The Italian Greyhound is a very small breed of dog. It is actually a sighthound dog and was used as a lap dog in the past. It originated in Italy and was often seen on the court with nobility and various kings and queens. But before it became a lap dog, the Italian Greyhound was a very good hunting dog. You might not believe it because of its size, but it was used to hunt small game and rodents. Today, it is mainly a family dog and is characterized by its high levels of energy, athleticism and obedience. But it is also a very beautiful dog admired by many. Sometimes it is simply capped the Italian or playfully IG or Iggy.
Italian Greyhound History & Origins
The original Italian Greyhound actually dates back some 2,000 years in the past. Traces in paintings, records and carvings of this breed have been found in Egypt and Pompeii. There are mummified remains of these small dogs found in tombs of Emperors and it was also clear that Emperor Nero also kept these dogs. The origin of the Italian Greyhound is from today’s Greece and Turkey.
From there the breed spread and they started important it to some countries in Southern Europe. The interest for small dogs was at that point at its peak in Italy. The royalty enjoyed having these very small dogs on their court and girls were fond of them too. That is why many breeders decided to make an even smaller dog than this one. But this was all met with failure as the only thing that they made were genetic mutations. It also brought the Italian Greyhound on the verge of extinction.
In the 16th century a group of breeders got together and managed revitalize the breed and save it. They found a way to bring back all of the initial characteristics of the original dog. The Italian Greyhound was saved and it continued spreading across Europe.
Characteristics & Temperament
An Italian Greyhound is often described as an athletic, agile and very fast dog. They have an excess amount of energy and aim to use it up by running and being active. They like performing stunts, running around and jumping around. But this can also lead to various injuries as they have very frail bodies that are prone to various kinds of damage.
Nevertheless, Italian Greyhounds make for great pets. They are very sociable and enjoy the company of people. They are good with children and also do well with elderly people. They can adapt to both urban and rural areas, but prefer quiet places without any noise.
Italian Greyhounds also have a high predator drive. Since they are gazehounds and their genetic makes them prone to hunt by seeing, they can often chase other small animals and start running around without no apparent reason. But this also makes them alert and they are great watch dogs and will often bark at strangers and intruders who do not belong there.
Appearance, Colors, Size
The Italian Greyhound is characterized both as a sighthound and a toy dog. It the smallest dog in the sighthound group of dogs with a height of only 13 to 15 inches and a weight of about 8 to 15 lb.
Generally speaking, the Italian Greyhound has an appearance of a regular greyhound, only smaller. The dog has long and thing legs with a long neck also. The head is also long and pointed while they also have a deep chest and a tucked up abdomen.
As far as color go, there are some disputes. For instance, in the UK, recognized colors include black, fawn, blue (grey) and red. In America, there are more recognized colors with only brindle being excluded.
Italian Greyhound Health
According to various Kennel organizations, an Italian Greyhound has a medium lifespan. They can live up to 13, 5 years on average. But the biggest problems with Italian Greyhounds is their size. Their frail bodies make them prone to various injures and a very common cause of death are actually injuries that occurred to them.
There are also various kinds of health conditions which will affect them. Some of them are epilepsy, Patellar Luxation, color dilution alopecia, cataracts, liver shunts or autoimmune hemolytic anemia.
Italian Greyhound Grooming & Shedding
The Italian Greyhound breed sheds little to medium amount of hair. It is due their short hair and coat which is almost odorless and is very sleek. This is also the reason why they do not require a lot of grooming, making those great pets because of these reasons. You do not really have to brush the hair so often while baths are recommended around once a month. But some veterinarians will agree that even that much can be too much at times. Instead you can wipe your dog with a damp cloth after a walk so you clean the dirt and the dust.
Price and Breeders
Since Italian Greyhounds are relatively small dogs, they do not cost so much. Getting one is very easy and a puppy costs 400 USD. As far as availability goes, the dogs are still much more popular in their home country of Italy. The breeders with the highest reputation are found there. Still other countries in Europe have started breeding this type of dog so an Italian Greyhound is much more popular today than it was some time ago.
Italian Greyhound Rescue
Many rescue groups have been established and offer Italian Greyhounds. This is a very popular way for people to find a dog that will be cheaper and at the same time suitable. These noble groups provide us with various options and if you look for Italian Greyhound Club of America Rescue or Lifeline Italian Greyhound Rescue, you will see the kind of offer they have.