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Why do Greyhounds and Whippets shiver so much?

Greyhound dog advice

Why do Greyhounds and Whippets shake?

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Greyhounds are known for their sleek athleticism, super-fast speeds (they can outrun a horse if they need to) and slender physique. Traditionally bred as racing dogs, these lovable creatures are now increasingly common as family pets thanks to the rise in adoption of retired greyhounds. But, why do they seem to shiver and shake so much?

By Natasha James

A Greyhound’s racing “career” is usually over by the time they’re around four years of age, meaning this gentle breed is a common sight in rehoming shelters. Despite spending their working lives racing, any Greyhound owner will attest to the fact that once they’re off the track, their favourite past time is snoozing on the couch! But, they do exhibit some behaviours that are distinctive for their breed, namely: shivering. If you’ve spotted your new rescue pup shivering and shaking more than unusual and you’re wondering why then read on.

Why does my Greyhounds shake?

There could be a number of reasons why your Greyhound is shaking. Firstly, they’re slim, muscled dogs and many of their muscles are in their flanks, the trembling that takes place could be a perfectly healthy way of building and warming up muscle. There are other dogs that shake in this way but thanks to the very short coat of the Greyhound, their shaking may be more evident.

Dog breed profile: The Greyhound

Why do dogs shiver when they’re not cold? Is my Greyhound nervous?

The short answer is possibly. Greyhounds have a nervous and sensitive disposition and shaking can be their way of telling you that they’re not happy in their current situations. It can also be down to excitement. If your Grey is shaking and wagging their tail when you come through the door then you can feel pretty sure that they’re excited to see you!

Learn more about anxiety in dogs

How can I calm a nervous Greyhound?

If your Greyhound is showing signs of stress or nervousness, then it’s your job to help him or her feel more secure. Learn to recognise signs of stress in your dog and remove them from situations that make them uncomfortable. Don’t try to force your dog to get used to an unpleasant situation, this will add to their anxiety and could lead to destructive and phobic behaviours. Instead, ensure they feel safe first and foremost and then very gradually and slowly introduce them to situations whilst rewarding calm behaviour.

Why does my Whippet shiver?

Like Greyhounds, Whippets feel the cold. Be prepared to have a selection of clothing and warm blankets for these sensitive little dogs.

Dog breed profile: The Whippet

Should I put clothes on my dog in winter?

Both Whippets and Greyhounds (including Italian Greyhounds) have very little body fat meaning they’re more susceptible to weather extremes. A Greyhound’s body needs to work harder to stay warm during the colder months and exposure to colder temperatures can aggravate injuries, chills and respiratory and sinus problems. In short, keeping your dog warm when they leave the house is a very good idea.

What sort of clothes should my dog wear?

A good, insulated winter coat is great for the colder months. The extra layer of warmth is important to prevent hypothermia, and Greyhounds and Whippets should wear jackets for all walks. Warm blankets and heated bedding can be a great choice too, especially for older dogs or those with existing health problems. 

What to do if your dog is still shaking

If your dog doesn’t appear to be anxious and isn’t cold then it might be a good idea to pay your local vet a visit. A vet should be able to tell fairly easily if this is normal Greyhound behaviour or if there’s an underlying health issue.

Hopefully, knowing a little more about shaking in Greyhounds and Whippets has put your mind at ease but if you have any further concerns or if this behaviour comes on suddenly or is accompanied by other symptoms such as vomiting or abnormal breathing then do get to the vets straight away.

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