Greyhounds are a beloved breed of dog that have been around for thousands of years. The slim breed is known for their speed, but also for their great temperament. Greyhounds belong to a family of hunting dogs called sight hounds. They spot movement of prey and then run the animal down at lightning speed.
The Greyhound specifically was more used for track running, which has recently been abolished in many communities. While Greyhounds are very fast in short spurts, they’re actually quite the couch potato and have a very goofy personality. They are quite calm and quiet indoors and are fairly independent dogs.
Greyhounds have a great temperament. They are gentle and quiet, and due to their history of hunting in groups, have had dog aggression almost entirely bred out of the breed. The greyhound has a very gentle and quiet disposition. They will still have a strong prey drive though, and may not be suitable with homes that have small pets, such as cats or rabbits.
Because of these traits, a Greyhound can make a great service dog or psychiatric service animal is not to be confused with an emotional support dog! A service dog. While breeds like Golden Retrievers remain more common, Greyhounds can not only excel as companion dogs, but also as service dogs. Their quiet personality and confidence makes them a good leader for an owner with a disability.
Service dogs must be intelligent, well-focused and friendly, all of which are traits the greyhound possess. Their athleticism and demeanor make them good candidate to be a service animal and they can help with many problems and disabilities.
What are Service Dogs?
The definition of a service dog according to the U.S. Department of Justice as “dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.” There are many different types of service dogs, which we will discuss later, but all undergo a vigorous training process and make a big difference for man-kind.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 gave a more specific definition for service dogs: “dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, alerting owners to a panic attack, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties.”
The Americans with Disabilities Act really helped with the progression of service dogs. Animals have helped humans over the course of time, but they weren’t officially recognized until 1990 when this bill passed. It helped define service animals and offered vital assistance to people who used support dogs, such as veterans suffering from PTSD, or people who needed mobility assistance.
Types of Service Dogs
Service dog: A service dog is the most common type and is the broadest category. A service animal can help with many things, but in this category, it is most often pups offering assistance with physical disabilities or impairments.
- Guide dogs: These dogs are also known as seeing-eye-dogs and help people who lack vision navigate the world. A guide dog will help their handler avoid obstacles, ensure they step over any holes or curbs, help them cross roads, and much more. This is probably the most common type of service animal and has been around the longest.
- Hearing dogs: These pups assist their deaf handlers in a world full of noise and sound. They are trained to help their owners with ensuring they receive vital cues of sounds they cannot hear themselves. These cues include smoke or fire alarms, doorbells, door knocking, phones, alarm clocks, and even the person’s name. They help their owner become aware of these situations and help them with their response.
- Medical alert dogs: These service dogs help owners suffering from seizures or epilepsy prepare for an upcoming episode and keep them safe during it. They are also known as a seizure response dog. They can also help with other special needs or different medical issues. Another type of Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) applies both to service dogs and emotional support animals. The aim of the ACAA is to protect people with disabilities from discrimination while flying. Under this Act, people with a service dog under this category is a diabetic assistance dog, who helps alert their owner when their blood sugar or pressure is low or can seek medical assistance if necessary.
- Mobility assistance dogs: A mobility assistance dog is a type of service dog that helps humans with spinal injuries, leg injuries, or any injury that makes walking, standing or balancing difficult. Sometimes these owners are in a wheelchair most of the time, but the dog is still vital to their navigation. These are typically larger breed dogs since they provide balance support for their handler. They help their human stay standing, walk, reach items, etc.
Psychiatric service dog: This special service dog assists people with mental disabilities. They have all the same rights as all the above mentioned service dogs, but undergo specialized psychological service dog training to help their owner with anything they may need. Examples of tasks they can perform include giving fetching medication, providing comforting touches, protect during PTSD episodes, etc. Someone who suffers from depression, anxiety attacks, PTSD or other mental disabilities could greatly benefit from a psychiatric service dog.
Therapy dog: A therapy dog is not a service dog, but instead a friendly pet that helps provide comfort to people in a stressful situation. This is often a hospital or nursing home, but can also be schools, natural disaster sites, etc. They undergo specialized training, including passing an American Kennel Club Good Citizen test, then visit anyone who could need comfort.
