The Italian Greyhound

Exercise Requirements  
Grooming Requirements  
Weight4 - 5 Kg (approx)
Life Span13 - 15 Years (approx)


Elegant and decorative. Resembles miniature Greyhound. Prancing gait is a trademark of this sleek, smooth and long-legged small ancient Sighthound.


Mummified dogs very similar to the Italian Greyhound (or small Greyhounds) have been found in Egypt, and pictorials of small Greyhounds have been found in Pompeii, and they were probably the only accepted companion-dog there. As an amusing aside the expression 'Cave Canem' (Beware of the dog) was a warning to visitors, not that the dogs would attack but to beware of damaging the small dogs.

The Italian Greyhound is the smallest of the family of gazehounds (dogs that hunt by sight). The breed is an old one and is believed to have originated more than 2,000 years ago in the countries now known as Greece and Turkey. This belief is based on the depiction of miniature greyhounds in the early decorative arts of these countries and on the archaeological discovery of small greyhound skeletons.

By the Middle Ages, the breed had become distributed throughout Southern Europe and was later a favorite of the Italians of the sixteenth century, among whom miniature dogs were in great demand. It is, in fact, due to its popularity in Italy at this time that the breed became known as the "Italian Greyhound." From this period onward the history of the breed can be fairly well traced as it spread through Europe, arriving in England in the seventeenth century.

The IG can be seen in illuminated manuscripts and in master painters such as Blake, Carpaccio, Van Dyck, Teniers and Ward.


Sensitive and reserved. Can be aloof with strangers, but loving to immediate family and friends. Dislikes loud noises and sudden moves. Independent and stubborn for training but demanding for affection. Very much cat-like in their mannerism.

Italian Greyhounds make a reasonably good guard-dog, as they bark at unfamiliar sounds. They may also bark at passers by. However, they often get along well with other dogs and cats.

Care / Grooming

The breed is equally at home in the city or the country, and it does not require as much exercise as larger breeds, although they are fast, agile and athletic. The young dog is often particularly active, and this high level of activity may lead them to attempt ill-advised feats of athleticism that can result in injury. They enjoy running as fast as they possibly can, typically faster than other larger dogs.

Due to their slim build and extremely short coat, Italian Greyhounds are at times reluctant to go outside in cold or wet weather, so some owners lay old newspaper on the floor near an exit so their pets can relieve themselves. This breed tends to gravitate to warm places, curl up with other dogs or humans, or burrow into blankets and under cushions for warmth.

IGs have an extremely short coat that requires little more than an occasional bath. Shedding is typical of other breeds, but the hair that is shed is extremely short and fine and not as visible.


Health problems that can be found in this breed are epilepsy, patellar luxation, liver shunt, PRA (Progressive retinal atrophy) and hypothyroidism to mention few. It is advisable to contact responsible breeders who choose their breeding stock carefully and screen for inherited disorders.

While they are excellent with children and other dogs, the breed's slim build makes them somewhat fragile, and injury can result from rough play. Care and common sense should be exercised while puppy is growing up.

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