What Is An Italian Greyhound?

Italian Greyhounds, also known as IGs, are slender dogs just over a foot tall. They are graceful and sweet, similar to the other taller Greyhounds. These dogs are intelligent and easy to train, as well as playful, preferring to spend a lot of time with their owners.

Weighing around 8-18 pounds, Italian Greyhounds make the smallest of gazehounds or sighthounds (hunting dogs which specialize in using speed and sight when hunting). It is still debated whether or not they were originally bred for hunting or to be companions.

Hunter Or Companion?

The American Kennel Club (AKC), a United States-based organization maintaining information about purebred dog pedigrees and one of the most recognized dog breed registries in the world, categorizes dogs into 7 groups:

  • Herding
  • Hound
  • Non-sporting
  • Sporting
  • Terrier
  • Toy
  • Working

AKC classifies Italian Greyhounds as toy dogs, mainly for their small size. This makes IGs an ideal apartment companion. To add to that, their short, satin-like coat that is easy to groom and their peaceful and affectionate nature make it easy for people to co-exist with them.

Despite its small stature, the Italian Greyhound has been known to hunt small game (any undomesticated animal hunted as food) as well as rats and mice. This makes them the perfect safeguard from household pests.

Traits of an Italian Greyhound

What characteristics do Italian Greyhounds possess, you may ask? Check the list below to find out:

  • Active
  • Athletic
  • Affectionate
  • Dependent
  • Eager to please their owners
  • Elegant
  • Fast
  • Intelligent
  • Keen
  • Kind-mannered
  • Loves to run
  • Might be reserved to strangers
  • Not difficult to train
  • Peaceful
  • Playful
  • Sensitive
  • Socializes well
  • Submissive

Physical Characteristics of an Italian Greyhound

Italian Greyhounds are quite similar to their Greyhound relatives, only smaller and more slender. Their heads are long and narrow, tapering to the nose. Usually, their noses are either brown or black, depending on their coat. Their teeth meet in a scissors bite. They have dark-colored eyes of medium size, but usually lit up in understanding. Their ears are small and fine in texture, folded back into the head except when alerted.

These dogs are fine-boned creatures, with long, straight legs kept in a dignified posture. They usually stand at 13 to 15 inches.

As for their glossy coats, Italian Greyhounds usually come in various colors, such as blue, cream, gray, red, or white. They can be white with color markings or of a different color with white markings on their chest and feet.

Although they may seem fragile due to their thin bodies, adult IGs are generally more resilient.

Italian Greyhound History

Its been said that Italian Greyhounds are old breeds that originated over 4,000 years ago in the countries where Greece and Turkey now reside.

IGs have been depicted in various paintings and pictorials dating to ancient times. An old Egyptian tomb from 4,000 BC has been said to depict dogs similar to the Italian Greyhounds. Not only that there are also evidences of mummified dogs similar to these particular Greyhounds that have been found in Egypt.

Some 2,000 year-old Mediterranean art also show these fine creatures. There have been remains of a dog similar to the IG that has been found in an ancient lava flow in Pompeii, a Roman town-city near modern Naples which was partially destroyed and buried due to the eruption of a volcano.

During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance period, IGs became popular with noblemen, especially throughout Southern Europe. They were brought by the Phoenician civilization to Europe and later became a favorite of the Italians during the 16th century. During that time, miniature dogs were of high demand.

James I of England, Catherine the Great of Russian, and Anne of Denmark were few of those who owned the IGs. Frederick the Great of Prussia took his Italian Greyhound to a war during the 1700s, and buried it at the Sands Souci himself when it died. He wished to be buried next to his brave companion when he died, and during his 205th death anniversary, he was finally reunited with his beloved dog.

In 1886, the Italian Greyhound breed was recognized by the AKC under the toy dog group.

Living with an Italian Greyhound

Italian Greyhounds are very athletic and love to participate in running games. Despite being fast, however, IGs are not well-suited for racing and owners may have to take caution due to their skinny frame when playing with other dogs or people. Walks or runs with their owners might just be enough for them. They can also be active indoors and do fine without a yard. Another thing an owner should pay attention to is their sensitivity to the cold.

These regal, quiet, yet lovable and playful Italian Greyhounds will surely bring enjoyment to you in its lifespan of 12 to 15 years.

More On Italian Greyhound Puppies

Are you looking for the perfect lap dog to just have cuddled and snuggled by you during those moments when you are just relaxing in your couch or bed? There are many potential candidates for being the best lap dog for you, but one may stand on the shoulders of all those other potential candidates the Italian Greyhound.

The close relative of the original Greyhound, arguably the fastest breed of dog among all the other breeds, the Italian Greyhound combines just enough traits of its ancestor, with traits from other breeds which were used to cross-breed with the Greyhound to produce this amazing breed of dog.

From infancy, Italian Greyhound puppies are to be given extra care over, since they are really fragile dogs when they are still puppies. Even as adults, these Italian Greyhounds are extremely sensitive to cold weather, because of their acutely thin coat of fur; Italian Greyhound puppies would be just as more sensitive to the cold as adults are. These Italian Greyhound puppies have fragile bones, are to be taken care of immensely. However, Italian Greyhound puppies only need to be taken meticulous care of for the first 12 to 18 months from infancy, as they are essentially a very healthy breed of dog once they reach adulthood.

Needing very little grooming as well, the Italian Greyhound is one of the easiest breeds of dog to take care of. You will not even have trouble grooming or making them take the regularly scheduled baths or check-ups unlike with other breeds, since these Italian Greyhounds have one of the best temperaments among all dog breeds. They are one of the friendliest, most people-oriented dogs in the animal kingdom. You would have to train them to be really social, though, if you want these dogs to be able to be comfortable with and around other people. If not trained early on, they might grow up to have high-strung, or even shy temperaments.

These Italian Greyhounds, being sort of the nephew of the original Greyhounds, are some of the fastest dogs among all the dog breeds. Although not as quick as the Greyhounds, who gallop at 45 miles per hour, they still clock in at about 25 miles per hour, almost 6 miles per hour faster than the average breed of dog. That is one of the better traits the Italian Greyhound picked up from its uncle.

All in all, the Italian Greyhound is an excellent dog to have, especially if you are living alone or are only a couple with no children. With a few minor tips, such as being really careful with these Italian Greyhound puppies due to their sensitive and fragile bones, covering them in extra coating or clothes when exposed to extreme cold, and keeping them in households without that much noise, overall, the Italian Greyhound is the best choice for a lap dog among all the others. There is no mistake about it; they would really be one breed of dog you would want.