What Is An Italian Greyhound?

what is an italian greyhound?

Well-known for their supreme elegance, playful personality, and swift reflexes, Italian Greyhounds (IGs) prove to be an ideal selection for individuals looking for a loveable apartment companion.

So, what is an Italian greyhound? An Italian Greyhound is a small breed that often gets confused for the whippet. For years now, Italian greyhounds have been adored for their loyalty, making them a popular dog breed throughout Asia and Europe. They were prized for their alertness, small statures, prowess in hunting on open fields, and playful attitude.

If you’re considering buying this dog breed, but you know very little about it, chances are you’re eager to understand what an Italian Greyhound is and if all the rumours you heard about them are true.

Well, you’re just in the right place. This article extensively explains the history, characteristics, personality, care, health concerns, and other essential information about Italian Greyhounds.

Kindly read on to learn more about this elegant greyhound.

Italian Greyhound History

Italian greyhounds’ existence dates back to over 2000 years ago in the Mediterranean lands, currently known as Turkey and Greece.

Evidence of the IG’s origin is evident in ancient artifacts and archaeological retrievals of miniature greyhound-like skeletons.

Although there are controversies about the Italian Greyhound’s original role – whether house pets or small game hunters, IGs were most likely ‘dual-purpose’ dogs, which make sense because they have a high prey drive but loving character too.

During the middle ages, Italian Greyhounds had gained popularity in Southern Europe, where they were valued for their beauty and small stature.

The people there love Italian Greyhounds as good lap dogs, particularly the Italian aristocrats. This is where this dog breed acquired its popular name.

Most European royalties coveted this dog breed. For example, Anne of Denmark, Catherine the Great from Russia, and England’s consort James 1st. They frequently featured Italian Greyhounds on their portraits, for instance, carpaccio, Giotto, and Memling.

Italian greyhounds were first introduced to the United States in 1886 after the American Kennel Club registered this dog breed for the first time.

Italian Greyhound Characteristics

Italian greyhounds are adorable dogs that love snuggling and basking in sunspots. They can even snuggle in soft furniture such as under blankets, pillows, or towels. So, if you have one at home, always be watchful before you sit.

IGs are always in need of attention and affection; denying them these two things can make them shy or hyper. Since they’re excellent family and one-person dogs, they can show an aloof attitude around strangers.

Since they’re emotionally sensitive, it’s not advised to train them using harsh approaches. Therefore, you should consider using treats and positive reinforcements to go through the training process.

Italian greyhounds also don’t like to stay alone for extended periods. They tend to suffer from separation anxiety, which usually results in chewing, nervous wetting, and barking.

So, if he’s your only pet and you’ll be gone for several hours, you should leave him under someone else’s care.

Fortunately, Italian Greyhounds do well with kids and other pets; if there’s another companion in your home, he’ll be just fine. Introducing him to the crate isn’t a bad idea too. According to DVM, CCRT, CVA-vet Michelle Beck, crate training is critical.

She added that crates are for security purposes and not punishment; therefore, making your dog get accustomed to a crate can help him not be upset or insecure when you leave.

IGs are naturally hunting dogs; this trait runs in their bloodlines. For this reason, their prey drive is generally very high.

They’ll chase anything smaller than them; therefore, introducing him to your cat can be a bit tricky for the first several weeks.

Also, don’t leave an Italian greyhound in an unfenced yard or walk with him off-leash without training; if they see a squirrel passing by, he’ll chase after it, and catching him after he runs can be challenging.

Training this dog breed isn’t usually hard. IGs are intelligent and love learning new tricks and running with their owners.

Italian Greyhound Appearance

To understand what an Italian Greyhound is, you should be able to distinguish them from other greyhounds.

Luckily, an IG’s appearance is unique and easy to distinguish. They look like whippets or greyhounds, only smaller.

Italian greyhounds have glossy, short, and smooth coats that have a velvety touch. They have slim bodies with a curved back, deep chest, slim well-muscled limbs, and a long narrow head.

Their height at withers is usually 13-15 inches, with a weight range of about 7-14 pounds.

This dog breed comes in different marking patterns and coats colours, including fawn, cream, red, blue, black, and grey, but the greys and blues are the most dominant ones.

Factors To Consider When Raising An Italian Greyhound

Besides knowing what an Italian greyhound is, any small breed dog lover would appreciate knowing ways to comfortably raise such dogs for them to be happy, well-mannered, and healthy.

Some of the factors to consider for you to live well with your little furry companion include;

Housebreaking Problems

Statistically, one of the main reasons why people surrender their IGs is because they’re challenging to housetrain.

It requires total commitment, patience, the right attitude, and proper training techniques, and usually, it’s an all-year job.

Remember to use appreciation, praise him, and always be consistent in your routines and management. One of the essential things you should own for your IG is a crate.


IGs are one of the most delicate hounds. You can easily injure them by inadvertently sitting on them when they curl up under the pillows or duvet.

