Smaller, slender versions of their larger relative, the Greyhound, these sleek dogs exude grace. They adore their human companions and prefer a lap to curl up in and perfectly capture the curved lines of all sighthounds.
Italian Greyhound Traits
The Italian Greyhound looks like a perfect miniature replica of a Greyhound. Its tiny frame and slender legs are surprisingly sturdy.
Coat and Colouring
Italian Greyhounds have a short and glossy coat that can come in almost all colors, but most often manifests as fawn, brindle, or blue-gray.
Distinctive Physical Traits
As the tiny version of a Greyhound, the Italian Greyhound has a beautifully sleek, muscular body. A slender head and graceful neck make these dogs excellent coursing hounds.
Italian Greyhound Temperament
This breed loves their human partners and will be doting, loyal companions. The Italian Greyhound is a charming dog who requires a lot of attention and enjoys a family that will lavish them with love and affection. The Italian Greyhound is very alert and they love to play, but they are sensitive and only do well with positive training.
Italian Greyhound History
Traced back almost 2000 years, the Italian Greyhound has a past full of nobility and aristocracy. It began as a small-game hunter in southern Europe and found its prominence and namesake in Italy during the Renaissance.
In the 16th century owning an Italian Greyhound was a mark of wealth and status. Seen in many paintings during the Renaissance, the dog perfectly embodied the era’s noble aesthetic. These dogs have been treasured pets of famous royalty ever since, including James I, Frederick the Great, Catherine the Great, Anne of Denmark, and Queen Victoria.
Italian Greyhound Care
Italian Greyhounds require a high-quality dog food that is age-appropriate—whether it’s commercially manufactured or homemade (with a veterinarian’s supervision and approval). It’s important to monitor the amount of food you give your Italian Greyhound. Reduce the portions or restrict calories if your pup gains weight.
Your veterinarian is always a good source to help provide you with appropriate nutrition and feeding guidelines.
Surprisingly enough, an Italian Greyhound’s teeth are the most important element to maintain. Requiring brushing is required almost daily, and they also need a yearly cleaning by a veterinarian. Maintaining good dental hygiene is important for their overall long-term health.
They also need to have their nails trimmed on a regular basis, which is best done with an electric trimmer. Luckily, Italian Greyhound coats are short and require minimal care. A bath is only needed when a simple brushing won’t remove any dirt or debris.
As with all hounds, Italian Greyhounds need regular exercise. This can range from playtime with another puppy companion to a walk on a leash. Going off-leash is never a good idea for this breed, as Italian Greyhounds will chase anything small and furry, and they can be incredibly difficult to get back, even when they’re trained.
A sensitive but sometimes stubborn breed, the Italian Greyhound requires positive and patient training. If you’re using treats, they should be given straight away once the learned behavior is exhibited. Reward-focused learning will work far better than any harsh methods.
Italian Greyhound Genetic Health Conditions
Congenital Muscular Dystrophy (CMD) is a progressive muscular disorder characterized by muscle wasting, formation of excess connective tissue in the muscles, and possibly abnormal nerve conduction. The associated genetic variant has been identified in the Italian Greyhound.
Amelogenesis Imperfecta (AI) is a disorder that affects the hard enamel coating of the teeth. Dogs with this condition suffer from enamel thinning and roughening and discoloration of the teeth.
Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is a disorder where the light sensing retina at the back of the eye degenerates, resulting in vision loss.
Knowing if your Italian Greyhound is a carrier or at-risk for these conditions can help you and your veterinarian plan for your pup's lifelong care. With Wisdom Panel™ Premium, you can get results for over 200 genetic health tests.
The Sighthound Group consists of some of the oldest breeds often reserved for ownership by royalty. Sleek and built for speed and stamina, they share many of the same characteristics as those in the Sporting and Hound Groups.
Reviewed 26 July 2020 by Cindy Elston, DVM, MPH