The Italian Greyhound is a toy-sized Greyhound. His size makes him a great family companion and at the same time a skilled hunting dog. The breed is officially recognised by the Kennel Club.
Despite the Italian Greyhound’s size, this dog breed inherits the sweet and affectionate disposition of its taller Greyhound relatives. He is very adaptable and can live anywhere but is known to be a challenge to housetrain.
Whilst the Italian Greyhound is quite energetic, he is low on stamina. Forty minutes to an hour of exercise and mental stimulation will suffice. As a low-shedding dog, the Italian Greyhound has minimal grooming needs. He is also considered hypoallergenic which makes him an ideal companion for dog lovers with allergies.
Brought to Europe by the Phoenicians sea traders 2000 thousand years ago, the Italian Greyhound is a slim toy dog version of the Greyhound. It was bred small to develop a more robust hunter and companion. The little sighthounds won the favour of many European nobles especially in Italy where it became extremely popular in the 16th century, hence the name.
Depictions of Italian Greyhounds are seen in the artwork of Giotto, Bosch and Memling. They were said to be the most favoured dogs in the royal courts of James I of England Frederick the Great of Prussia, Queen Anne of Denmark, Catherine the Great of Russia and Queen Victoria.
During World War I, the breed was close to becoming extinct in England. Luckily, there were a few Italian Greyhounds imported to America, albeit a low number. British breeders used these American-bred Italian Greyhounds to revive the breed in Europe. The Italian Greyhound is KC registered.
Appearance and Grooming
Italian Greyhounds are basically toy-sized Greyhounds, weighing 6 to 15 pounds and standing 33 to 38 centimetres. They have sleek, well-built and lean frames. Their long, slender heads have thin muzzles, dark, keen eyes and, small folded ears. They have moderately long, slightly angular necks, slope down broad chests and tucked-in abdomens. They have slim and slightly curved tails.
The Italian Greyhound sports a short and glossy coat that is satin soft. The coat colours come in shades of cream, fawn, black, blue and red. They can be solid or with white markings. The Italian Greyhound doesn't shed much and is easy to groom. All one needs to do is brush it occasionally when it gets dirty and bathe it when necessary or when it has that doggy smell.
Aside from its coat, other grooming regimens must not be overlooked, or you risk a sudden unscheduled visit to the veterinarian. Make sure to brush your Italian Greyhound's teeth at least twice a week to remove tartar and lessen the chance of gum disease. Trim the nails regularly, once or twice a month, to avoid overgrowth and painful cracking. Its ears should also be checked for any signs of infection such as redness or bad odour, which should be cleaned with a vet-approved solution as a preventive measure.
Temperament and Intelligence
The Italian Greyhound makes an excellent companion dog and loves the company of people. It is well-behaved most of the time, but often prone to bouts of energetic frenzy, which makes it suddenly leap up and run around the house or yard, for no reason. It is a sensitive dog content to stay quiet around the house but must not be left alone for long periods of time. Italian Greyhound make good watchdogs as they tend to bark to alert especially when they hear unfamiliar sounds. However, thinking they can be guard dogs is stretching it a bit as they are likely to be aloof or shy around strangers.
Italian Greyhounds are intelligent dogs, which they often use to do things their way making them a little challenging to housetrain. Training them consistently at an early age will help them obey "recall" commands, although they may ignore these commands at times especially if they spot something more interesting in the distance. The Italian Greyhound is calm and docile by nature and is great with older children. It does not do well in a household with small and boisterous children since most Italian Greyhounds prefer a quiet environment.
Remember that despite its small frame, the Italian Greyhound was also bred as a hunting companion. If you happen to own one with a strong prey drive, care should be taken when it is around smaller pets such as cats or hamsters.
Nutrition and Feeding
A typical serving for an adult Italian Greyhound is 1/2 to 3/4 cup of high-quality dog food per day. Then again, the serving size will depend on the dog's age, gender, size, build, activity level, metabolism and health. The best course of action to determine the most appropriate nutrition for your Italian Greyhound is to ask a veterinarian for assistance.
Typical daily calorie needs of an adult Italian Greyhound weighing 10 pounds:
- Senior and less active: up to 350 calories daily
- Typical adults: up to 400 calories daily
- Physically active/working dogs: up to 440 calories daily
Always choose high-quality dog food, preferably from vet-recommended brands. Dog food should be rich in animal protein such as chicken, turkey, lamb or beef for muscle growth.
Health and Exercise
Italian Greyhounds are generally healthy but are known to suffer from certain health issues such as Epilepsy, Legg-Perthes Disease, Luxating Patella, Von Willebrand's Disease, Liver Shunt, Cataracts, Hypothyroidism, Corneal Dystrophy, Optic Nerve Hypoplasia, Thrombocytopenia, and dental issues.
The Italian Greyhound is known for its spontaneous fits of running, so it should be given the opportunity to run several times a week. However, this dog breed has a low stamina and is not built for endurance activities. It will happily retire to its bed after a few sprints. Italian Greyhounds, like any dog, must be provided with enough mental and physical stimulation to make them happy and fit.
Cost of Ownership
Purchasing a well-bred Italian Greyhound puppy may cost you between £700 and £1000. To ensure it stays healthy at whatever age, you need to feed it high-quality food, which can set you back £20-£30 a month. You also need to factor in the initial cost for dog accessories and equipment such as food bowls, leads, collars, and beds, which will likely be about £200 depending on the brand.
When it comes to healthcare, you need to be prepared in case your dog suddenly falls ill or gets into an accident. You can offset some medical bills if you get a pet insurance, which can range from £20 for a time-limited cover up to £40 for a lifetime one. These prices vary depending on your dog’s health and age, size and weight, the type of cover you choose, and whether it has pre-existing conditions.
Other outgoings to consider are veterinary expenses that may not be included in a pet insurance coverage such as vaccinations, routine checks, neutering or spaying, and annual boosters, which can have a combined cost of £1000 annually. Roughly, you will be setting aside £50-£80 a month for recurring expenses, depending on the type of insurance cover you choose. This estimate is also exclusive of walking or grooming services that you might want to use at times.
Italian Greyhound Breed Highlights
- Italian Greyhounds are basically toy-sized Greyhounds
- They make excellent companion dogs because they love the company of people.
- They make good watchdogs as they tend to bark to alert.
- They are prone to bouts of energetic frenzy for no reason.
- They prefer a quiet environment as too much noise stresses them.
- The Italian Greyhound doesn't shed much and is easy to groom.
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