Besides, younger IGs are usually hyperactive and can easily fracture their delicate legs when jumping from higher ends of the couch or bed.


Young Italian Greyhounds don’t need a lot of exercise. However, as they grow older, they’ll need to exercise for about 30-60 minutes daily to keep their highly active and energetic bodies in good shape.

Exercising a dog entails the following; taking them on walks, running, satisfying his traveling instincts, socialisation, and providing them with regular psychological stimulation.

Keep the training and exercising brief, playful, and engaging to make it fun. Always remember to give him treats when he behaves well.

Separation Anxiety

Since IGs are affectionate and clingy to their owners and family and they can be susceptible to separation anxiety when left alone.

If you want your Italian Greyhound not to chew your stuff, then don’t leave him alone, especially if he’s not housetrained or crate-trained.

Potential Health Issues

Italian greyhounds are prone to injuries, torn ligaments, and fractured legs, particularly the younger ones.

Also, they usually have bad teeth which can cause dental issues. Like other dog breeds, IGs can contract various doggy ailments if they don’t get the care they need.

Italian Greyhounds And Kids

As much as IGs are friendly and gentle, it’s a bad idea to leave them with children unattended, even if it’s well-meaning to them.

Typically, children are clumsy and noisy, but IGs are silent and very agile. They might accidentally scratch the child when they feel stressed or shy but this is very unlikely and rare.

It’s essential to instruct your kids on the importance of loving and treating a dog respectfully so that he doesn’t hurt them. Another way is by supervising them every time they interact with dogs.

Italian Greyhounds Needs

Unlike most elegant dog breeds, Italian greyhounds are relatively easy and inexpensive to raise and manage.

Actually, the only things your IG will require the most from you are your time and love.

Their small size allows them to comfortably exercise almost all their needs indoors, implying that even less-active people can watch them, for example, grandparents.

italian greyhound
Image: Steve Schuman

IGs are sprinters, which makes them generally active dogs, but only for a short while. Otherwise, they can be lazy dogs and can sit with you on the couch while watching TV for hours and hours without getting bored; one reason why IGs are good lapdogs.

Since they’ve got short fur, they usually need warm clothing and beddings during colder days. If your dog doesn’t have one yet, check out online doggy cloth lines for a variety of options for your pet.

Caring For An Italian Greyhound

Due to their short fur, Italian greyhounds are not suitable for outdoor settings, especially during bad weather. To prevent that cold weather from harming your dog, get a warm jacket, jumper, and bedding.

Today, there are dog sunscreens you can use to protect your dog’s skin during warm weather.

These small dogs love basking, but it’s not good to leave them in the sun for too long as this can cause skin cancer or sunburn.

The high prey instincts these dogs have can make them chase prey even when highly trained. Therefore, it would be best if you put him on a leash every time you head out for a walk.

The same reason also requires that you have a well-fenced and secure compound to prevent him from chasing after everything he sees.

Training your IG to behave well and be housebroken can be easy if you have a good attitude, patience, and the right approach.

Most hounds are independent thinkers; you’ll have to show them what’s in it for them if they obey you, which is why treats are crucial to motivate them.

It would be best if you didn’t punish your IG when he’s in the wrong; it’ll only make him snappy and fearful.

Feeding An Italian Greyhound

An appropriate and balanced diet is crucial for all dogs, regardless of breed type. All Italian Greyhounds need to be fed on a high-quality and nutritious diet, especially when they’re young. Nowadays, dogs don’t feed on only commercial dog foods, but raw foods too.

Whichever of these two you decide to use, it’s recommended you speak to your vet first for further guidance and advice. Since this dog breed loves eating, they’ll gobble all the treats you give them.

Therefore, it’s best to reduce the treats after training to avoid getting your dog overweight and unfit.

Maintaining their weight is essential because they have feeble bones that can’t carry extra weight. In case of any weight concerns, always visit your vet.

IGs usually eat 2-3 times daily. You should ensure to create a consistent feeding routine for them to develop a good habit.

Grooming An Italian Greyhound

Grooming an Italian greyhound is relatively easy since they don’t shed a lot of hair. Your work will be brushing them when he’s dusty and washing him he smells or gets dirty.

Since they’re prone to problems with their teeth, you should brush your Italian Greyhounds teeth at least 2-3 times per month.

Another important part of grooming is to ensure their nails are trimmed. Long nails can be extremely detrimental to your dog. It would be best if you trim them 1-2 times monthly.

Dogs have blood vessels in their nails; therefore, you should be careful not to harm your IG during the trimming.

Ears are the most delicate area in dogs where most parasites and infection lives. Properly checking and cleaning your IG’s ears is therefore critical.

During grooming, you should check for any rashes, sores, infection signs, redness, and inflammation. Also, remember to check the eyes for infection signs such as discharges or redness.

Frequent and thorough grooming will help you discover any issues your dog might have and take action sooner.

As a whole these dogs are amazing, they’re excellent pets, great with kids, and are super clean. Italian Greyhounds are beautiful dogs that make an all-around great companion.

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