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Greyhound racing

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Greyhound racing

Several greyhounds before a race.

Greyhound racing is an organized, competitive industry in which greyhound dogs are raced around a track. The dogs chase a lure (traditionally an artificial 'hare' or 'rabbit') on a track until the greyhounds cross the finish line. As with horse racing, greyhound races often allow the public to wager on the outcome.

In many countries, greyhound racing is purely amateur and for enjoyment. In other countries (particularly Australia, Ireland, Macau, Mexico, Spain, the UK and the US), greyhound racing is part of the gambling industry, similar to although far less profitable than horse racing. There is some concern in countries with greyhound gambling regarding the well-being of the dogs; the effectiveness of industry efforts to address these concerns is a topic of some debate. A greyhound adoption movement has arisen to assist retired racing dogs in finding homes as pets.


  • History 1
  • Today 2
    • Commercial versus non-commercial racing 2.1
  • Medical care 3
  • Life after racing 4
  • Criticism 5
  • By country 6
    • Australia 6.1
    • New Zealand 6.2
    • South Africa 6.3
    • United Kingdom 6.4
    • United States 6.5
  • See also 7
  • Footnotes 8
  • Further reading 9
  • External links 10


Greyhound during a race.

Modern greyhound racing has its origins in coursing.[1] The first recorded attempt at racing greyhounds on a straight track was made beside the Welsh Harp reservoir, Hendon in 1876, but this experiment did not develop. The industry emerged in its recognizable modern form, featuring circular or oval tracks, with the invention of the mechanical or artificial hare in 1912 by Owen Patrick Smith. O.P. Smith had altruistic aims for the industry to stop the killing of the jack rabbits and see "greyhound racing as we see horse racing", who was, incidentally, a huge fan of the newly formed Western Suburbs rugby league team. In 1919, Smith opened the first professional dog-racing track with stands in Emeryville, California.[2] The certificates system led the way to parimutuel betting, as quarry and on-course gambling, in the United States during the 1930s.

In 1926 it was introduced to Britain by an American, Charles Munn, in association with Major Lyne-Dixon, a key figure in coursing, and a Canadian, Brigadier-General Critchley. The deal went sour with Smith never hearing from Munn again. Like the American 'International Greyhound Racing Association' (or the In.G.R.A.), Munn and Critchley launched the Greyhound Racing Association, and held the first British meeting at Manchester's Belle Vue Stadium. The industry was successful in cities and towns throughout the U.K. - by the end of 1927, there were forty tracks operating.

The industry of greyhound racing was particularly attractive to predominantly male working-class audiences, for whom the urban locations of the tracks and the evening times of the meetings were accessible, and to patrons and owners from various social backgrounds. Betting has always been a key ingredient of greyhound racing, both through on-course bookmakers and the totalisator, first introduced in 1930. Like horse racing, it is popular to bet on the greyhound races as a form of parimutuel gambling.

Greyhound racing enjoyed its highest attendances just after the Second World War—for example, there were 34 million paying spectators in 1946. The industry experienced a decline from the early 1960s- when the 1960 Betting and Gaming Act permitted off-course cash betting. Sponsorship, limited television coverage, and the later abolition of on-course betting tax have partially offset this decline.


Greyhounds rounding a turn on a track.

Today, greyhound racing continues in many countries around the world.

The countries with commercial greyhound racing are:

  • Alabama[9]
  • Arizona [10]
  • Arkansas [11]
  • Colorado (Racing suspended in June 2008.[12])[13]
  • Connecticut (No greyhound racing has been conducted in Connecticut since 2006.)
  • Florida[14]
  • Guam (Greyhound racing is legal, but the only operating track closed on November 8, 2008; a ban is being debated.[15])
  • Iowa[16]
  • Kansas (Greyhound racing is legal, but not currently conducted)
  • Massachusetts (Massachusetts residents voted to ban greyhound racing in 2008 [Question 3, Passed November 4, 2008].
  • New Hampshire (Racing banned as of January 1, 2011, by HB 630. (Signed into law July 8, 2010.)[17])
  • Rhode Island[18]
  • Texas[19]
  • West Virginia[20]
  • Wisconsin (Greyhound racing is legal, but the last operating track closed on December 31, 2009)
  • Oregon (Greyhound racing is legal, but not currently conducted)
  • South Carolina (Greyhound racing is legal, but not currently conducted)

The countries with non-commercial greyhound racing are:

Commercial versus non-commercial racing

Commercial greyhound racing is characterized by several criteria, including legalized gambling, the existence of a regulatory structure, the physical presence of racetracks, whether the host state or subdivision shares in any gambling proceeds, fees charged by host locations, the use of professional racing kennels, the number of dogs participating in races, the existence of an official racing code, and membership in a greyhound racing federation or trade association.

