Welcome to the BarkPost guide to dog breeds where we belly flop straight into the depths of dog breed origin, evolution, and purpose. Follow along each week as we publish new guides that highlight the strangest, most interesting, and most surprising stuff about these creatures who have been our best buds the last 30,000 years.
Intro / Overview
(All dogs are individuals, which means any single dog from any breed can be any number of ways, both good and not so good. Keep that in mind as we discuss breed generalities!)
Italian Greyhounds are miniature Greyhounds who are true companion dogs. They are just as graceful as Greyhounds, but in the size of a lapdog. Though fast and agile, they are prone to injuries because of their delicate bodies. They are in the toy group in the US and the UK, but are also considered sighthounds, meaning they hunt by sight and have a predator drive. IGs can run very quickly and will want to chase anything that they see moving. This is all made possible by their lean, muscular bodies.
Also Known As...
Italian. IG. Iggy. In Italy: Piccolo Levriero Italiano. "It's the Gnome version of a regular Greyhound!"
Italian Grehounds have existed for almost 2,000 years, originating in Greece and Turley. Their popularity in Italy in the 16th century led to their Italian name. Images of Italian Greyhounds can be seen in the artwork of Italian masters and alongside some royal courts, showing their role as a companion dog from the beginning. The AKC began registering this breed in 1886, but they didn’t become as popular until recently.
Italian Greyhounds are, on average, 13 to 15 inches tall.
Italian Greyhounds are usually between 7 to 14 pounds.
Italian Greyhounds are companion dogs who love to spend time with their owners, but they also have a lot of energy all in a little package. Because of their hound tendencies, they love to play outside and they definitely can have a rambunctious streak!
They are happiest when they can alternate between playing and cuddling with their owner. They need both plenty of rest and plenty of playtime to be happy! They will most likely try to demand your attention if they feel like they are being ignored. They are excited to spend as much time as possible with their people. However, they may be aloof toward people they don’t know.
Intelligence / Trainability
Italian Greyhounds are very intelligent dogs but it can be difficult to train them, especially with housetraining. Start housetraining early and be consistent and firm for the best results, but like many small breed, they may not become completely house trained. With early training, Italian Greyhounds can excel in dog sports such as obedience and agility. Training is great way to spend quality time with your dog who really wants to be around you!
Best Training Techniques For Italian Greyhounds
Italian Greyhounds can have a short attention span, so keeping training sessions short and engaging is important for success. They may not want to take part in training, so you may have to make them think that it’s their idea. Work with behaviors that are already present and incorporate training into your dog’s daily life so that training can be seen as fun instead of boring.
Positive reinforcement will work best with this breed, as punishment will make them not want to continue training. Treats and lots of praise when your Italian Greyhound does something you want them to do is the best way to get them to continue positive behaviors. Being too harsh will lead to your sensitive Italian Greyhound becoming stubborn, which will make training much more difficult.
Italian Greyhounds are pretty flexible with their living environment, though they do not tolerate cold or wet weather well. Some Italian Greyhound owners have a covered area outside for their dog to play, as some IGs can be picky about playing in the rain. Italian Greyhounds can adapt to apartment living as long as they are still getting enough exercise.
They love to spend time outdoors, so they would be happiest somewhere where they can go outside often in moderate temperatures. Though they like to be outdoors, they’re known to chase after anything that moves, so it’s important that they’re kept in an enclosed space if they aren’t on a leash. Overall, their ideal environment is one in which they’re around their owners and they have space to play.
Good For Families And Kids?
Italian Greyhounds are happy to be family dogs and usually like to spend time playing with older children. However, this breed is very small and very delicate, so it’s important that kids know how they are supposed to act with this breed.
Small children need to be taught how to play nicely with this breed. Because of this, IGs might not be the best breed for families with small children or kids that want to play rough with their dog. But of course, as long as you make sure to monitor their interactions - and as long as both child and IG are engaging with each other respectfully - this shouldn't be a problem.
Playtime between kids and the dog should be supervised to make sure that no one gets hurts. An Italian Greyhound would be happiest joining a family with older kids, as they will have even more people to pay attention to them and to cuddle with!
On average, Italian Greyhounds live between 14 and 15 years.
Italian Greyhounds are generally healthy dogs with long lifespans, though they are predisposed to a few health issues.
Because of their delicate stature, broken bones are more common in this breed. Supervise your Italian Greyhound to make sure that they are not putting themselves at risk.