Emotional support animal: An emotional support animal is a companion animal that provides support to their owner. They do not undergo any special training, and are not a service animal. Any animal can become an emotional support animal with a doctor’s note, but they do not have the same rights as service dogs or assistance dogs.
Emotional Support Dog vs. Psychiatric Service Dog: What’s the Difference?
While both emotional support dogs and psychiatric service dogs provide emotional and mental support to their owner, only one is a recognized service animal, and that’s a psychiatric service dog. These dogs undergo specialized training and have federally protected rights, such as the right to accompany their owner anywhere, including businesses, schools, non-pet friendly housing, on buses, on airplanes, etc. To get a psychiatric service dog, you must be diagnosed with a disability and prescribed a service dog who undergoes vigorous training to support you.
An emotional support dog only requires a letter of recommendation from a doctor. They are a pet who offers mental and emotional benefits to their owner. They can’t accompany their owners in public places, nor do they have access on flights, in schools, etc. and have no federally protected rights. Your own pet can even become your emotional support animal. They simply provide peace of mind and can help an owner struggling with mental health issues. They provided much needed company and these pets can help comfort their owner.
It is very important to recognize the difference between these two types of dogs. Service dogs wear vests to set themselves apart, as they have a very important job and should be recognized as working dogs. Giving your dog a vest and saying they are a service dog is very damaging. Service dogs work with trainers and their owners for hundreds of hours on average. Pretending a dog is a service dog is actually illegal in 20+ states and is very damaging to service dogs’ reputations. They spend so much time training, go through a vigorous training program, it is an insult to the hardworking dogs and owners.
So why consider a Greyhound as a service dog? These hounds are not the most popular choice, but there is a reason they are considered for the position of service animals.
Greyhounds stand about 30 inches high on average and weigh 55 to 85 pounds. This makes them a large sized dog by most standards. Their bodies are very long and lean, with most of their length in their legs. They have very short fur that comes in almost every color, which makes them predisposed to the cold. They thrive in warm environments and often need to be covered when out in the cold. Greyhounds live about 12 to 15 years on average.
Greyhounds are referred to as the fastest dog breed. They can sprint up to 45 mph and could even beat a horse in a sprint. They were first used for racing, but as that has become abolished, they are more common as pets.
Greyhounds are overall very healthy dogs. They are predisposed to certain conditions though, which is good to know so you can monitor them. The Greyhound breed has a larger heart than other breeds and we don’t mean that they’re sweet, although they are. They are born with a bigger heart, can have joint issues that most any large breed can have, as well as hip dysplasia. Some Greyhounds are more likely to have eye issues as well.
Any breed can have medical issues, and this is not a reason to count a Greyhound out. Greyhounds are very sweet, non-aggressive, and even slightly aloof. They can be a lap dog, but also are often compared to a cat with their independence. Give them a treat though and you may have a life-long friend.
They are intelligent and independent, although they are slightly sensitive. They pick up on emotions and negative energy very quickly, which does make them a great candidate as emotional support dogs or psychological service dogs, especially compared to other dog breeds.
Greyhounds as Service Dogs
Greyhounds make excellent service dogs! As we mentioned, they are a good size for mobility support for physical disabilities and have a lower energy level, making them easier to take care of. They are relatively low maintenance to groom, but do require winter wear if you live in a colder climate.
They are calm, which is vital for service dogs, and can pick up on emotions, making the Greyhound a great companion for veterans with PTSD, or an owner struggling with anxiety, depression, etc.
They pick up on training pretty well, although some can be stubborn, which is great for service dogs, as they are constantly learning. They are eager to please and do well in a group environment in public. Greyhounds get along well with other dogs, but may not be best with small animals due to their instinctual prey drive. They are friendly with most every human as well.
History of the Greyhound
Greyhounds have a long history, dating back to Ancient Egypt even by some accounts. Ancient carvings on tombs bear a striking resemblance to the sleek, long legged Greyhound we love today. In ancient Egypt, Greyhounds were revered as gods, and only royalty were allowed to own them. This makes them one of the oldest dog breeds ever. In fact, the Greyhound is the only dog mentioned in the bible in Proverbs 30:29-31. To further the point of the longevity of the breed, Greyhounds even appear in both Greek and Roman mythology.
