This is an extremely interesting article which shows just how much
of a precision athlete the Greyhound really is.
By John Konkhe
Reprinted courtesy Greyhound Star
Some people are fascinated by the horsepower, cornering dynamics and top speed of a fast car, the climb speed and maneuverability of a fighter plane, or endless records broken at last year's Olympic Games.
But is there a limit to athletic performance?
Having been a greyhound vet and admirer for 20 or more years, I am awed by the specialised running machine and athlete we call a racing greyhound. So, in this article, I thought I would gather a few statistics on the greyhound as an athletic and physiological marvel for those who are equally fascinated by this lovable, elite breed of dog.
Over the past 20 years, starting with Dr Ross Staaden in Perth who ran greyhounds on a high speed treadmill to measure their energy and oxygen use, heart rates and other physiological parameters, until today with Dr Robert Gillette of Alabama University in the USA, measuring stride lengths, galloping patterns and weight forces, we have gained an insight into how a
greyhound functions as a finely tuned and well adapted canine athlete.
The statistics below illustrate the adaptation of the greyhound to the high speed chase.
The figures are based on the average 30kg greyhound, at the peak of fitness and obviously injury free.
In the first 7.5 seconds of a 30-second race, a greyhound metabolises high energy creatine and glycogen stores in its muscles without the need for oxygen.
It uses the creatine energy base during the first 3.5 seconds acceleration phase to the first bend of a standard circle track.
In fact, a greyhound expends half of its total energy used in a race for this acceleration stage.
However, surprisingly greyhounds and even racing sprint horses performing for less than one minute expend in a race only about 6% of their total energy intake required each day to meet the exercise needs in training.
At maximum acceleration, a greyhound reaches a full speed of 70 kmh within 30 metres or six strides from the boxes, traveling at almost 20 metres per second for the first 250 metres of a race.
The only other animal that can accelerate faster over a short distance is a cheetah that can reach speeds of 109 kmh over 3-4 strides from a standing start.
The greyhound can maintain an average speed of 16.45 metres per second over a 500 metre race, decreasing to around 14.6 metres per second as it crosses the finish line.
A thoroughbred racehorse can achieve a maximum speed of around 49 kmh or 13.6 metres per second.
An elite human sprinter can reach 40kmh in a 10 second sprint race at an all out speed of 11 metres per second.
The muscles of a greyhound generate 75-80% of their power from anaerobic metabolic pathways during a 30 second race.
In distance races, or coursing trials in excess of 40 seconds duration, 80% of the total energy in the final half of the race or gallop is metabolised using oxygen.
In a racing greyhound, the heart output increases from about 200mL per kg body weight per minute at rest to over 1000mL per kg at the full gallop. A greyhound circulates up to 15 litres of blood around its body, or half its own body weight in a 30 second-race.
A racing greyhound circulates its entire blood volume between 4-5 times during a 30 second gallop.
These figures equate to a greyhound pumping its entire blood volume of around 3.4 litres up to 4-5 times around its body during a 30 second gallop. A greyhound's heart weight ranges from 1.18 to 1.73% of body weight, or 270 grams to 519 grams for a 30kg greyhound, which is higher than an elite racehorse at 1.0-1.3% of its body weight.
Other breeds of dogs have a heart weight equal to 0.77% of their body weight, compared to 0.5% for humans.
An average 70kg human athlete has a heart size similar to a 30kg greyhound, but the greyhound's heart delivers blood at almost twice the rate, beating at 310-340 beats/minute at the gallop, compared to humans at 170.210 beats/minute.
A fit greyhound has the highest blood volume of any athlete, relative to its body size, with blood contributing 11.4%, compared to 10.5% for a racehorse, 9.5% for a human sprint athlete and 7.2% for a normal pet dog.
A greyhound has around 35 x 1012 red blood cells in its body, producing around 5 million replacement red cells per second in its bone marrow and spleen.
A fit greyhound has about 3 litres of blood consisting of around 2 litres red cells, or about 6.6% of its body weight or a PCV of 60% of blood volume. A racehorse has a blood volume of around 55 litres, but a PCV of around 40% when fit, or 4.4% of its body weight.
At a gallop, a racing greyhound is only touching the track surface for 25% of its stride distance, and during the remainder of the stride, it is suspended above the ground until the next limb hits the ground.
Up the straight, a greyhound carries 2.26 times its body weight on the weight bearing front limb at each stride, increasing to 5 times (or roughly 150kg) in downward weight force on its left inside front limb when leaning over around a sharp bend on the track.
A greyhound has a stride length of around 5 metres making 4 strides per second as it accelerates from the traps, decreasing to 3.25 strides per second up the home straight, with each limb touching the ground for about 0.11 seconds.
The forelimbs have a flight distance (off the ground) of 1.23 metres, and the rear legs 2.45 metres or double the distance.
The wrist joint bones on the front limbs sustain pressure of 500psi or 20,000 newtons per square cm when cornering at the gallop.
The wrist and lower limb structures withstand up to 150kg of downward pressure when galloping around a corner, which is created by the centrifugal force in proportion to the speed of the greyhound and the radius of the track circle.
This sideways force is imposed on the greyhound's front limb on the second stride into the corner and if the track surface is unstable or shears, the outward flinging force causes increased sideways pressure on the joint, which can result in injury to the wrist.
