The history of dog racing actually dates all the way back to ancient Egyptian civilisations, when people would keep dogs as both pets and for sports. However, greyhound racing didn't become popular in the United Kingdom until the late 1920s and early 1930s.
In 1926, the first modern greyhound race was held in Manchester at the Belle Vue Stadium. Within the first three years of the sport taking off, a total of around 35 million attendances were recorded at race tracks around Britain.
The sport's popularity peaked in the 1940s, during this time there were 77 registered race tracks and 200 independent ones. These days there are only 19 tracks that are registered with the Greyhound Board of Great Britain.
While greyhound racing perhaps isn't as popular as it once was, there are still thousands of people that enjoy spectating and betting on the sport. Those interested in placing bets on upcoming events can find information here on how to do so.
There are also a growing number of people interested in owning and racing their own greyhounds. Before jumping into the world of greyhound racing there are a few things you need to consider, including finances, training, animal welfare and a retirement plan for after your dog's racing career has ended.
Let's begin with the financial considerations that need to be made: For starters, how much does a racing dog cost to purchase?
The cost of a greyhound depends on a number of factors, such as the dog's bloodline and age. The price of a greyhound pup begins at £300 but can be as high as £1,500 to £2,000 for a youngster with a good background or one that has just begun racing.
For a dog with a proven track record for winning races, you could be looking at paying £5,000 or more. These dogs are a bit harder to come by but you should speak to local trainers or attend auctions for the best chance of finding one.
You don't necessarily have to purchase a greyhound on your own, there are other options such as syndicates or greyhound clubs that you can join. In some clubs, you might pay a one-off fee and then a monthly subscription to have a share of several racing dogs.
The benefits of shared ownership extend beyond cost savings, it can also create a good social experience and give you access to the best race dog trainers through increased connections.
Your racing greyhound will need to undergo training and you will be responsible for keeping the dog happy and healthy. A greyhound can begin some light training from the age ten months, however many trainers will wait until the dog is over one year old to ensure it is ready developmentally.
A greyhound will undergo strength training, which might include running on incline treadmills, swimming pools and long walks in large fields. You can seek out training at your local stadium, with prices often starting at £50 per week.
They are usually fed two meals a day, consisting of a carefully balanced healthy meal plan with the right amounts of protein, fat and other nutrients.
Ensuring the safety and health of your dog is paramount. At all races, the law requires that a vet is present and each greyhound is given a check-up before and after each race. An injured and sick greyhound must not race until it has made a full recovery, and will need to be retired if health problems persist.
A greyhound's racing career is relatively short, so when purchasing a racing dog you must have a plan in place for where the pooch will spend its retirement. The lifespan of this breed is around 14 years, most tend to finish their career around the age of five.
What retirement options are there for a racing greyhound?
Of course, any race dog owner wants to ensure that their greyhound has a happy and fulfilling retirement following their racing days. Some may choose to keep their dog as a family pet while others might seek another suitable home for them.
If keeping your greyhound as a pet you will need to be prepared to help the dog to settle into their new setting and lifestyle. For example, a muzzle may be required at first as the dog may not know how to react around other pets, especially smaller animals such as rabbits and cats.
Keeping your greyhound is a great option if you have the appropriate environment and the patience to care for it. However, there are also a number of charities and organisations that have been set up with the purpose of rehoming ex-racing greyhounds.
If rehoming the dog, you should be prepared to help pay any costs incurred for finding a new home and carrying out the necessary checks.