The Greyhound Club of America -- A Short History
The Greyhound is a very old breed probably originating in the eastern Mediterranean region and has been used to course a variety of game over a variety of terrain at extreme speed for thousands of years. This very useful purpose, along with its calm and sunny disposition towards people, enabled Greyhounds to come to the New World with the earliest conquistadors, explorers, and settlers. In later times, coursing was developed as a sport in the United States as in England and France, and there were coursing clubs in various regions through the 1890s. As interest in the sport of dog showing began in the late 1870s, many coursing people in America also exhibited their dogs. Greyhounds were being shown as early as 1877 when eighteen were entered at the first annual Westminster Dog Show.
The formation of the AKC in 1884 furthered the sporting interests of Greyhound owners who enjoyed comparing their breeding stock through showing. Greyhound owners formed the Greyhound Club of America in 1907 with an interest in exhibiting the coursing type of Greyhound and maintaining its original purpose through a written standard of excellence. The GCA was officially recognized by the AKC in 1909 and had twenty-three members. Many of the earliest members such as Joseph Zane Batten, Mr. & Mrs. George West, Mr. & Mrs. James A Farrell, Mr. & Mrs. Robert Forsyth and Mrs. Susan Mason to name a few became pillars of the breed. The stock these early members imported from England in the 1900’s have developed Greyhounds into the exquisite animals they are today. By 1970, the GCA had sixty-six members and Officers for the Club were Mr. Harry T. Peters, Jr. as President, Mrs. William Brainard, Jr. was Vice-President, Mrs. James A Farrell, Jr. was Treasurer and Dr. Elsie Neustadt was Secretary.
Official AKC records of GCA specialties began in 1936 with the Morris and Essex show, and continued intermittently until after the Wars, when they became annual events on the East coast, often held on the grounds of members’ estates. In 1968, the numbers of Greyhounds being exhibited in the West had increased enough to warrant a specialty held in California, and in 1998, the first Southern Specialty was held in Texas. In 1992, a separate regional club, the Greyhound Club of Northern California, held its first specialty show.
The club has made contributions to various veterinary schools, including Cornell University, The University of Pennsylvania, the Morris Animal Foundation, and others. Through its partnership with Purina, the GCA has funded Greyhound-related canine research projects and provided significant funding to the Canine Health Foundation. The GCA provides for Greyhounds in need through its donations for Greyhound Rescue. Ethical Standards to which all members must subscribe were approved in 1993.
The first newsletter was started in 1974 and was called “Greyhound Gleanings”, edited by Mrs. Robert Danis. “The Newsletter” continues today as a quarterly publication. With the help of GCA members, the AKC published two breed videotapes; one is still available, and a breed flyer that the AKC mails to the owners of each new registered Greyhound. In 1990 the Club published the classic book “Greyhounds In America”, which has been reprinted and is available here, to serve as a definitive reference on the breed and to help guide newcomers. Judges and breeders educational seminars are frequently held in conjunction with specialty shows and at Judges Institutes hosted by the AKC. In 1993, the club began offering two new awards, the Versatility Dog and Versatility Dog Excellent Awards to Greyhounds that have achieved titles in conformation, lure coursing, and obedience, tracking or agility. An official archive was created in order to preserve the records of both the club and the show Greyhound in the US.
As with many AKC parent clubs, the membership process is by application, sponsorship, and approval by the board of directors.