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Giraffes and Greyhounds – A Comparison of Gentle Giants

Foxy at the Beach
Foxy at the Beach
Linda Weber

Two of the gentlest animals on the earth are the exotic Giraffe and the graceful ex-racing Greyhound. But are the two really that different?

The Giraffe can reach a top speed of almost 35 miles per hour while racing Greyhounds can top at 43 miles per hour. Both animals do something unique while they run. The Giraffe runs by moving their front and back legs on one side forward together rather than a front and back opposite gait. The Greyhound uses a "double suspension rotary gallop" in which all four feet are free from the ground in two phases, contracted and extended, during each stride.

In looking at these long, lean animals, the neck is quite unusual. The Giraffe has the longest neck in the animal kingdom. The Greyhound has a neck that is elongated with a head that is smaller than their neck. But did you know that both have the same number of vertebras in their necks at 7?

When Giraffes drink they must splay their legs in order for them to reach the ground. Greyhounds often employ the same method when they eat so raised food and water bowls make it easier on their neck and back.

Giraffes normally do not make any extraneous sounds but will make unusual sounds like bleating, snorting or bellowing when needed. Ex-racing Greyhounds do not unnecessarily bark or howl like typical dogs but have known to “roo” with other Greyhounds or in response to sirens.

Both animals have the unfortunate distinction of having no known predators with the exception of man. Giraffes are hunted for their skin, or hide, while Greyhounds are often destroyed once they have reached their useful racing life for their owners.

The only difference between these two beautiful creatures is pet potential. Giraffes need lots of Acacia trees and acreage to roam. Exotic animal licenses are fairly hard to get and neighbors might notice a giraffe looming large over your fence. Ex-racing Greyhounds however, make wonderful pets and are as close as your nearest Greyhound rescue group. And they need a shorter leash too!

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