Greyhound - AKC Study Guide vs English Standard

Greyhound morphology

The AKC Standard, adopted in 1929, is modeled on an early English version. The AKC standard is more brief and less specific then the English one, but "The Greyhound. A study guide to the AKC Breed Standard" published by the Greyhound Club of America, is an interesting guide that explains the points left pending by the official American greyhound standard.

It is interesting to associate the points of the guide with those of the English standard (from which the American one derives), to understand more deeply the morphology of the greyhound

Both greyhound stadards are very open, "This must never be confused with an acceptance of mediocrity or impropriety. This is a breed that walks a tightrope between extremes. The Greyhound must not tip too much towards strength as he can become cumbersome, heavy, and common. Nor must the Greyhound tip too much towards refinement, and risk becoming insubstantial, weedy, and weak. The balance of strength and elegance, speed and grace must always define the breed. This is not a blueprint breed, nor one with formulas. Harmony of parts that flow seamlessly together, with quality and nobility throughout, should combine with a strong yet agile footstep."

GENERAL APPEARANCE: Strongly built, upstanding, of generous proportions, muscular power and symmetrical formation, with long head and neck, clean well laid shoulders, deep chest, capacious body, slightly arched loin, powerful quarters, sound legs and feet, and a suppleness of limb, which emphasise in a marked degree its distinctive type and quality.

Greyhounds are a beautiful breed. In a mixed crowd of dogs, even among sighthounds, the plainest of Greyhounds will stand out as a pretty dog. A well balanced Greyhound of proper conformation will present a beautiful picture from any angle, at rest or in motion. However, sometimes breeders and judges become blinded by the pretty aspects of the breed, and begin to overlook some of the essentials that contribute to the make up of a strong, sound, well-functioning animal that complies with all aspects of the written standard.

HEAD Long, moderate width.

The head, eyes, and ears should all contribute towards an expression that is keen and aristocratic. long, clean and comparatively narrow, and the proportions between the muzzle and the skull should be approximately equal in length.

CRANIAL REGION:

Skull: Flat.

In profile, the head should exhibit two nearly parallel planes, the one of the back skull and the other of the foreface.
The backskull is flattened on top, with minimal development of the frontal bone of the brow.

Stop: Slight.

FACIAL REGION:

Muzzle: Jaws powerful and well chiselled.

While the muzzle is not as wide as the backskull, it must be long and allow the jaws to open widely enough to grasp prey..

Jaws / Teeth: Jaws strong, with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. the upper teeth closely overlapping the lower teeth and set square to the jaws.

The underjaw should be well defined and strong and give a clean, smooth look to the muzzle .
The bite of the Greyhound should be strong and even in front. A scissors bite or a level bite is acceptable. Overshot and undershot bites could impede the ability to grasp prey and are incorrect.

Eyes: Bright, intelligent, oval and obliquely set. Preferably dark.

While just one word describes color, two adjectives describe an intelligent, keen countenance. No single element may be given priority over the others. While a dark eye is preferred, it is considered acceptable if the eye color complements the color of the coat and contributes to desirable expression. The Greyhound eye is oval in shape and obliquely placed in the skull.

Ears: Small, rose-shape, of fine texture.

The Greyhound has “rose” ears. They are placed slightly higher than the level of the eyes.

NECK: Long and muscular, elegantly arched, well let into shoulders.

There should be no hint of a bulge in the throat forming an undesirable ewe neck; and no excessive loose skin in the throat. A well-attached neck is associated with a good lay-back of shoulders, and will be set well back onto the body with the rise at the withers barely perceptible.

BODY:

Back: Rather long, broad and square.

In the Greyhound standard, the back represents the dorsal (upper) surface of the dog from withers to the base of the rib cage (the thoracic portion of the spine). This portion of the spine is relatively level from the withers to the attachment of the loin muscles

Loin: Powerful, slightly arched.

The loin must be of sufficient length to allow flexing as the dog moves from the folded position to the extended position at the gallop and have deep, broad, well-toned muscles to transfer propulsive power from the hindquarters.
There should be no doubt that the Greyhound in profile is neither a Pointer, Doberman, Rottweiller, nor Whippet or Italian Greyhound.

Chest: Deep and capacious, providing adequate heart room. Ribs deep, well sprung and carried well back.

The point of the forechest should be even and on the same level with the forward point of the shoulder. There should be some front fill of the chest visible between the front legs. The sternum is long and extends well back with the deepest point of the brisket falling behind the elbow a few inches. A chest that is capacious allows for good room for the powerful heart and lungs. This space results more from depth than width. The chest, if seen in cross-section, would be an elongated oval. The ribs spring out from the vertebrae to form a broad beam-like back with the well developed muscles in this area contributing to this appearance.
The chest must provide sufficient room for “the engine” of the running dog, while simultaneously not hindering the gallop with too much mass.

Underline and belly: Flanks well cut up.

