Greyhound racing seems to be an innocent way to spend an evening. A few drinks and betting on dog races with friends…what could be wrong with that?
Unfortunately, the reality is more sinister – especially for the greyhounds.
The dog racing industry values profit above all else – including its dogs. While the industry rakes in millions, dogs are kept in tiny enclosures, denied medical care, forced into races that regularly cause injuries, fed potentially dangerous food, and often killed if they can’t be re-homed by charities.
On this page, we’ve compiled greyhound racing facts and statistics from around the world. We hope these statistics highlight the cruelty of dog racing – and why we are firm supporters of a greyhound racing ban.
Racing greyhounds in the US are confined for up to 23 hours a day. UK greyhounds also spend up to 95% of their time confined. (Greyhounds Endure Lives of Confinement, Grey2KUSA, 2018)
Dog track cages have a standard size of 32″ (H) x 42″ (D) x 31″ (W). As greyhounds can be up to 30″ tall at the shoulder, many struggle to stand up when locked away. (Ariz. Admin. Code § R19-2-324., 1995)
Crates are often stacked two high, and a kennel may house up to 50 dogs. (From Track to Home, Grey Save, Accessed 2019)
During the 1-3 hours the dogs are “turned out” rather than locked away, they are periodically allowed out in large groups to go to the toilet. (Investigative Report for Case No. 2006029115, 2006)
Greyhounds are often only given shredded paper or old carpet to lay on. (ALDF, 2018)
Racing greyhounds are often fed “4-D” meat, which is from dying, disabled, dead or diseased livestock. It is unfit for human consumption and the FDA believes it may be unsafe for animals. (CPG Sec. 690.500 Uncooked Meat for Animal Food, FDA, Accessed 2019)
Salmonella is common in 4-D meat fed to greyhounds, with nearly 45% of samples found to contain the bacteria. (Prevalence of Salmonella in raw meat used in diets of racing greyhounds, M. M. Chengappa, 1993)
One greyhound died and 72 others became ill after eating infected 4-D meat at the Sanford-Orlando Kennel Club. (Racing greyhound dies, 72 dogs sickened at Sanford-Orlando Kennel Club, Click Orlando, 2017)
Live luring is when pigs, rabbits and other small animals are flung around tracks as live bait for greyhounds to chase during training.
Despite being banned in Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, live baiting is still used behind closed doors. This was proven by an undercover investigation in Australia, which revealed numerous live baiting offences. (What Are You Really Betting On?, 2015)
Injuries & Death
In 2017, over 1000 racing greyhounds died in the UK. Around a third of these were euthanised at the track due to severe injuries, while over 350 were euthanised because treatment was either too expensive or had low chances of a positive outcome. The others were either killed because they were deemed unsuitable for rehoming or suffered from a sudden death (Injury and Retirement Data, GBGB, 2018)
There was an additional 5000 racing greyhound injuries in the UK during 2017, with many of these being bone fractures. As there are approximately 15,000 racing greyhounds in the UK, this means that approximately one in every three dogs is either injured or killed each year. (Injury and Retirement Data, GBGB, 2018)
In the US, the most common injury is a fractured leg. Others include puncture wounds, muscle tears, ligament tears, joint dislocation and sprains. (High Stakes Greyhound Racing, Grey2KUSA, 2015)
In 2017, the most dangerous racing track in New South Wales, Australia, caused over five greyhounds to be euthanised for every 1000 starts. (UTS greyhound safety and welfare research update, University of Technology Sydney, 2018)
Between 50-70% of greyhounds in Australian racing kennels suffer from gastrointestinal parasites, such as hookworm and Sarcocystis. (Substrate type and age are risk factors for gastrointestinal parasitism in greyhound kennels, Science Direct, 2019)
During 2017 and 2018, 1816 greyhounds were injured (151 with various fractures) and 73 were euthanised on three tracks in Western Australia. The fate of 78 other dogs with fractures is also unknown. (Greyhound Adoptions WA Inc. , 2019)
Greyhounds in higher grade races are increasingly more likely to suffer an orthopedic injury. The faster greyhounds run, the more they seem to get injured. (A survey of injuries at five greyhound racing tracks, G. K. Sicard, 2008)
In a study, 23% of examined greyhounds suffered from diaphragmatic flutter after a race – a condition which could lead to collapse or sudden death. (Prevalence and risk factors for medical events following exercise at Australian Greyhound race meetings, SL Karamatic, 2018)
From Life to Death
Racing greyhounds typically compete from the age of 18 months to 3-5 years old. Once retired, a dog either needs to be re-homed or euthanised. (GBGB FAQ, 2019)
It’s estimated that at least 48,000 racing greyhounds are born each year across the world. (The greyhound industry on the world stage, Grey2KUSA, accessed 2019)
Most greyhounds racing in the UK are bred in Ireland, where they are exported in large numbers. (The greyhound industry on the world stage, Grey2KUSA, accessed 2019)
