Choosing an Italian Greyhound

Choosing an Italian Greyhound

The Italian greyhound is a miniature version of the greyhound and is the smallest of the sight hounds. He is a very affectionate and wonderful family dog but owners should be forewarned - like potato chips, it is hard to stop at one and many families have at least two IGs.

History and Origin

The Italian greyhound is an ancient breed that is thought to have originated over 2,000 years ago in the areas of Greece and Turkey. Eventually, by the 1500s, the breed became very popular with the Italians and this popularity resulted in its name. By the 1600s, the Italian greyhound had become popular in England and was a favorite among many royal families.

The Italian greyhound is a site hound or gazehound, a group of dogs that hunt by sight instead of scent. He is primarily a companion but can hunt and chase small creatures.

The Italian greyhound was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1886 as a member of the toy group.

Appearance and Size

The Italian greyhound looks like a miniature version of the greyhound. The head is long and tapering and the chest is deep and narrow. The ears are small and folded and the tail is slender and tapers with a curved end. The coat of the Italian greyhound is short and glossy and can be any color including grey, slate, cream, fawn, red or black. Often the color includes some white markings.

The adult Italian greyhound stands around 12 to 15 inches at the shoulder and weighs about 6 to 10 pounds.


The Italian greyhound is a sweet, gentle and loving dog. The breed is intelligent and playful but can be a little mischievous.

Home and Family Relations

The Italian greyhound is a very affectionate and gentle dog that is very attached to his family. A little aloof with strangers, the Italian greyhound can get along with older children and other family pets. This dog can do well in an apartment if taken on daily walks.


Italian greyhounds are intelligent and easy to train although they may be difficult to house train. They can excel at lure coursing.

Special Concerns

The Italian greyhound is very sensitive to cold weather and a sweater is recommended. The legs of the IG can be fragile and can easily break. The Italian greyhound also needs frecuent dental checkups and cleanings.

Common Diseases and Disorders

In general, the Italian Greyhound is a healthy dog with few medical concerns. However, the following diseases or disorders have been reported:

  • Juvenile cataracts cause a loss of the normal transparency of the lens of the eye. You may see a cloudy, white color in the pupil, which is normally black. The problem can occur in one or both eyes and can lead to blindness.
  • Vitreous degeneration - is a disorder of the eye that results in loss of vision.
  • Cryptorchidism is a disorder in which only one testicle descends.
  • Epilepsy is a disorder resulting in seizures.
  • Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) a disease that causes nerve cells at the back of the eye to degenerate, leading to blindness.
  • Glaucoma is a disease of the eye that develops when the pressure within the eye increases which can lead to blindness.
  • Corneal dystrophy is a primary, inherited, bilateral (both sides), symmetrical condition of the cornea that is not accompanied by corneal inflammation or systemic disease.
  • Drug reactions to "Thiopentone" can occur. It is recommended that this drug not be used in this breed.
  • Pinnal alopecia - is a thining of hair around the ears that can coour with age in some dogs.
  • Color dilution alopecia - Hair loss, loss of pigmentation and inflammation of the hair folliclaes may occur in some areas of the skin.

    Life Span

    The average life span of the Italian greyhound is approximately 12 to 15 years.

    We realize that each dog is unique and may display other characteristics. This profile provides generally accepted breed information only.