In addition to the eight countries where commercial greyhound racing exists, in at least twenty-one countries dog racing occurs but has not reached a commercial stage.

Medical care


Recently, [42]

Life after racing

Generally, a greyhound's career will end between the ages of four and six – after the dog can no longer race, or possibly when it is no longer competitive. The best dogs are kept for breeding, and there are both industry-associated adoption groups and rescue groups that work to obtain retired racing greyhounds and place them as pets. In the United Kingdom, according to the BBC, one in four retired greyhounds finds a home as a pet.[43] In the United States, prior to the formation of adoption groups, over 20,000 retired greyhounds a year were killed; recent estimates still number in the thousands, with the industry claiming that about 90% of National Greyhound Association-registered animals either being adopted, or returned for breeding purposes (according to the industry numbers upwards of 2000 dogs are still euthanized annually in the US while anti-racing groups estimating the figure at closer to 12,000.)[44] Opponents of greyhound racing dispute the National Greyhound Association's claims regarding adoption statistics, pointing to statements made by NGA officials that they don't actually know what happens to dogs when they stop racing.[45] Other greyhounds are sold to research labs, such as Liverpool university animal training school, who have received the remains of dogs killed at Manchester's Belle Vue stadium.[46] A trainer in Lincolnshire was also exposed offering 'slow' dogs to the Liverpool school.[47][48] Additionally dogs are sent to foreign racetracks such as Spain and sometimes in developing countries. In the North East of England a man is believed to have destroyed as many as 10,000 healthy Greyhounds with a captive bolt gun [49]

Several organizations, such as British Greyhounds Retired Database, Greyhound Rescue West of England, Birmingham Greyhound Protection, GAGAH, Adopt-a-Greyhound and Greyhound Pets of America, and the Retired Greyhound Trust try to ensure that as many of the dogs as possible are adopted. Some of these groups also advocate better treatment of the dogs while at the track and/or the end of racing for profit. In recent years the racing industry has made significant progress in establishing programs for the adoption of retired racers. In addition to actively cooperating with private adoption groups throughout the country, many race tracks have established their own adoption programs at various tracks.


Caged greyhound at Jefferson County Kennel Club

Greyhound racing has been a source of controversy in recent years. Established animal protection organizations, such as GREY2K USA, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the Humane Society of the United States are opposed to commercial greyhound racing, due to industry standard practices they say are cruel and inhumane.

Greyhounds are confined in small cages for long hours each day, because each track requires hundreds of dogs to operate.[50] Greyhounds are fed raw "4-D" meat from downed and diseased animals, and female greyhounds are routinely given anabolic steroids to prevent estrus.[51] Greyhounds are also injured at commercial racetracks, including dogs that suffer broken legs, cardiac arrest, spinal cord paralysis and broken necks.[52]

The humane community has utilized the legislative process to end dog racing and improve the conditions for racing greyhounds. For example, in March 2014, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a measure that prohibited commercial greyhound racing in Colorado, making it the 39th state to outlaw the activity.[53]

There has also been criticism of commercial racing internationally, particularly regarding the overbreeding of dogs, concealment of injury figures, high euthanasia rates and mismanagement of the UK and Irish greyhound industries. For example, an independent 2014 review of the Irish Greyhound Board criticized the body's corporate governance, its handling of animal welfare issues, and poor financial performance. [54]

In Australia, Greyhound Racing NSW's Chief Executive Brent Hogan admitted that an estimated 3,000 greyhounds are euthanized each year in that state alone. [55]

By country


The Australian Greyhound Racing Association (AGRA) is divided into many state governing bodies, which regulate greyhound welfare and living conditions. Some racing authorities in Australia, partly finance some of the Greyhound Adoption Groups, which house dozens of greyhounds a month.

