Italian Greyhound: A Comprehensive Guide to the Breed and Its Characteristics

The Italian Greyhound

The Italian Greyhound is a small, elegant breed of dog that has been beloved for centuries, dating back to the middle ages. With roots in ancient Italy, this breed has captivated the hearts of dog lovers worldwide. The Greyhound breed has a rich history, and the Italian Greyhound is no exception. Originally bred for hunting small game and as companions for nobles, they have evolved into beloved pets.

This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide to the Italian Greyhound breed and its characteristics. We will delve into the breed’s history, traits, and unique characteristics. We will also explore the differences between the Italian Greyhound and the Greyhound breed. Furthermore, we will take a closer look at the breed’s popularity in the United States and its rise to fame as a much-loved companion.

Whether you are a current or potential owner, a dog lover, or simply curious about this unique and captivating breed, this guide will offer a wealth of information on the Italian Greyhound. From their unique temperament to their care and grooming needs, we will cover everything you need to know about this fascinating and wonderful dog breed.

Understanding the Italian Greyhound as a Dog Breed

The Italian Greyhound, or Piccolo levriero Italiano in Italian, is a unique breed of small sighthound that can also be known as an Italian Sighthound.

Despite their long history, the Italian Greyhound was not recognized as a breed of its own until the late 19th century. Today, they are popular pets in many parts of the world, noted as alert, and valued for their sensitive nature, playful temperament, and unique physical characteristics.

As a toy breed, the Italian Greyhound is smaller than most other Greyhounds and is generally classified as a companion rather than a working dog, more often found on couches and laps rather than working outdoors. However, they still have many of the same traits and characteristics of the Greyhound breed as a whole. For example, they are known for their speed and agility and are often used in agility competitions.

Training an Italian Greyhound can be challenging, as they are sensitive and easily overwhelmed by too much information or harsh training methods. However, they can be trained to be well-behaved and obedient pets with patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement.

It is important to start training early and use methods tailored to the individual dog’s personality and temperament.

In terms of their physical characteristics, the Italian Greyhound is a slender, elegant dog with long, fine-boned legs and a streamlined body common to all coursing hounds. They are typically between 13 and 15 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh between 7 and 14 pounds. Their coat is short and smooth and can come in various colors, including black, blue, fawn, and red.

The Italian Greyhound is a unique and captivating dog breed that makes a wonderful pet for the right owner. With their sensitive nature, they require careful training and socialization to thrive, but they can be loyal and loving companions for those willing to take the time and effort to care for them.

The Italian Greyhound as a Companion dog

Italian Greyhounds make excellent companion dogs, as they are known for their charming and affectionate personalities.

These dogs are loyal and loving and crave human attention. They love to snuggle up with their owners and are known for being “lap dogs.” Because of their small size, they are an ideal breed for apartment living and are a great choice for individuals or families who want a low-maintenance dog and are easy to care for.

An Italian Greyhound relaxing on a couch
An Italian Greyhound relaxing on a couch

Italian Greyhound Breed Information: Learn about this Unique Dog

The Italian Greyhound is a unique breed of dog that has captured the hearts of many pet owners. As part of the Greyhound family, they share many of the traits and characteristics of their larger counterparts. However, they also have many unique personality traits and physical characteristics that set them apart from other dog breeds.

Personality Traits

Italian Greyhounds are known for their affectionate and loyal nature. They are also very playful and enjoy spending time running and playing. However, they can be sensitive and easily overwhelmed, requiring gentle handling and socialization from an early age.

Physical Characteristics

Italian Greyhounds are a small breed of dog, typically standing between 13 and 15 inches tall at the shoulder. They have long, thin legs and streamlined bodies, giving them a distinctive, elegant appearance. They are also known for their short, smooth coats, which come in various colors, including black, blue, fawn, and red.

Breed Information

If you are considering adding an Italian Greyhound to your family, it is important to research as much as possible about the breed. Some important considerations include their exercise needs, grooming requirements, and health concerns.

Italian Greyhounds are relatively low-maintenance dogs in grooming, but they require regular exercise and mental stimulation to stay healthy and happy.

Adopting an Italian Greyhound: Exploring Breed Rescue Options

Several options are available if you’re looking to adopt an Italian Greyhound, including breed rescue groups. These organizations are dedicated to finding homes for Greyhounds and Italian Greyhounds in need and can be a great resource for those looking to add a furry friend to their family.

Breed Rescue Groups

Breed rescue groups specialize in rescuing and adopting a specific dog breed, such as the Italian Greyhound. These groups work to find homes for dogs in need, often providing medical care, fostering, and other forms of support to ensure that the dogs are healthy and happy before being placed in their forever homes.

