directly from the owner or through an online avenue, assurances regarding the dog’s temperament, race history, and overall health are crucial.

Acquiring a Non-Fighting Greyhound

When purchasing a greyhound, a crucial factor to consider is the animal’s behavior during races, specifically its propensity to fight other dogs.

Understanding the Risk of a Fighting Greyhound: A dog accustomed to aggressive behavior during a race will be disqualified, jeopardizing its racing career.

  1. Non-Fighting Guarantee: Secure a guarantee from the current owner that the greyhound is a non-fighter.
  2. Addressing the Issue: Rarely curable, a fighting greyhound may be required to transition into a pet.
  3. Untested Dogs: Untested dogs come with an inherent risk of unknown behaviors. However, they usually have a more affordable price tag compared to proven racing dogs.


Greyhound Behavior Implications
Fighting May lead to disqualification from races
Non-Fighting Can perform well in races
Untested More affordable, but carries unknown behavioral risks

Evaluating Over-racing and Uncertain History

It’s essential to investigate a greyhound’s racing background and guarantee that it hasn’t been over-raced, which could lead to poor future performance.

Factors to Consider While Purchasing:

  1. Over-racing Check: Despite the dog’s young age, over-racing could cause it to peak early, leading to its sale.
  2. Consulting Racing Managers and Trainers: Contact the racing manager of the greyhound’s home track to view its race card, containing a detailed record of its performance. The trainer can also provide information on the dog’s behavior, health, and future prospects.
  3. Available Catalogues: Auctioneer catalogs are available a week or so before the sale, allowing ample time for a thorough investigation of the dog.
  4. Age and Illness: Special considerations should be made for dogs aged three years or more with minimal racing history possibly due to illness. Recent trials indicating recovery might suggest the dog still has potential for good form.
  5. Untested Older Dogs: Caution is advised when dealing with older untested dogs put up for sale. They may have undergone rigorous trials without showcasing spectacular results unless they’ve been ill.


Purchasing Considerations Factors
Over-racing Check Potential red flag
Consulting Racing Managers and Trainers Insight into behavior and potential
Available Catalogues Information on dogs up for sale
Age and Illness Older dogs can still perform if they’ve recovered from illness
Untested Older Dogs Potential weak performers

Guidelines for Purchasing an ‘Untried’ Greyhound

When investing in an ‘untried’ greyhound, several key considerations come into play. These range from the dog’s age during purchase to the importance of personal evaluation before making the acquisition.

Ideal Age of Purchase and Acclimatization

Age is a critical factor when purchasing an untried dog. Such a dog should ideally be no more than eighteen months old, and preferably within the range of fourteen to fifteen months.

Purchasing Age and Acclimatization Process:

  1. Ideal Purchase Age: The best age to buy a dog is around fourteen months, followed by sending it for individual care to a farmer for two months.
  2. Acclimatization for Non-native Dogs: Irish dogs, for example, might require special attention during the initial weeks of acclimatization, during which they must receive diligent care and avoid trials.


Ideal Age Purpose
14 months Optimal age for training and care
15-18 months Maximum age for an ‘untried’ dog

Assessing Physical Attribute

Before purchasing an untried dog, potential owners should engage in a rigorous physical examination. If needed, it’s advisable to bring along someone with proficiency in examining greyhounds.

Physical Examination Checklist:

  1. Thorough Inspection: Every part of the dog should be checked, with the feet being of particular importance.
  2. Observation of Movement: Observe the greyhound walking and running to assess its gait and agility.
  3. Size and Weight Perception: Size should not be the main criterion for selection as some of the most renowned greyhounds have been below average weight. For example, Monday’s News, one of the finest greyhounds, weighed only 64 lb. at its peak.


Physical Examination Elements Purpose
Thorough Inspection Checking for any apparent issues
Observation of Movement Assess agility and gait
Size and Weight Perception Establish suitability for racing

Role of Size and Weight in Selection

Though size and weight play a role in the selection process, they shouldn’t overshadow other factors. It’s also crucial to note that bitches tend to be lighter than male dogs.

Size and Weight Considerations:

  1. Size and Weight Variations: Some top-performing dogs and bitches have been of below-average size and weight.
  2. Differences between Dogs and Bitches: Bitches are usually lighter, often weighing 20 lb. less than male dogs. However, numerous top-performing bitches, such as Coomassie, Lobelia, and Bab-at-the-Bowster, weighed only 45 lb.


Gender Typical Weight
Male Greyhounds Varies widely—72 lb. in prime (examples: Bah’s Choice, Model Dasher, and Quare Times) to 90 lb. (example: Rebel Light)
Female Greyhounds (Bitches) Almost 20 lb. less than male dogs; can be as low as 45 lb. (examples: Coomassie, Lobelia, Bab-at-the-Bowster)


These guidelines on purchasing an ‘untried’ greyhound, which cover the ideal age of purchase, physical assessment, and size and weight considerations, are essential in making a well-informed decision.

