Racing Dog Protection Act (RDPA-UK):

An official proposal to outlaw betting on dog racing in the UK.
Endorsed by:

Cruelty factors

The shocking stories which have appeared in the media reveal only one aspect of the welfare problems caused by commercial greyhound racing.  In fact a commercial racing dog is likely to be subjected to a number of cruelty factors throughout his or her life.

The eight main cruelty factors are as follows; culling of the litter, poor husbandry, injuries, abuse in transportation, abandonment, unneccessary destruction of dogs after racing, special needs pets, and impact on rehoming other breeds.


  • Owners, breeders, and trainers kill many greyhounds as puppies because they seem unlikely to be successful racers. The Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare (APGAW) suggested that the number of culled pups may be as high as 12,000 every year. [1]
  • The majority of greyhounds (75 - 80%) are bred in Ireland where it is impossible to legislate for their welfare.[1]
  • There is no restriction of the age or frequency at which bitches are permitted to give birth. As a result they are bred till they drop, producing hundreds of pups in a lifetime.

  • Dogs are kept in the most economical way possible; it is common for trainers to have 150 dogs or more.
  • Many are kept in cramped conditions for up to 23 hours per day with little or no opportunity for play or to socialise with humans. ‘Due to the poor sanitary conditions they are kept in, many retired racers suffer from pyoderma or allergic skin diseases. Painful lacerations occur because of poor bedding.' [2]
  • A poor diet can result in tooth and gum diseases, emaciated dry, brittle coats and dietary intolerance. [3]
  • Dogs are often fed raw low grade meat; such incidents have been reported to cause outbreaks of Salmonella and E. coli. [3]
  • Restrain of normal sexual behaviour – the industry has spent more than £423,000 on research into ways of delaying bitches from coming into season. [4]

  • Greyhound racing results in frequent injuries to the dogs, many of which result in dogs being put to sleep - It is thought that more than 4,000 dogs injure themselves while racing annually [5]
  • The conditions in which greyhounds are bred and the nutrition which they receive in their early years affect bone condition and the likelihood that the dog will experience injury later in life. [1]
  • As a result of intensive racing and training micro cracks develop and do not have time to heal prior to the next race. This causes stress fractures to occur. [6]
  • 10% of all racing dogs starting a race already carrying injury.[7]
  • Chemicals are also used to speed the dogs up or slow them down (morphine, cocaine, Viagra, etc) [8]. This activity not only has a huge negative affect on dogs long term well being, it also significantly increases incidents of serious injury.
  • Almost all greyhounds show radiological changes of carpal ‘ wear and tear’ at the end of their careers and very often long before [9]
  • Dogs may be transported for as long as 6 hours per day between the stadium and kennels.
  • Transport provision often does not meet EU standards – conditions are extremely cramped with dogs unable to stand fully upright or turn around.

  • Because of the vast number of dogs retiring from racing every year rehoming through the Retired Greyhound Trust is expensive and places are extremely limited (it is common to have to wait for 6 months to find a space).
  • Some dogs often arrive at pounds after being dumped in forests / fields / motorways [10]
  • In order to make dogs impossible to trace back to the owner many have been found with their ears cut off (the ear is tattooed with an identity number). [1]
  • A new trend is developing which sees retired greyhounds given away by trainers and owners in free ads. As a result dogs are taken in without a home check and in many instances have ended up being kept in terrible conditions or abandoned. [11]

  • Thousands of retired dogs do not make it to a re-homing centre. [1]
  • Even the industry backed Donoghue report acknowledges that dogs are not always put down humanely [12]
  • The most well known example was uncovered at Seaham where an estimated 10,000 dogs were killed and buried by David Smith and, before him, his father. [13]
  • Another well known way of disposing of dogs after racing is to sell them to medical schools for research. [14]
  • Media coverage has also exposed how many greyhound owners and trainers employ knackers yards to dispose of dogs. [15]
  • There have also been numerous examples of dogs being killed, their ears cut off and their bodies dumped. [16]

  • Despite the lives which many greyhounds are forced to endure they generally adapt well to their lives after racing.
  • In some instances however dogs do bear the scars of their life in racing.
  • The institutionalisation of dogs which takes place from birth to adulthood means that some take a long time to be re-homed (over 12 months); others are entirely unsuitable for adoption. [17]
  • These are dogs with behavioural problems, extreme timid-ness or who are simply just so overwhelmed by the world outside the kennel doors that they experience adjustment problems or separation anxiety. [18]
  • Retired dogs may have health problems; old untreated injuries and arthritis caused by the intensive racing and training regime which racing greyhounds are put through. [19]

  • Dog rehoming charities in the United Kingdom face a massive task in finding homes for all the abandoned and unwanted dogs. 18 stray dogs of other breeds are put to sleep every day just because homes could not be found for them. [20]
  • Finding more homes for an additional 9000 greyhounds retiring every year only serves to exacerbate this problem.


[1] The Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare (APGAW) – The welfare of greyhounds (2007)
Dr. Karen M. Michalski Veterinarian's guide to the medical care of the retired greyhound
[3] Narda G. Robinson, DO, DVM, MS Problems with Raw-Meat Diets (2007)
[4] British Greyhound Racing Board Evidence for the Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare Enquiry into the Welfare of Racing Greyhounds in England (2007)

[5] Ongoing analysis by SPCRA
[6] J. L. Tomlin,1 T. J. Lawes,2 G. W. Blunn,3 A. E. Goodship,2 Peter Muir1 Fractographic Examination of Racing Greyhound Central (Navicular) Tarsal Bone Failure Surfaces Using Scanning Electron Microscopy
[7] Suggested by one of the best known greyhound vets - Paddy Sweeny in BBC documentary ‘On the line: cradle to grave’. (1994)
[8] BBC documentary Kenyon Confronts: Gone to the dogs (2001)
[9] Identified by vet, David Poulter in his lecture on greyhound injuries (1991)

[10] The Fate of Racing Greyhounds and Working Lurchers in Wales, Welsh APGAW (2003)

[12] Lord Donoghue Independent review of the greyhound industry in Great Britain (2007)
[13] The Sunday Times Killing field of the dog racing industry (2006)
[14] The Sunday Times Greyhound breeder offers slow dogs to be killed for research (2008); and The Sunday Times Vets’ Secret trade in dogs body parts (2008)
[15] The Sunday Times Knacker’s  yard disposes of unwanted greyhound for £20 (2008)
[16] BBC News Greyhound found with ears cut off (2009); and BBC News Greyhound left to die in bin bag (2006)

[17] Based on conversations with rehoming organisations
[19] Identified by vet, David Poulter in his lecture on greyhound injuries (1991)





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