Did you know – Greyhounds in History
“A Greyhound should be headed like a snake and necked like a drake, footed like a cat, tailed like a rat, backed like beam, sided like a bream.” Dame Juliana Berners “The properties of a Good Grehounde” The Book of St. Albans 1486
- The earliest purebred dogs were of the Greyhound type – long legs, long narrow head, deep chest and ability to hunt by sight rather than scent.
- The first Greys were seen in what is now southwest Turkey as early as 6000 BC.
- A burial urn depicting a Grey dated 4000 BC was found in what is now Iran.
- The Egyptian god Anubis was half man-half beast, and many surmise that the beast was either a jackal or a Grey.
Historical figures who kept Greys:
- Egyptian pharaohs Tutankhamen, Amenhotep II, Thutmose III and Queen Hatshepsut.
- Cleopatra was also known to be very fond of her Greys.
- In Greek mythology, Hecate (goddess of wealth) and Pollux (protector of the hunt) were depicted with Greys
- Alexander the Great kept a Grey named Peritas.
- General George Custer (who coursed his 14 Greys the day before his defeat at Little Big Horn).
Greys in Art & Literature
- Diana (Roman goddess of the hunt) gave her best friend Procris a Grey named Lelaps. Lelaps chasing a hound (before being turned into stone) is often depicted in Roman art.
- In The Odyssey, Homer told the tale of the Grey Argus, who recognized Odysseus when he returned home.
- Greys are the only dog breed mentioned in the Bible – Proverbs 30:29 – 31 “There are three things which are majestic in pace, Yes, four which are stately in walk: A lion, which is mighty among beasts and does not turn away from any; A greyhound; A male goat also, And a king whose troops are with him.”
- Chaucer, in The Canterbury Tales, wrote that Greys were as “swift as fowls in flight.”
- Shakespeare also wrote of Greys in Henry V – “I see you stand as Greyhounds in the slips…”
- Ucellos’ painting “Hunt in the Forest” shows dozens of Greys helping hunters.
From Cynthia Branigan’s book Adopting the Racing Greyhound (2nd ed) 1992
For more on the history of the Greyhound – see Cynthia Branigan’s book The Reign of the Greyhound: A Popular History of the Oldest Family of Dogs.