Evaluation of Greyhound Characteristics

When it comes to evaluating the characteristics of a greyhound, several physical attributes come under scrutiny. From its skull and jaw structure to the condition of its coat, every detail can provide useful information about the animal’s health, genetic traits, and potential performance.

Key Physical Attributes

The physical dynamics and form of a greyhound provide insight into its quality and potential abilities.

Essential Physical Attributes:

  1. Skull: The skull should be flat, complemented by a long muzzle. Eyes should be prominent, teeth glistening white.
  2. Jaws and Ears: The jaws ought to be powerful and well chiseled, with the ears small and drooping.
  3. Neck and Shoulders: Favor a long, symmetrical, and muscular neck. For courting greyhounds, the length of the neck is vital to allow them to capture the hare in stride. The shoulders should ideally slope gently.


Attributes Description
Skull Should be flat with a long muzzle
Jaws and Ears Jaws should be powerful and well chiseled; ears small and drooping
Neck and Shoulders Neck should be long and muscular; shoulders gently sloping

Torso and Tail Descriptions

The anatomy of the greyhound’s torso and tail offers further analytical points.

Main Torso and Tail Attributes:

  1. Back and Chest: The back should resemble a beam—long, square-shaped indicating strength. A deep and wide chest denotes ample heart space.
  2. Feet: Compact feet are preferable with well-knuckled toes drawn up together, much like a cat’s. Claws should be thick and strong.
  3. Tail: A greyhound’s tail must be long, tapering, and slightly upwards-curving like a sickle; thick, bushy tails typically indicate undesirable breeding traits. The tail should not be overly hairy.


Attributes Description
Back and Chest Back should be long and square-shaped; chest deep and wide
Feet Should be compact with well-knuckled toes; thick and strong claws
Tail Long, tapering, upturned, sparsely haired

Legs and Coat Quality

The legs and coat of a greyhound have unique attributes valuable for assessment purposes.

Fundamental Leg and Coat Attributes:

  1. Legs: The legs should be straight, with elbows located close enough to be efficient yet far enough not to restrict movement. Thighs should be well-developed, thick, and firm. The hocks should be positioned close to the ground.
  2. Coat Color: The greyhound’s coat may be black, brindle, fawn, red, white, or blue, or a mix of these colors with white markings. Some fawn dogs may have a black muzzle.
  3. Coat Quality: The coat should be fine, close, and glossy, indicating good health.


Attributes Description
Legs Straight, well-developed thighs, hocks close to the ground
Coat Color Can be black, brindle, fawn, red, white, or blue; fawn dogs may have black muzzles
Coat Quality Fine, close, and glossy


When walking, the greyhound should hold its head erect and exhibit a springy, lively movement. Overall, these qualities should be looked for when purchasing a greyhound or displaying it on a show bench.

Essential Guidelines for Purchasing a Greyhound

Buying a greyhound can be a complex procedure that requires careful consideration of several factors. Among these aspects, the acquisition of identity papers and the transfer of ownership are crucial.

Identity Papers and Ownership Transfer

Upon acquiring a greyhound, ensuring that you receive both the identity papers and the transfer of ownership is paramount.

Importance of Identity Papers and Ownership Transfer:

  1. Identity Papers: Greyhounds without proper identity papers are ineligible to participate in races on licensed tracks.
  2. Transfer of Ownership: This is a critical legal procedure that must be done in order to officially designate the new owner of the greyhound.


Crucial Documents Purpose
Identity Papers Proof of identity and pedigree; essential for racing eligibility
Transfer of Ownership Provides legal recognition of the change in dog’s ownership

Registration and Markings for Irish Greyhounds

For greyhounds initially registered in Ireland, some additional regulations and procedures apply for racing on Great Britain Greyhound Board (GBGB) tracks.

Regulations for Irish Greyhounds:

  1. Stud Book Transfer: Dogs already registered in the Irish Stud Book do not require a transfer to the English Stud Book for racing on GBGB tracks.
  2. Requirement of Markings: Before they can partake in races, Irish greyhounds must have their markings on record.


Regulations Description
Stud Book Transfer Irish registered greyhounds do not require to be in the English Stud Book to race on GBGB tracks
Requirement of Markings Markings of Irish greyhounds must be recorded before the dog can race


These benchmarks guide the purchase process of a greyhound, providing insights into the prerequisite procedures and documentation required for ownership transfer as well as racing participation.

Greyhound Ownership Options

Choosing to own or co-own a racing greyhound presents a genuinely rewarding experience with flexible options catering to individual preferences and budgets.

Types of Greyhound Ownership

Greyhound ownership falls into three primary categories, each providing unique advantages that can cater to a range of needs and investment levels from a single owner to partnerships and larger groups.

Main Ownership Options:

  1. Single Ownership: One person has complete possession of a greyhound. This is a suitable choice for those who prefer exclusive control and responsibility of their canine athlete.
  2. Partnerships: Two or more individuals share the ownership costs and responsibilities of the greyhound.
  3. Syndicates: Consist of more than four persons that co-own a greyhound under a collective name. A popular approach to spreading the financial commitments, Syndicates allow enjoyment of the sports experience with family, friends, or colleagues.


