Italian Greyhound

italian greyhound Image courtesy of S J

Welcome to our article all about Italian Greyhounds! If you’re a dog lover looking for a unique and elegant breed, the Italian Greyhound might just be the perfect fit for you. Known for their slender and graceful appearance, these dogs have a fascinating history and a range of qualities that make them stand out among other breeds. In this article, we will delve into the history and origins of the Italian Greyhound, explore their size and appearance characteristics, discuss their temperament and trainability, as well as their exercise and grooming requirements. We will also touch on any health issues that may be associated with this breed, highlight some comparable breeds, and even introduce you to some notable dogs from the Italian Greyhound family. So, whether you’re considering adding an Italian Greyhound to your family or simply want to learn more about this captivating breed, keep reading to discover all there is to know about Italian Greyhounds!

History and Origins of the Breed

The history and origins of the Italian Greyhound can be traced back thousands of years to ancient civilizations. This breed is believed to be one of the oldest types of dogs in existence, with evidence of their existence dating as far back as 2,000 years ago.

The Italian Greyhound’s ancestors can be found in ancient Egypt, where depictions of small greyhound-like dogs were discovered in tombs and artwork. These dogs were highly valued and often revered, symbolizing elegance and grace. It is believed that they were brought to the Mediterranean region by Phoenician traders, where they eventually made their way to Italy.

In Italy, the breed flourished and gained popularity among the nobility and aristocracy. Italian Greyhounds were often found in the palaces and estates of wealthy individuals, serving as companions and status symbols. They were treasured for their beauty, intelligence, and affectionate nature.

During the Renaissance, Italian Greyhounds became particularly favored among the Italian elite, including notable figures such as Catherine de’ Medici, Queen of France. They were often depicted in paintings and sculptures, further solidifying their place in history.

However, the breed’s numbers dwindled during the early 20th century as a result of both World Wars. Fortunately, dedicated breed enthusiasts worked hard to revive and preserve the Italian Greyhound, ensuring its survival to this day.

Today, the Italian Greyhound continues to captivate dog lovers with its rich history and elegant presence. While they may no longer be exclusive to the nobility, they still possess the regal qualities that have made them beloved companions throughout the centuries.


italian greyhound

Image courtesy of Christian


Size and Appearance Characteristics

The Italian Greyhound is a small breed, known for its delicate and slender build. Here are some key size and appearance characteristics of the Italian Greyhound:


  • The Italian Greyhound is classified as a small-sized breed.
  • They typically stand between 13 to 15 inches (33 to 38 centimeters) tall at the shoulder.
  • In terms of weight, they usually range between 7 to 14 pounds (3 to 6 kilograms).

Body Proportions:

  • The Italian Greyhound has a well-proportioned body, with a sleek and athletic build.
  • Their body length is slightly longer than their height, giving them an elegant appearance.
  • They have a deep chest and a tucked-up abdomen.

Head and Facial Features:

  • The head of an Italian Greyhound is long and narrow.
  • They have a fine, elongated muzzle and a well-defined stop.
  • Their eyes are medium-sized, expressive, and usually dark in color.
  • The ears are small and folded, set high on the head.

Coat and Colors:

  • The coat of an Italian Greyhound is short, fine, and smooth to the touch.
  • They come in a variety of colors, including solid shades of black, blue, gray, fawn, cream, or red.
  • Some Italian Greyhounds may have white markings on their chest, feet, or face.


  • The Italian Greyhound has a long, slender tail that tapers to a fine point.
  • When at rest, their tail hangs low. However, when alert or excited, they carry it slightly curved.

Overall Appearance:

  • The Italian Greyhound possesses a graceful and elegant appearance, often likened to a miniature Greyhound.
  • They have a unique combination of delicate features and muscular structure.
  • Their agile and slender build allows them to move with grace and speed.

It’s important to note that while the Italian Greyhound is small in size, they are not fragile. They are a sturdy and athletic breed that can keep up with their owners during exercise and outdoor activities. Their size and appearance make them unmistakable and highly distinctive among other breeds.

Life Expectancy

The life expectancy of an Italian Greyhound is an important consideration for potential owners. Like all living beings, the lifespan of an Italian Greyhound can vary depending on various factors such as genetics, overall health, diet, exercise, and the level of care provided. On average, Italian Greyhounds have a life expectancy of 12 to 15 years.

