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The Greyhound is a breed of dog that has been primarily bred for coursing game and racing. A combination of long, powerful legs, deep chest and aerodynamic build allows it to reach speeds of up to 72 km/h (45 mph) in less than one and a half seconds, or within 3 strides! If you are new to greyhounds or other running dogs, then seeing is believing; it is phenomenal!

Horses, like greyhounds, are commonly used in racing, which had led to arguments over which is quicker. These were settled on Wednesday 2nd, May, 2004, at Kempton Park, England, when Simply Fabulous (greyhound) raced Tiny Tim (horse). The race was two furlongs (400m) on the horses preferred grass track. Despite this, Simply F.'s lethal acceleration meant the horse couldn't catch him. Simply Fabulous clocked in at 23.29 seconds, with Tiny Tim finishing after 24.63 seconds. The race was held as a warm up to both the horse and greyhound derbies were held on the following Saturday.

Until the early twentieth century, greyhounds were principally bred and trained for coursing. During the early 1920s, modern greyhound racing was introduced into the United States and introduced into United Kingdom (Belle Vue) in 1936 and Northern Ireland (Celtic Park) on April 18th 1927 and immediately followed by Shelbourne Park in Dublin very soon after.

History

The breed's origin can be traced to ancient Egypt, where a picture depicting a smooth-coated Saluki (Persian Greyhound) or Sloughi was found in a tomb built in 4000 BC. Analyses of DNA reported in 2004, however, suggest that the greyhound is not closely related to these breeds, but is a close relative to herding dogs.

Historically, these sight hounds were used primarily for hunting in the open where their keen eyesight is valuable. It is believed that they (or at least similarly-named dogs) were introduced to the area now known as the United Kingdom in the 6th and 5th century BC from Celtic mainland Europe although the Picts and other hunter gatherer tribes of the Northern area (now known as Scotland) were believed to have had large hounds similar to that of the deerhound before the 6th century BC.

The name "greyhound" is generally believed to come from the Old English grighund. "Hund" is the antecedent of the modern "hound", but the meaning of "grig" is undetermined, other than in reference to dogs in Old English and Norse. Its origin does not appear to have any common root with the modern word "grey" for colour, and indeed the greyhound is seen with a wide variety of coats. This may be confusing, however, as the deerhound and wolfhound are more commonly grey in colour and possibly the true origins of the greyhound.   It is known that in England during the medieval period, Lords and Royalty keen to own greyhounds for sport, requested they be bred to colour variants that made them easier to view and identify in pursuit of their quarry. The lighter colours, patch-like markings and white appeared in the breed that was once ordinarily grey in colour. The greyhound is the only dog mentioned by name in the Bible.

According to Pokorny the English name "greyhound" does not mean "gray dog/hound", but simply "fair dog". Subsequent words have been derived from the Proto-Indo-European root *g'her- 'shine, twinkle': English gray, Old High German gris 'grey, old', Old Icelandic griss 'piglet, pig', Old Icelandic gryja 'to dawn', gryjandi 'morning twilight', Old Irish grian 'sun', Old Church Slavonic zorja 'morning twilight, brightness'. The common sense of these words is 'to shine; bright'.

Lurcher

The Lurcher is not a dog breed, but rather a type of dog. It is a hardy crossbred sighthound (usually a greyhound) that is generally a cross between a sighthound and a working breed, usually a pastoral dog or Terrier. Collie crosses have always been very popular. Lurchers can be crossed several times. There is no set type, so they can be as small as a Whippet or as large as a Deerhound; but most are chosen for a size similar to that of a Greyhound, and a distinct sighthound form is preferred.

The Lurcher was bred in Ireland and Great Britain by the Irish Gypsies and travellers in the 17th century. They were used for poaching rabbits, hares and other small creatures. The name Lurcher is a derived name from the Romani language word lur, which means thief. The travellers considered the short-haired Lurcher the most prized. The Lurcher is rarely seen outside of Ireland or Great Britain, and is still common in its native land. The Collie crosses were often not large enough to do the work the Lurcher was intended for.

Irish Romany or Roma people were instrumental in developing the breed, and traditionally sneered at any Lurcher that was not predominantly genetically Greyhound, since these "lesser" Lurchers were not as good at hunting and could not stand a full day's work of the hunt. The stringent training methods of the Gypsies are looked down upon in some Lurcher circles, since the pups began working at six months old. Only the top-producing pups were kept; the rest were sold at traditional bargain rates. Today some breeding is carried out in a more systematic manner, with Lurchers bred to Lurchers to perpetuate the "breed's" prowess at rabbit and hare coursing.

Generally, the aim of the cross is to produce a sighthound with more intelligence, a canny animal suitable for the original purpose of the lurcher, poaching. Developed in the Middle Ages in Great Britain and Ireland, the lurcher was created because only nobility were allowed to have purebred sighthounds like Irish Wolfhounds, Scottish Deerhounds, and Greyhounds, whereas crosses, or curs, had no such perceived value. Similarly, nobility owned most land and commoners were not allowed to hunt game on crown land or other noble estates.

It was important that the lurcher did not resemble too closely a sighthound, as the penalties for owning a sighthound were high,  particularly given that if you owned one then by default you were considered a poacher. The original lurchers therefore were generally heavier-coated dogs who could herd sheep as well as bring home a rabbit or hare for the pot.

The lurcher has as many varied uses as types can be crossbred, but generally they are used as hunting dogs that can chase and kill their prey. Most lurchers today are used for general pest control, typically rabbits, hares, and foxes. They have also been successfully used on deer. Lurcher can be used for hare coursing, although most hare coursing dogs are Greyhounds. Lurchers move most effectively over open ground, although different crosses suit different terrains. Lure coursing and dog racing are also popular in areas with little available hunting, or for people who dislike hunting. 

 

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