Ownership Mode Participants
Single Ownership 1
Partnership 2-4
Syndicate More than 4

Syndicate Ownership Structure

Syndicate ownership offers a unique structure that allows larger group involvement in greyhound ownership.

Syndicate Ownership Components:

  1. Members: A syndicate is a group formation that co-owns the racing greyhound. For many newcomers to the world of greyhound racing, joining a syndicate can be a preferred introduction to ownership.
  2. Head Member: Every syndicate must appoint a head member, who becomes the primary contact person responsible for all matters relating to the syndicate.


Syndicate Component Explanation
Members Group of more than four persons co-owning a greyhound
Head Member Responsible for all matters relating to the syndicate


Being a part of a syndicate encourages shared investments with family, friends, or colleagues and can make the journey into greyhound racing more enjoyable and manageable in terms of financial commitment. Each type of ownership brings a unique blend of responsibility and reward with it, contributing to the rich experience of participating in the world of greyhound racing.

Costs Associated with Greyhound Ownership

The cost of owning a greyhound can vary widely, influenced by factors such as the dog’s breeding and training stage as well as ongoing care and post-retirement expenses.

Costs Based on Training Stages

Owners typically acquire their greyhounds at different stages in the dogs’ careers, which drastically influences the initial purchase cost.

Greyhound purchase prices by stage:

  1. Puppy: These are greyhounds with no training or racing experience.
  2. Sapling: This stage includes dogs that have received some training but haven’t participated in races yet.
  3. Actively Racing: These are greyhounds already experienced on the track.

Purchase Costs Variation

Purchase costs for greyhounds dramatically fluctuate depending upon their pedigree and race readiness. For instance, a pedigreed, unraced puppy may vary in cost from £500 to £5,000. Guidance from a trusted trainer can greatly benefit you in aligning the greyhound’s price with your budget.


Training Stage Purchase Cost Variation
Puppy £500 to £5,000
Sapling Mid-range (Patient budget assessment required)
Actively Racing High range (Dependent on performance and pedigree)

Realistic Expectations and Risk Factors

While buying a greyhound, particularly a puppy, it is imperative to have realistic expectations. Not every puppy is guaranteed to become a racer; certain dogs may not acclimate to chasing or grade on. Dogs failing to make their marks as racers will need to find loving homes where they can enjoy life as pets.

Gender-based Considerations

Gender selection needs to account for race interruptions in case of bitches, which have seasonal breaks during which they can’t participate in races. However, the routine kennel bills still apply during these periods.

Long-term Ownership Costs

Beyond the initial investment, owners should consider ongoing costs linked to health, well-being, and post-retirement planning for their greyhounds.

Long-term cost considerations for owning a greyhound:

  1. Health & Well-being: This encompasses regular veterinary check-ups, fitness maintenance, and dietary planning.
  2. Retirement Planning: Greyhounds usually retire at a young age, requiring an effective plan for their post-racing life, including cost allocation for potential health issues and care.

Owning a greyhound requires careful financial considerations right from the acquisition stage, taking into account the greyhound’s life stages, gender-based care interruptions, and longer-term costs for their overall well-being and retirement preparation. This consideration enables a rewarding and responsible experience as a greyhound owner.

Application Process for Greyhound Ownership

Anyone intent on becoming an owner of a greyhound needs to register their dog with the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB). Here we summarize the procedure of registration with GBGB; detailing how to obtain the GBGB registration form, the requirements for registration, and the registration fee considerations.

Acquisition of the GBGB Registration Form

A GBGB registration form is mandatory to begin the process of Greyhound ownership. To help guide you through this initial step, seek the assistance of your trainer or your chosen track’s Racing Office.

Steps for obtaining the GBGB registration form:

  1. Contact Your Trainer: With their experience and knowledge, your chosen trainer can aid in acquiring the registration form.
  2. Approach the Racing Office: If you already have a chosen track for your future greyhound, you could also reach out to its Racing Office for assistance.

Greyhound Owner Registration with GBGB

Though the GBGB does not directly license greyhound owners, it does necessitate their registration. This involves some crucial paperwork during the initial registration process of your greyhound.

Registration requirement details for new owners:

  1. Proof of Identity: Valid identification such as a modern copy of a UK driving license or passport is a requirement.
  2. Address Verification: You’ll need to supply authoritative proof of address, such as a recent utilities bill or a letter that clearly displays your current address.

Fee Structure for GBGB Registration

GBGB’s registration fees are variable, relying on different types of ownership which are taken into consideration.

For more accurate and detailed information on fee structure, you are encouraged to contact the GBGB’s registry department at

Application to become an owner involves obtaining a GBGB form, registering as an owner with GBGB, and accounting for possible registration fees. With these requirements met, you can enjoy the journey of greyhound ownership, offering a rewarding experience of participating in the racing community and giving a loving home to a greyhound.