It is worth noting that some Italian Greyhounds may live beyond the average lifespan, while others may have shorter lives. The key to ensuring a long and healthy life for your Italian Greyhound lies in providing them with proper veterinary care, a balanced diet, regular exercise, and a safe and loving environment.

In order to maximize the lifespan of your Italian Greyhound, it is essential to monitor their health closely and address any concerns promptly. Regular visits to the veterinarian for check-ups, vaccinations, and preventive care are crucial. This allows for early detection and treatment of any potential health issues, which can significantly impact their overall lifespan.

Additionally, providing a nutritious and balanced diet tailored to the specific needs of the Italian Greyhound is essential. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate diet for your dog, taking into consideration their age, activity level, and any specific dietary requirements or sensitivities they may have.

Regular exercise is also important for maintaining the health and longevity of your Italian Greyhound. Although they are a small breed, they still require daily physical activity to keep their muscles toned, maintain a healthy weight, and stimulate their minds. Engaging in activities such as walks, play sessions, and interactive games can help fulfill their exercise needs.

Lastly, creating a safe and loving environment for your Italian Greyhound is essential for their overall well-being. Providing mental stimulation, socialization, and a comfortable living space helps promote a happy and stress-free life.

Remember, every Italian Greyhound is unique, and their individual life expectancy can vary. By providing them with proper care, attention, and love, you can help ensure they live a long, healthy, and fulfilling life by your side.


italian greyhound

Image courtesy of Brian Taylor



The temperament of the Italian Greyhound is characterized by a combination of affection, intelligence, and sensitivity. They are known for their loving and loyal nature, making them wonderful companions for individuals and families alike. Here are some key aspects of the Italian Greyhound’s temperament:

Affectionate and Loving:

  • Italian Greyhounds are highly affectionate dogs and thrive on human companionship.
  • They form strong bonds with their owners and enjoy being in close proximity.
  • It is common for Italian Greyhounds to seek out physical contact, such as cuddling and sitting on laps.

Gentle and Sensitive:

  • This breed is generally gentle in nature and prefers a calm and peaceful environment.
  • They may be sensitive to loud noises, sudden movements, or rough handling.
  • It’s important to handle them with care and provide a nurturing and gentle approach.

Playful and Energetic:

  • Despite their small size, Italian Greyhounds have a playful and energetic side.
  • They enjoy interactive play sessions and engaging in activities that stimulate both their mind and body.
  • Regular exercise is important to help channel their energy and prevent boredom.

Good with Children and Other Pets:

  • Italian Greyhounds can get along well with children if they are raised together and introduced properly.
  • However, due to their delicate build, supervision is necessary to ensure that playtime remains gentle and safe.
  • They can also coexist peacefully with other dogs and pets if they are properly socialized from an early age.

Alert and Watchful:

  • Italian Greyhounds have a keen sense of observation and can be alert to their surroundings.
  • They will often let out a bark or alert their owners if they sense something unusual or unfamiliar.

Separation Anxiety:

  • This breed can be prone to separation anxiety if left alone for extended periods.
  • They thrive on human companionship and may become anxious or exhibit destructive behavior when left alone for too long.
  • Providing mental stimulation, interactive toys, and gradually acclimating them to being alone can help alleviate separation anxiety.

Understanding the temperament of the Italian Greyhound is crucial for creating a harmonious and fulfilling relationship. With proper socialization, training, and affectionate care, this breed can bring joy and companionship to their owners for many years.

Trainability and Adaptability

When it comes to trainability, the Italian Greyhound is an intelligent breed that is generally eager to please. However, their independent nature and sensitivity require a patient and positive training approach. Here are some key points to consider about the trainability and adaptability of Italian Greyhounds:

Intelligence and Learning Ability:

  • Italian Greyhounds are considered to be intelligent dogs, capable of learning and understanding various commands and tasks.
  • They are quick learners, especially when training is conducted using positive reinforcement techniques such as treats, praise, and rewards.
  • Consistency and positive reinforcement are key factors in successfully training an Italian Greyhound.


  • Early socialization is crucial for Italian Greyhounds to develop into well-rounded and adaptable dogs.
  • Exposing them to various environments, people, animals, and situations from a young age helps them become more confident and comfortable in different settings.
  • Socialization also helps prevent shyness or timidity that can sometimes be associated with this breed.

