Physical characteristicsThe Italian Greyhound is a small elegant dog with a long head and tapering muzzle. The chest is deep and narrow; the abdomen is tucked up. The front legs are long and straight; the back legs are parallel when viewed from behind. The back is arched. The fine narrow ears fold back along the head, but rise perpendicular to the head when the dog is alert. The teeth meet in a scissor bite. The slender tail tapers to a curved end. Overall, the dog looks like a miniature Greyhound. The gait is distinctive, high stepping and free, much like that of a horse.
Italian Greyhounds weigh about 8 pounds. Their height is 13 to 15 inches. The Italian Greyhound is the smallest of the sighthounds.
TemperamentPlayful and intelligent, the Italian Greyhound is generally easy to train and likes to spend a lot of time with its owner. Naturally well-behaved. These dogs thrive on attention and affection. Peaceful and gentle. Adaptable to city and country life. Italian Greyhounds are extremely fast and very active, especially when young. They can climb wire fences and are very inquisitive, jumping from chairs to table tops and nearby furniture.
Generally submissive and want nothing more than to please their owners. They are sensitive to the tone of your voice, and will not obey if they don't recognize you as a pack leader. Italian Greyhounds can be reserved with strangers, so proper socialization is necessary. Can also be high-strung and timid if they do not get enough mental and physical exercise. Even though the dog is small, daily walking is a must. Dogs that are babied and over-protected are very likely to become snappish and develop the "small dog syndrome".
Italian Greyhounds get along well with children and other pets as long as the owners display clear leadership.
Photo by Jean Just Chaos
Coat and groomingThe Italian Greyhound has a very short, glossy coat that comes in many colours and markings. Nonetheless, brindle, black or tan markings are considered a fault in show dogs. Very little brushing is required. This is probably one of the easiest dogs to groom. Very light shedders. A rubdown with a piece of toweling or chamois will make the coat gleam.
HealthProne to slipped stifle, fractures, PRA and epilepsy. Teeth should be brushed regularly. Very sensitive to cold temperatures (should wear a sweater to go out in cold weather). Trim toenails regularly.
The lifespan is 12 to 15 years.
Other interesting factsThe Italian Greyhound was developed in Italy but have been noted around the Mediterranean (particularly in Ancient Egypt, Greece and Turkey) for thousands of years.
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