Italian Greyhound Dog Breed Information Guide

Popularized by many artworks of the Italian Renaissance, the Italian Greyhound is a common figure in medieval tapestries, paintings, and sculptures. The truth of the matter, however, is that the Italian Greyhound is not a creation of the Renaissance but, rather, dates far back to the ancient Roman and Egyptian cultures.

Italian Greyhound History

Like so many other breeds of dog, the true ancestors and origins of the Italian Greyhound remain a mystery. While this breed was refined and carefully bred by European nobles, during the Renaissance, ancient Egyptian and Roman art pieces have proved this sweet little sighthound has ties into a far richer history, dating back thousands of years.

It wasn’t until the 16th century that the Italians and Southern Europeans would seek out this tiny gazehound, and work to create the breed that we know today. In 1886, the Italian Greyhound was accepted into the AKC stud book and became known as a registered breed.

Common with many European breeds, the Italian Greyhound was almost lost following World War 1, but by this time, his popularity had spread into the U.S. and new breeding stock was imported back into the old country to reestablish the breed. Since then, the IG has become one of the most popular breeds of toy dogs in the world.

Italian Greyhound Appearance

The smallest of the gazehounds, the Italian Greyhound bears a strong resemblance to his larger relative. He is known for his sleek and slender appearance, complete with a deep chest, tucked up flanks and long limbs. In fact, he is often known as the miniature greyhound, though Iggy breeders tend to shy away from this name. Ironically however, the Italian Greyhound is of the same genetic makeup of the standard Greyhound – their tiny size is due to selective breeding throughout the years.

Oddly enough, many people do not realize that the Italian Greyhound is a toy breed. He is placed into this category, due to his thin body frame and light weight. For this reason, while he is a toy, he’s one of the largest toy breeds.

The Italian Greyhound comes in a wide variety of colors, ranging from the common black or red, to more exotic names such as blue fawn and sable. They can also be found in brindle and tan shades, or there are a variety of masked color combinations as well. Not only is the Italian Greyhound a beautiful and catlike canine, he is a regular jewel amongst dogs.

Italian Greyhound Temperament

Many people debate as to whether the Italian Greyhound was originally bred for hunting purposes or for simple aesthetics. Was he created to hunt small game, or was he intended for nothing more than a sleek little companion? Still others believe that the versatility of the IG dog proves that he fulfills, and was perhaps bred for, both reasons. He is a mild mannered dog, who usually does exceptionally well with families and other dogs. Early socialization to other animals, such as cats or natural prey animals, is very important to ensure your Iggy can cohabitate with other furry friends.

Italian Greyhound Exercise Info

While it’s true that he’s a Greyhound and IG puppies need a lot of room to run and play, the adult Italian Greyhound dog is well-adapted to either urban or rural living – so long as he has the opportunity to get out and stretch his legs, with a good brisque walk, he’s happy.

It’s very important that you NEVER tie your Iggy outside – not only our their thin coats and fragile frames susceptible to extreme temperatures, but they are also known to run to the end of their leads and break their necks when they are snapped back. Additionally, with their long necks and tapered heads, it’s easy for them to slip their collars. For best results, use a dog harness.

Italian Greyhound Grooming Info

The IG puppy, like the adults, needs very little grooming maintenance. Bathing is not always a necessity and your Italian Greyhound will benefit best from a daily wipedown, keeping his coat sleek, shiny and soft.

Also be sure to keep your IG puppy’s toenails to keep him from getting sore feet. Good dental care is also important with an Italian Greyhound – many lose their teeth because of the scissor-like bite they have.

Italian Greyhound Training Info

Your Iggy may be the sweetest little Greyhound puppy there is, but he can also have a stubborn streak. These beautiful little dogs love to please, but they can also be a little independent and, when scolded, they can be more belligerent than a grounded teenager on prom night. For best results, use positive reinforcement, filled with lots of praise and treats for good behavior. Some dogs respond well to clicker training, but be careful – The IG puppy can sometimes be rather shy and skittish, and might not like the sound.

Consistence and patience will pay off.

If your Italian Greyhound puppy is still too much to handle, you might consider enrolling him in some agility programs or coursing, as well as general obedience – it will help him burn off excess energy in a fun and healthy environment.

Italian Greyhound Health Info

While all dogs run the risk of suffering from various genetic health issues, finding a reputable breeder who tests for these problems is very important. Don’t be afraid to talk to your veterinarian or to discuss these potential problems with the breeder – A well-meaning and well-informed breeder will not take any offense to your questions and will, in fact, encourage you to research the breed, prior to getting a puppy.

Some of the health conditions that can affect the Italian Greyhound include:

Autoimmune hemolytic anemia
Cataracts
Color dilution alopecia
Epilepsy
Legg-Perthes disease
Liver shunts
Patellar Luxation
Periodontal disease, gum recession, early tooth loss, bad tooth enamel
Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
Vitreous degeneration
von Willebrand disease (vWD)

Periodontal disease, gum recession, early tooth loss, bad tooth enamel
Hypothyroidism

Italian Greyhound Right Breed Info

The Italian Greyhound is an excellent companion animal. Not prone to being yappy, like many little dogs, he is sophisticated and elegant (when he wants to be) and an entertaining little clown the next. Exceptional for families with older children, they are a loving pet for the whole family.

Care should be given around small children, not because Iggys are bad with kids, but because their bones are so light and these little dogs are fragile – being dropped or fallen on can cause life-threatening problems. As always, supervise your IG at all times. He’ll be a much safer and happier dog if you do!

It’s important, when considering getting an IG, you have to look at the big picture – These are fragile babies, who don’t like extreme temperatures, don’t like loud voices and can tend to be a little skittish. If you enjoy a quiet, almost catlike companion, then the Italian Greyhound may be just the four-legged friend you’re looking for.

More Information about the Italian Greyhound Dog Breed

Italian Greyhound on Wikipedia
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