House Training:

  • Italian Greyhounds can be successfully house trained with patience, consistency, and a regular routine.
  • Crate training and positive reinforcement methods, such as rewarding good behavior and providing scheduled potty breaks, are effective approaches for house training.
  • It is important to note that Italian Greyhounds may have a smaller bladder capacity compared to larger breeds, so frequent bathroom breaks are necessary, especially during puppyhood.


  • Italian Greyhounds can adapt well to different living situations, including apartments and houses, as long as their exercise and mental stimulation needs are met.
  • They are generally adaptable to changes in the household, but some individuals may be more sensitive to disruptions or changes in routine.
  • Maintaining a consistent schedule, providing a secure and comfortable environment, and gradually introducing changes can help them adjust more easily.

Obedience Training:

  • Italian Greyhounds are generally eager to please, but they can have a stubborn streak at times.
  • Using positive reinforcement methods, clear communication, and patience are important when training an Italian Greyhound.
  • They respond well to rewards-based training methods and may become disinterested or uncooperative if training becomes repetitive or boring.

With the right approach, Italian Greyhounds can be trained to follow commands, engage in basic obedience, and even participate in canine sports such as agility. Patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement are key factors in successfully training and adapting an Italian Greyhound to become a well-behaved and well-adjusted companion.


italian greyhound

Image courtesy of Skica911 


Exercise Requirements and Energy Level

Italian Greyhounds may have a small stature, but they possess a surprising amount of energy and require a moderate level of exercise to keep them happy and healthy. Here are some important points to consider regarding the exercise requirements and energy level of the Italian Greyhound:

Energy Level:

  • Italian Greyhounds have a moderate energy level. While they are not hyperactive or extremely high-energy dogs, they still require regular physical activity to prevent boredom and maintain their overall well-being.
  • Their energy levels can vary from dog to dog, with some being more active and others being more laid-back. It’s important to observe your individual dog’s energy levels and adjust their exercise routine accordingly.

Daily Exercise:

  • Italian Greyhounds benefit from daily exercise to keep them mentally and physically stimulated.
  • A combination of walks, playtime, and interactive games is recommended to fulfill their exercise needs.
  • On average, they require around 30 to 45 minutes of exercise per day, but this can be split into multiple sessions to accommodate their smaller size and energy levels.

Leashed Walks:

  • Taking your Italian Greyhound for leashed walks is a great way to provide them with exercise and mental stimulation.
  • They should always be walked on a secure leash and harness to prevent them from darting after small animals or becoming entangled due to their prey drive and fast speed.
  • Exploring different routes and environments during walks can help keep them engaged and prevent boredom.

Indoor Activities:

  • Italian Greyhounds can also engage in indoor activities to burn off energy, especially during inclement weather or in apartments without access to outdoor spaces.
  • Interactive toys, puzzle feeders, and games that encourage mental stimulation can help keep them entertained and provide a good outlet for their energy.

Off-Leash Exercise:

  • It’s important to note that Italian Greyhounds have a strong prey drive and should only be allowed off-leash in secure, fenced areas.
  • Their natural instinct to chase small animals can put them at risk if they are not in a controlled environment.

Mental Stimulation:

  • In addition to physical exercise, Italian Greyhounds also require mental stimulation to prevent boredom and behavioral issues.
  • Engaging in training sessions, puzzle toys, and interactive games that challenge their minds can help keep them mentally sharp and satisfied.

Understanding the exercise requirements and energy level of the Italian Greyhound is essential for providing them with a well-rounded and fulfilling lifestyle. Regular exercise, both indoors and outdoors, combined with mental stimulation, will help keep them happy, healthy, and contented companions.

Grooming Requirements

The Italian Greyhound has a short and smooth coat that requires minimal grooming compared to many other breeds. However, there are still some important grooming practices to keep in mind to ensure their coat and overall hygiene are well-maintained. Here are the key grooming requirements for Italian Greyhounds:

Coat Care:

  • The short and fine coat of the Italian Greyhound is relatively low-maintenance.
  • Regular brushing with a soft-bristle brush or grooming mitt helps remove loose hair and keep the coat looking sleek and shiny.
  • Brushing also helps distribute natural oils throughout the coat, promoting a healthy skin and coat.


  • Italian Greyhounds generally do not require frequent bathing, as their coat repels dirt and odors well.
  • Bathing should only be done when necessary, such as when they get dirty or develop a strong odor.
  • Use a gentle dog shampoo that is specifically formulated for sensitive skin to avoid causing dryness or irritation.

