Italian Greyhound: Wikis


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Italian Greyhound

Italian Greyhound
Other names Italian: Piccolo Levriero Italiano; German: Italienisches Windspiel; Spanish: Galgo italiano

The Italian Greyhound is a small breed of dog of the sight hound type. They are sometimes called an "I.G.", or "Iggy" for short.[1]





The Italian Greyhound is the smallest[2] of the sighthounds, typically weighing about 8 to 18 lb (3.6 to 8.2 kg) and standing about 13 to 15 inches (33 to 38 cm) tall at the withers.[3] Though they are in the "toy" group based on their weight, they are larger than other dogs in the category due to their slender bodies, so owners must be careful when sizing clothing or accommodations.

The Italian Greyhound's chest is deep, with a tucked up abdomen, long slender legs and a long neck that tapers down to a small head. The face is long and pointed, like a full sized greyhound. Overall, they look like "miniature" Greyhounds, though many Italian Greyhound owners dispute the use of the term "miniature Greyhound", in reference to the breed itself. By definition of the American Kennel Club[4] - they are true genetic greyhounds, with a bloodline extending back over 2000 years. Their current small stature is a function of selective breeding. Their gait is distinctive and should be high stepping and free, rather like that of a horse. They are able to run at top speed with a double suspension gallop,[5] and can achieve a top speed of up to 25 miles per hour (40 km/h).

The color of the coat is a subject of much discussion. For The Kennel Club (UK), the American Kennel Club, and the Australian National Kennel Council, parti colored Italian Greyhounds are accepted, while the Fédération Cynologique Internationale standard for international shows allows white only on the chest and feet.[6]

The modern Italian Greyhound's appearance is a result of breeders throughout Europe, particularly Austrian, German, Italian, French and British breeders, making great contributions to the forming of this breed. The Italian Greyhound should resemble a small Greyhound, or rather a Sloughi, though they are in appearance more elegant and graceful. the cutest italian greyhound is named Noah,and belongs to Brian and Lisa.

Example of a double-suspension gallop, note all four feet off the ground.


The Italian Greyhound is affectionate and makes a good companion dog. The breed is excellent for families and enjoys the company of people. While they are excellent with children, the breed's slim build and short coat make them somewhat fragile, and injury can result from rough or careless play with children under the age of 12.

Because they are sight hounds and love to run, Italian Greyhound must never be walked outside off-leash. Even well-trained Italian Greyhounds are known to bolt into traffic despite their owner's commands to stop.

The breed is equally at home in the city or the country. They are fast, agile and athletic. Like any dog, daily exercise is a must for a happier, well-adjusted pet. Italian greyhounds love to run. The young dog is often particularly active, and this high level of activity may lead them to attempt ill-advised feats of athleticism that can result in injury. Due to their size, and in some lineages poor bone density, they are prone to broken legs which can be expensive to repair. They enjoy running as fast as they possibly can, typically faster than other larger dogs, at around 25 miles per hour.

In general the Italian Greyhound is intelligent, but they often have a "what's in it for me" attitude and do not exactly throw themselves into training with great excitement, so patience, firmness, gentleness, and reward in training seem to work best. They are also known for their mischievous ingenuity; despite a high center of gravity, they can easily walk upright on their hind legs to reach items up on tables. They may also use their 'hidden talent' of jumping to unusual heights to reach high-up items of interest to them, including leaping atop kitchen countertops from the floor.

Italian Greyhounds make reasonably good watchdogs, as they bark at unfamiliar sounds. They may also bark at passers-by and other animals. However, they should not be considered "true" guard dogs as they are often aloof with strangers and easily spooked to run. They often get along well with other dogs and cats they are raised with.

Due to their slim build and extremely short coat, Italian Greyhounds are at times reluctant to go outside in cold or wet weather, so some owners lay old newspaper on the floor near an exit so their pets can relieve themselves. Some respond well to dog-litter training as well. This breed tends to gravitate to warm places, curl up with other dogs or humans, or burrow into blankets and under cushions for warmth. Some smaller Italian Greyhounds are adept at burrowing into difficult places (e.g. pillowcases, laundry baskets containing warm clothes) as the breed has a strong affinity for warmth. Care must be taken near heat sources, such as fireplaces, baseboard heaters and electric space heaters as the dog may choose to sit dangerously close to them, especially during winter when ambient indoor temperatures are generally lower.

As gazehounds, Italian Greyhounds instinctively hunt by sight and have an extremely high predator drive. Owners of Italian Greyhounds typically keep their dogs leashed at all times when not in an enclosed area to avoid the risk of even a well-behaved pet breaking away at high speed after a small animal. Also, a short leash is highly suggested to owners due to reports of animals breaking their own necks when running a full lead mounted to the ground or a wall. Sometimes a dog harness is a good option; since the IG has a tapering neck and small head, they can often "slip" their collar and leash. Because of their frame, it is important to select a harness especially designed for this breed; a regular harness could dislocate their shoulder. This can also be used to avoid the above-mentioned neck injury if your dog is prone to bolting. It also gives the dog the freedom of a long leash.

