The Coursing Hound

The Coursing Hound

This article is excerpted from 'Greyhounds in America - Volume 1'

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The Foot of the Greyhound

Published in the AKC Gazette, February 2023

     All Sighthound breeds depend on good feet as part of their running gear.  The construction of the Greyhound foot is paramount to their function as a coursing breed.    The foot needs to be flexible to adjust to the weight of the dog as it moves through its’ double suspension gait as well as the trot.   The foot is characterized by long well arched toes.   The word long is significant, without length, the Greyhound foot would be cat-like and more rounded as in the foot of a Doberman.    The Greyhound foot has an oval shape with the middles toes being the longest on both the front and back feet.   It was not always this way.  While reading from “The Illustrated Book of the Dog” by Fra Vero Shaw, 1879-1881 a discussion appears of the controversy of cat foot vs. hare foot.   The English standard at the time called the feet round, well split up, and with strong soles and the poem about greyhound written in 1486 by Dame Julia Berners describes the foot as “footed like a catte”.   Over the years, the best foot for a Greyhound’s job is described as more hare than cat, finding a middle ground between the two and is that which appears in the current America standard.   In any case, short toes will give the appearance of knuckling over, particularly when paired with upright pasterns.  Typically, nails are longer than may usually be seen in the ring.   It is not because Greyhound owners are lazy or don’t think short nails are worth the fight, but because it is part of the grip on the ground as the Greyhound launches itself into the next phase of its double suspension gait.

       The pastern is also part of the construction of the foot that lends itself to the task of landing the foot on the ground and enabling a push off.    The pasterns should have bend to them when standing naturally and if you watch these dogs course, you can see how far that pastern actually bends.    The pads of the foot are also key to making the foot hold up to its task.  Pads are thick to cushion the foot while running.   Again, Greyhounds share this with many other Sighthounds and is mentioned in many of the Sighthound standards.     Particularly the stop pad, above the pastern has the job of doing just that, stopping the pastern from bending further.

 Splayed feet, with space between the toes, thin pads, and flat feet are not in keeping with proper foot construction.   Just as in humans, foot deformities lead to pain, especially when stressed by performance activities.    These stresses and the shifting of weight away from the pain point lead to injury of the toes, ligaments, and muscles of the foot.

      In an interesting study of Greyhound feet conducted at the Purina Dog Care Center, it found that Greyhounds raised on concrete runs developed flat feet whereas those raised on sand and clay developed normal feet. Once knuckles of the toes flattened out during a puppy’s teething period, not much could correct the problem.

      The Greyhound Health Initiative has been working on a greyhound foot problem, corns, in conjunction with Michael Guilliard, DVM, Richard Doughty, DVM and Bill Freeman III, DVM, researchers for this project.   A corn is a hard mass of keratin-like tissue, they are found frequently in the pads of Greyhounds.  The corn is similar to human corns appearing as a circular area that can be raised.  Corns tend to have deep roots that interfere with a nearby tendon and the bones associated with this process.  Typically, they are not found on the large pads of the front or back foot.   Most are found in the central digits of the front legs and are a source of considerable pain and lameness.    The researchers are interested in finding more greyhounds with this issue and if you wish to take part in the study, contact one of these veterinarians via email at

      In closing, feet hard and close, rather more hare than cat-feet, well knuckled up with good strong claws describes the foot from the American Greyhound standard.    Our breeders are doing a good job getting this right and flat splayed feet are few and far between!

Patti Clark

Greyhound Club of America

Show Puppy Evaluation

Published in the AKC Gazette, August 2022
I would like to introduce Barbara Hargreaves as a guest writer for this month’s Greyhound column.   Barbara has been a Greyhound breeder for many years in Scotland and now in Canada under the prefix, Mistweave.  Barbara and her husband have been the breeders, owners, and handler of a Cruft’s Hound Group winner, CH. Mistweave Making Waves.  Barbara has been a Greyhound Club of America member since 2005.

Evaluation of your ‘baby’ puppies begins as soon as they are safely in the ‘nest’ and have been checked for any birth defects such a cleft palate, badly kinked tails etc. While these things can be corrected surgically, they preclude the puppy from a ‘Show’ career and any future breeding plans.

