Life With Greyhounds: Thin Skin
Shortly after I posted my announcement of the Life With Greyhounds series, I got to experience something I hoped to avoid with my greyhounds: injury to that thin skin. Benson got into a bit rough play with another dog, which resulted in a severe skin tear.
There's warnings all over the place. The two most common books that are recommended to read as a new greyhound adopter even mentions this. Racing greyhounds have tissue paper thin skin.
Over hundreds of years of selective breeding, racing greyhounds developed thin skin as it became a trait associated with fast runners. Breeders didn't specifically select thin skin, but it just so happened that the best runners had it. Since they generally don't face rough play, nor are trained to be protective or rough, they just don't need thick strong skin. The thinner more pliable skin likely made it substantially easier to move, providing a speed advantage.
As many will notice, most greyhound racing tracks require the dogs to wear muzzles while racing. Greyhounds get nippy when competitively running, which can result in skin injury just through incidental nipping. Their skin often still doesn't escape damage as they bump and, sometimes, crash.
Greyhound oriented events where greyhounds are likely to be present sometimes will have play areas for the dogs. You'll likely see that a muzzle is required in the play area. This is for the same reason as the muzzle requirement for racing. It's not that greyhounds are aggressive, but rather they are easily injured.
Benson and Leeloo were in the dog park with another dog they had positive interactions with in the past. They were familiar. But a bit of excitement broke out and momentum into a paw into the side of Benson resulted in about a 2 by 4 inch tear. He now has about a 4 inch scar.
When adopting a greyhound, this is one of the various things to remember. Greyhounds don't really do well playing by wrestling and they likely won't jell well in a home where a dog who prefers wrestling already lives. Additionally, this is worth monitoring if you choose to use a dog park or play dates. Many greyhound owners will avoid public dog parks altogether.