Breed Type: Sighthound
Country of Origin: Italy
Also known as: Iggy, IG
Males: Height: 30-38 cm Weight: 3-5 kg
Females: Height: 25-33 cm Weight: 2-4 kg
Exercise Requirements: Medium
Care Requirements: Medium
Lifespan: 12-15 Years
Best Suited as: Companion Dog
The Italian Greyhound is a small, lovable, dog that is easy to care for, is generally healthy and loves nothing more than a snuggle with his favorite human. Easily overstimulated and prone to anxiety, this breed does best in a quiet household.
The Italian Greyhound is the smallest of the sight hounds with a thin, fine-boned structure, slender legs and a long slender neck. They are deep chested with a curved back and have a thin, low-set tail that is tapered to a point. Their heads are distinct with narrow, long tapered, dark noses, long and fine muzzles and dark, bright eyes. The Italian Greyhound’s ears are folded back against their head and angle to their right when the dog is alert. Like their cousins, the Italian Greyhound is made for speed and does well on the racetrack.
The Italian Greyhound has a short, elegant, glossy coat that is made of fine hair. It comes in a variety of colors including red, fawn, slate, black, blue, white and cream. White markings often compliment the main coat color.
Italian Greyhounds are gentle, playful, intelligent, independent, and active. Hoping to please their masters, they are easy to train and sensitive to criticism. They get high grades in obedience and are rarely destructive, even when they are bored or feeling out of sorts. Italian Greyhounds make excellent companions and are extremely affectionate.
Because they are keenly aware of their surroundings and their owner’s moods, the Italian Greyhound is a sensitive fellow who should never be harshly reprimanded. Some can be quite shy and when stressed, can be very high strung. They do best in calm and natural settings, and will need extra attention in stressful situations. When a highly stressed Italian Greyhound is not taught how to calm down, they may snap at humans and other pets. Italian Greyhounds are highly active, and enjoy running. They make reasonably good watchdogs as they are vigilant protectors and will bark at unknown people.
The Italian Greyhound is one of the oldest dog breeds. Made famous by the ancient Egyptians, these dogs were treasured so much that many Pharaohs’ tombs contained their mummies. While their origin is Egyptian, their namesake comes from their popularity in Italy during the 15th century. Around that time, their popularity grew in Europe, and many were adopted by Italian royals. They were highly esteemed as a lapdog and were cherished for their loving temperament and beautiful appearance. Some were used to rid the manor of vermin, but this was a much less important role.
While the breed remained mostly unchanged for centuries, there was an effort in the 19th century to produce even smaller Italian Greyhounds. This was a disaster and it led to weak dogs with unstable temperaments. A concerned group came together at the end of the 1800s, and successfully restored the IG’s natural look and disposition. This group is credited with saving the breed from extinction. The Italian Greyhound has become a popular dog in the United States but has not gained large recognition in other parts of the world.
Care and Grooming
While some abhor the dog sweater, most Italian Greyhounds will appreciate them in cold weather. As a breed that does not do well with temperature extremes, take care to make your pet as comfortable as possible in very hot and very cold weather. Their short and sleek coat requires little to no grooming. Remember to clean their ears, trim their nails, and brush their teeth to keep them looking and feeling their best.
While the Italian Greyhound does not need rigorous exercise, a daily walk will keep your IG happy and will give them an outlet for their nervous energy. Ask your local pet store about the best type of collar and leash for your IG, due to their delicate necks.
Italian Greyhounds tend to be an overall healthy breed and are not prone to some of the more common diseases that plague many dogs. Some IG’s (but not most) suffer from bloat, allergies, back problems, and arthritis. One of the most common health issues that affects this breed are dental issues. Make sure your veterinarian gives their teeth special attention at check-ups and has a good referral to a doggy dentist, if needed. Some IG’s have also shown a sensitivity to anesthesia. Due to their love of jumping from high places, another common injury sustained by young Italian Greyhounds are broken legs. These injuries can be easily avoided with the proper training and convincing your IG that they really cannot fly!
Suitability as a Pet
The Italian Greyhound makes an excellent pet for many families. They do best in a household that will work with their sensitivities and not over stimulate them. A busy, chaotic, and loud household is not an ideal environment and may lead to an overstressed and unhappy Italian Greyhound. Therefore, although your young children will be safe around this pet, your children may not an ideal match for your dog. They have been highly recommended to the elderly and those without children or those with older children. They tend to be clean and quiet dogs and do well in apartments. They can thrive in a city or country environment.
In terms of other family pets, the Italian Greyhound is best not to be paired with large doggy siblings. While they get along easily with other creatures, their protective instincts make them overly confident and easily hurt. For this reason, living with cats and other small dogs is also not ideal. If you keep any other pet, another Italian Greyhound is your best bet.
Due to their jumping capabilities, it is best to keep them off high furniture, and to use a fairly tall fence in a yard. While they do not have the tendency to roam, their curiosity and hunting tendencies will sometimes get the best of them.
Italian Greyhound Organisations in Australia
No club information listed
Italian Greyhound Organisations in the UK
The Italian Greyhound Club
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