Monday, August 26, 2013

Short History of Greyhounds in Vintage Images

"A Gentleman might be known and judged by his hawk, his horse and his greyhound."
-Old Welsh proverb    

Eos, beloved companion to HRH Prince Albert
Greyhounds descend from a type of landrace breed, and were probably developed in the Middle East. They've been created and recreated throughout the world for the last 6 to 8 thousands years.  I say recreated because ancient Greyhounds are not ancestral relatives of today's Greyhounds.   They just look alike.

As far back as the fifth century, elegant Greyhounds
 frolicked in complicated pictorial tapestries.

The British created their own version of the dog, the English Greyhound, 
during the 17th and 18th centuries.
Milo, English Greyhound, c 1860
Source: Antique Pooch

On the back of this photograph it says,
"Dick L 1896"
Source: Antique Pooch
In the early 1900s, Owen Patrick Smith invented the artificial lure, and Greyhound track racing was invented. So were Greyhound coursing kennels. On the back of the stereo card below it says, "Northern Surprise and Jessamy, sire and mother of America's best coursing hounds, Lowes Kennels, Lawrence Kansas, 1903. I'm from Lawrence, Kansas, but I don't know where these kennels were.
Source: Library of Congress

Coursing hounds worked hard, but their fashionable, slimmer, show-dog cousins hardly worked at all. Below is the first Miss America, Margaret Gorman, posing with some arm candy, her Greyhound named Long Goodie.
Source: Library of congress

This looks like God and his Greyhound.
If so, the dog is indeed an ancient breed.


  1. An amazing breed indeed!! I drive past a local greyhound track on my way to and from work and often see trainers/owners walking their dogs in the very early hours of the morning while it's still cool just before the sun comes up!! They are such graceful creatures!! A dear friend has two Italian greyhounds, such fine boned animals, like china dog-dolls, a puff of wind could knock them over!!!!!

  2. I enjoy reading your blogs: they are a great combination of art and science! So do we know what happened to the line of dogs that were the ancient greyhounds? Thanks, Beth

    1. Hi Beth- Well this is what I think, but no science to back it up... if you take a dog and breed it for speed, really fast speed, it won't take long until you have a dog that looks like a Greyhound. I think there is a strong genetic link between speed and the shape of this type of sighthound. So to answer your question, breed lines die out, but they are born somewhere else. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

    2. Thanks! It is hard to imagine the changes in a culture that would allow a breed to die out, but I guess that just means I have been fortunate to not have been around for the fall of a civilization! Beth