The Italian Greyhound is a small breed of dog and a member of the sight hound family. It is the smallest of all the sight hounds, typically measuring in at a height of 32 - 38 cm at the withers and weighing in at 3.5 to 4.5 kg. Although it belongs to the toy group, it requires a little bit more space than the average "toy" dog because of its skinny profile.
The Italian Greyhound is deep-chested and has a tucked-in abdomen. The front legs are long, straight and slender while the back legs have well muscled thighs and it has a long neck. It also features a long muzzle that tapers to a point with a dark coloured nose which is somewhat similar to a Dachshund. In general appearance, it is a miniature Greyhound in all aspects, except for the size of course. The long low-set tail is usually carried low in between the legs. The coat of the Italian Greyhound is short, fine and glossy and comes in a wide variety of colour including black, blue, cream, fawn, red, white or any of these colours broken with white.
The Italian Greyhound, often called Iggy is the smallest among the sight hounds that we know today and is believed to be an ancient breed. The remains of a dog similar to the breed were found in an ancient Egyptian tomb that dates back to 60 centuries ago. There are no concrete written evidences as to the exact origin and history of the Italian Greyhound. However, artworks dating back to 2,000 years ago from Turkey, Greece, and neighbouring areas gracefully depict the Italian Greyhound. It was probably brought to Europe by the Phoenicians and was one of the earliest breeds to be developed purely as a companion dog. It was a popular breed among the Greek-, Egyptian- and Roman upper class and its name is a reference to the breed's popularity during the Italian Rinascimento. Similarly, mummified dogs identical to the Italian Greyhound have been found in Egypt while paintings of small Greyhounds were found in the ancient Italian city of Pompeii. The breed was brought to England during the 17th century where it quickly won the hearts of nobilities and was introduced to America in the late 1800s. The breed's popularity slowly declined during the early 1900s because of many attempts to decrease the dog's size without regard for its health which lead to the rapid deterioration of the Italian Greyhound's population. Luckily, those that were brought to the U.S. during the 1800s were purebred and helped re-populate the breed. Today, the Italian Greyhound is again fast becoming a popular family companion.
The Italian Greyhound is an affectionate and loyal breed which makes it an excellent companion dog. It does typically well with children and enjoys human companionship. However, care must be taken because the dog's slim build and short coat offers little protection from injuries as a result of rough play. It has large, strong lungs which enables it to bark deeply giving the impression of a much larger dog. The Italian Greyhound is a very fast runner, agile and very athletic. As a puppy, it is particularly active and more often than not this level of activity can sometimes lead to ill-advised athleticism which can lead to injury. This breed loves to run as fast as possible. An intelligent breed, the Italian Greyhound is easy to train in some aspects, but housebreaking can take quite a while. It makes a good watchdog and will typically announce the presence of strangers. One thing about this breed is that it is particularly sensitive to cold or wet weather because it has an extremely short coat.
Being a sight hound with a high prey drive, an Italian Greyhound should be kept on lead when not in a secured area to avoid chasing after small animals. Housebreaking requires patient training. Training and socialization with other pets should be done early in the life of the Italian Greyhound especially with other small animals such as cats, rabbits and feathered pets.
Having a short, fine and glossy coat means that this breed has a low grooming requirement, typically done between 4 to 8 week intervals. Shedding of the short, fine coat is throughout the year. However, like any other dog, regular cleaning of the ears and clipping of the nails is a must.
The Italian Greyhound has been known to suffer from the following medical conditions including:
The Italian Greyhound has a life expectancy of 12 to 14 years.
Exercise requirement is moderate to low and can be achieved with free play or a good walk around the block or in the park. It is an active breed both indoors and outdoors. However, it cannot tolerate cold weather so it should be given ample protection from the cold when it is taken outside in the cooler seasons. When indoors, it should be kept out of drafts and given a nice, warm bedding to sleep on.
Due to its ability to be active both in and out of the house, it is a suitable pet even for a family living in an apartment and will do without an outside space. However, it must be given the required amount of exercise daily. It gets along quite well with other dogs and cats if it is socialized with them at an early age.