Very long and well curved-back ribs give a relatively flat-sided appearance to the body - this appearance is not due to a lack of spring of rib. The rib cage should be very deep and carried well back. The ribs curve considerably to the rear. Because of the length of the sternum and the length of the rear ribs, the underline rises in a graceful curve to the rather small “waist”.

TAIL: Long, set on rather low, strong at root, tapering to point, carried low, slightly curved.

The tail serves as an important and useful rudder at the gallop. It should be long and tapering, in a gentle saber shape, curving upward at the end. The set-on should be in graceful continuity with the croup, and not too high nor too low.

LIMBS

FOREQUARTERS:
General appearance: Elbows, pasterns and toes inclining neither in nor out.
Shoulder: Oblique, well set back, muscular without being loaded, narrow and cleanly defined at top.

As in a fine thoroughbred, the shoulders carry most of the weight of the Greyhound, and must be strong to provide a solid pivot point for agility at the high speeds achieved by the hound.

A good oblique shoulder with good length of shoulder blade and equally long upper arm (homerus) creates longer levers with greater power of leverage, and more space for the muscles.

A Greyhound with correct angulation and matching scapula and humerus lengths (shoulder and upper arm) will have a trotting gait that appears effortless, with an unmistakable elastic smoothness.

Elbow: Free and well set under shoulders

Forearm: Forelegs long and straight, bone of good substance and quality.

Viewed from the front, the forelegs should be perfectly straight from elbow to foot. The forelegs are long, strong, and straight. Forelegs must be at least as long from elbow to ground as the body is from withers to elbow. The distance from the elbow to the knee also ought to be at least twice as long as from knee to the ground. Standing and in motion the elbows should be in line with the legs and upper arms, neither bowed out nor tied in under the chest.

Metacarpus (Pastern): Moderate length, slightly sprung.

Pasterns are very strong and flexible in order to function as shock absorbers. When viewed from the side, they are inclined slightly off vertical. Pasterns should turn neither in nor out.

Forefeet: Moderate length, with compact, well knuckled toes and strong pads.

The Greyhound’s foot is distinctive in that it falls between a cat foot and a hare foot. A tight cat foot lacks flexibility needed to grasp ground. A long hare foot lacks strength and the ability to contract well on variable terrain.

HINDQUARTERS:

General appearance: Body and hindquarters, features of ample proportions and well coupled, enabling adequate ground to be covered when standing.


In the Greyhound, these parts have developed over the past two thousand years to optimize power and agility at the double suspension gallop.

Thigh and lower thigh: Wide and muscular, showing great propelling power.

Quality muscle should be obvious with lines of conditioning present in thighs and second-thighs. The length of the upper thigh, and the length of the second thigh should be approximately equal. A significant difference in the length of these two bones is detrimental at the gallop.

Stifle (Knee): Well bent.

Over angulation or too little angulation through the stifle are both undesirable as neither will enable full propulsion
Metatarsus (Rear pastern): Hocks well let down, inclining neither in nor out.
The hock joints are fairly low to the ground and the point of the hock is prominent and long. The hocks should be short compared to the rest of the leg. Hocks deviating from the description above are incorrect.

Hind feet: Moderate length, with compact, well knuckled toes and strong pads.

GAIT / MOVEMENT: Straight, low reaching, free stride enabling the ground to be covered at great speed. Hindlegs coming well under body giving great propulsion.


The Greyhound is built for galloping, and when he requires speed, he gallops. This is not a trotting breed, so the gait is simple, purposeful, and without any exaggeration. Head carriage should be proud and comfortable, and neither strung up artificially high nor hanging low.
The Greyhound should hold his shape on the move, and though some toplines will level out slightly, the arch of the loin should still be evident.
Incorrect gaits for Greyhounds include: hackney, pounding, elbows winging out or tied in, hind feet overreaching the front feet, kicking out behind, side winding, rope-walking, or stilted gaits.

COAT:

Hair: Fine and close.

The finest Greyhound coat has a satiny texture, short and fine. On a well conditioned Greyhound, the coat should feel like velvet over a rock.

Colour: Black, white, red, blue, fawn, fallow, brindle or any of these colours broken with white.

Greyhounds come in many colors, shades, and markings. There is an old adage that “A good Greyhound is never a bad color.”
SIZE: Ideal height:

Males: 71 – 76 cms.
Females: 68 – 71 cms.

Many Greyhounds seen in today’s rings are larger than this stated weight. There is no fault or disqualification according to weight, or any other part of the standard. The AKC standard for Greyhounds is unchanged since it was accepted in 1929. As with the human population, the size of Greyhounds has increased with better health and nutrition and freedom from disease. As a dog that hunted deer, boar, stag, hare and rabbit, there has always been a range of sizes in the breed. The ability to make sharper turns after the more agile small game such as rabbits favors the smaller hound; strength and stamina to chase stag and deer favor the larger hounds. Size should not be the deciding factor in judging, as long as quality, beauty, strength, harmony of parts, and agility are evident. Quality comes in many sizes and weights, and is what must be sought.