The Italian Greyhound

By BarkUpToday

Image Credit: Wiki

The Italian Greyhound, also known as the Piccolo Levriero Italiano, originated from Italy. This dog breed is believed to have existed more than 2,000 years ago in Southern Europe during the Middle Ages. This dog breed became popular during the 16th century in Italy. They were bred for companionship to nobility.

Brief History 

The Italian Greyhound was famous as a companion dog. It was a favorite with royalty, and Catherine, the Great of Russia, enjoyed this dog breed. Originally this breed may have been bred to hunt small prey. IG’s can be seen in Renaissance paintings. The Italian Greyhound was registered with the AKC in 1886.

Following both world wars, the Italian Greyhound nearly became extinct. After the war, American breeders kept the Italian Greyhound dog breed alive. This breed does well in the show ring today. They also enjoy lure coursing.

Physical Description

The Italian Greyhound is a small, slender, and refined dog breed. It is similar to the larger Greyhound, but it is a much smaller breed, with more sophisticated features. With a narrow head, small, folded ears, deep chest, the Italian Greyhound has a long, tapering nose that may be brown or black. 

The neck is long, slender, and arched. This graceful dog breed has hare feet with well-arched toes. The tail is long and tapering and long enough to reach the hock. The coat is smooth, glossy, and short. The most common coat colors are fawn, red, seal, blue, and white. The movement is high-stepping and free moving.


13-15 inches


7-15 pounds

Life Expectancy

12-15 years


The Italian Greyhound is a playful and affectionate dog breed. This dog breed gets very attached to family and may sometimes seem to be clingy. It is a one-person dog that is devoted to its owner. That said, this dog breed can be aloof with strangers. It is a sensitive dog breed that does not do well with loud noises or harsh reprimands.

The Italian Greyhound is easily trainable and enjoys socializing at dog training classes. This dog breed can be stubborn, but if positive puppy training starts early, the Italian Greyhound will respond well to people and other dogs.

Activity Level


Special Needs

The Italian Greyhound needs plenty of attention and thrives on going everywhere with his dog parent. This dog breed does better with older children. Fenced gardens or backyards are necessary since this breed does tend to escape. This breed gets cold very quickly and needs to be protected from extreme temperatures, both hot and cold. 

The Italian Greyhound needs socialization during puppyhood and positive puppy training. This breed enjoys Puppuchino’s and hanging out with his pet parents. It is a dog breed that needs to live indoors. Daily exercise with plenty of off-leash runs at the dog park, or dog beach is a must for this dog breed.

Possible Health Concerns

The Italian Greyhound is a healthy dog breed that may be susceptible to the following health problems:

  • Autoimmune Skin Disorders: Pemphigus foliaceous is an uncommon autoimmune disease that affects the skin. It occurs in the Italian Greyhound. The cause of the skin disorder results from the immune system producing antibodies against the “glue” that keeps skin together. Symptoms include topical ulcers and lesions. Affected dogs with a secondary infection may develop fever, anorexia, and depression. Consult with your veterinarian for advice.
  • Hypothyroidism: This occurs when there are decreased levels of thyroid hormones. Symptoms include hair loss, a dull coat, flaky skin with weight gain, and muscle loss. Consult with your veterinarian for advice if your dog shows any of these symptoms.
  • Legg-Calve- Perthes Disease: This is the deterioration of the top of the femur (femoral head) and is seen in the Italian Greyhound. It is characterized by a lack of blood supply and the destruction of blood vessels of the bone. Some symptoms may include hindlimb lameness, loss of muscle in the thighs, and pain when moving the hip joint. Treatment involves surgery.
  • Patellar Luxation: This may be acquired or congenital and affects the Italian Greyhound. It may occur at the same time as other limb abnormalities. It is caused by the abnormal development of the kneecap(patella). X-rays will aid in seeing the severity of the displacement. Treatment usually involves surgical options. Consult with your veterinarian for advice.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is another common hereditary eye disease in the Italian Greyhound. This is an expensive health issue, and early detection is critical to the well-being and vision of your dog. PRA can lead to blindness.



The Italian Greyhound needs regular exercise every day to stay fit. This dog breed does well living in an apartment and having short walks. It also does excellent with more active canine sports like agility, rally, obedience, and tracking.

Positive dog training for this gentle dog breed is beneficial because it helps with socialization and mental stimulation. All dog breeds do well with positive dog training. The Italian Greyhound enjoys traveling by car and hanging out in pet-friendly restaurants and cafes. This breed must never travel by cargo but should fly cabin instead.

Canine surfing, Frisbee, biking, and hiking are fun activities that the entire family can partake in. Trying out different canine sports to see which ones your pup enjoys the most is the easiest way to choose a dog sport. Regardless of the dog breed, each dog is different.

Choose a dog sport that best matches your dog’s age, fitness level, and one that piques his interest. Positive dog training methods need to be delicate with this dog breed. Lots of healthy small treats, with no harsh reprimands. This is such a sensitive dog breed that it is easily spooked. Gentle care works well with this breed.


Without high-quality nutrition, your Italian Greyhound can suffer from numerous problems ranging from skin allergies, malnutrition, and other health issues. Low-quality food will affect all dogs, no matter the size and age. 

Consult with your veterinarian as to the best dog food for your dog breed, and also about feeding a well-balanced, high-quality home-cooked meal with added vegetables, fruits and supplements.

Here are some nutritional tips for feeding wet canned food:

Wet or canned dog foods

  • Easily combined with dry kibble
  • Must inspect first five ingredients
  • Need to watch out for thickener’s like “gum” used
  • Necessary to stay away from wheat gluten that is used in wet foods to bind the protein content of the food
  • Numerous “complete and balanced” brands are of high quality.
  • Numerous varieties such as turkey, chicken, beef, liver, duck, salmon, and venison.
  • Supplemental types available which are perfect for supplementing a varied diet
  • Easy to feed
  • Easy to carry if at dog shows or out camping.
  • Convenient in times of illness when your dog needs to have a change of diet

That said, keep in mind that the most expensive dog food is not necessarily the best dog food.

Well-balanced dog food should use real meat as its first ingredient. It should also not use harmful preservatives, flavors, or artificial colors. Always read the ingredients list, and don’t get swayed by great packaging or advertising.


A focus on dental care with this breed is of the uttermost importance! Dental cleanings at your veterinarian should be scheduled twice yearly. Daily teeth brushing with a canine paste and canine toothbrush is necessary to prevent gum disease.

This dog breed requires minimal grooming. If your Italian Greyhound enjoys hanging out and rolling in the mud, bath times should be as needed. That said, nails need regular trimming, and ears should be inspected for ear infections and cleaned weekly. This breed has a hare foot, and the two middle nails can be left longer than the other two.

Adopting an Italian Greyhound

Bringing a gentle and sensitive Italian Greyhound into your household is a life-changing decision. It’s always best to research the dog breed that you’re about to adopt. When adopting any dog breed, keep in mind that this beautiful dog breed will bring many new responsibilities. 

You’ll also need to prepare your home and family for your new furry best friend and make sure that the adoption transition is smooth and relaxed. The Italian Greyhound is such an easy-going dog breed to adopt. It is also a sensitive one. Initially, this breed may be shy when first adopted. It’s best to allow for a peaceful transition into a new home where new pet parents consider the dog’s history and accommodate any needs that the adopted dog may need. 

All dog breeds bring plenty of joy and happiness! Your dog deserves the best! Ensure that you have the time, finances, and perfect environment to raise this fantastic dog breed and that if you have other dogs and pets, they will accept your new rescue! Try introducing them before adopting!


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