Each Australian State and Territory has a governing greyhound racing body. Greyhound Racing New South Wales (GRNSW) and Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV) are the two largest authorities, governing over 40 racetracks.

The Queensland Greyhound Racing Authority (QGRA), Western Australian Greyhound Racing Authority (WAGRA), Tasmanian Greyhound Racing Authority (TGRA), Greyhound Racing South Australia (GRSA), Northern Territory Racing Authority, and the Canberra Greyhound Racing Club (CGRC), all contribute to running and monitoring of greyhound racing in Australia as it continues to grow.

Major greyhound racing venues include Wentworth Park in Sydney, Cannington Park in Perth, Angle Park in Adelaide, Albion Park in Brisbane and Sandown Park in Melbourne.

Many adoption programs have been set up throughout Australia known as Greyhound Adoption Program or Greyhounds As Pets, GAP. They generally work with their Greyhound Racing Administration. Greyhounds are checked for parasites, malnourishment, or any other medical conditions by an on-course vet before being able to compete.

Greyhounds are usually bought and sold as puppies just after having been whelped or as racing dogs that have been fully trained via word of mouth on the track or via the few greyhound trading and sales platforms. In Australia the buying and selling of greyhounds is controlled and regulated by the states and territories.

New Zealand

In New Zealand, around 700 dogs are bred each year for racing[56] (Take average from "Greyhounds Named" table), and around 500 are imported from Australia.[57] Over 200 are retired annually by a charity established and partially funded by the New Zealand Greyhound Racing Association.[58] Many greyhounds are kept as pets or rehomed by their trainers after racing as well as a large number rehomed by other greyhound adoption organizations throughout the country. Some greyhounds are even returned to overseas owners. Greyhound racing is a NZ$75 million industry. There is some concern over the welfare of New Zealand racing greyhounds by a small Anti Racing community [59] that has led the racing industry to initiate its own internal inquiry into their outcomes, injuries and welfare.[60]

South Africa

In the Republic of South Africa dogs are kept with their owners. Due to the amateur state of racing, owners are usually also the trainer and rearer of the dogs; it is very rare that a dog is kenneled with a trainer.

Racing is controlled by a partnership between the United Greyhound Racing and Breeders Society (UGRABS) and the South African Renhond Unie (SARU - South African Racing Dog Union). The studbook is kept by the South African Studbook and organization who keep studbooks for all stud animals. Racing takes place on both oval and straight tracks. Racing is illegal in South Africa.

United Kingdom

Greyhound racing is a popular industry in Great Britain with attendances at around 3.2 million at over 5,750 meetings in 2007. There are 26 registered stadiums in Britain, and a parimutuel betting tote system with on-course and off-course betting available, with a turnover of £75,100,000.[61]

On 24 July 1926, in front of 1,700 spectators, the first greyhound race took place at Belle Vue Stadium where seven greyhounds raced round an oval circuit to catch an electric artificial hare.[62] This marked the first ever modern greyhound race in Great Britain.

Greyhound racing in Great Britain is regulated by the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB).[63] Greyhounds are not kept at the tracks, and are instead housed in the kennels of trainers and transported to the tracks to race. Those who race on the independent circuit (known as 'flapping'), do not have this regulation.

Some of the stadiums where greyhound racing has been staged at are as follows: Powderhall Stadium, Edinburgh; Stenhouse Stadium, Edinburgh; Scarlet Park, Wallyford, East Lothian; East End Park, Dunfermline; White City Stadium, Glasgow; Carntyne Stadium, Glasgow; Saracen Park, Glasgow; The Stadium, Motherwell, Lanarkshire; Airebles Road Stadium, Motherwell, Glasgow; Blantyre Stadium, Blantyre, Lanarkshire; Shielfield Park, Berwick; Gosforth Stadium, Newcastle; Lonsdale Park, Workington; Falkirk Stadium, Falkirk; Carfin Stadium, Carfin, Lanarkshire; Sun Street Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent; Walthamstow Stadium, London; Weir Stadium, Rayleigh, Essex; Vicarage Road Stadium, Watford; Caxton Stadium, Cambridgeshire; Newmarket Road Stadium, Cambridge; Wembley Stadium, London; Harringay Stadium, London; New Cross Stadium, London; County Ground, Exeter; Pennycross Stadium, Plymouth; Raikes Park, Bolton; Dudley Wood Stadium, Cradley Heath; Perry Barr Greyhound Stadium, Birmingham; Doncaster Greyhound Stadium, Doncaster, Groveway Stadium, Milton Keynes.