Owners of Italian Greyhounds should be extremely mindful of any unknown dogs, no matter what size, because Italian Greyhounds can be extremely territorial, and may even "have a go" at any larger unknown dogs on their property.


Dogs of this breed have an extremely short and almost odorless coat that requires little more than an occasional bath, but a wipe-down with a damp cloth is recommended after walks as seeds, burrs and floating dust in the air can get into the coat and irritate the skin. Shedding is typical as of other breeds, but the hair that is shed is extremely short and fine and is easily vacuumed.


The teeth of an Italian Greyhound should be brushed daily. Their scissor-bite and thin jaw bones make them susceptible to periodontal disease, which can be avoided with good dental care. Daily brushing has been shown to be very beneficial as well as regular dental cleanings from the vet.


Health problems that can be found in the breed:[citation needed]

Responsible breeders will routinely check their dogs for the onset of various inherited disorders, these commonly include (but are not limited to): CERF examinations on eyes, OFA patellar examinations, OFA thyroid function panels, von Willebrand's factor, OFA hip and Legg-Perthes disease x-rays, and others.In research by the Ortheopedic Foundation for Animals, the Italian Greyhound was found to be the least affected by hip dysplasia out of 157 breeds. Tests were conducted on 169 individual Italian Greyhounds, of which none were found to have hip dyplasia and 59.2% scored excellent on their hip evaluations.[7]


An Italian Greyhound, published in 1858.
An Italian Greyhound from 1915.

The name of the breed is a reference to the breed's popularity in Renaissance Italy. Mummified dogs very similar to the Italian Greyhound (or small Greyhounds) have been found in Egypt, and pictorials of small Greyhounds have been found in Pompeii, and they were probably the only accepted companion-dog there. As an amusing aside the expression 'Cave Canem' (Beware of the dog) was a warning to visitors, not that the dogs would attack but to beware of damaging, tripping over or stepping on the small dogs. Dogs similar to Italian Greyhounds are recorded as having been seen around Emperor Nero's court in Rome in the first century AD.[8]

Although the small dogs are mainly companionship dogs they have in fact been used for hunting purposes, often in combination with hunting falcons, rat or mice.

The Italian Greyhound is the smallest of the family of gaze hounds (dogs that hunt by sight). The breed is an old one and is believed to have originated more than 4,000 years ago in the countries now known as Greece and Turkey. This belief is based on the depiction of miniature greyhounds in the early decorative arts of these countries and on the archaeological discovery of small greyhound skeletons. By the Middle Ages, the breed had become distributed throughout Southern Europe and was later a favorite of the Italians of the sixteenth century, among whom miniature dogs were in great demand. Sadly, though, 'designer' breeders tried, and failed, to make the breed even smaller by crossbreeding it with other breeds of dogs. This only led to mutations with deformed skulls, bulging eyes and dental problems. The original Italian Greyhound had almost disappeared when groups of breeders got together and managed to return the breed to normal. From this period onward the history of the breed can be fairly well traced as it spread through Europe, arriving in England in the seventeenth century.


Italian Greyhounds in the arts

Portrait of the aging Catherine The Great with an Italian Greyhound named Zemire.

The grace of the breed has prompted several artists to include the dogs in paintings, among others Velázquez, Pisanello and Giotto.

Vision des Hl. Eustathius by Pisanello

The breed has been popular with royalty throughout, among the best known royal aficionados were Mary Stuart, Queen Anne, Queen Victoria, Catherine The Great, Frederick the Great and the Norwegian Queen Maud.

Italian Greyhounds in popular culture


Some Italian Greyhounds enjoy dog agility. The breed's lithe body and its love of action enable it to potentially do well at this sport, although not many Italian Greyhounds participate and their natural inclination is for straight-out racing rather than for working tightly as a team with a handler on a technical course.

Lure coursing is another activity well-fitted to the Italian Greyhound, and they seem to enjoy it tremendously. Although the Italian Greyhound is a very fast dog, it is not as well suited to racing as its larger cousin. Regardless, many Italian Greyhounds participate in amateur straight-track and oval-track racing.

External links


Rescues and Shelters at the Open Directory Project

See also


  1. ^ Barber, Lillian S., The New Complete Italian Greyhound, p.5 (1993, Italian Greyhound Productions) ISBN 0961198621
  2. ^ American Kennel Club - Italian Greyhound Did You Know?
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ American Kennel Club - Italian Greyhound History
  5. ^ IG in a double suspension gallop (video)
  6. ^ Fédération Cynologique Internationale standard
  7. ^ "Hip Dysplasia Statistics: Hip Dysplasia by Breed". Ortheopedic Foundation for Animals. Retrieved 2010/02/10. 
  8. ^ Stonehenge (1866). The Dogs of the British Islands. Horace Cox, London. p. 138. 
  9. ^ Internet Movie Database: Good Boy! Full cast and crew. Retrieved April 26, 2007
  10. ^ [Dungeons & dragons hardcover publications]. Renton, Wash: Wizards of the Coast. 2000. ISBN 0-7869-2886-7. 


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