Italian Greyhounds, who are relatives of Greyhounds, are an old breed — it is believed that they originated in the Mediterranean approximately 2000 years ago. During the Renaissance period, the dog became very popular among Italian nobleman, hence the breed’s name Italian Greyhound. These perky, affectionate dogs, may originally have been bred for both companionship and hunting purposes.

Italian Greyhounds: Description

Italian Greyhounds are small gazehounds — dogs that hunt by sight, rather than by scent. Classified by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in to the Toy Group, Italian Greyhounds are generally between 13 to 15 inches tall up to their shoulder, and weigh between seven and 15 pounds. They are very slender, graceful dogs, who in spite of a dainty appearance, are hardy and healthy, living on average between 12 and 15 years. These dogs have short, silky, odorless coats that can be almost any color. Because they tend to be quiet, not yappy, Italian Greyhounds may not make the best watch dogs.

Italian Greyhounds: Temperament

While Italian Greyhounds can be at times a little quirky, they are sweet, wonderful pets. Italian Greyhounds are tender, affectionate animals who adore their owner, and immensely enjoy receiving love back from their immediate human family members. While they thrive when near their owners, they tend to be reserved around strangers. Playful and mischievous, Italian Greyhounds sometimes enjoy perching themselves on high places, such as dining room and kitchen tables.

Because their hair is short, and their stature is skinny, Italian Greyhounds are sensitive to chilly weather. It is very difficult to get them to go outside in the wind, rain or cold. During inclement weather, they prefer to do their business inside, so it is recommended to train them to use a litter box. Conversely, Italian Greyhounds love warmth. They enjoy lying outside in the sun and snuggling under bed covers with their owner.

Italian Greyhounds: Exercise and Grooming Requirements

Italian Greyhounds have short, shiny, silky coats that shed very little; they are, therefore, very easy to groom. These dogs require only occasional brushing with a soft bristle brush. Bathing the dogs can be done by mixing a 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar with 1 quart of warm water and gently wiping the mixture onto their coats with a sponge. Because these dogs are prone to periodontal disease, it’s extremely important to brush their teeth daily and to have annual or semiannual dental cleanings, by a veterinarian.

Italian Greyhounds are active dogs who need to be walked daily. They also enjoy running and playing inside the house. Because these dogs are gazehounds, whose instinct is to hunt and run quickly, they need a fenced-in yard and supervision. Puppies in particular need to be watched because they are fragile and can be susceptible to breaking their bones.

Where to Get Italian Greyhounds

The Italian Greyhound Club of America (IGCA) has a rescue service for abused, abandoned or owner surrendered dogs. This is one of several organizations where Italian Greyhounds, just waiting for a forever home can be found. Petfinder.com lists thousands of abandoned or rescued dogs, including Italian Greyhounds, being held at various rescue organizations and shelters

When purchasing an Italian Greyhound from a breeder, it’s a good idea to do extensive research about the breeder in advance. There are numerous breeders from which to choose an Italian Greyhound. The time dedicated to locating a good breeder will be well worth the potential heartache and cost resulting from an unhealthy dog.