Developed originally for great speed in the pursuit of antelope, gazelles, and desert hares, the greyhound, though one of the most ancient, is also one of the most extreme types of dog known to man.
Very slender and fine of line, he still maintains great strength, and his lovely "compensating" curves and streamlines of form present a wonderful example of the beauty that inevitably accompanies a perfectly adapted mechanism. His motion is supremely graceful and easy, and in repose his elegance does not diminish.
This is a tall dog, measuring from 28 to 31 inches at the shoulder and weighing from 600 to 70 pounds. The hair is short and close, revealing intimately the wonderful surface muscles. The slender legs have sufficient bone for strength, and the arched back is well muscled, though slender. The sloping shoulders allow for a long forward reach in the spring, and the chest, while rather narrow, is immensely deep, with ribs fairly sprung, giving sufficient capacity.
The head, while slender, has considerable strength of jaw, and the eye is bright and responsive. While not as intelligent as some dogs, the greyhound is by no means stupid.
His finely chiseled head, delicate ears, and arched neck give him a distinctive and well born appearance equaled by few dogs. The Italian greyhound is simply a diminutive greyhound. In both any color is permissible.
As we look to the ancient Greeks for the highest development of the human body, so we look to the great hunting dogs of ancient lineage for the highest development of canine grace. These tall, powerful hounds, trained for ages to match their speed and strength against fleet and often savage wild creatures, have attained that beauty found only in those things which are perfectly adapted to the purposes for which they are used.
Swiftest and most graceful of all, perhaps, is the English greyhound. Built, it would seem, of spring steel and whipcord, and with a short satin coat, which offers no resistance to the wind, this swallow among dogs cleaves the air and barely touches the ground he flies over. Even the fleet English hare is no match for him in speed, and were it not that the hare has a clever knack of dodging at the moment the dog is about to overtake her, she would be quickly caught.
General Roger D. Williams, of Lexington, Kentucky, who has done a great deal of wolf hunting in the West, states that greyhounds can not only overtake a timber wolf, but will close with him instantly, regardless of consequences, which is more than some wolfhounds will do.