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Greyhound racing: dog sport for special four-legged friends

Greyhound racing

Even though greyhounds have long conquered the hearts of many dog owners and are nowadays often kept as pure family dogs, greyhound races still enjoy great popularity.

Because with this dog sport the fast four-legged friends can bring their strengths to bear thanks to the short racing distance optimally and satisfy their natural urge to move.

In the following you will learn exactly how greyhound races take place, which different types of races there are and which prerequisites have to be fulfilled in order to participate in the competitions. We will also explain why the right nutrition for your sighthound is not only crucial for success in sighthound racing.

Different types of greyhound racing

Greyhound races can basically be divided into two different types. When running on a racetrack, it is important that the participating greyhounds complete the course as quickly as possible.

With the so-called coursing the greyhound race takes place on the open field and besides the time also the hunting behaviour of the participating four-legged friends flows into the evaluation.

Greyhound racing on the racetrack

Greyhound racing on the racetrack

At greyhound races on the racetrack the dogs start from a starting box. In order to motivate the animals to run, an artificial hare is pulled over the track with the help of a technical device. This stimulates the natural hunting instinct of the animals, which, unlike most other breeds, mainly hunt on sight.

The most important thing is that the dummy moves. Appearance and smell play only a subordinate role, so that the alleged hare does not necessarily also have to look like a real hare.

The bottom of the oval racetrack is solid and consists either of sand or grass. The usual racing distance in Europe is 480 metres. For smaller breeds, however, the track for the greyhound race is sometimes somewhat shorter.

Coursing: sighthound races in the open air

In addition to the classic greyhound races on the racetrack, so-called coursings are also organised. The English name can be translated into German as "Hetzjagd" and describes quite well what this form of greyhound racing is all about.


For the coursing a race track is created on the open field. This consists of deflection pulleys, which are attached to the track at irregular intervals and connected with a pull rope. Just like on the classic racecourse, a dummy hare is attached to the traction rope and pulled over the track.

Due to the arrangement of the deflection pulleys, the dummy does not simply move in a circle, but changes direction again and again. In this way, the coursing simulates a real chase in which the greyhound has to react quickly and think for himself. 

While in classic greyhound races on the racetrack up to six animals compete against each other, in coursing only two dogs start per run. If the race takes place according to the rules of the FCI, the judges evaluate the participants according to the criteria condition, speed, eagerness, consequences and agility.

Which dogs are suitable for greyhound racing?

Not all breeds are allowed to participate in greyhound races. In races organised directly by the FCI or a member association, the greyhounds managed by the FCI in Group 10 and the greyhound-like breeds listed in Group 5 may participate. 

The following breeds are recognised by the FCI:

  • Afghan
  • Borzoi
  • Saluki
  • Deerhound
  • Irish Wolfhound
  • Azawakh
  • Chart Polski
  • Greyhound
  • Galgo Español
  • Italian Wind Chimes
  • Magyar Agar
  • Sloughi 
  • Whippet

According to the FCI the following breeds belong to the sighthound-like dogs:

  • Cirneco dell'Etna
  • Pharaoh Hound
  • Podenco Canario
  • Podenco Ibicenco
  • Podengo Português

In greyhound races, which take place according to the rules of the AKC (American Kennel Club), Basenjis, Thai Ridgebacks and Rhodesian Ridgebacks are allowed in addition to the breeds mentioned.

Requirements for participation in greyhound races

For small breeds such as the Italian Wind Chimes, a minimum age of 15 months is required for participation in greyhound races. Larger greyhounds must be at least 18 months old. In the year, in which your four-legged friend completes his eight years of age, he can still participate in greyhound races until the end of the year. Older animals are no longer allowed for races.

Cruelty to animals or species-appropriate employment

Apart from that, you must complete several licence runs before your first greyhound race and apply for a racing licence. You will receive the licence after completing the required licence runs and issuing a dog passport at the DWZRV (Deutscher Windhundzucht- und Rennverband) or the WCD (Whippet Club Deutschland).

Greyhound racing: cruelty to animals or species-appropriate employment?

Many people are extremely critical of greyhound racing and often even believe that it is cruelty to animals. If the races are only about performance and profit, this may even be true.

Most owners, however, are primarily concerned with the fun their dogs have in participating in greyhound races. This is mainly due to the fact that they have been bred over a long period of time as hunting dogs and therefore hunting is still in their nature today.

This becomes particularly clear with coursing, where the fast four-legged friends can satisfy their urge to move in particularly fastidious way and are usually with very large enthusiasm with the thing.

The right nutrition as support for the greyhound race

As is the case for all dogs active in sports, it is of course also true for animals participating in greyhound races that a diet tailored to their needs is of great importance for their performance and health.

After all, physical activity is always associated with increased calorie consumption. In order to cover this optimally, we recommend that you feed your greyhound with our gluten-free Premium PUR Aktiv dry food

The feed provides your four-legged friend with digestible carbohydrates from rice and maize and provides him with exactly the energy he needs for maximum performance at the next greyhound race.

We also advise you to supplement your diet with the following Bellfor products:

  • Bellfor Fitness Powder optimally supplies your four-legged friend active in greyhound races with additional amino acids for rapid regeneration and the preservation of his muscles.
  • Bellfor Joints & Bones naturally counteracts joint complaints in your greyhound with the innovative active ingredient complex Ovopet. 

Always remember that the quality of your dog's diet not only contributes to fast lap times, but also promotes vitality and well-being. With Bellfor products, both are no problem and the next greyhound race can come.

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