When the puppies are settled, relaxed and laid stretched out, look at their overall confirmation; what are your first impressions? Do they look short or long in body? Is there a good reach of neck with a strong crest? Does the sweep of the lower rib line extend well back or do they cut up to soon? Is the tail well set on, long and straight? Depth of foot is evident even at this early stage and can indicate a strong foot while a shallow open toed foot will indicate a flatter foot.

Start taking notes from their earliest days as there will be different aspects you will pick up and can revisit as they develop.

For the first 3 days of their lives, your puppy will have approximately the same angulation as he or she will have as an adult dog. Starting at the neck, assess their shoulder placement, upper arm length and angulation. The top of the shoulder and the back of the elbow joint should be in line, with the front point of the upper arm forming an isosceles triangle i.e. The length of the shoulder and the upper arm being of near equal length. Check the length of rib cage and loin, which can easily be seen and felt in this relaxed position i.e. if the ribs are short this will not enhance a future flowing sweep up.

 Finally, width across the stifle, length of hip to stifle, stifle to hock and hock length; this is all best evaluated now before the puppies start to grow and change. Taking notes at these first viewings and comparing them as they grow and start to move about will help with your final selection.

Obviously, there are things like  the shape of their heads and length of their legs which cannot be taken into account at this time but the overall picture should be still be there as the long graceful curves we expect to see with no sharp angles.

Remembering too that you will have hoped to improve on some aspects of their sire and dam; be it better angulation front or rear, longer rib or loin etc, so what has this particular breeding achieved? And at what expense? There is usually something gained and something lost in each breeding.

Good front angulation is harder to achieve than good hind angulation, so keeping the hard-won achievements has to be given precedence over some things that can more easily be achieved in one or two generations.

For the next week the puppies should be allowed to grow and fill out, until the exciting stage when their eyes open, and begin to focus around 10-12 days. Looking at eye colour, are they light blue, dark blue or dark? A dark eye is preferred but blue eyes on a puppy this age may be related to their coat colour, usually very light blue eyes indicate a light eyed adult.

As the puppies begin to move around the whelping box around 3 weeks you can start to take notes on the width body, how is the fore chest? Is there sufficient ‘in-fill’ between the front legs. Pasterns are still usually quite floppy until the puppies start to get up on their legs and then they begin to strengthen.

In four to six weeks the puppies will have developed their breadth of rib, and you will be able to note which have sufficient spring of rib to allow good heart and lung space. Flat sided puppies become evident and can be noted, as this is unlikely to change.

Around six weeks, movement starts to come together as the strength in their legs continues, also they start to lengthen in leg, they start to look like little hounds. It is important to allow muscles to develop by allowing free play. Muzzles will start to lengthen and you can check the bite, ears will fold back, and length and texture can be noted. Tails are often carried very high at this age, but if the tail set is good and not high on the croup this will settle.

At eight weeks I like to take photos of the puppies as I find this helps to evaluated ‘Balance’; do the angles fore and aft match, giving a flowing appearance? Often the top-line over the last 3 ribs and loin can appear exaggerated, but this will strengthen as the puppies grow and should only be noted at this age. A flat top-line at this age is unlikely to change and should be added to the overall evaluation.

Their movement now should be able to be evaluated, watch closely the coming the going, front legs should be straight and strong the pasterns gently sloping, not upright or let down on week feet. Both front and rear legs should not appear wide apart or too close together as they move. I do not like to move puppies too fast just to assess large exuberant movement, well put together puppies who exhibit correct ‘free’ movement coming and going is a much more important factor.

At ten weeks you should be happy with your choice, with all the important aspects of the breed standard being apparent. A graceful, well put together puppy who moves out freely with the beginnings of easy power; who will develop with good food, regular exercise and dedication from the owner.  We understand no puppy is perfect, and being able to identify and accept their faults and appreciate their beauty is an important part of your evaluation so that you can continue to improve your breeding.

Written by Barbara Hargreaves, Mistweave

Submitted by Patti Clark

Greyhound Club of America

The Eyes Have It

Published in the AKC Gazette, May 2022

If you want to look into the soul of a dog, the eyes are window that allows you to go there.    If you have their eyes, you have them, as I have told many budding dog handlers over the years.    The greyhound’s eye is no exception, but it is a process of trust and time to get there.

