Why is greyhound racing cruel?

Disappearing dogs

The greyhound racing industry seeks to hide the truth about the numbers of dogs bred and numbers of dogs homed once the industry has finished with its victims.


As far as the GBGB are concerned, only registered dogs can race on their tracks. Registration is merely a case of noting microchip and other dog recognition details – no interest is given to where the dog came from.  Thus, the breeding part of the business conveniently falls outside their “self regulatory” scope. This stance is useful for a variety of reasons, chiefly that the breeding of racing greyhounds is a very competitive business with a high “wastage” rate, as the industry terms it. For many years, those opposed to greyhound racing have claimed that around one third of the greyhounds bred for racing are killed annually, by analysing and comparing publicly available breeding and racing information.

Though the lack of GBGB governance is pitiful, the majority of dogs racing on regulated tracks in the UK are actually from Ireland, where the racing industry is regulated by a government mandated body – The Irish Greyhound Board (Bord na gCon), and the breeding is regulated “at arms length” by a separate entity,  the Irish Coursing Club, all of which is set up under a variety of laws. This separation of concerns again obfuscates the relationship between the number of dogs bred and the number that make it to the track.  

In 2019, the television program RTE Investigates aired a programme based on information from an internal report commissioned by the Irish Greyhound Board that had been suppressed due to its damning conclusions regarding welfare, in particular the fact that 6,000 greyhounds are killed annually. The redacted report published by the IGB in response to the programme is available here. One of the interesting conclusions was that the IGB is not a racing orientated business, but a breeding orientated business. 

Furthermore with accurate data available to the consultants, they were able to ascertain that culling is based on performance

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, there are no special rules around greyhound breeding, so this applies:

In Scotland, the legal framework is set out in the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006

The overbreeding of dogs also places strain on rescue operations, where the young dogs that fail to make the grade are dumped on rescues, competing with dogs exiting the racing business for kennel space. This a pernicious problem since homing ex-racer greyhounds is also an area where the supply of dogs outstrips capacity of rescues and homing…

As can be seen, poor regulation results in the needless deaths of thousands of dogs per year. Auditable breeding establishments should have been a basic requirement of a welfare minded industry. We would proffer that the industry has had decades to demonstrate or impose good practice regarding breeding but has not done so in a voluntary self regulating setting in the UK, nor in a government legislated environment in Eire, with the result that hundreds of thousands of young dogs have been killed. Therefore given the industry’s inability to behave in a decent manner commercial greyhound racing should be prohibited.

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