United States

Ear tattoo on an American racing greyhound. Ear tattoos are used for identification of dogs during their racing careers.

In the United States, greyhound racing is governed by state law. Industry attempts at self-regulation have been widely criticized by humane organizations.[64]

At American tracks greyhounds are kept in warehouse-style kennel compounds, in cages that are approximately three feet wide, four feet deep, and three feet high.[65] According to an investigator with the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, greyhounds are “normally confined” for “20 to 23 hours per day.”[66]

In addition to state law and regulations, most tracks adopt their own rules, policies and procedures. In exchange for the right to race their greyhounds at the track, kennel owners must sign contracts in which they agree to abide by all track rules, including those pertaining to animal welfare. If kennel owners violate these contract clauses, they stand to lose their track privileges and even their racing licenses.

In recent years, several state governments in the United States have passed legislation to improve the treatment of racing dogs in their jurisdiction. During the 1990s, seven states banned gambling on live greyhound racing. In November 2008, Massachusetts held a vote to ban greyhound racing, which passed 56% to 44%.

Greyhound racing is not a viable financial industry. Between 2001 and 2011, the total amount gambled on greyhound racing nationwide declined by 67%.[67] In fact, gambling on dog races has declined for twenty consecutive years.

In Florida, where 12 of the 21 operational dog tracks in the US remain, the financial decline is even more significant. In the state, the amount gambled at dog tracks declined by 72% between 1990 and 2013.[68] According to a study commissioned by the legislature, the state lost between $1 million and $3.3 million on greyhound racing in 2012.[69]

