Common health problems with Greyhounds

20 June 2024 - 4 min read
Close-up image of a black-and-white Greyhound

Greyhounds are one of the oldest breeds, and they've been our best friends for thousands of years. It makes sense why: they're relaxed, chilled-out dogs who, despite their speed, are surprisingly low-energy.

But like any pedigree, they're prone to certain health issues.

Below, we discuss the most common Greyhound health problems, how vets diagnose them and how to care for one.

Most common Greyhound health conditions

greyhound sitting on gray background


This is a congenital abnormality caused by a gene defect. It leads to:

  • Nerve dysfunction

  • Muscle weakness

  • Lethargy

  • Exercise intolerance

  • A “bunny-hoping” gait

Symptoms most often occur in the hindlimbs and usually affect both sides. Mostly, this condition is chronic with a slow onset of symptoms. But some can occur suddenly.

Vets diagnose the condition through a mix of clinical history, blood tests and urine tests to rule out other causes. X-rays and ultrasounds may also be recommended to rule out other causes. But electrophysiology testing and muscle biopsies are generally used to confirm the diagnosis.

Both parents must carry the faulty gene for the symptoms to be passed on to offspring.

Digestive problems

Greyhounds are prone to two digestive problems:

  • Gastric Dilation and Volvulus (GDV)

  • Bloat

This is due to their deep chests. It's why digestive issues are some of the most common Greyhound health issues.

Bloat commonly occurs when a dog's stomach fills with gas, food, or fluid, usually after a large meal causing the resultant gas to be unable to escape from the stomach.

If exercised too soon after a meal (likely alongside other risk factors), the distended stomach can twist and become torsed. We call this GDV.

Both of these conditions can be life-threatening if not treated immediately.

Dental problems

Dental disease and delayed post-operative bleeding are two problems that Greyhounds suffer from. Greyhounds have a genetic predisposition to periodontitis (gum disease).

Affected dogs have painful, inflamed, swollen gums and lips. Tooth loss is common and often extensive. Preventative dental health care is vital to keeping teeth healthy as long as possible and maintaining their general health.

Delayed postoperative bleeding in Greyhounds is noteworthy. It means uncontrolled, life-threatening bleeding some Greyhounds can have following dental surgery. It's due to defective clotting factors in the affected dog's blood.

Problems are most often observed 36-72 hours following surgery. Preventatively, vitamin K can be supplied before and after surgery to help negate the risks of clotting disorders from surgical or dental interventions in this breed.

Orthopaedic injury

Orthopaedic injury is common in Greyhounds due to their long legs, powerful musculature, ligaments and athletic speed. Common injuries include fractures of the leg bones, toe injuries and muscle tears.

Taking care to make sure this breed exercises in safe spaces and swift intervention if injury does occur is key here.


Osteosarcoma is one of the most common cancers in Greyhounds. It's an aggressive bone cancer which generally starts in the leg, damaging the bone and making it prone to fractures. Pain and swelling without apparent injury are often the presenting symptoms.

X-rays are used to diagnose the condition which is unfortunately aggressive and can spread to other areas of the body like the liver and lungs. Your vet will talk about treatment options if your dog suffers from this diagnosis.

The prognosis is often poor even with medical management and surgical intervention but treatment aims at maintaining the quality of life whilst extending it.

How to care for a Greyhound

Image of two Greyhounds: one brown-and-white and the other brown-and-black.

Genetic screening and selective breeding

Genetic screening is available for Greyhound polyneuropathy. Those affected should not be bred with another adult who also carries the gene as offspring are likely to be unwell.

Generally, always pick a responsible breeder who has performed the necessary health checks. It's one of the most important things you can do as a pet owner.

Managing meals

Preventing GDV and bloat involves splitting meals into two or three smaller meals instead of one large one.

Generally, manage your Greyhound's meals carefully, especially if they have these conditions. Always trust your vet's advice.

Good dental care

Preventative dental health care is vital to keeping teeth healthy as long as possible and maintaining their general health in this breed. Discussing proactive vitamin K supplementation with your vet if your dog is expected to undergo any surgical intervention is essential to prevent dangerous delayed bleeding.

Trusting your vet

Owners should be aware of orthopaedic conditions that Greyhounds can suffer from, and seek appropriate veterinary care should their dog show signs of injury or pain.

Routine checks can help spot injuries early too.

How dog insurance helps

Greyhound insurance has all you need to stay prepared for the unexpected and protect your pet.

Dog insurance helps with up to £15,000 vet fee cover, unlimited 24/7 vet calls with FirstVet and a host of other perks.

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Lily qualified from Liverpool University in 2011 and spent five years as a veterinarian in mixed animal practice. As Lily’s passion for exotics and complicated small animal medical cases developed, she stepped into small animal-only practice. By 2018, Lily was leading a busy branch of a large hospital practice with a fantastic team, enjoying working on surgical and medical cases. Since falling poorly in 2021, Lily has found a new passion in medical writing, revealing a talent for sharing medical knowledge and writing with the public.