History of Greyhounds | ancient times
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History of Greyhounds
ancient times


Some archeological evidence indicates that dogs that bore a resemblance to a greyhound lived in the Middle East ca. 8,000 years ago.

There is much more evidence on the ancient Egyptian tombs that the ancestors of modern greyhounds could have accompanied humans ca. 4500 years ago. Cleopatra was reported to be a great lover of greyhounds. Anubis, the god of the dead and afterlife in the ancient Egypt, resembles to a large extent a modern greyhound. Greyhounds were also beloved by common Egyptians. As a manifestation of sorrow when the dog died, the whole family shaved their heads.

Although for religious reasons ancient Arabs had limited contact with dogs, it wasn't the case with greyhounds which were considered superior to other breeds. In these early Arab societies only the birth of a son was of greater importance than the birth of a greyhound. These sighthounds were used to hunt hare, gazelle, jackal, fox, or a brid called bustard. As the only dog breed, they were also allowed to enter human tents or ride on the top of camels.

Greyhound is also the only canine mentioned in the Bible (Proverbs 30:29-31). These are King Salomon's words: "There be three things which go well, yea, are coming in going… A Greyhound, and a goat also, and a king against whom there is no rising up."

About 1000 BC, the first greyhounds were bought by the Greeks sailors from Egyptian merchants. Ancient Greeks adored these dogs as well. Greek gods and goddesses, including Hecate and Pollux, were often pictured with greyhounds. In Homer's "Odyssey," it was the greyhound called Argus and not any of the humans that recognised Odysseus when the hero of the epic poem returned home after 20 years of voyages and adventures.

The most common theory of the origins of the name greyhound tells that it came from the ancient Greece. It was at that time that the inhabitants of the southern end of the Balkan Peninsula started using the term "greekhounds." With the passage of time the name was transformed to "grakehounds." Then, in Old English the name of the breed was "grighunds," and later in Middle English "greihounds."