For many years, greyhound betting was the second-most popular form of sports gambling in the UK, with horse racing being the most popular wagering pastime. Betting on football was largely restricted to the football pools, so if you didn't fancy putting your money on a horse, then it was a case of 'going to the dogs'.
Since the advent of football fixed-odds coupons and definitely due to the rise of online sports books, greyhound betting is not quite as popular as it once was – however there are still plenty of sports betting fans whom enjoy the thrill of watching their chosen bow-wow hurtle at top speed around a dog track.
This guide will take you through what it takes to bet on the dogs, and how you might be able to take advantage of special bonuses and deals to get the most out of your greyhound betting.
Unlike horse racing, each greyhound race has a set number of competitors. This is because a dog track is much smaller than a race track, and each greyhound begins the race in one of six 'traps' – devices that spring open as the 'hare' (usually a stuffed animal on the inside track) is released and speeds on by.
Also unlike horse racing, each dog does not have its own specific set of colours. Instead, the dog in trap one will be wearing a red jacket, and the dog in trap two a blue jacket, and so on. The full list of trap colours is as follows:
TRAP 1 - RED
TRAP 2 - BLUE
TRAP 3 - WHITE
TRAP 4 - BLACK
TRAP 5 - ORANGE
TRAP 6 - BLACK/WHITE STRIPES
Occasionally a trap seven and a trap eight may be involved. In these cases, the greyhound in trap seven will wear a green jacket, while the dog in trap eight will wear a yellow and black jacket.
Greyhound races are typically run over a distance of four hundred metres. The best dogs should be able to cover this distance in less than twenty-five seconds. Longer races will cover five hundred and seventy five metres, for which the top dogs should run in under thirty-six seconds.
Individual greyhounds are not as well-known as horses, which can lead to difficulty in selecting in the most likely winner of a race. The best way to be in with a chance of seeing some return for your wager is to study each dog's form.
Online sports books should give you a run down of each dog's recent races (William Hill is a very good sports book for giving details about each competitor's recent performances). Form guides should list the date and venue of each race (greyhounds do not typically race more than once per week), the trap the dog was in, the starting price, the finishing position and how far behind the winner (or ahead of the second-placed dog) they finished, plus their finishing times.
They should also give some information about the dog's performance, in 'coded' form. Some of the most common remarks are as follows:
Blk – Baulked (a dog good at blocking other dogs in the race)
Bmp – Bumped (a dog good at bumping into other dogs)
SAw – Slow Away (a dog slow at getting out of the trap)
QAw – Quick Away (a dog quick at getting out of the trap)
Mid – Middle (a dog that typically runs in the middle of the pack)
There are close to ninety abbreviations used in the 'remarks' section of a greyhound's race history. The more you undertake greyhound betting, the more accustomed you will become to understanding them and using them to your advantage. For example, if you are betting on a short race (around three hundred metres) then you will want to wager on a dog that is quick out of the trap. For a longer race this is not so important. For very long races (over six hundred metres) you will not want to wager on a dog that typically fades.
Perhaps the most vital element of the race card is labelled 'Calc' – this is an adjusted time based on the 'going' or conditions at the track on the day of the race. You will not want to wager on a dog that is adversely affected by similar conditions at the race you're about to bet upon.
Just like horse racing, there are a number of different types of bet that you can place, as follows:
Easiest bet of the lot. You place your stake on your chosen dog to win the race, at the odds given for the dog winning.
This is a wager that you place in the expectation that your dog will finish either first or second. You will receive lower odds than if you bet on your dog to win. For example, a dog that is 5/1 (6.00) to win may only be 9/4 (3.25) to place. Most bookmakers will also offer the chance of betting that a dog will finish in the top three places, but the odds are even worse – in the above example the same dog will likely be priced at even less attractive odds.
This bet is two bets in one – a win bet and a place bet. You are in effect betting that your dog will finish in at least a place position, but you will receive more of a return than a place bet if your dog wins. If your dog doesn't win but finishes in the places, then you will still see some return. Of course, if your chosen hound does win then both bets win. An each way bet costs twice as much as a win or place bet.
