Italian Greyhounds are essentially toy-sized Greyhounds. They have sleek, muscular frames with a sinewy look. Their long, narrow heads have thin muzzles, small folded ears and dark keen eyes. Their long, somewhat angular necks slope down to broad, deep chests with tucked-in abdomens. They have slim tails that curve slightly. Their short, neat coats can come in almost any color. Overall, Italian Greyhounds carry themselves with elegance and poise.
Italian Greyhounds are ridiculously fast–reaching speeds of 40 mph–but, they would much rather be hanging out at home. In fact, there’s nothing they’d rather be doing than sitting by a warm fire and getting 100 percent of your attention. Italian Greyhounds are gentle and affectionate. They form very strong bonds with their masters. Sometimes this can result in skittishness, especially with new people or boisterous children. But, overall, they are friendly and loving—especially when they feel loved.
Italian Greyhounds are very adaptable, easily at home in apartments or palaces. They are neat, tidy, relatively quiet and fairly easy to train, but they can sometimes break the rules to see if they can get away with it. This is all in good fun—Italian Greyhounds are always dependable and eager to please.
Italian Greyhounds should not be left alone for long periods of time. They need human companionship to feel centered and secure. Though tender-boned as puppies, they develop into very sturdy canines. However, they should still be handled gently.
These dogs are sensitive to cold temperatures. Some of them will avoid taking walks during rainy days. If possible, dress them in a sweater to shield them from the elements, and remember to always keep them on a leash. These dogs are easily distracted and extremely fast.
A healthy Italian Greyhound can live as long as 18 years. Common health issues include seizures, hypothyroidism and knee problems. They are very easy to groom, only needing the occasional rubdown with a cloth.
Brought to Europe by the Phoenicians thousands of years ago, the Italian Greyhound is a smaller version of the Greyhound, bred small in order to create a more compact hunter and companion. As the years went on, these smaller Greyhounds won the hearts of many European nobles—especially the Italians. During World War I, the breed became almost extinct in England. Luckily, the breed had become well established in the United States, and American breeders were able to help replenish the English numbers.