I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game's afoot

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (1564-1616), Henry V

Greyhounds


Blue Hounds


Greyhounds come in many colours, but the ones with grey coats are described as ‘blue’ by enthusiasts. The ‘grey’ in greyhound has nothing to do with colour – it’s from the Old English word grighund (grig meant 'bitch'). 

Greyhounds can hit a top speed of 45mph, thanks in part to their use of the 'double suspension gallop', a gait in which all four feet are off the ground simultaneously at two points in the stride – fully extended and fully contracted. Audiences declined in the 1970s but have since recovered strongly, and the sport is far from going to the dogs; according to Greyhound Racing UK it’s the second most popular spectator sport in the country, after football. There are 28 tracks in the UK, and most have two meetings a week – there are 3 million attendances and £2.5 billion wagered each year. Greyhound racing came to the UK from America in 1926 and caught on quickly; the former Olympic stadium at White City became a dog track in 1927. It used to be the practice to kill the dogs once their racing career was over (i.e. by the age of five), but these days strenuous efforts are made to place them in retirement homes. The artificial hare running round a circular track which makes modern racing possible was invented in 1912 as a humane alternative to the hares (UK), jackrabbits (US) and wallabies (Australia) that were previously used in coursing.The doors of the starting traps are designed so that the dogs have to crouch down into a racing start position in order to see out, giving them a faster start. The trap numbers and colours are always the same: 1 = red, 2 = blue, 3 = white, 4 = black, 5 = orange, 6 = black and white stripes

The Simpsons’ dog, Santa’s Little Helper, is a greyhound.

EDITH SITWELL (1887-1964)

Why not be one's self? That is the whole secret of a successful appearance. If one is a greyhound, why try to look like a Pekingese?

King John took greyhounds from his aristocracy as part of their tax payments.

Greyhounds vs Cheetahs


The question, 'Which would win in a race between a greyhound and a cheetah?' gives an unexpected answer: the greyhound normally wins, because the cheetah can’t be bothered to race. We owe this insight to Kenneth Gandar-Dower, who was a poet, international sportsman, journalist, explorer, and perhaps the only man ever to stage professional cheetah racing in the UK.

Gandar-Dower imported some cheetahs in 1937, and ran them at London greyhound tracks. The venture was a flop, because cheetahs are remarkably uncompetitive, and too intelligent to mistake a length of rag on a stick for a gazelle. They wandered round in a state of indifference and the experiment was abandoned. To both animals the pursuit is essentially a hunt, but if the hare’s too far ahead or 'masked’ the cheetah loses interest. Of course cheetahs do win comfortably if they can be induced to run at all, but they do so in their own way. They don’t cover the course at a uniform pace, but wait for their moment, then go through with an immense burst of speed, almost always passing upon the inside, after which they may maintain this speed to the finish or merely content themselves with a comfortable lead.

Traditionally the greyhound was supposed to be the only dog breed mentioned in the Bible (Proverbs 30: 29-31). In the King James Version the greyhound is listed as one of the 'four stately things'. In the modern version, though, the word 'zarzir' is translated instead as 'strutting rooster', following the Arabic, so that’s no longer the case. Other suggestions are 'cricket', or even 'horse' or 'zebra'. 

Viagra makes greyhounds run faster.

A. P. HERBERT (1890-1971)

Don’t let's go to the dogs tonight
For mother will be there.

The greyhound is the only breed of dog mentioned in The Bible.