The exact origin of the greyhound is a bit muddy, but the placement isn’t too important. What is known is the Greyhound was bred for hunting to stalk and then chase down hare, foxes, and deer. This explains their speed and the link to their prey drive. They had very different roles throughout history, but usually were a pet to the royals.
Around 1912, Greyhound racing became common. Racing Greyhounds became standard and America started producing the breed rapidly to keep up with demand. Florida became the US capital of Greyhound racing as the sport rose to popularity. Greyhounds were not common pets, but were common racers. These hounds can reach very high speeds, so this is not surprising that they excelled in racing.
Greyhound racing was very common for a while. Attendance at tracks was nearly 3.5 million in 1992, but began to diminish over the years as the cruelty behind the sport was exposed. Now, it is banned in 40 states across America and is generally frowned upon. Now, thousands of greyhounds are up for adoption across America, looking for their owner. Be sure to check out your local rescues and possibly find your new best friend in a Greyhound!
How to Get a Greyhound Service Dog
Are you interested in having a Greyhound for a service dog? We don’t blame you! The Greyhound makes an excellent service animal for veterans or anyone with any special needs, whether that be mobility assistance, PTSD, or any other issue. Greyhounds’ purpose used to be hunting, then racing, and now it’s merely companionship, which the breed thrives on.
First, you’ll want to make sure you are able to receive a service dog. Service dogs are only given to people with disabilities that hinder their quality of life. For a psychiatric service dog, you must consult with a licensed mental health professional. This is the only legitimate way to acquire a service dog. For physical disabilities, you must consult with a doctor in your area.
If you’re looking for a rescue greyhound, check out Awesome Greyhound Adoptions group, ran by Barbara Masi, who is a huge advocate for the Greyhound breed. Barbara Masi created a program called Hounds for Heroes, where veterans and adoptable greyhounds are matched up. These Greyhounds can become pets, service dogs or therapy dogs! Often, they are trained to become service dogs for veterans with special needs, especially PTSD. These support dogs make a world of difference for their owners and the group is very passionate about matching up veterans with their perfect companion, even if it requires a trip, trainer, assistance, etc. Barbara Masi has her contact information available on her site.
Also check out Purple Heart Greyhound Service Dogs at this link. This company too offers a placement program for veterans and retired racing Greyhounds either as companions, or as service or therapy dogs. These are not the only rescue options either, there are many others who specialize in Greyhound placement and have plenty of hounds looking for an owner. We encourage our readers to check them out and see if you find your forever friend.
If you go the route of a breeder, look for reputable breeders that stick to the breeds’ standards, which you can easily research. Greyhounds, as mentioned, are predisposed to a number of some conditions, so it’s best to be informed and ensure your breeder tests for genetic issues.
It’s easy to see why Greyhounds are such a loved breed. Many people that own one choose to own the breed for life as pets, service dogs, or therapy dogs. Their gentle disposition makes them excellent pets and service animals. While some traits they possess aren’t typical for a service dog, they make up for it with loyalty, intelligence and love.
Are you looking for a psychiatric service dog?
Here at CertaPet, we can help. CertaPet is an online telehealth platform that improves access to mental health care in the U.S. with a focus on providing services to individuals who are seeking animal assisted interventions as part of their treatment plan.
We are currently coordinating with dog trainers who specialize in the service animal space and who will soon work in tandem with our network of licensed mental health professionals to make the process of getting and training a psychiatric service dog affordable, convenient, and hassle-free. We’ll have more information available soon about our Psychiatric Service Dog Training options. In the meantime, you can take our FREE pre-screening below to see if you qualify for a PSD!
Why do Greyhounds make good service dogs?
Greyhounds make great service dogs for a number of reasons, including their size, temperament, loyalty, intelligence, and calmness. They are also easy to maintain grooming wise and energy wise.
How do I get a psychiatric service dog?
First, you must consult with a mental health professional to see if you qualify. If you are diagnosed with a mental disability, you will begin your search for a dog and begin training
How do I adopt a Greyhound?
Greyhounds are very easy to find in shelters and rescues now due to the banning of greyhound racing. You can also buy from a breeder, but we encourage adoption placement for these lovable hounds.