Historical Facts about Greyhounds

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Taken from The Reign of the Greyhound by Cynthia Branigan

  • Greyhounds were the first distinct breed of dog to be portrayed in art. Excavation of a site in Turkey from 6000 BC depicted drawings of hunters and Greyhound type dogs.
  • Greyhounds were held in high esteem in ancient Egypt as well as Greece and Rome. They are depicted in many forms of art including vases, paintings, and sculptures.
  • Many Pharaohs were either buried with their Greyhounds or had their tombs decorated with their favorite hounds.
  • Alexander the Great had many hunting and fighting dogs that followed him into battle, but his favorite dog, Peritas, was a Greyhound.
  • King Canute (1016-1035) was the first to rule that only the aristocracy could own Greyhounds. Until 1700, it was illegal for a commoner in England to own a Greyhound.
  • Numerous English and French aristocratic families chose to have Greyhounds on their family coat of arms including: Henry VII and Henry VIII, James II, and Charles V.
  • James II fled to France in 1688 after being deposed by the English. The English were so happy to be rid of him that they allowed him to take 20,000 greyhounds and an Irish regiment to care for them.
  • King Louis XV had several packs of greyhounds – each pack comprised 600 – 620 dogs.
  • George Armstrong Custer enjoyed coursing his Greyhounds and always traveled with at least 14 hounds. The day before the massacre at the Little Big Horn, Custer sent one of his soldiers away with 40 Greyhounds, saving their lives.
  • Master McGrath was a legendary Irish coursing dog who was so popular all of Ireland went into mourning when he died in 1871.

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