Dental Care:

  • Like all dogs, dental care is important for Italian Greyhounds to maintain good oral hygiene and prevent dental issues.
  • Regular brushing of their teeth using a dog-specific toothbrush and toothpaste is recommended.
  • Providing dental chews or toys designed to promote dental health can also help keep their teeth clean.

Nail Care:

  • Regular nail trimming is essential for the Italian Greyhound, as their nails can grow long and become uncomfortable or cause issues when walking.
  • If you are unsure about how to trim their nails properly, it is best to seek guidance from a professional groomer or veterinarian.

Ear Care:

  • Checking and cleaning the ears of an Italian Greyhound on a regular basis is important to prevent the buildup of dirt, wax, or potential infections.
  • Use a damp cotton ball or a dog-specific ear cleaning solution recommended by your veterinarian to gently clean their ears.
  • Be cautious not to insert anything deep into the ear canal to avoid causing damage.

Eye Care:

  • Italian Greyhounds may be prone to eye discharge or tear staining due to their facial structure.
  • Regularly check their eyes for any signs of redness, irritation, or excessive discharge.
  • Gently wipe away any discharge with a clean, damp cloth.

Regular Check-ups:

  • Regular veterinary check-ups are crucial for maintaining the overall health and well-being of your Italian Greyhound.
  • During these check-ups, the veterinarian can assess their coat, skin, teeth, and overall health, addressing any concerns or issues that may arise.

By following these grooming practices, you can help keep your Italian Greyhound looking and feeling their best. Remember to approach grooming sessions with patience, positive reinforcement, and gentle handling to ensure a positive experience for both you and your furry companion.


italian greyhound

Image courtesy of HolgersFotografie 


Health Issues

Italian Greyhounds are generally a healthy breed, but like all dogs, they may be prone to certain health issues. It’s important for potential owners to be aware of these conditions and take appropriate measures to ensure the well-being of their Italian Greyhound. Here are some common health issues associated with the breed:

Dental Problems:

  • Italian Greyhounds are often susceptible to dental issues, including gum disease, tooth decay, and tartar buildup.
  • Regular dental care, such as brushing their teeth and providing dental chews, can help maintain good oral health.

Luxating Patella:

  • Luxating patella, or a dislocated kneecap, is a condition that can affect Italian Greyhounds.
  • This occurs when the kneecap moves out of its normal position, causing discomfort and difficulty in walking.
  • Severe cases may require surgical intervention, while mild cases can be managed with medication and lifestyle adjustments.

Legg-Calvé-Perthes Disease:

  • Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease is a condition that affects the hip joint.
  • It involves the degeneration of the femoral head, leading to pain, lameness, and reduced mobility.
  • Treatment options can include pain management, physical therapy, and in some cases, surgery.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA):

  • PRA is a degenerative eye disorder that can lead to progressive vision loss and blindness.
  • Regular eye examinations by a veterinary ophthalmologist can help detect this condition early on.
  • Unfortunately, there is no cure for PRA, but supportive care can help manage the condition and maintain the dog’s quality of life.


  • Hypothyroidism is a condition characterized by an underactive thyroid gland.
  • It can result in symptoms such as weight gain, lethargy, hair loss, and skin issues.
  • Management of hypothyroidism typically involves medication to regulate thyroid hormone levels.


  • Italian Greyhounds may be prone to allergies, including food allergies and environmental allergies.
  • Common symptoms of allergies can include itchiness, skin irritation, ear infections, and gastrointestinal issues.
  • Identifying and eliminating allergens from their environment, as well as working with a veterinarian to develop an appropriate diet, can help manage allergies.

Heart Conditions:

  • Italian Greyhounds may be susceptible to certain heart conditions, such as mitral valve disease and dilated cardiomyopathy.
  • Regular cardiac examinations by a veterinarian can help detect and monitor these conditions.

It’s important to note that not all Italian Greyhounds will develop these health issues, and responsible breeding practices can help minimize the risk. Regular veterinary check-ups, a nutritious diet, regular exercise, and preventive care can contribute to the overall health and well-being of an Italian Greyhound. Early detection and intervention are key to managing any health issues that may arise, so staying vigilant and proactive in their care is crucial.

