It is believed that the Italian Greyhound originated in Egypt; in fact mummified dogs very similar to today's breed have been found in the tombs of the Pharoahs. The dog was brought by the Romans to the Mediterrean area in the 6th century B.C. where it became a favourite of Greek and Roman nobility. The dog reached the height of its popularity in the 16th and 17th century where it adorned many courts. Among the famous owners you can find Mary Queen of Scots, Charles I, Frederick the Great and Queen Victoria. Great painters also found time for these little dogs as it was painted by Blake, Carpacio and Van Dyck. The Italian Greyhound may have been used to hunt rabbits but it is also the first dog bred primarily for companionship.
This is a elegant and slender dog, looking like a standard greyhound but in minature. The coat is smooth and glossy and can come in a variety of shades. The head is narrow with a very fine muzzle and ears are softly folded and set high on the head. The spine slopes gently and there is a defined tuck up in the loins. The gait is high stepping and free. This can be a very fast dog when it is so inclined.
|Colour||The coat can be black, fawn, red, cream or blue. The coat can have white markings at the chest and feet. Brindle coats and black and tan coats are not allowed in show dogs.
|Coat Length||Short Smooth
|Weight/Height Range||Ideally both dogs and bitches measure between 32 - 38cms and weigh between 3.6 - 4.5kgs.
|Ailments||The primary problems with Italian Greyhounds are the tremendous fragility of their leg bones in adolescents. Once the dog is fully grown, at about 12 - 18 months, the bone is strong enough to withstand daily strains. However, until then, the dog must be kept from jumping on and off of furniture and children must be taught to handle the puppy very carefully. Italian Greyhounds are also known to have an idiosyncratic response to anaesthetics, making it very difficult to calculate doses and monitor sedation during a procedure. For this reason, the dog should only be operated on for essential procedures. The breed also has a known hypersensitivity to flea dips and insecticides so flea control must be handled with great care and observation.
| Breed Classification
||The Italian Greyhound is a member of the toy group. They have always been used primarily as companions.|
Feeding & Ownership
This breed is a good eater and needs frequent small meals, especially while growing as it can be susceptible to hypoglycemia.
|Food Cost||Up to $5|
This is a loveable dog that loves to snuggle, partly out of affection and partly due to its need to keep warm! It tends to be friendly and can be very showy in the ring as it is not shy with strangers. The Italian Greyhound does better with early socialisation so it will accept new people and situations more readily. This dog can take time to bond but will be an excellent companion once the friendship is well established. Owners need to be aware that this breed is intelligent enough to take liberties if allowed to do so. Despite the Italian Greyhound's diminutive stature, one must be firm in training.
|Intelligence||This is an intelligent breed but these dogs do tend to use their brains to please themselves. They can be difficult to housetrain and, due to their hound instincts, can be difficult to train to recall. Early socialisation is essential to overcome potential shyness and the problems that can thus develop. Acclimitising the puppy to frequent handling is a must as this breed needs its teeth cleaned on a daily basis.|
|Suitability for Children||Low
|Tendency to Bark||Medium
|Overall Exercise Requirement||Although a very small dog, this is still a sighthound and it does love to run. It is best to let the Italian Greyhound run in a confined space though as it can run off in pursuit of prey. This breed can adapt to flat dwelling, provided it is allowed to run once or twice a day. Some owners indulge the dogs natural instincts in lure coursing. Younger dogs need to be exercised with care as their leg bones are quite fragile until they are about 18 months of age.|
|Suitability as a Guard Dog||Low|
|Ease of Transportation||Medium
|Level of Aggression||Low
|Other Animal Compatibility||Medium
The Italian Greyhound needs very little coat care as it has such a short coat. A rub down with a cloth will enhance the sheen of the coat. These dogs do need a lot of dental care though as they are very much prone to dental problems.
|Grooming Requirements||Up to once a week|
|Amount of Hair Shed||Little|
Discover Other Dog Breeds
Welsh Corgi (Cardigan)