Many female greyhounds are artificially inseminated. (Breeding Science, GRA America, Accessed 2019)
Greyhound puppies usually stay with their mothers for the first six weeks of their life, before being separated from their litter. (Farm Life, GRA America, Accessed 2019)
At 2-3 months old, greyhound puppies in the US are tattooed with their registration number and birth day. (Grey2KUSA, accessed 2019)
In the UK, around 10,000 dogs are either retired or aren’t fast enough for racing each year. While many of these dogs are re-homed by charities (funded by donations – not the greyhound racing industry), it’s estimated that thousands are either abandoned or killed. (The hidden horror of greyhound racing, League Against Cruel Sports, 2018)
Thousands of dogs in the UK have been killed rather than re-homed, simply because they aren’t fast enough. (Revealed: the man who killed 10,000 dogs, The Times, 2006)
The “greyhound export crises” is the name given to the increasing number of dogs being exported from the UK, Australia or other places with welfare regulations, to non-regulated countries such as China, Vietnam and Dubai. The conditions are often horrific, with little or no regulation preventing greyhounds being killed as soon as they aren’t able to race. (Racing greyhounds can suffer injuries or die during transportation, Grey2KUSA, 2018)
Legal and Illegal Racing
Doping & Drug Use
Racing greyhounds around the world regularly test positive for drugs. In the UK, greyhounds have tested positive hundreds of times, including for drugs such as morphine (to mask injuries) and anabolic steroids. Australian greyhounds have also tested positive for anabolic steroids, codeine and amphetamines. (Greyhound drug positives from around the world, Grey2KUSA, 2018)
Female greyhounds are “routinely given anabolic steroids” to disrupt their reproductive cycle. This means the trainer doesn’t lose out on races when the dog is in heat. Side effects of anabolic steroids include aggression, weight gain and loss of vigor. (Greyhound drug positives from around the world, Grey2KUSA, 2018)
Five greyhounds tested positive for cocaine in Florida during 2017. This led to trainer Malcolm McAllister’s license being revoked. (Dog racing ‘has a drug problem’ as 12 Florida greyhounds test positive for cocaine, Washington Post, 2017)
A trainer in the UK openly admitted on a BBC Panorama documentary to doping his dogs to slow them down. When the dog’s odds had dropped, he stopped doping so he would win more money. (Undercover reporter finds greyhounds ‘drugged to rig bets’, BBC, 2014)
There has been a rapid decline in the popularity of greyhound racing in the UK. In the late 1940s there were over 200 tracks, but this has reduced to 25 as of 2017. (The decline of greyhound racing in Britain, Manchester Hive, 1961-2017)
There are now only 17 racing tracks in America, with many closing due to the ban on greyhound racing in Florida. (American greyhound racing is in decline, Grey2KUSA, 2018)
The amount of money gambled on greyhound racing across America (including simulcast gambling) declined by 70% between 2001 and 2014. (Greyhound racing is a dying industry, Grey2KUSA, accessed 2019)
Legality & Bans
There are active commercial greyhound tracks in Australia, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States and Vietnam. (Greyhound Racing Around the World, Grey2KUSA, 2019)
Many more countries have non-commercial dog racing tracks. Examples include Belgium, Chile, India, Spain and the UAE. (Greyhound Racing Around the World, Grey2KUSA, 2019)
Greyhound racing is illegal in 39 US states. There are active tracks in Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Texas and West Virginia. (Greyhound Racing in the United States, Grey2KUSA, 2019)
Racing is still legal in Connecticut, Kansas, Oregon and Wisconsin, but there are currently no tracks in these states. (Greyhound Racing in the United States, Grey2KUSA, 2019)
It will become illegal to race greyhounds in Florida from the 1st January 2021. (Thousands of Greyhounds May Need Homes as Florida Bans Racing, NY Times, 2018)
Cruelty & Neglect
There were at least 27 prosecuted cases of cruelty and neglect towards greyhounds between 2008 and 2015 in the United States. This hints there are many more that go undiscovered. Hundreds more have also been recorded across the world. (High Stakes Greyhound Racing, Grey2KUSA, 2015)
Racing dogs are rarely (if every) given toys or exercise to gain the physical and mental stimulation they need. (Grey2KUSA, Accessed 2019).
In 2016, a greyhound trainer called Robert Newstead was banned for using an electric cattle prod on his greyhound before a race. (Stewards Wrap: Owner Banned for Using Cattle Prod, 2016)
In 2016, a trainer in West Virginia was only given a warning for keeping greyhounds in wet and urine-soaked bedding. (Greyhound cruelty and neglect cases within the United States, Grey2KUSA, 2018)
In 2010, investigators found 37 dead greyhounds and five emaciated dogs in the Ebro Greyhound Park kennel compound. Some of the dogs had duct tape wrapped tightly around their necks. It was determined that the dogs died from dehydration or starvation. (Ebro greyhound deaths ruled dehydration, starvation, WJHG, 2010)
Note: These are just a few examples of cruelty and neglect. There are far too many to list here.