Comparable Breeds

While every dog breed is unique in its own way, there are some breeds that share certain characteristics with the Italian Greyhound. If you are considering an Italian Greyhound but want to explore other options, here are some comparable breeds worth considering:


  • The Whippet is often seen as a larger cousin of the Italian Greyhound.
  • Like the Italian Greyhound, the Whippet is a sighthound breed known for its elegance and speed.
  • Both breeds share a similar slender build, sleek coat, and affectionate nature.
  • The Whippet is slightly larger than the Italian Greyhound, standing around 18 to 22 inches (46 to 56 centimeters) tall.


  • The Greyhound is the larger counterpart of the Italian Greyhound and Whippet.
  • Like the Italian Greyhound, Greyhounds are sighthounds known for their speed and grace.
  • Both breeds have a gentle and affectionate nature, making them excellent companions.
  • Greyhounds are significantly larger, standing between 27 to 30 inches (68 to 76 centimeters) tall.


  • The Basenji is a small to medium-sized breed that shares some similarities with the Italian Greyhound.
  • Both breeds have a short coat, are known for their intelligence, and can be independent at times.
  • Basenjis, like Italian Greyhounds, can be affectionate with their families but may be reserved with strangers.
  • Basenjis are known for their unique vocalizations, often referred to as “barkless” dogs.

Miniature Pinscher:

  • The Miniature Pinscher, or Min Pin, is a small breed that shares a similar size with the Italian Greyhound.
  • Both breeds are known for their energy, intelligence, and playful nature.
  • While the Italian Greyhound is more delicate in appearance, the Min Pin has a sturdier build.
  • Both breeds require regular exercise and mental stimulation to keep them happy and well-behaved.


  • The Chihuahua is another small breed that can be compared to the Italian Greyhound.
  • Both breeds are small in size and can be affectionate, loyal, and energetic.
  • Chihuahuas have a distinct apple-shaped head and can vary in coat types, while Italian Greyhounds have a more slender and streamlined appearance.

When considering a comparable breed to the Italian Greyhound, it’s important to research and understand the specific characteristics, temperaments, and care requirements of each breed. Meeting and interacting with individual dogs of these breeds can also provide valuable insights to help you make an informed decision.

Notable Dogs from This Breed

The Italian Greyhound breed has produced several notable dogs that have made their mark in various fields. These dogs have achieved recognition for their accomplishments, whether it be in the show ring, on the racing track, or through their social media presence. Here are a few notable Italian Greyhounds:

Gulliver’s Travels:

  • Gulliver’s Travels, also known as “Champion Gulliver’s Travels,” was an Italian Greyhound who gained fame in the show ring.
  • He achieved the status of American Kennel Club (AKC) Grand Champion and also won numerous Best in Show titles.
  • Gulliver’s Travels represented the breed’s elegance, grace, and beauty in the competitive world of dog shows.


  • Tumbler was an Italian Greyhound known for his exceptional racing abilities.
  • He was a renowned racing champion, breaking records and winning numerous competitions.
  • Tumbler showcased the breed’s agility, speed, and prowess on the racetrack.

Iggy Joey:

  • Iggy Joey, an Italian Greyhound hailing from Canada, gained significant popularity through social media.
  • With his charming and adorable appearance, he amassed a large following on platforms like Instagram, delighting fans with his daily adventures and adorable outfits.
  • Iggy Joey became an internet sensation, showcasing the breed’s appeal and capturing the hearts of dog lovers worldwide.


  • Bella, an Italian Greyhound, became a therapy dog and touched the lives of many people.
  • Serving as a therapy dog in hospitals, nursing homes, and schools, Bella brought comfort, joy, and companionship to those in need.
  • Her gentle and affectionate nature exemplified the breed’s ability to provide emotional support and make a positive impact on others.

These notable Italian Greyhounds have left their paw prints in the hearts of many and have contributed to showcasing the breed’s unique qualities, whether it be in the realm of competition, social media, or therapy work. They serve as examples of the Italian Greyhound’s versatility, beauty, and the joy they can bring to the lives of their owners and admirers.

The Italian Greyhound’s ancestors can be found in ancient Egypt, where depictions of small greyhound-like dogs were discovered in tombs and artwork. These dogs were highly valued and often revered, symbolizing elegance and grace. It is believed that they were brought to the Mediterranean region by Phoenician traders, where they eventually made their way to Italy.

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