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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Breeds > Italian Greyhound

Italian Greyhound

Origin: Italy

AKC Group: Toy

Height: 13 inches (Male)

Weight: 7 pounds (Male)

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Origin: 
Italy
Male height: 
13 inches
Male weight: 
7 pounds
Coat: 
Short and sleek.
Colors: 
Virtually all colors and markings are acceptable, including solid gray, slate gray, cream, red, fawn, black and blue.
History: 

Evidence of miniature Greyhounds was found in the tombs of Egypt, but it was the Romans who bred this little dog to perfection. During the 16th century, these tiny sighthounds became widely available in Europe and were admired for their small stature and loyalty. With the sole purpose of being lapdogs and companions, the Italian Greyhound was fancied by the ladies of the court and even royalty - including Mary Queen of Scots.

Frederick the Great came under their spell as well, carrying his favorite pet with him everywhere - even into battle. Some attempts to further miniaturize the breed during the 19th century led to a gross weakening of the gene pool, and in Europe, the toll of the two World Wars contributed to their decline. In the United States and Canada; however, hardy stock and sound breeding practices kept the Italian Greyhound alive and well, and today he is still highly prized by those who care for him.

Personality: 
The tiny Italian Greyhound (nicknamed Iggy by fanciers) is inquisitive, gentle, loyal and submissive, yet fast and often mischievous. Affectionate and strongly bonded to his owner (often to the point of becoming a one-person dog), he makes a complex and compelling companion. He can be shy, so socialization from puppyhood is essential to help him cope in all situations.
At home: 
The Iggy's petite size makes him an excellent dog for almost any living situation - some apartment dwellers even litter train their dogs. However, the very size and stature that make him so adaptable also mean that he needs some special care. This is especially true for dogs living in cold climates. His short coat and thin skin require that he be kept warm, and on very cold days, he may even need a sweater to retain some body heat. In the summer, he should wear sunscreen when outside. If you plan to let your Iggy run off-leash, it must be in a securely fenced area, as these dogs are surprisingly quick and agile and will take off on a rodent chase at a moment's notice.
Exercise: 
A few brisk walks a day will give the Italian Greyhound all the exercise he needs to stay healthy. He is playful as a puppy, so his activities should be monitored so that he doesn't overexert himself while his bones are developing.
Feeding: 
Italian Greyhounds can be surprisingly voracious eaters, so it's important to keep them on a nutritionally balanced, size-appropriate diet and not let them get overweight.
Training: 
The Italian Greyhound is a quick learner and eager training participant when properly motivated with positive methods. Short training sessions that involve energetic praise and sufficient rewards will capture the Iggy's attention.
Compatibility: 
Iggys get along well with people, although they can be reserved around strangers. Children must be very mindful of these small dogs. They are fragile companions for other dogs and do not always get along well with them. Their favorite and best friends are other Italian Greyhounds, and some breeders recommend keeping more than one because they are happiest when they have playmates.
Health: 
The average life span of the Italian Greyhound is 12 to 15 years. The most common health problem affecting the breed is fragility - until he is nearly 2 years old, the Italian Greyhound's bones are quite delicate and can easily fracture. As an adult, however, he is strong and able. The breed can also be prone to cataracts and epilepsy.
Fun fact: 

Some believe that the ancient Latin motto, "cave canem" (beware the dog), did not warn guests of the mighty Mastiffs they kept as guard dogs but instead was a request to be mindful not to harm the tiny Italian Greyhound.

Grooming blurb: 
The Italian Greyhound's short, fine coat sheds little, and he is a very easy dog to groom, requiring a simple wiping down with a soft cloth every so often, with particular attention paid to his face. He has thin skin and so must be kept warm.
Disclaimer: 
This document has been published with the intent to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter within. While every reasonable precaution has been taken in preparation of this document, the author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any errors, omissions, or adverse effects arising from the use or application of the information contained herein. The techniques and suggestions are used at the reader's discretion.