I have found that there are two looks to the Greyhound eye and you can see them in the same dog depending on the circumstance.    I call one, the couch eye, with the soft expression of a doe, begging for attention, as you might expect of the dog at home lounging away the day at home.   The other is the look of a hunter, alert, bright, and focused.   The greyhound eye is described in the standard as dark (as in color), bright (as in alert), intelligent indicating sprit and liveliness, exactly what you would expect of a keen, sighthound hunter.  This is the eye I expect to see in the ring as they observe all that is going on around them.  There are some caveats to discuss here.   This is not an eye you will see if the dog is uncomfortable in its’ surroundings.  Then, you will see wide, darting eyes that give a most displeasing expression.   Greyhound breeders tend to agree that dilute color greyhounds should have eyes as dark as their coat. This is a difference of opinion from our Whippet friends who stand pretty firmly on a dark eye for all.

Although not specifically mentioned in the standard, greyhound eyes are oval and obliquely placed in the skull.    Think about the function of the Greyhound, to course a wide variety of game over a wide variety of terrain.  The fit of the eye into the greyhound skull allows for an unobstructed view of game far away.   There should be no heavy brow, no cheekiness, or prominent sinuses to get in the way of a clear view.   The greyhound’s peripheral vision is said to be 270 degrees, an additional 20 degrees compared to breeds not in the sighthound group.   This happens as the result of something called the visual streak which is a horizontally aligned area in the retina lined up with ganglion cells.  Ganglion cells process visual information that begins as shades of light and dark and transmit it to the brain via long fibers.   Not too long ago, there was belief that all dogs had their ganglion cells distributed in such a way, but in a study conducted by Paul McGreevy, Alison Harman and Grassi T. D, it was found that only dogs with long noses have a visual streak.  The visual streak is therefore a characteristic of dogs with long muzzles that needed to heavily rely on their peripheral vision to hunt. It permits a wide field of view with excellent vision allowing these dogs to easily detect predators on the horizon.  What an amazing adaptation the sighthounds have been given to do their job!   As you view the greyhound in front of you, check out the look they give you, and be prepared to see the gaze of a hunter from afar but as you come closer be prepared to lose your heart.

If you would like to look at lots of greyhound eyes, visit us at our 2022 Specialties in Canby, Oregon, June 24th,   Purina Farms,  Grey Summit,  Missouri,  Sept 16th and October 14th,  Legion Stadium, Wilmington N.C.   October 14th.    Ring side mentoring will be available as well as plenty of Greyhound breeders to speak with.

Patti Clark

JEC, Greyhound Club of America

Living with Senior Greyhounds

Published in the AKC Gazette, February 2022

   As I considered what to write about at the close of 2021 and for the beginning of 2022, I thought about living with my older dogs.     Think about the dogs that have been with you for so many years.    Think about the faithful, senior dogs that have seen you through these tough past two years of Covid confinement.   The dogs have been there for each of us when no one else could be in many cases.    I am certainly grateful for their company and comfort.  They are more patient with us and more willing to wait for you as they lay comfortably in their favorite spot, waiting for you to make the first move.

  Taking care of the geriatric greyhound is not always easy as many of you who own big dogs well know.  One of my tactics has always been to make them as safe as possible.    I make sure that there is a carpeted pathway everywhere they need to go.    The hardwood and tiled floors are not a friend to an older dog, which I found out the hard way, when I came home to a dog splayed out on the floor.    He attempted to get up many times and had rubbed skin raw and could not stand when I picked him up.   Several days and a lot of decadron later, he came home walking very tentatively.    I’m happy to say that after three months time he was running in the fields once again.   I have watched my dogs carefully ever since to determine when those rug runners need to come out.   Another place to take care is out with the pack or even in the dog park if there is no pack at home.     I often hear of the challenge to the old alpha dog that leads to tears and punctures or sometimes just innocent play that knocks them off their feet.    Look for that tentative step, the wider than normal stance, or the unsteady gait that signals it is time for them to spend outdoor time with you and not other dogs.    It is our responsibility to keep them safe.