A forecast bet will have better odds than a win bet or a place bet, but it is much harder to predict correctly. When you place a forecast bet, you have to predict which dog will win, and which dog will finish second. With a forecast bet you must get them in the correct order too.
This bet is the 'each way' equivalent of a forecast bet. It is two bets in reality – you are betting on Dog A to come first and Dog B to come second, and Dog B to come first and Dog A to come second. You are basically betting on which two dogs will come first and second but in any order. The odds with a forecast bet are less attractive then the odds for a straight-up forecast bet.
A trio is – as you might guess – a prediction of which dogs will finish first, second and third. You will receive high odds when you place a trio bet, but getting the dogs in the right order is very tricky. They must finish in precisely the order that you predict.
Like a trio, but you are covering three dogs to finish in the top three places in any order. This is six bets, so is six times more expensive than a normal forecast bet. The six possible orders are ABC, ACB, BAC, BCA, CAB and CBA.
Choose three greyhounds with any two finishing in the first two places winning the bet. This is six bets in one, as you are covering all the possible permutations as listed above in the 'All ways trio' bet.
Practically the same as the above bet but you are choosing four dogs in the hope that two of them will finish in the first two places. This is twelve bets as there are twelve possible permutations or ways in which the four chosen greyhounds can finish in the top four places.
This is five bets – you choose one greyhound to win, and you cover the rest of the field to place. The hope is that you choose the correct dog as the winner, and then a dog with high odds surprises the field and finishes second, earning you a premium pay out.
You cannot lose with this bet! You are covering all possible combinations with the payout being based on the dogs that finish in first, second and third positions. There are one hundred and twenty possible combinations (If you want to do the maths it's 6x5x4 = 120), so you are actually placing one hundred and twenty separate bets. The hope with this bet is that three less-fancied dogs will finish in the top three, scoring you the maximum return for your investment.
System bets are combined bets that you make on a series of races. Doubles and trebles are easily explained – you predict the correct winners of two (double) or three (treble) races. Any more than three is considered an accumulator, or acca for short.
You can combine doubles, trebles and accas to create other bets. For example, a Yankee (four selections) consists of six doubles, four trebles and an accumulator, while a Heinz (six selections) is fifteen doubles, sixteen trebles, fifteen four-folds, six five-folds and an accumulator.
Not all online bookmakers allow you to bet on greyhound racing, but the majority do, and especially the 'big names'. Here we take a look at the best sites at which to pursue your greyhound betting.
Greyhound racing remains extremely popular in the UK, so it's only natural that one of the best online sports books for greyhound betting is one of the UK's leading, namely Ladbrokes. This site will give you full coverage of all the day's greyhound meetings.
What's more, every day Ladbrokes prepares a full report on the day's races, listing the fancied doggies and what it perceives to be the best bets of the day.
The site also streams some meetings, so you can watch the action from the comfort of your sofa or the convenience of your mobile device. Note that to be able to watch a race you must have placed a bet upon it, and for a minimum stake (usually one pound).
To find out more about Ladbrokes read our sportsbook review.
Another of the great British bookies, William Hill, has a deal with the top-notch sports betting newspaper Racing Post to supply an extensive amount of running form information about each day's greyhound meets. You won't find more accurate information about the dogs anywhere else on the internet.
As well as having all the top race meetings in the UK, William Hill also provides coverage of the top international meets in Australia and the US – and if that's not enough for you there's virtual greyhound races at the site too!
People either love or hate Bet365's online sports book design, but however you might feel you are bound to adore the site's greyhound coverage. All UK meetings are covered, plus you can listen (audio only) to EVERY greyhound race covered, if you have a bet on the race or not!
Full race information is provided for each meeting, and there's coverage of international events too. You will be able to stream some greyhound races via this site, but only if you have a bet on the race you wish to view.
Established bookmakers like the ones mentioned above often run specific promotions for greyhound fans. We'll keep you up to date with all the latest and best offers here, so you can maximise your winnings!