Health conditions that are more common in Italian Greyhounds than some other breeds include progressive retinal atrophy, autoimmune diseases, Legg-Calve-Perthes disease (bone/joint degeneration), and hypothyroidism.
The national breed club recommends hip, ophthalmologist, thyroid, and patella evaluations to ensure that your dog will stay happy and healthy throughout their lifetime.
Italian Greyhounds have a lot of energy in their small size. They are an active breed requiring daily exercise in order to stay healthy! Daily walks are important to their wellbeing, along with daily playtime sessions. Some Italian Greyhounds may want to join you on your runs! Though they are a playful, energetic breed, they’re also happy to cuddle with you and take some naps throughout the day.
Friendly With... (Dogs? Strangers? Cats/Other Pets?)
Most Italian Greyhounds tend to get along well with other dogs with their playful personalities. However, bigger dogs are at risk of hurting Italian Greyhounds, because they are so delicate. IGs should be socialized at a young age so that they know how to interact with other dogs. They’re happiest around dogs around the same size as them.
Italian Greyhounds are usually good with strangers, though they can be a bit weary with people they don’t know. They may bark at you to alert you of strangers, but they are not usually aggressive.
Every Italian Greyhound is different with cats, so it’s important to watch how your dog reacts. Many IGs can get along well with their feline friends, but others may want to chase the cat because of their strong prey drive.
Coat & Grooming
Italian Greyhounds have moderate shedding and don’t take much grooming. Brushing their short coat every once in awhile is all that is needed to keep it looking pretty. Baths are rarely needed, unless your dog gets into a mess! The most important part of grooming Italian Greyhounds is brushing their teeth regularly. Their nails should also regularly be cared for, so that they don’t grow too long.
Italian Greyhounds are so lean and athletic that they’re able to jump up onto tables or even over fences! So be on the lookout for where your Italian Greyhound might try to jump.
Toys Italian Greyhounds Would Like Best
Italian Greyhounds love to chase after things, whether it’s a small animal or a toy. Small Plush Toys that squeak - like "The Dognald Dog Toy" are a great way to keep your Italian Greyhound entertained while you tire them out! They’ll love chasing after the toy and returning it to you for you to throw again.
Tug Toys are another great option for Italian Greyhounds. They’ll enjoy chewing on them, throwing them around, and using them to play fetch with you.
You may want to buy your Italian Greyhound food-filled toys if they have separation anxiety when you leave the house. Food-filled toys like the "Magnum Can Toy" can keep them busy chewing while you’re out. This can help prevent destructive behaviors, as they’ll be so busy chewing that they’ll forget you’re not around.
For a more extensive list, check out the following post: What Are The Best Toys For Greyhounds?
Recommended Diet Or Supplements
Italian Greyhounds should eat a healthy diet to keep up with their athleticism. If they are fed too much or given too many treats, they may become overweight which can cause more health problems. Keep an eye out for how much your dog is eating and limit the amount of treats you are giving them.
These delicious, vet-formulated chews are made with all-natural ingredients including Omega 3, 6, 9, and Vitamin E. They are designed to support immune health, provide relief from itchy allergic skin, and promote a healthy coat. ($19.99)
BARK's Full Spectrum Hemp Oil is made of organically grown whole plants, grown in Colorado, and is non-psychoactive. It comes in 100mg, 250mg, and 500mg varieties, and can help with pet anxiety and pain relief. ($17.99-22.99.)
This joint supplement is veterinarian-formulated, made with all natural ingredients (glucosamine, MSM, chondroitin, and hyaluronic acid), and comes in the form of 150 soft chews. Basically, it looks and tastes just like delicious treats, and it could really help your IG with their hip and joint issues. ($32.99.)
Italian Greyhounds spend a lot of their day playing and running around, but also love to cuddle. What dog deserves a comfy orthopedic dog bed more than them? At the end of a long day of play, they’ll be so excited to curl up on their comfy bed, especially if they begin to develop joint pain later in life.
This ultra plush orthopedic dog bed provides support for even the most active of dogs! The combination ergonomic memory foam and gel foam relieves pressure points, and helps ease body aches caused by hip dysplasia, arthritis and other orthopedic issues. It offers the best therapeutic support for your Italian Greyhound. ($27.99-64.99.)
Notable Rescues To Find The Italian Greyhound Of Your Dreams
- Adoptable Italian Greyhounds on Petfinder
- Italian Greyhound Club of America Rescue
- Italian Greyhound Place
- Mid Atlantic Italian Greyhound Rescue
Notable Instagram Italian Greyhounds
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Featured image via SiggyTheIggy/Instagram