AKC Dog Breeds: Italian Greyhound

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Toy Group
Height: 12-15 inches   Weight: 6-10  pounds  
Solid Gray, Slate Gray, Cream, Red, Fawn, Black, Blue, Speckled, White Markings, Flecked

The Italian Greyhound is very similar to the Greyhound, but much smaller and more slender in all proportions and of ideal elegance and grace. As the name suggest, the Italian Greyhound originates from Italy, and has a history that spans over two thousand years. The Italian Greyhound is one of the oldest Greyhound lines and a similar dog has been found in the Egyptian tombs of over 6000 years ago. This breed was brought to Europe by the Phoenicians and was later developed and trained by the Romans. One of the first breeds to be bred as a companion in ancient history, these dogs became popular with Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, and others. The Italian Greyhound has been known to be a companion at war; Frederick the Great of Prussia reportedly took his Italian Greyhound with him during the battle period in Europe because he liked it so much! His dying wish was to be buried with his Italian Greyhound in Sands Souci Palace. The Italian Greyhound was registered with the AKC in 1886

General Appearance
The Italian Greyhound is an elegant, miniature fine-boned Greyhound with a long head thinning gradually to a pointed muzzle. It has a dark nose, thin lips and a healthy scissors bite. Like his larger cousins, the brisket is deep, the abdomen tucked-in, and the back arched. The fine narrow ears fold back along the head, but rise perpendicular to the head when the dog is alert. The neck is long and thin. The expressive eyes are large and dark. The tail is straight ending in a slight curve. The Italian Greyhound has an easy-care short, sleek coat in solid gray, slate gray, cream, red, fawn, black, or blue - often broken up with white markings on the chest and feet, or white with color markings. A flecked version also exists but are not accepted in all countries. The Italian Greyhound has a high-stepping gait.


The smallest of the sighthounds, the Italian Greyhound is often referred to simply as the IG. These dogs can be spirited and playful when they want to be, yet are also known to be quiet, extremely affectionate, and very gentle. The Italian Greyhound has a very amiable and friendly disposition, but some can lean towards timidity, which makes early socialization important. Although the Italian Greyhound loves to receive affection and enjoys being strokes, avoid sudden touching or creeping up on him, as he gets startled very easily. Although the Italian Greyhound does love his creature comforts, he is also a very energetic dog when younger, although his energy levels will moderate as he grows older.  The slightly stubborn and very sensitive nature of the Italian Greyhound can make training a little difficult so he is best suited to those with some experience of dog ownership and training. Housebreaking the Italian Greyhound can be extremely hard. When it comes to children the Italian Greyhound gets along with them well, providing they are gentle and considerate.  With strangers the Italian Greyhound can be reserved and timid, and some can be stand offish. The Italian Greyhound will usually bark to alert if something is amiss, making him an effective watchdog.


The Italian Greyhound has a coat that is very easy to groom. This breed sheds very little if any hair making grooming very simple. A regular wipe down with a soft towel or chamois is sure to keep his coat in tiptop shape and looking glossy and beautiful. The teeth of this breed should be brushed on a regular basis to prevent tartar buildup and/or gum disease. Italian Greyhounds should be protected from the cold and should have their nails clipped at least once every two weeks.

Health Problems and Life Expectancy

Even though these dogs look quite fragile and delicate, they are much hardier than they seem. Until about 18 months of age, the bones of the Italian Greyhound are especially fragile and they may break a leg or their tails very easily. However, they are much stronger after 18 months of age. The slender build of the Italian Greyhound also means that he can be easily injured if handled roughly or if allowed to jump around from heights. The lifespan of the Italian Greyhound is around 13-15 years.

Activity Level

The Italian Greyhound is very lively and active so he should require vigorous exercise daily. This breed loves long walks and runs and does best with at least a small yard to roam free in. This breed is very fast and agile so jogging and running are his specialty and he sure loves to do it.


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