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Italian Greyhound Dog Breed Profile

Italian Greyhound

Other Names
Dog Group Kennel Club
Breed Classification
The Italian Greyhound is a member of the toy group. They have always been used primarily as companions. 
Cost of Ownership
Average Food Cost
< £4 per week
Feeding Requirements
This breed is a good eater and needs frequent small meals, especially while growing as it can be susceptible to hypoglycemia.  
Other Expenses
The cost of a puppy is around £400 
9 - 15 years
This is a long lived breed, with 13 years being the average life span, although some Italian Greyhounds have lived till they were 15 years old. 
Average Litter Size
The Italian Greyhound has 4 to 5 puppies per litter, a rather large litter for such a small dog. 
General Physical Description
This is a elegant and slender dog, looking like a standard greyhound but in minature. The coat is smooth and glossy and can come in a variety of shades. The head is narrow with a very fine muzzle and ears are softly folded and set high on the head. The spine slopes gently and there is a defined tuck up in the loins. The gait is high stepping and free. This can be a very fast dog when it is so inclined.

Height Min Max
Bitch 32cm (13") 38cm (15")
Dog 32cm (13") 38cm (15")
Weight Min Max
Bitch 3kg (7lbs) 5kg (11lbs)
Dog 3kg (7lbs) 5kg (11lbs)
Size Category
Weight Height Range
Ideally both dogs and bitches measure between 32 - 38cms and weigh between 3.6 - 4.5kgs. 
The primary problems with Italian Greyhounds are the tremendous fragility of their leg bones in adolescents. Once the dog is fully grown, at about 12 - 18 months, the bone is strong enough to withstand daily strains. However, until then, the dog must be kept from jumping on and off of furniture and children must be taught to handle the puppy very carefully. Italian Greyhounds are also known to have an idiosyncratic response to anaesthetics, making it very difficult to calculate doses and monitor sedation during a procedure. For this reason, the dog should only be operated on for essential procedures. The breed also has a known hypersensitivity to flea dips and insecticides so flea control must be handled with great care and observation. 
Common Ailments

Missing teeth, colour mutant alopecia
thrombocytopaenia, corneal dystrophy,
optic nerve hypoplasia  
Susceptibility To Illness
It is believed that the Italian Greyhound originated in Egypt; in fact mummified dogs very similar to today's breed have been found in the tombs of the Pharoahs. The dog was brought by the Romans to the Mediterrean area in the 6th century B.C. where it became a favourite of Greek and Roman nobility. The dog reached the height of its popularity in the 16th and 17th century where it adorned many courts. Among the famous owners you can find Mary Queen of Scots, Charles I, Frederick the Great and Queen Victoria. Great painters also found time for these little dogs as it was painted by Blake, Carpacio and Van Dyck. The Italian Greyhound may have been used to hunt rabbits but it is also the first dog bred primarily for companionship. 
This is an intelligent breed but these dogs do tend to use their brains to please themselves. They can be difficult to housetrain and, due to their hound instincts, can be difficult to train to recall. Early socialisation is essential to overcome potential shyness and the problems that can thus develop. Acclimitising the puppy to frequent handling is a must as this breed needs its teeth cleaned on a daily basis.< 
Show Characteristics
A graceful little dog, the Italian Greyhound is particularly showy in the ring with its high stepping gait and delicate, slender outline. The skull is long, flat and narrow with a very fine muzzle. The ears are 'rose' ears, that is folded at right angles and set high on head. The nose and the eyes should be dark and the eyes should be expressive. A scissorbite is expected and under or overshot jaws are a serious fault. The neck is long and arched, leading to long, sloping shoulders, a short coupled back, sloping into the rump. The forelegs are straight, with very fine pasterns, while the hind legs should show musculature in the thigh region. A hare foot, long and narrow is desired. Long and fine, the tail should be carried low. A fine, glossy coat is expected and can be fawn, blue, red, cream or black, with or without white markings on the chest and feet. 
Country Of Origin
Famous Examples
Records Held
Overall Exercise
40 - 60 minutes per day.
Although a very small dog, this is still a sighthound and it does love to run. It is best to let the Italian Greyhound run in a confined space though as it can run off in pursuit of prey. This breed can adapt to flat dwelling, provided it is allowed to run once or twice a day. Some owners indulge the dogs natural instincts in lure coursing. Younger dogs need to be exercised with care as their leg bones are quite fragile until they are about 18 months of age. 
Distress if Left Alone
Personal Protection
Guard Dog Suitability
Risk of Sheep Worrying
Tendency to Bark
Level of Aggression
Compatibility With Other Animals
Suitable For Children


General Character And Temperament
This is a loveable dog that loves to snuggle, partly out of affection and partly due to its need to keep warm! It tends to be friendly and can be very showy in the ring as it is not shy with strangers. The Italian Greyhound does better with early socialisation so it will accept new people and situations more readily. This dog can take time to bond but will be an excellent companion once the friendship is well established. Owners need to be aware that this breed is intelligent enough to take liberties if allowed to do so. Despite the Italian Greyhound's diminutive stature, one must be firm in training. 
Coat Length
Grooming Requirement
< Once a week 
Requires Professional Groomer
The Italian Greyhound needs very little coat care as it has such a short coat. A rub down with a cloth will enhance the sheen of the coat. These dogs do need a lot of dental care though as they are very much prone to dental problems.  
The coat can be black, fawn, red, cream or blue. The coat can have white markings at the chest and feet. Brindle coats and black and tan coats are not allowed in show dogs. 
Suffers From Allergies

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