How do we keep them healthy?    Their food needs change and deciding the time to reduce their protein portions needs to be done in consultation with your veterinarian.    I make it a practice after age 9  to start having blood work performed  every six months to monitor  liver and kidney values as well as blood counts.   Changes to diet and supplementation can mean a longer life for these old guys we love so much.    Greyhounds tend to have bad dental hygiene.  It is important to keep their mouths clean to avoid dental disease and abscesses.  I have found this to be my hardest chore as my dogs have never been willing participants in my efforts to brush their teeth!   Older dogs frequently have lumps and bumps that need to be evaluated and watched.   I have not seen lipomas, fatty tumors that are benign; often in my Greyhounds but they do on occasion appear.  Any new bumps or any changes to bumps should be evaluated by your veterinarian to be sure they are benign before they get too big.  Even a lipoma can cause problems when they arise in an area that causes rubbing and abrasion of the skin.   Like their human friends, Greyhounds can have issues with their joints which are painful and interfere with the quality of their life.    Keeping them moving with short walks they can tolerate is an important step to keeping them flexible and on their feet and it doesn’t hurt you either.    Alternative therapies like chiropractic, acupuncture, and laser therapy are all options that may contribute to the comfort of all dogs but more especially so as they age.   Long necks, backs, and legs easily find a way to become misaligned especially as muscles change with age.

  I asked a few other Greyhound breeders what they do differently with their seniors.    Here is a response by Bruce Clark of Shylo Greyhounds.    “The only things I do for my older dogs,  is that they usually wear coats all through the winter, and have blankets and rugs inside for them to stay warm.  One thing I have found useful is to get a full blood panel done on the older dogs to check and make sure that there aren’t any unforeseen issues with liver or kidney function.  That has really helped me find out ahead of time if there are any problems developing that we can head off ahead of time.  I try to do that once a year as a preventative measure”.

There are many things to keep front of mind with our senior dogs, but they are so worth it!

Patti Clark

Greyhound Club of America

Find a Mentor, Be a Mentor

Published in the AKC Gazette, November 2021

If you are new to the breed, one of the best ways to learn about the breed is to find a mentor.    A good mentor is a person with experience and time in the breed.    There is no set amount of time that the person needs to be involved but an experienced person has certainly had more than one dog or litter to their credit.   The more experience, the better for you!    If you have purchased a puppy, your breeder may be a good place to start.    Thanks to Zoom and other technology platforms, your mentor can be on the other side of the country but you can still share video, pictures and good discussions.     Discussion can include taped dog shows of Greyhounds from Westminster and other filmed shows, your own dog moving across the yard, dogs you have filmed at local shows or performance events.   These materials including pictures from newsletter, magazines and books can be at the crux of discussing form and function.   Mentors can help with such things as how to take care of a damaged tail, what foods to feed, how to train and housebreak, and even how to show your own dog.    Mentors can also help you later down the line if you are looking for a good mate for your own dog.    They know the pedigrees and the people and sometimes can smooth the way for a new person making that approach to an unknown stud dog owner.

Learning about about your breed should be a life- long process.  There are always books to find and read,  as well as more people in the breed to meet and learn from.  Listen to what the small ringside groups are talking about.   Ask questions and show an interest.   Before you know it, you will be part of the discussion.   This phase allows you to begin synthesizing information from multiple sources so that you can begin forming educated opinions of your own.   Do some research from some of the sources provided in this column previously.    Above all, keep questioning, finding new sources of information and keep learning.

If you are part of a low entry breed like greyhounds, there may not be experienced owners and breeders nearby.   Use the GCA website for articles and our list of judge educators.  This group of people are dedicated greyhound enthusiasts that have an interest in educating and likely to spend as much time as you can afford talking about one of their favorite topics!  They will not turn you away.

Finally, when you are comfortable with your knowledge and can hold your own in a conversation about the breed, start looking for opportunities to share.    It may be as simple as letting someone know where to pick up their armband or read the judging schedule.     You may be able to help connect a newbie with someone you look up to or you may be ready to be a mentor on your own.   AKC has a mentoring program that can match a mentee with a mentor.   Both forms to sign up to be mentored or to be a mentor can be found here.    Don’t forget a mentor is one with experience and patience.   Look what your mentor has done for you!

 As I write this column, I thought I would dedicate it to my friend, mentor, and co-breeder, June Matarazzo, Willomoor Hounds who passed away September 1, 2021.

