Greyhound racing, as we know it today, evolved from an old sport called coursing, in which a dog runs after a live game animal - usually a rabbit or hare.
Scenes of what seem to be coursing have been found on Egyptian tombs. These scenes date back to 2500 BC and the dogs depicted looked very much like modern greyhounds.
Greyhounds are brilliant hunting dogs because of their speed and vision. Greyhounds can run up to 45 miles an hour. But unlike most hunting dogs, greyhounds don't have an acute sense of smell. Instead of smelling a prey, greyhounds tend to chase moving objects, which they can spot from long distances.
Coursing was originally a sport that exhibited a single greyhound's skill in sighting and catching a game animal.
During the 16th century, coursing became a competitive sport, with two dogs matched against one another in a race for the game. The owners of the dogs usually had a sizeable bet on the result. At some coursing races, spectators also gathered and placed side bets on one dog or the other.
The first official coursing meet was held in 1776 at Swaffham, Norfolk, England. The rules of the Swaffham Coursing Society specified that only two greyhounds were to course a single hare and that the hare was to be given a head start of 240 yards.
Greyhound racing with an artificial lure was introduced at Hendon, England, on September 11, 1876. Six dogs raced over a 400-yard straight course, chasing an artificial hare riding on "an apparatus like a skate on wheels" along a single track, according to a newspaper account.
Called "coursing by proxy," the race drew little interest and the idea was abandoned. But it was revived 31 years later in the United States.
List of US Greyhound Tracks
List of UK Greyhound Tracks