Today, the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) has launched its new long-term welfare strategy to further promote and protect welfare across all stages of a racing greyhound’s life.

Led by Professor Madeleine Campbell, GBGB has developed ‘A Good Life for Every Greyhound’ which sets out the improvements needed to safeguard a greyhound’s health and wellbeing across the five domains of animal welfare: nutrition, behaviour, health, environment and mental state.

Building on the Greyhound Commitment, the new strategy represents yet another step change in welfare standards within licensed greyhound racing.  Most notably, the strategy sets out how GBGB – working in partnership with others – will seek to look after the welfare of greyhounds throughout their lives – not just the period they are racing.

Covering all phases of a greyhound’s life – breeding, rearing, racing and retirement – the five-year strategy sets out detailed workplans for delivering GBGB’s vision.  Key initiatives include:

  • Partnering with The Kennel Club to develop and create a high welfare standard ‘Assured Breeders Scheme’;
  • Engaging with expert independent academic partners to design, deliver and analyse data gathering and research programmes into areas such as genetics, nutrition and early detection of injuries;
  • Expanding veterinary expertise through the appointment of an Executive Veterinarian who will play a pivotal part in directing the implementation of this strategy; they will work alongside a new field force of Regional Regulatory Veterinary Surgeons who will act as an additional point of referral and support for track vets and GBGB Stipendiary Stewards;
  • Working with animal welfare charities (members of the Greyhound Forum) on projects focused on promoting responsible homing e.g. the creation of a welcome pack for new owners and the establishment of a harmonised programme of behavioural assessments for greyhounds retiring from racing;
  • Upskilling and enhancing the welfare knowledge of everyone in the sport; trainers, kennelhands, owners, track staff, veterinarians and breeders will receive an enhanced package of training to optimise the care they are able to provide greyhounds;
  • Leading an effort by international greyhound regulators to develop harmonised welfare policies and strategies. As a starting point, GBGB will host an inaugural meeting of international greyhound regulators later this year.


A summary of the strategy is available here.

Whilst some of the streams of work set out in the strategy are already underway – or shortly will be – the full strategy can only be realised with the support of sufficient, long-term funding from the bookmaking industry.  Currently, all members of the Betting and Gaming Council voluntarily pay into the British Greyhound Racing Fund which funds GBGB’s welfare work.  Their contribution is derived from 0.6% of their turnover on licensed greyhound racing; this compares to horseracing where there is a statutory levy of 10% of profits on leviable bets.  In order to enable the full implementation of the strategy, GBGB will continue to engage with bookmakers and investigate how an increased and fairer investment by them will further promote and protect greyhound welfare for the long term.

Professor Madeleine Campbell said:

“In leading the development of this strategy, I wanted to produce something that would bring about a step change in the way registered greyhounds are cared for throughout their lives.  Through the Greyhound Commitment, significant improvements have been achieved in recent years, but it is imperative that we always drive welfare forward through optimising the care and treatment given to these animals.

“Advances in the understanding of animal sentience and behaviour mean that modern animal welfare science considers positive as well as negative impacts on animals’ experiences of their own lives.  The new welfare strategy incorporates that holistic approach, and has embedded within it collaborations with experts in academia and industry which will enable us to realise our vision.  From the many conversations which I have had with those involved in the sport, I know that greyhound welfare is their priority and that there is a deep, widespread commitment to raising standards further.  I look forward to working with the entire greyhound community as we bring this strategy to life.”

Animal Welfare Minister Lord Goldsmith said:

“Greyhounds deserve the highest level of care not only during their racing career but also in their retirement that follows.  The Government recognises the genuine concerns some people have about parts of the sport and I’m pleased to see this five year plan set out how everyone involved in greyhound racing has a role to play in improving welfare.  The Government welcomes the Good Life for Every Greyhound strategy and the positive progress the Greyhound Board are continuing to make.”

Jeremy Cooper, Chairman of GBGB and former Chief Executive of the RSPCA, said:

“This is one of the most in-depth and comprehensive strategies for working animal welfare that has ever been produced in this country.  As well as demonstrating our commitment to the welfare of the greyhounds within our sport, it sets out, for the first time, standards and initiatives that cover all stages of a greyhound’s life – not only the period they are racing.  This strategy firmly positions us as a global leader in animal welfare and we are excited to work with greyhound regulators across the world to ensure consistently high welfare standards for all racing greyhounds.”

Peter Harnden, Trainers’ Director on the GBGB Board, said:

“Trainers and their staff work tirelessly to care for their greyhounds but there is more that every single one of us could do to learn and improve.  This strategy offers opportunities for everybody working with racing greyhounds to build on their knowledge and skills so that, as a sport, we can give our greyhounds the best care at every stage.”

Independently verified track injury and retirement data for 2021

Coinciding with the launch of the strategy, GBGB is today publishing its annual independently verified track injury and retirement data for licensed greyhound racing in 2021.  The data shows that GBGB has successfully met the two challenging targets it set itself in 2019:

  1. To halve, by the end of 2021, the number of greyhounds put to sleep because of the high cost of treatment or because no home could be found. In 2018, this figure was 180 and in 2021, just nine greyhounds were put to sleep for this reason.  This is a decrease of 95% – significantly higher than the 50% target.  GBGB’s ultimate aim is to bring this figure down to zero.
  2. To halve, by the end of 2021, the number of greyhounds being put to sleep on humane grounds at the track due to injuries. In 2018, this figure was 242 and in 2021 it was 120 – a decrease of 50%.  This is a fatality rate of 0.03% down from 0.06% in 2018.

As well as enhanced safety measures across its tracks, the improvement in these figures is on account of GBGB’s Injury Retirement Scheme which provides financial assistance to cover the costs of veterinary treatment on career ending injuries sustained at GBGB-licensed tracks.  Since its launch in 2018, GBGB has paid out nearly £427,000 as part of the scheme.

In addition to meeting the two targets, GBGB has maintained a consistently high homing rate with 94% of greyhounds successfully homed on retirement.  For the third year running, no greyhound was put to sleep because no home could be found for it.  This is partly due to the Greyhound Retirement Scheme which ensures the costs associated with a greyhound’s retirement are met before their racing career begins.  Since its launch in September 2020, over £2 million has been paid out through the scheme helping to home over 5,400 greyhounds.

Today’s data also shows the track injury rate has remained consistent at 1.23% and it is hoped through many of the initiatives being introduced through the strategy (including more frequent visits from track safety experts STRI) that this figure can be brought down in the next few years.

In total, over the course of 2021, 359 registered greyhounds were put to sleep or died naturally (down from 411 in 2020 and 710 in 2019).  A number of these deaths were due to reasons unrelated to racing, including long-term illness or natural causes which affect working and non-working dogs alike.

Mark Bird, Chief Executive of GBGB, said:

“We welcome this data which provides clear evidence that welfare standards across the sport are improving.  When we set our targets in 2019, we were clear that they were challenging yet achievable and it is a credit to everyone working across the sport that we have achieved them within the time period we set ourselves. 

“Whilst I am pleased we have met these targets, there is no room for complacency when it comes to welfare and through our new long term strategy being launched today, we will continue to drive welfare standards forward and safeguard the health and wellbeing of our greyhounds at every stage of their lives.”