Other names: Italian Greyhound
The Italian Greyhound is a smaller, more delicate version of the standard greyhound breed. Like their larger relatives, the Italian Greyhound is well known for its soft, gentle nature and athletic abilities. They're also a very intelligent breed that responds really well to training and they love human company. The Italian Greyhound is a perfect family pet; these affectionate dogs have a natural affinity for children and form strong, lasting bonds with their owners.
Key facts about the Italian Sighthound
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Origins and history
The first reference to any type of greyhound appeared in ancient Egypt. Mummified remains of small, greyhound-like dogs were found in the tombs of Egyptian rulers and pictures of these same dogs appeared in the hieroglyphics that covered the walls of the pyramids. The remains of similar breeds were then discovered during archaeological excavations in Pompeii and ancient Roman sites. The more "modern" version of the Italian Greyhound breed become especially popular during the 16th and 17th centuries, when they became the dog of choice for many of the leading aristocratic European families.
FCI breed nomenclature
Group 10 - Sighthounds
Section 3 : Short-haired Sighthounds
Physical characteristics of the Italian Sighthound
Female : Between 13 and 15 in
Male : Between 13 and 15 in
Female : Between 7 and 11 lb
Male : Between 7 and 11 lb
An Italian Greyhound’s coat can be one of any 30 recognised colours, including white, brown, black, fawn, grey, and blue/grey.
Type of coat
The Italien Sighthound's hair is very short and smooth with some shedding.
Eye colour varies, although it’s likely to be dark brown or a darker green.
Italian Greyhounds have slight, lean, frames with a deep chest and long thin legs. They have slender legs, long shoulders, and a narrow muzzle.
Good to know
Italian Greyhounds have an extremely high prey drive and will chase after pretty much anything that moves quick. This can sometimes get them into trouble, so keep them on the leash in unfamiliar areas.
Because of their slight frames, try not to walk or exercise them in rugged woodland areas. Opt for flat open parks, instead. This is really important, as Italian Greyhounds are much more accident-prone than other breeds.
Italian Greyhounds run with a double suspension gallop which is more associated with horses than dogs. Although they can’t run as fast as a standard breed, Italian Greyhounds can clock a maximum speed of up to 25mph, which is still very impressive.
Italian Greyhounds are very affectionate and extremely loyal to members of their own pack; this includes owners, young children, and other pets. They’re very receptive to strokes, cuddles, and lazy sofa days.
Italians Greyhounds are full of energy and love to play. Unlike the standard greyhound breed, this playful nature continues long into adulthood. These light-footed, sprightly dogs provide their owners with hours of joy and lots of happy memories.
The standard greyhound breed is known for its calm nature, the Italian version is not! These dogs are very excitable, love attention, and they have a curious nature when it comes to other dogs and “new” people.
The Italian Greyhound has a high-level of intelligence and responds very well to training. However, because of their excitable and curious personalities, keeping them focused can be a bit challenging. Still, it’s important to stay calm and patient. Italian Greyhounds are sensitive dogs that require a gentle approach.
With its excellent vision and athletic physique, the Italian greyhound is tailor-made for hunting. They’re very fast and very determined.
Fearful / wary of strangers
Italian Greyhounds are more likely to make friends with new people rather than run away from them. Although this can be very endearing, it's still important to socialise an Italian greyhound. Otherwise, they can get a bit too excited around new people. This can be uncomfortable for people who are unfamiliar with dogs.
The Italian Greyhound is a fairly independent breed that can tolerate its own company for a reasonable amount of time. This makes them a good pet for busy people with hectic lifestyles. However, these social dogs still need plenty of human company and mental stimulation.
Behaviour of the Italian Sighthound
Though they love being around their humans, Italian Greyhounds are also comfortable with their own company. These qualities make Italian Greyhounds a good choice for people living the 9-5 life.
Easy to train / obedience
Italian Greyhounds respond best to gentle, reward-based training methods. You’ll also need a little bit of patience as Italian Greyhounds puppies tend to be extremely boisterous, meaning they can struggle to focus on a specific task. So keep the training sessions short and fun. Around 10-15 minutes per day is ideal.
Italian Greyhounds are not known for being “big” barkers. In fact, Italian Greyhounds are one of the quieter breeds. They rarely bark, howl, or whine.
Tendency to run away
Although they're unlikely to run away, Italian Greyhounds are very capable of doing so. As well as being excellent sprinters, Italian Greyhounds are pretty good at jumping and can easily leap over a 3-foot fence. It's also a good idea to keep them on a leash in unfamiliar environments. They have an exceptionally high prey-drive, meaning they'll chase after anything small and furry!
