The Italian Greyhound, also known as an iggy dog, is the smallest greyhound breed. The narrow-faced canines were first bred to hunt, but soon became house dogs as a result of their friendly, affectionate nature.
They are warm-weather loving creatures that love to run and play in wide-open spaces. Though fragile, which can make them difficult to raise around children or other pets, they get along extremely well with both people and other dogs.
The breed is quite intelligent. That makes them receptive to training at a young age. It is important to start them as puppies since they get more and more unruly with each passing year.
Italian Greyhounds are the perfect dog for people who want a small, easy going companion. They enjoy being inside, especially during the colder months of the year, but also have enough energy and excitement to run around. Perfect for people who want the best of both worlds.
Other Names: Italian, IG, Iggy
Height: 13 to 15 inches
Weight: 8 to 15 pounds
Life Span: 12 to 15 years
Colors: Black, Tan, Sable, Chocolate, Red Fawn, Yellow, Red, Blue, Slate Grey, Fawn, Blue Fawn
1. Personality & Temperament
Though first bred as hunting dogs, Italian Greyhounds are versatile, friendly pets that do not mind hanging around the house. In fact, they are one of the most gentle dog breeds around.
The canines can be quite stubborn when it comes to training, but if you put the work in while they are young, they are great listeners. Though that friendly nature makes them good for families, the dogs are quite fragile. So much so that you always need to watch them around kids. Even one slip or fall can cause the hounds to get seriously injured.
The canines are extremely good with people if they are socialized while young. However, greyhounds that do not regularly interact with others as puppies tend to be shy around strangers.
They also do not like cold weather and will actively resist going outside during the later months of the year. A good small dog bed goes a lot towards giving them a safe space to snuggle up.
2. How to Care for an Italian Greyhound
Italian Greyhounds, like most small dogs, do not need a lot of food in order to maintain a healthy weight. Whether you’re using high-end options, or the best cheap dog food, one large or two small meals a day should be enough. However, a baby greyhound should be fed two times a day until they turn a year old.
In terms of diet, it is best to avoid feeding your Italian Greyhound only cereal-based dog food. Rather, try to give them a healthy mix of both commercial and natural options.
Commercial brands have a wide variety of different proteins, fats, and carbs that will help your dog grow. More traditional options like meaty bones, or the organic foods listed in this article will round out their metabolism.
It is important to make sure your miniature greyhound gets frequent baths. Though the breed does not need to be bathed excessively, you typically never want to go more than six weeks without giving your pup a good scrub.
Just note that you should also go over your dog’s coat with a strong hair dryer before bathing. This will shake loose any dirt of particles hiding in their fur.
You may also ask “do Italian Greyhounds shed?” in concerns to brushing. Though they do, their coat is so short you will hardly notice.
Italian Greyhounds are active dogs that love to play outside. Though they can lose a few steps as they age, the breed generally enjoys both running or walking around town.
While it can be easy to assume that running your greyhound around the yard is enough, it is a good idea to take them out for daily walks.
The breed can run up to a staggering 35 miles per hour. That pent-up energy needs to be let loose every now and then. Try your best to get them into open spaces, like a dog park, when you can. Even if you need to drive, the greyhounds can easily fit into any travel dog crate.
Italian Greyhounds are intelligent dogs, which means they respond well to proper training. However, it is best to undergo such procedures while they are young. The older they get, the less responsive they will be.
You can train Italian Greyhound puppies at home if you so wish, but the breed does well with both respect and obedience training. Early potty training should occur in the warmer months, because Italian Greyhounds do not like to use the bathroom outside when it’s rainy or cold.
3. Common Health Issues of the Italian Greyhound
The Italian Greyhound lifespan is between the ripe old ages of 12 and 15. Even so, that does not mean they are perfectly healthy. There are a few health problems to be aware of when caring for your pup.
All Italian Greyhounds are at high risk for dental issues. The breed’s narrow snout, mixed with their large teeth, can cause them to develop infections or more serious diseases.
To combat such infections, it is best to give them bones. Regular teeth-brushing sessions are also important.
Another common problem for the breed is vitreous degeneration. That term refers to an inflammation within the eye that greatly impairs the dog’s vision.
Always monitor your dog’s sight. Though a small vision impairment is not the end of the world, vitreous degeneration can cause blindness or make your dog susceptible to other eye-related diseases.
Italian Greyhounds also tend to suffer from, or be extremely susceptible to, epilepsy. The condition causes small seizures that can lead to larger problems.
Though it may be tempting to constantly monitor your greyhound for signs of an oncoming seizure, most dogs that suffer from the condition seem completely healthy during their day-to-day life.
Treatment for epilepsy in greyhounds varies wildly depending on the cause of the condition.
Color Dilution Alopecia
Italian Greyhounds can have a wide variety of different skin conditions. One of the most common is known as color dilution alopecia.
This disease is primarily characterized by hair loss, as well as chronic skin infections. Though it affects the entire body, most infections occur on the back first. It typically starts between the ages of six months and two years.
4. Children & Other Pets
Though they are loved and bred for their great personalities, Italian Greyhounds are not the best dogs for households with children.
Not only are they fragile and can easily become hurt while roughhousing, but they also get stressed out very easily. Even a crying toddler can set them off.
That being said, the breed is wonderful with other dogs or cats that are around their size. You just never want to go too big for the same reason you don’t want to have them play with children.
Just be sure to note that their natural hunting inclinations will cause them to chase down smaller pets like rodents.
5. The History of the Italian Greyhound
Italian Greyhounds are a miniature greyhound breed that first came about more than 2,000 years ago in what is now Turkey and Greece.
They then branched off into several coloration patterns, including Blue Italian Greyhounds, the Black Italian Greyhound, White Italian Greyhound, and Grey Italian Greyhound.
Though nobody is quite sure why the dogs were first bred, it is believed they were a dual companion that could both hunt and serve as a loyal companion. They embody both of those roles today.
After some time, the breed eventually took off during the Middle Ages due to their unique look, small size, and pleasant demeanor. There, they became incredibly popular in Italy and got their name.
They then spread to America during the late 1800’s, but did not fully catch on until the end of the twentieth century. Since that time, they have only risen in popularity due to their ability to get along with owners and pets alike.
6. The Regular Expenses of Owning an Italian Greyhound
Italian Greyhound breeders often charge around $500. However, that price can drop down to around $300 if you do some shopping around.
7. Italian Greyhound Rescue Groups
Italian Greyhounds are a well-loved breed all around the world. To help them find homes, a few organizations donate their time to match them with owners.