Like all breeds of dog, there are some greyhounds who can happily co-exist with other animals, some who can never be trusted around other animals, and some who will show behaviour in between. Some greyhounds will be quite predatory towards other animals. Dogs’ ancestors had to hunt, chase, and kill other animals in order to survive.
Genetics play a role and for many greyhounds, the instinct to chase is especially strong. However, genetics only tell us what a dog might do, not what they will do. Previous experience (for example, being taught to chase in their training, and sometimes sadly through unethical and illegal training techniques) and environment (a lack of enrichment) may also influence the extent of predatory aggression and to which animals it might be directed.
So, although some greyhounds may be able to live in harmony with other pets such as small dogs, cats and other small animals, others can never be safely left alone with them. Always err on the side of safety, be cautious, and do not expect that your greyhound will become best buddies with other furry family members, including small dogs.
Introducing a greyhound to an existing dog
It is advisable to take your existing dog(s) to the adoption centre for an introduction with your new greyhound. This will allow all dogs to meet on fairly neutral space to avoid territorial behaviour. Check with the shelter first to confirm that this can be done.
If this is not possible, the next best option is to arrange for someone to take your dog(s) to a park to meet your new greyhound after you leave the centre but before you get home. It is best if the park can be within walking distance from your home, so that you can leave your car at home and walk to the park to allow a canine meet and greet for 15-20 minutes, including a walk on leash for all dogs around the park before heading home together. Ensure your new greyhound is on leash at all times because if they escape, you may not be able to run fast enough to catch them!
Once home, ensure separate sleeping and eating areas are established and remove any toys or objects, including bones that may create conflict. Feed both dogs completely separately (e.g., one inside and one outside) or at different times whilst excluding the dog which is not being fed. All interactions should be closely supervised, and the dogs not left alone together until you are very sure that there is no danger.
Introducing a greyhound to an existing cat
Ideally, your new greyhound should have undergone some preliminary testing as to whether they are likely to be suitable to live with a cat. However, we recommend that new owners seek professional advice from an authorised Greenhounds Assessor or veterinary behaviourist to help determine the likely success or otherwise of introducing your greyhound to your cat and to advise on the safest way to approach introductions and management. Sometimes, it might be safer to ensure that your greyhound is always kept physically separated from your cat rather than risking potentially unsafe interactions.
Read the following articles for further information: What is prey drive and why do I need to understand this? and How do I best communicate with my greyhound?