As long as an Italian greyhound is getting the right amount of exercise, they're very unlikely to engage in destructive behaviour.
Greedy / Gluttony
Italian Greyhounds are not particularly greedy or glutinous. But, like most breeds, they will overeat if you let them. Always feed them within the recommended limits and make sure they get plenty of daily exercise.
Italian Greyhounds make excellent watchdogs. They're alert, active dogs with excellent vision and a strong sense of loyalty to their owners. An Italian Greyhound is unlikely to challenge any potential intruders, but they’ll certainly alert you to anyone acting suspiciously.
Italian Greyhounds make really good pets for first-time dog owners. They’re very social animals, and their diminutive size and gentle nature mean they won't overwhelm the inexperienced dog handlers. Just make sure they’re getting enough exercise and human company.
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Italian Sighthound in a flat
Italian Greyhounds can live very comfortably in flats and apartments.
Need for exercise / Sporty
Italian Greyhounds need one good walk a day, as well as plenty of time off the leash to satisfy their sprinting instincts. You’ll need to stretch their legs with regular games of fetch and they can also be very playful around the house, especially in their formative “puppy” years.
Travelling / easy to transport
Due to their high-energy levels and playful natures, Italian Greyhounds tend to get quite restless or nervous when travelling, especially during the first few trips. If you’re planning any long road trips with an Italian greyhound, it's well worth exploring some travel options that can make the trip much easier for you and the dog. These include familiarisation techniques, crate training, and even medication.
Italian Sighthound and cats
Italian Greyhounds reared from puppies are far more likely to get along with cats. Older or less socialised Italian Greyhounds are a completely different matter. These guys were bred and trained to chase anything small and furry.
Italian Sighthound and dogs
Italian Greyhounds are loving animals, a trait which extends to humans and other dogs. The Italian greyhound is docile and gentle; they’re very unlikely to display any competitive or aggressive behaviours around other dogs.
Italian Sighthound and children
Italian Greyhounds are great with children of all ages. However, they are quite delicate creatures, so it's important that children learn how to play with them safely.
Italian Sighthound and the elderly
Because of their soft and gentle natures, Italian Greyhounds make excellent companions for elderly people. However, some elderly people might struggle to keep up with their exercise requirements and may even feel overwhelmed by this highly energetic dog.
A purebred Italian Greyhound pup can cost up to £1230 if they are registered at the Kennel Club, although others can be bought for around £845.
Italian Greyhounds don't need massive amounts of food, so budget between £40-60 each month to cover the cost of feeding them. Other expenses, like insurance, will vary depending on your dog's age and medical history. Overall, maintaining a healthy Italian Greyhound will cost around £900 per year.
Italian Greyhounds have short coats which are really easy to maintain. They also shed very little, saving you the time and money involved with regular trips to the doggy salon. A quick weekly brush is all they really need.
Shedding is moderate.
Nutrition of the Italian Sighthound
An averaged sized Italian greyhound requires around two smallish cups of high-quality dog food twice a day. They will also need access to fresh clean drinking water. All Italian Greyhound breeds are susceptible to bloating, a condition in which the stomach swells and twists. This can be extremely serious, so avoid walking your dog 30 mins before or after feeding time.
Health of the Italian Sighthound
The average lifespan for the Italian Greyhound is between 12-14 years.
Strong / robust
Italian Greyhounds are natural born athletes with lean bodies designed for sprinting and chasing. However, they're also quite slight. Their brittle frames are nowhere near as sturdy or robust as the standard Greyhound, meaning they're more susceptible to injuries like broken bones or sprained joints. Be careful when letting them off the leash and only run them on flat, safe ground.
Italian Greyhounds have one of the shortest coats of any dog breed, meaning they tend to cope with higher temperature better than most other dogs.
A warm coat is an essential winter accessory for any Italian Greyhound. Because of their short coats and lean frames, Italian greyhounds can struggle to maintain a safe body temperature in cold weather. This means they'll always need their coats during winter and it's best to avoid walking them during the coldest parts of the day, such as early morning or late evening. You'll also do well to purchase a pita bed (a sort of sleeping bag for dogs), so that your Italian Greyhound can burrow in the warmth of his 'den' at night.
Tendency to put on weight
Their naturally lean frames and high-energy levels means the Italian Greyhound is highly resistant to obesity and any related health problems.