A mere fraction of the size of a full-blown Greyhound, the Italian Greyhound makes up for its small frame with a big heart and a distinctive personality. The Italian Greyhound is a rare breed in the sense that its sole purpose was to be a companion suited for affection and entertainment. For roughly two millennia, Italian Greyhounds have lived faithfully doting owners all over the world, including in the palaces of several royal families in Europe. Today, the Italian Greyhound is very much alive and well, its great history preserved in Renaissance paintings, and its present legacy continuing as the 73rd most popular American Kennel Club breed.
Italian Greyhound Appearance
The Italian Greyhound’s appearance is best described as a miniature version of the Greyhound. These dogs stand just 13-15 inches tall and weight a flimsy 7-14 pounds. Another unique physical trait of the Italian Greyhound is its intelligent, dark, expressive eyes. These dogs, like Greyhounds, have long, thin heads with folded ears that are set back.
Italian Greyhounds have long necks leading to a curved back and a muscular pair of legs that hang lower than the rest of the dog’s body; the Italian Greyhound’s front legs are long and straight.
The coat of the Italian Greyhound comes in almost two dozen different colors, 17 of which are AKC standard. Some colors include blue, black, cream, fawn, red, and sable. There are five standard markings: black mask and blue mask, white markings, and white markings with either blue mask or black mask. The of Italian Greyhounds’ coats is fine, glossy, and short These dogs do shed, but a vacuum for dog hair and the occasional use of a dog brush and a bath with dog shampoo should keep this dog’s coat healthy and your home clean.
The Italian Greyhound has a long life expectancy of 14 to 15 years. Given the Italian Greyhound’s history as a toy breed companion, these dogs love spending time with people. Though the Italian Greyhound is right at home on the couch or in bed with people, these dogs still retain the instinctive sighthound’s drive for coursing, and will often take off in pursuit of small mammals like rodents or cats.
Italian Greyhounds are very alert and intelligent. While these dogs, like other hound-types, will take note of someone coming up to the door, the Italian Greyhound is not an aggressive breed and is unlikely to bark much or show signs of aggression. Nevertheless, some Italian Greyhounds do tend to be a bit shy, and may take time to warm up to strangers.
Small as they are, Italian Greyhounds don’t seem to acknowledge the fact that they are indeed a toy breed. Though it’s uncommon for an Italian Greyhound to be hostile around other dogs or children, it’s important to monitor this breed’s interactions to help prevent injuries. The Italian Greyhound’s playfulness and athleticism can be a great deal of fun, but this isn’t a breed that knows its limits.
The Italian Greyhound’s intelligence can often be a double-edged sword for owners. It may be easy to teach the Italian Greyhound certain manners, skills, and tricks, but the dog may decide to think better of your plans and instead do whatever suits its whims, including going to the bathroom where and when it pleases.
Caring for an Italian Greyhound
The Italian Greyhound is an adorable little lap dog that makes a perfect companion for singles or families. Proper care will help ensure a long, full, and happy life for this charming toy breed.
A naturally slender dog with small bones, the Italian Greyhound requires a high-quality diet to maintain its figure and fuel its energetic, fun-filled lifestyle. Additionally, Italian Greyhounds should never be overweight or obese, as this can lead to a host of other health problems. Since many Italian Greyhounds have allergies to certain grains commonly used in commercial dog foods, a grain free dog food is a great choice for this breed. Alternatively, some owners opt for a raw or homemade diet for the Italian Greyhound, which offers the perks and nutrition of simple, nutritious meals.
Don’t let the Italian Greyhound’s size fool you—these dogs can easily outrun most humans and reach top speeds of 25 mph. The Italian Greyhound, like its big brother the Greyhound, loves to run and chase, and is quite good at it. In addition to running and chasing, the Italian Greyhound also loves toys, and will have a ball playing with interactive dog toys. The combination of some free time in a large, fenced-in yard and one or two moderately long walks should be enough daily exercise for the Italian Greyhound. The Italian Greyhound may love the couch, but once it gets going it will run circles around people and dogs alike.
Training an Italian Greyhound can sometimes be challenging, due to the breed’s intelligence and stubbornness. Difficulties with housebreaking the Italian Greyhound are not uncommon, though with consistency, patience, and positivity, it is possible to teach the Italian Greyhound where the bathroom is. These dogs are sensitive, however, so it’s important to avoid the use of harsh commands or punishment. Since the Italian Greyhound has a short attention span and will often be distracted, it’s helpful to keep training sessions short and sweet. As a puppy, the Italian Greyhound can certainly benefit from some socialization or basic obedience classes.
With proper care, the Italian Greyhound will live a long life of good health. However, there are still certain conditions that can present themselves as a threat, and it’s important to be aware of some risks the Italian Greyhound may find itself facing. Many of these conditions can be inherited, so a dog DNA test is a good idea for any Italian Greyhound owner. Some genetic disorders that may occur in Italian Greyhounds include: mutant alopecia, a skin disorder that causes loss of hair and itchy skin; deafness, hypothyroidism, epilepsy; eye problems such as cataracts, juvenile cataracts, glaucoma, and progressive retinal atrophy; the bleeding disorder known as von Willebrand’s disease, and cryptorchidism or monorchidism.
Though many of the aforementioned conditions are genetic, Italian Greyhounds are at risk for a few other conditions, most of which are related to its petite build. A collapsing trachea, broken bones, luxating patellas, and hypoglycemia are all unfortunate realities in the world of the Italian Greyhound. Fortunately, many of these conditions can be largely preventable by steering clear of obesity, remembering that this is a fragile breed that must be handled gently, and ensuring that all activities and play are as safe as possible.