(aka: Piccolo Levrierio Italiano)
The Italian Greyhound is a very slender dog, and is the smallest of the sighthounds. He stands at around 13-15 inches in height, and weighs around 8-13 pounds. His short coat is very glossy and close. The coloring of the Italian Greyhound can vary and includes fawn, red, cream, blue, black, and other colors, sometimes with white patches. The Italian Greyhound has a long muzzle, long, slender legs, and an alert and sweet expression.
Italian Greyhound Temperament
The smallest of the sighthounds, the Italian Greyhound is often referred to simply as the IG. These dogs can be spirited and playful when they want to be, yet are also known to be quiet, extremely affectionate, and very gentle. The Italian Greyhound has a very amiable and friendly disposition, but some can lean towards timidity, which makes early socialization important. Although the Italian Greyhound loves to receive affection and enjoys being strokes, avoid sudden touching or creeping up on him, as he gets startled very easily. Although the Italian Greyhound does love his creature comforts, he is also a very energetic dog when younger, although his energy levels will moderate as he grows older. He is a very fast dog and is excellent at jumping, so you should ensure that he is able to exercise in an area that is safe and securely fenced. You should also ensure that he is not let off the leash when out for walks because if he runs he will disappear in the wink of an eye.
The slightly stubborn and very sensitive nature of the Italian Greyhound can make training a little difficult so he is best suited to those with some experience of dog ownership and training. Housebreaking the Italian Greyhound can be extremely hard. When it comes to children the Italian Greyhound gets along with them well, providing they are gentle and considerate. He will also get along well with other pets such as cats and dogs, but watch him around smaller animals as he does have a high prey drive. With strangers the Italian Greyhound can be reserved and timid, and some can be stand offish. The Italian Greyhound will usually bark to alert if something is amiss, making him an effective watchdog.
For those with little time for grooming this could be the ideal dog. His glossy coat needs just an occasional brushing and a rubdown with a soft, damp cloth in order to keep it looking good. This is also a very low shedder, and could therefore prove ideal for those with allergies.
The Italian Greyhound is one of the oldest Greyhound lines and a similar dog has been found in the Egyptian tombs of over 6000 years ago. This breed was brought to Europe by the Phoenicians and was later developed and trained by the Romans. The Greyhound was found in the ancient artifacts of Pompeii, Italy and has since become a popular dog throughout the royal families in Europe. These dogs quickly became popular companion dogs but have also been used for hunting purposes. The Italian Greyhound has often appeared in old paintings and artifacts, and has historically been favored by Catherine the Great of Russia, Anne of Denmark, and Queen Victoria among others. The name of the breed is actually a reference to the breed's popularity during the Renaissance period in Italy.
The Italian Greyhound has been known to be a companion at war; Frederick the Great of Prussia reportedly took his Italian Greyhound with him during the battle period in Europe because he liked it so much! His dying wish was to be buried with his Italian Greyhound in Sands Souci Palace.
These graceful dogs have also been a part of the nineteenth century African cattle exchanges; they were at one time exchanged for 200 cattle during the trading periods. These dogs are the smallest of the family of greyhounds and most likely originated from Greece or Turkey. They have often been depicted in the natural arts and distributed throughout Southern Europe when miniature dogs were in high demand.
The Italian Greyhound is a very quick learner and trains well during its puppy stages. A puppy that is left without support or security will have temperament problems and will have constant fears to manage during later years. Puppies left without their mothers or siblings for extended periods of time will have difficulty socializing, and need this attention during their formative years to become better socialized in the long term. They may exhibit behaviors such as hand biting, nipping, and excessive barking; however, with the appropriate amount of training, these behaviors can be overcome.
House training is much easier during the period of 10-12 weeks; they cannot be expected to have control over their body functions until they are at least 10 weeks old, and waiting until they are too old can be a problem. Italian Greyhounds are extremely bright and paper training or litter box training will be the ideal choice. They are not good all weather dogs and making sure training takes place indoors will be your best option.
These dogs require attention and positive motivation. They may need frequent stroking or caressing if they are uneasy, and they do well with crate training during the housebreaking stages.
It's important to keep a firm grip on these puppies but also keep a gentle hand. Holding the puppies by wrapping them tight can help them stay safe and secure, and setting them on the floor requires that they have all four feet on the floor before letting go. The dog needs to be trained on how and when to climb furniture, and they should not be left unsupervised on a bed or couch whenever possible. It's important not to let the dog go unleashed in an unsecured area; they may have selective deafness where no amount of calling will let you be heard. These dogs need to be monitored on a regular basis as they can be easily distracted. Still, the dogs travel extremely well but do need to be crated for long car rides. They do have a tendency to leap out of cars or vehicles if they are not properly restrained.
These dogs take direction and instruction well, and will be especially obedient after only a short period of time.
There are a number of health problems linked with this breed, and amongst the health issues to look out for are: sensitivity to drugs and chemicals, thyroid problems, seizures, leg fractures stemming from vigorous jumping, luxating patella, autoimmune disorders, and PRA. You should also bear in mind that the Italian Greyhound can be extremely sensitive to cold because of his size and thin skin, and should always wear a jumper in colder weather. Soft bedding will also be necessary to reduce the risk of pressure sores developing as a result of his thin skin. The slender build of the Italian Greyhound also means that he can be easily injured if handled roughly or if allowed to jump around from heights. The parents of the Italian Greyhound puppy should have OFA and CERF certificates.