Respiratory & Blood Pressure Dynamics
A greyhound draws in 60-90 litres of air in 50-90 breaths in a 30-second gallop, extracting 1500 mLs of oxygen from the air to metabolise the energy in its muscles.
During the gallop, the blood pressure in the lung arteries increases from 7 mm mercury pressure units at rest, to 40 units at the gallop, similar to the pressure peak in a human athlete, but only one third of the maximum pressure in a racehorse's lung artery, which reaches 120 mm mercury pressure, or roughly 2.1 psi of pressure.
A greyhound produces around 100Kcals or 100,000 watts of waste heat energy during a 30 second race, sufficient to bring 600mL of tap water to the boil in around 2 minutes.
After a race, the gut function is restored over a 30 minute period to digest food, but the immune system is depressed for 30-120 minutes after a hard gallop.
Loading stress placed on the limb bones is repaired over a 7-10 day period after a race.
What a dog !!!!!!!!
Did You Know ........?
The first Greyhound came to Australia with Captain Cook in 1770.
A Greyhounds foot placement when running is different to any other dog - during the Greyhound's complete stride, he is off the ground twice - a double suspension gallop.
In 1804, Australia issued a proclamation ordering the destruction of all dogs EXCEPT greyhounds and sheepdogs.
Greyhounds require little exercise, are very quiet, and are ideal for suburban homes, unlike many other large breeds of dogs.
Greyhounds are being used as therapy dogs in the USA, because of their
Because of their low body fat and short coat, a greyhound has very little - if any "doggy smell".
People that are allergic to dogs, usually find that they do not suffer the same
discomfort with a Greyhound.
Some Greyhounds can, and do, live in harmony with other animals, such as
other dogs, cats, birds and even rabbits.
Greyhounds are usually found standing or lying down, they find it uncomfortable to sit. Some say it is because their tail is so stiff which doesn't allow him to sit properly - and some say that it is just uncomfortable for them to take the sit position.
Greyhounds are chemical sensitive.
They must have special anesthetic when undergoing surgery and they
cannot wear flea collars.
The Greyhound was once a truly noble animal, who could only be owned by royalty, prized for their elegant appearance, their grace and their speed, and their ability to catch their masters food.
In ancient times, the only thing more important to the Pharaohs, than the birth of a greyhound pup, was the birth of a son.
The Greyhound is also the only dog to be mentioned in the Bible.
The Greyhound is one of the most misunderstood dog breeds in the world.
Not only does he make a superb athlete on the race track, but he is by far one of the most elegant, loving and intelligent dogs of all time.
Only in recent times are people becoming aware of the Greyhounds true personality - and only now are they being accepted as a family pet for their magnificent qualities.
Greyhounds are now successfully being used as therapy dogs because of their quiet disposition, and their affection towards people. Some Greyhounds can and do live in harmony with cats, small dogs and even poultry. Most of them adore children and bond very deeply with their owners.
The Greyhound is a truly magnificent animal and deserves a place in society as a family pet.The most misconceived opinions of the Greyhound are brought about by the muzzle wearing. Laws that relate to the muzzle wearing are old and unfortunately have never been changed in most states and countries.
Adoption Programs all over the world work tirelessly, mostly on a volunteer basis, to find these wonderful dogs permanent pet homes.
Please visit our links page or our page on Adoption to find out more about Greyhound Adoption.
They are magnificent - a true companion - unconditional love.
But who considers a Greyhound when they are looking for a pet ?
I have been involved with dogs for many, many years. Showing Irish Setters for 15 years. When my last Irish Setter passed away from old age in 1992, I missed the company of a dog and proceeded to find another Irish Setter as I believed that this was the only breed for me.
To cut a long story short, I had a friend, who had a racing greyhound, and he suggested that I should buy a greyhound and race it. Well, I couldn't imagine myself with one of these skinny looking, lure chasing dogs - until - I met one.
That was it. There was just something about
these dogs that screamed out to me - YES...it's right.
After checking out all the aspects of racing and about the greyhound personality, calculating the ongoing expenses and what would happen at his retirement - we took the plunge.
Greyhound Adoption Groups, with support from the Greyhound Racing Authorities, are wonderfully manned groups (mostly volunteers) who find loving, caring, permanent pet homes for Greyhounds who have finished their racing career.
Most Greyhounds are between 2 and 6 years old - and have been retrained for family situations. They are basically a very lazy dog who spend most of their time sleeping. Ideal for suburban situations.
We are a true testimony for the Greyhound as a Pet. We love our racing, and so do the dogs. The racing dogs are treated like the professional athletes that they are - they want for nothing - and receive the best of everything. When they finish their racing, they come home to a well deserved retirement and a life of luxury.
There is just something so very special about a greyhound that no other breed of dog has, and still now, I can't put my finger on any one thing.
It could be the eyes - eyes that turn you into putty.
It could be that you think, any minute now this dog is going to open his mouth and talk to me.
It could be the love that radiates from the dog to those around him.
It could be the cold nights when he sits beside me on the couch and puts his head in my lap.
It could be that when I am down, he seems to come from nowhere to comfort me.
But - it is not only my Greyhounds that do this - ask any Greyhound owner.
If your interested in seeing what these magnificent dogs are really like in the flesh, I have listed some contacts below.
Go ahead - you will be really amazed and astounded at the qualities these
wonderful animals possess.
Click on your closest Adoption Program to view their website
for more information.