See also


  1. ^ "dog racing." Encyclopædia Britannica, Online Library Edition, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2012. Web. 5 Feb. 2012
  2. ^ Jane Alexiadis, What's it Worth? Greyhound collection sale to benefit charity, San Jose Mercury News (Dec. 23, 2011).
  3. ^ "Australia". GREY2K USA Worldwide. 2014-02-26. 
  4. ^ "Ireland". GREY2K USA Worldwide. 2014-02-26. 
  5. ^ "Macau". GREY2K USA Worldwide. 2014-01-30. 
  6. ^ "Mexico". GREY2K USA Worldwide. 2014-01-30. 
  7. ^ "Vietnam". GREY2K USA Worldwide. 2014-01-30. 
  8. ^ A listing of US Tracks
  9. ^ "Alabama". GREY2K USA Worldwide. 2014-02-26. 
  10. ^ "Arizona". GREY2K USA Worldwide. 2014-02-26. 
  11. ^ "Arkansas". GREY2K USA Worldwide. 2014-02-26. 
  12. ^ Rocky Mountain News, June 23, 2008
  13. ^ "Colorado". GREY2K USA Worldwide. 2014-02-26. 
  14. ^ "Florida". GREY2K USA Worldwide. 2014-02-26. 
  15. ^ "Ban on dog racing to be heard". 2010-06-17. 
  16. ^ "Iowa". GREY2K USA Worldwide. 2014-02-26. 
  17. ^ "New Hampshire Legislation 2010 - HB 630". 2010-07-08. 
  18. ^ "Rhode Island". GREY2K USA Worldwide. 2014-02-26. 
  19. ^ "Texas". GREY2K USA Worldwide. 2014-02-26. 
  20. ^ "West Virginia". GREY2K USA Worldwide. 2014-02-26. 
  21. ^ "Argentina". GREY2K USA Worldwide. 2014-02-26. 
  22. ^ "Austria". GREY2K USA Worldwide. 2014-01-30. 
  23. ^ "Belgium". GREY2K USA Worldwide. 2014-01-30. 
  24. ^ "Chile". GREY2K USA Worldwide. 2014-01-30. 
  25. ^ "Czech Republic". GREY2K USA Worldwide. 2014-02-26. 
  26. ^ "Denmark". GREY2K USA Worldwide. 2014-02-26. 
  27. ^ "Finland". GREY2K USA Worldwide. 2014-02-26. 
  28. ^ "France". GREY2K USA Worldwide. 2014-02-26. 
  29. ^ "Germany". GREY2K USA Worldwide. 2014-02-26. 
  30. ^ "Hungary". GREY2K USA Worldwide. 2014-02-26. 
  31. ^ "India". GREY2K USA Worldwide. 2014-01-30. 
  32. ^ "Italy". GREY2K USA Worldwide. 2014-01-30. 
  33. ^ "Morocco". GREY2K USA Worldwide. 2014-01-30. 
  34. ^ "Netherlands". GREY2K USA Worldwide. 2014-02-26. 
  35. ^ "Pakistan". GREY2K USA Worldwide. 2014-02-26. 
  36. ^ "Portugal". GREY2K USA Worldwide. 2014-02-26. 
  37. ^ "Slovakia". GREY2K USA Worldwide. 2014-01-30. 
  38. ^ "Spain". GREY2K USA Worldwide. 2014-01-30. 
  39. ^ "Sweden". GREY2K USA Worldwide. 2014-02-26. 
  40. ^ "Switzerland". GREY2K USA Worldwide. 2014-01-30. 
  41. ^ "Uruguay". GREY2K USA Worldwide. 2014-01-30. 
  42. ^ a b "Answers to Commonly Asked Questions". Greyhound Protection League Official. Retrieved November 19, 2012. 
  43. ^ "Inside Out - West: Monday 24th February 2003". BBC Inside Out. BBC. 2003-02-24. Archived from the original on 2007-12-05. Retrieved 2007-12-05. 
  44. ^ Greyhound Racing Association media kit: The referenced industry figures do not include information about unregistered litters, nor outcomes for dogs after they finished as breeding dogs. The statistics vary depending on the reporting organization. According to the Greyhound Network News one page fact sheet estimates that of the 26,600 greyhounds that were no longer racing in 2005, 45% and of them were euthanized by either groups that could not adopt them out or by the dog breeders via farm culling.
  45. ^
  46. ^
  47. ^ Foggo, Daniel (May 11, 2008). "Greyhound breeder offers slow dogs to be killed for research". The Times (London). 
  48. ^
  49. ^ Foggo, Daniel (July 16, 2006). "Killing field of the dog racing industry". The Times (London). 
  50. ^ "Fact Sheet: Greyhounds endure lives of confinement". GREY2K USA Worldwide. 2014-04-26. 
  51. ^
  52. ^ "Fact Sheet: Greyhounds suffer serious injuries while racing” GREY2K USA Worldwide, February 26, 2014". GREY2K USA Worldwide. 2014-04-26. 
  53. ^ "Greyhound racing ban signed into law in Colorado". The Denver Post. March 10, 2014. 
  54. ^ "Bord na gCon faces 'significant challenges' financially". The Irish Times. July 7, 2014. 
  55. ^ "About 3000 unwanted greyhound racing dogs put down each year in NSW". The Australian. November 15, 2013. 
  56. ^
  57. ^
  58. ^
  59. ^
  60. ^
  61. ^
  62. ^
  63. ^
  64. ^ GREY2K USA
  65. ^ GREY2K USA Report on Greyhound Racing in Texas (February 2013)
  66. ^ Greyhound Deaths at Florida Racetracks (February 2014)
  67. ^ Association of Racing Commissioners International, Statistical Summaries for 2001 and 2011.
  68. ^ "“Annual Reports.”". Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering. Retrieved March 7, 2014. 
  69. ^ "Gambling Impact Study". Spectrum Gaming Group. Retrieved October 28, 2013. 

Further reading

  • Gwyneth Anne Thayer, Going to the Dogs: Greyhound Racing, Animal Activism, and American Popular Culture. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2013.

External links

  • Greyhound racing at DMOZ
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