Patti Clark

Greyhound Club of America

Parent Club Membership

Published in the AKC Gazette, May 2021

Parent Clubs are composed of groups of people with a singular interest in promoting the AKC recognized breed they have chosen to become involved. Parent Clubs are usually members of AKC that host shows and AKC performance events for both members and non-members to participate.   The Parent Club may also authorize or sanction local or regional specialty clubs.

Parent Clubs have a host of duties regarding their breed responsibilities.   The breed standards by which the quality of dogs are measured are set by the Parent Club.  It is also the responsibility of the club to assure a greyhound from 2021 is similar to the greyhound of 1890, in essence to guard the past as the sport evolves.    The Parent club has the privilege of selecting a delegate to represent the club in all major decisions related to the “Sport of Purebred Dogs” with the AKC. The club is also responsible for the overall health of the breed by educating and promoting good breeding practice among the membership, participating in research and studies with the Canine Health Foundation or reputable veterinary schools.    Speaking of education, the parent club also has the responsibility to educate the public about their breed through publications, the pamphlet that comes with each breed registration, attendance at “Meet the Breeds”, agree to interviews for magazine articles and books, and providing knowledgeable members to interface with interested people anywhere we go with our dogs.    It is also our duty to educate judges to the nuances of the breed standard.    This is accomplished through participating in breed presentations or seminars, hands-on workshops, ringside mentoring and providing thoughtful commentary when asked.    The club also has the responsibility of communicating with its membership through a newsletter format, email blasts, social media and even on occasion, good old snail mail.

You might ask, who does all of these things?     All of this is accomplished by an engaged membership of    breeders, owners, and fanciers who support the mission, goals, and values of the Parent Club.    Not everyone wants to be the President, but every member can and should contribute.    Paying dues is not enough to be considered an active member.    Perhaps you do not have the time to be on a committee that meets frequently, but can you write an article about your experience at a show or performance event for the club publication?    Can you talk up the club to new exhibitors to help the membership committee and write a letter to be a sponsor for this person?    Can you come to “Meet the Breeds” with a dog for a day?    Can you help with show set up or breakdown?   It does not take much effort to find a task or two during the year, that benefits the organization that is there for you and your breed.  It is a members’ responsibility to participate, to contribute to the trophy fund, to advertise in the club publication, to volunteer when asked, to speak up when there are concerns.  One last thing, it is an honor and a commitment to belong to one of these prestigious clubs, we all need to work to keep them viable for the future.

 I recently asked a member why do they belong, here are her reasons:

  1. Voting right to help choose judges and specialty sites
  2. Receiving notifications to know what is happening with the club
  3. Receiving the newsletter online and hard copy
  4. It's a like a professional organization, when you join it demonstrates your commitment to something.  In this case, it's commitment to the breed.

Specialties   - The Greyhound Club of America is taking advantage of the extra National Specialty to make up for the lack of a 2020 Specialty.     The first will be held on June 25th in Canby, Oregon with the Clackamas KC shows, the second National will be held on September 17th at Purina Farms, and the Eastern GCA Specialty will be held with Devon KC on October 9th at Ludwig’s Corner.   These shows represent great opportunities to meet dogs, breeders, and exhibitors alike.     Ringside mentoring will be available at each show.

Patti Clark

Greyhound Club of America

Greyhound Lover’s Resource

Published in the AKC Gazette, February 2021

When I first started in greyhounds in 1985, the thing I needed most was a comprehensive resource to give me information about the breed.     There were a few GCA pamphlets, an obedience book called “Play Training Your Dog” by Gail Burnham, a few children’s books, and later I found some antique coursing books.    There were articles to be gleaned from various magazines as well, but I was always on the hunt for things to read.   The Greyhound Club of America also noticed this paucity of new literature dedicated to the American greyhound and set about to rectify the problem.     A publication committee was formed with Sue Lackey as its chair and included our own AKC President, Dennis Sprung.    The club archivist, Laurel Drew supplied much historical information as well as writing the historical notes in the beginning of the book.

