A sighthound in a small package, the Italian greyhound shares her larger relatives' characteristics. She loves to run and chase. She is extremely gentle and sensitive. Reserved, often timid, with strangers, she is devoted to her family and is good with children, and other dogs and pets. However, she can be easily injured by boisterous children and larger dogs.
Italian Greyhound Dog Care
The Italian greyhound likes a daily romp outdoors, but she hates the cold. Her exercise needs are best met with a good walk on leash or even a rollicking game indoors. She also likes to stretch out and sprint in a fenced area. This breed cannot live outdoors. Care of the fine short hair is minimal, consisting only of occasional brushing to remove dead hair. Regular brushing of the teeth is important in this breed.
Italian Greyhound Dog Health
Major concerns: peridontal disease
Minor concerns: epilepsy, leg fractures, patellar luxation, PRA
Occasionally seen: none
Suggested tests: knee, eye
Life span: 12-15 years
Note: The breed is susceptible to leg and tail fractures. She shares the sighthound sensitivity to anesthesia and barbituates.
Interested in the history of the Italian Greyhound dog breed?
The Italian greyhound has been around for many centuries, but exactly how and when this miniaturized greyhound was developed has been lost in time. Evidence of dogs resembling the Italian greyhound can be found in art dating nearly 2,000 years ago from Turkey, Greece and other areas around the Mediterranean. By the Middle Ages, miniaturized greyhounds could be found throughout southern Europe, but they found special favor with Italian courtiers. The breed came to England in the 17th century, quickly becoming as popular with nobility there as they had been in their Italian homeland. In 1820, the Italian greyhound was one of only two toy breeds mentioned in a book about dogs. The Italian greyhound continued to find favor, reaching her peak during the reign of Queen Victoria. After that time, her numbers declined, however, and the breed dwindled to such an extent that she almost disappeared in England after World War II. One possible reason for her decline was a degradation in quality, because dogs were bred for tiny size, often without regard to soundness and health. Fortunately, Italian greyhounds had come to America in the late 1800s, and even though their numbers were small, these dogs were of high quality. They, along with other imports, helped revive the breed in Europe. Since then, the Italian greyhound has risen gradually in popularity and is now enjoying a second renaissance.