Italian Greyhound

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7-14 lbs
Piccolo Levrieve Italiani
The Italian greyhound, sometimes simply called the IG, is an ancient breed and the smallest of the sight hounds. A dog resembling the modern day IG was found in a 6,000 year old Egyptian tomb.
lap dog
Date of Origin
ancient times
sighthound, Southern (sighthound)

Italian Greyhound Health

Average Size
Height: 13-15 inches Weight: 7-14 lbs
Height: 13-15 inches Weight: 7-14 lbs
Major Concerns
  • Peridontal Disease
Minor Concerns
  • Patellar Luxation
  • PRA
  • Epilepsy
  • Leg Fractures
Occasional Tests
  • Eye
  • Knee

Italian Greyhound Breed History

It is not clear exactly how this miniature greyhound came to be, however artwork from Turkey, Greece, and surrounding areas depicts the breed as far back as 2,000 years ago. Brought to Europe by the Phoenicians, it was one of the first breeds to be developed purely as a companion animal. It was popular with the Egyptians, Greeks, and Roman upper class. The Romans took special interest in the breed and furthered its development. In fact, the remains of a small greyhound were found in the ancient lava flows from Pompeii. These miniaturized greyhounds soon found favor across Europe with aristocrats and nobility alike, particularly in Italy. In the 17 th century, the breed was introduced to England where it gained further popularity. Some famous IG owners included Catherine the Great of Russia, James I of England, Anne of Denmark, and Queen Victoria. Frederick the Great of Prussia is said to have brought his Italian greyhound to war, and in 1991, according to his dying wish, he was buried alongside his beloved pet. An African chieftain is said to have been so enamored by the breed that he offered 200 cattle in exchange for a single dog. Around 1900, the breed’s numbers slowly declined with its popularity. Many breeders were attempting to decrease the size of the dog without regard to its health, which furthered the IG’s decline. Thankfully, the small number of Italian greyhounds that were brought to America in the late 1800s was of high quality. These dogs helped replenish this graceful breed in Europe. The breed makes an excellent companion pet, but has also been used in conjunction with falcons to hunt. Today the Italian greyhound is experiencing another surge in popularity as a devoted family pet.

Italian Greyhound Breed Appearance

The Italian greyhound is a slender and elegant dog that is a miniature version of the greyhound breed. It is fine-boned with a slightly arched back. It’s head is long and tapers to the point of its dark nose. The IG’s ears are small and rest against its head. When alert, its ears perk up. Its dark eyes are expressive and reveal its intelligence. The breed’s slender tail curves to a point. Its gait is high-stepping, and it runs using the double-suspension gallop to attain top speeds. The Italian greyhound’s coat is short and fine with a soft, satiny feel. Typical colors include gray, red, black, fawn, cream, or blue. Some IG’s have white markings, usually on their feet or chest. Brindle is unacceptable, and tan markings such as those found on black and tan dogs is a disqualification.

Italian Greyhound Breed Maintenance

The Italian Greyhound requires minimal coat care involving little more than an occasional brushing to remove dead hair and to keep the coat shiny. Bathe only when needed. Be sure to thoroughly dry the coat to keep the dog warm. Rubbing the fur with a soft cloth will remove dead hair and dirt, proving to be a favorable alternative. The Italian greyhound requires meticulous teeth care to prevent tarter build-up. Exercise requirements are met with free play or a good walk. This breed is very active both indoors and out. It enjoys the outdoors, but cannot handle cold weather. It should wear a sweater when taken outside in the cooler months. Indoors, it should be kept out of drafts and given warm bedding in which to sleep. Because of the breed’s ability to remain active indoors, it will thrive even without a yard. It makes a good apartment dog, however should still be given plenty of exercise opportunities.

Italian Greyhound Breed Activity Requirements

This little dog is active, affectionate, and intelligent. As a pup, the IG will run, chase, and climb on furniture. It can climb a wire fence and has been known to jump from chair to table and attempt to “fly” to other furniture or the floor. Its thin legs seem to hold up well under this punishment, but it is still quite accident-prone, requiring steady supervision. This breed is extremely devoted to its master and will sit in your lap or sleep in your bed if it is permitted. It often will misbehave with full knowledge of its actions. Use consistent training, and don’t let it take advantage of you. The breed is gentle and timid around strangers. It needs reassuring pats in new or stressful situations and may snap if frightened. This small greyhound is a healthy dog that is easy to train. However, like many other small breeds, it is difficult to housebreak. Be patient and persistent to achieve results. The breed is submissive, peaceful, and may be injured by active children or large dogs. Some recommend owning two IGs, since they get along with each other so well. As long as the house is quiet and calm, this breed will do well with older children and other pets.