“Greyhounds in America”, Volume 1 was born in 1989 after two years of tireless work;  collecting information on  top kennels, top dogs,  beautiful artwork,  and knowledgeable handler and judge interviews    GIA was written and compiled by Ms. Lackey with a goal of covering 200 years of the Greyhound’s presence in America.    The first time greyhounds were used on the continent for hunting to the elegant Greyhound Club of America Specialties are discussed and shown pictorially.    Advertising was solicited from the current greyhound owners and breeders to help underwrite the cost of the book so the more recent past is also represented.   The book also covers important information on breed standards, breeding, maintaining stud dogs, the influence of English and Scandinavian kennels on American breeding programs, coursing and many other topics.

Many of the unique qualities and subtilies of this breed were explained to me through the pages of this book.   Studying the photos and referring to the standard can illuminate many of the fine points.   As Sue Lackey suggested in her preface, the breed has remained unchanged over the years thanks to the breeders that have stayed true to our standard and the function of these dogs.    As one studies the photos of the past and the present, a greyhound looks like a greyhound.   Some are better than others, but there is no breed in which this is not true!

The clarity of the hundreds of photos reprinted in the book make this book irreplaceable in my collection.    This is a beautiful hard covered book with the logo of the Greyhound Club of America embossed on the cover and was first published with 500 copies.     These books sold out quickly through 1989 and 1990 and as the years past, the few the club had in reserve were auctioned at Specialties.     The book was reprinted and there continues to be a supply available through the club.   This is a book that is a necessity for the Greyhound fancier, breeder, and judge.

“Greyhounds in America”, reprinted, is available through the GCA website at a very reasonable rate.  If you do not own this book and you have an interest in this breed I suggest you take a look.

Patti Clark

How to Judge a Sighthound

This article has been reprinted with permission from Bo Bengston.

Greyhound Judging Priorities

Published in the AKC Gazette, November 2020

This time, I would like to focus on judging priorities as seen by members of the Greyhound Club of America’s Education Committee.  Contributors to this article include June Matarazzo, Pamela Noll, Cynthia Swanson, and myself.    These committee members have over 125 years of greyhound experience combined and have these thoughts to share.   While the term judging priorities indicate that this information is for judges, it is also for the information of breeders, exhibitors, and the public that may be choosing their first greyhound.

There was total agreement in the first item to be considered and that is the Outline of the greyhound. The greyhound has a distinct silhouette, with smooth, flowing curves from nose to tail including a slight rise over the loin. The greyhound is both elegant and substantial, with the appearance of great power, agility and speed.  This athlete has an overall appearance of balance, with nothing extreme.    Said another way, the appearance of a curvaceous body is the hallmark of the breed.  Every good greyhound is a collection of curves and powerful muscling from neck, topline, underline, front and rear angulation and tail. All must be curved properly and with muscle.  A body with curves and muscling in the right places are necessary characteristics for this breed to function as the fastest sighthound, coursing after all types of game in all types of terrain.  What is incorrect and should be considered faulty? The lack of proper curves, ewe necks, completely level toplines, flatness across the loin, straight up-and-down shoulder angles,  forearm assemblies set on forward of the breast bone, straight underlines from brisket to loin, straight stifles and hocks, and a stiff, straight tail are all faulty and should penalized according to the severity.

Movement - The greyhound is as indicated above the fastest of all sighthounds and as mentioned in the last column, greyhound movement is characterized by the double suspension gait not the trot.   That gait is not practical for the ring so to that end, what should you see at the trot?   You should see smooth, long, and low strides with the appearance of moving effortlessly Movement in the ring must be purposeful, elastic, and light. The topline is relaxed and not rigid.  Tremendous reach and drive should not be rewarded.   Incorrect movement that can be seen in the ring today include short, stiff, or choppy strides; pounding on the forehand, single-tracking, hindquarters tucked-under so the dog lacks drive, and a hackney gait.

Balance – Our dogs are called the long dogs and said to stand over ground.    A greyhound is a rectangle, slightly longer than tall but not a lot longer than tall.  A greyhound should be up on leg with a medium-sized body on long, strong legs.  A greyhound with a very long mid-piece, or body mass, compared to his leg length is losing breed type.   A well laid back shoulder, consistent for a sighthound; with a humerus of sufficient length to avoid the straight up look, and balanced angulation in the rear are all necessary components of balance. Greyhound angulation, front and rear, is moderate and should never give the impression of being extreme.

In closing, evaluating the outline, the movement, and balance in both what you see on the stack and on the move, tells you what you need to know!

Patti Clark