Italian Greyhound Rescue Foundation

The Italian Greyhound Rescue Foundation is one such organization that focuses specifically on rescuing and rehoming Italian Greyhounds in America. They work with volunteers and foster families to provide care and support for dogs in need and can help match you with a dog that fits your lifestyle and personality.

Adoption Process

The adoption process for an Italian Greyhound typically involves filling out an application, providing references, and going through a home visit and interview process. This ensures that the dog will go to a safe and loving home.

Adoption fees may vary depending on the organization and the specific dog, but they often cover the cost of medical care, spaying or neutering, and other necessary expenses.

Adopting an Italian Greyhound through a breed rescue group can be a great way to find a loving and loyal companion while supporting a worthy cause. Whether you’re looking for a new furry friend or want to help out, many resources are available to help you along the way.

Italian Greyhounds are cute but don't ignore the idea of adopting an older dog
Italian Greyhounds are cute but don’t ignore the idea of adopting an older dog

Italian Greyhounds as Pets: What to Expect

Italian Greyhounds can make wonderful pets for the right owner. As with any dog breed, it’s important to understand their unique characteristics and needs before bringing one into your home. Here are some things to consider if you’re considering adding an Italian Greyhound to your family.


Italian Greyhounds are known for their affectionate and loyal nature. They love to be close to their owners and crave attention and affection. They can be anxious or distressed when left alone, so they are not well-suited for households where everyone is away from home for extended periods.

Life with Children

Italian Greyhounds can make great family pets, but they may not be the best choice for households with young children. They are small and delicate dogs and can be easily injured or mishandled by small children. They are better suited for households with older children who can handle them with care.

Life with Other Pets

Italian Greyhounds can get along well with other pets, including dogs and cats, but they require careful socialization and introductions to ensure everyone gets along. They may be better suited for households with calm and well-behaved pets rather than households with more rambunctious or aggressive animals.

If you are adopting, check to see if the particular dog is ok to live with another dog, cat, or children.

Overall, Italian Greyhounds can be wonderful pets for the right owner. They are affectionate, loyal, and playful dogs that can bring much joy to your life. However, they require careful handling and socialization and may not be the best choice for households with young children or active pets. If you’re considering adding an Italian Greyhound to your family, research and understand their unique needs and characteristics before deciding.

Average sizes and life expectancy of the Italian Greyhound breed.

Height13-15 inches
Weight7-14 pounds
Life Expectancy14-15 years

Understanding the Breed Standard of the Italian Greyhound

The breed standard is a detailed description of the ideal dog of each recognized breed, used as a guide for breeders and judges in dog shows.

A breed standard provides guidelines that breeders can use to select and breed dogs that conform to the breed’s ideal. It also provides judges with a reference point for evaluating dogs in the show ring, allowing them to compare each dog to the standard and determine which dogs come closest to the ideal.

The parent breed club sets the breed standard for the Italian Greyhound, the Italian Greyhound Club of America and is recognized by the American Kennel Club and other international organizations.

The standard describes the breed’s desirable physical and temperament traits and any faults that should be avoided.

Some traits described in the Italian Greyhound breed standard include a long, narrow head with a slightly arched skull, dark, almond-shaped eyes, and thin, erect ears. The ideal Italian Greyhound should have a long, slender neck, a deep chest, and a narrow waist. The standard also describes the breed’s ideal coloration, including black, blue, fawn, and red, among other colors.

In addition to physical traits, the breed standard also describes the temperament and personality of the ideal Italian Greyhound. The breed is affectionate, playful, and sensitive and tends to be timid or anxious in new situations. The ideal Italian Greyhound should be intelligent, eager to please, and loyal to their owners.

Overall, the breed standard is an important reference point for breeders and judges, providing a set of guidelines for maintaining the unique characteristics and qualities of the Italian Greyhound breed. By adhering to the standard, breeders can produce dogs that meet the breed’s ideal, while judges can evaluate each dog in the show ring based on their conformity to the standard.

Official Breed Standard of the Italian Greyhound

DescriptionThe Italian Greyhound is very similar to the Greyhound but much smaller and more slender in all proportions and of ideal elegance and grace.
HeadNarrow and long, tapering to nose, with a slight suggestion of stop. Skull – Rather long, almost flat. Muzzle – Long and fine. Nose – Dark. It may be black or brown or in keeping with the dog’s color. A light or partly pigmented nose is a fault. Teeth – Scissors bite. A badly undershot or overshot mouth is a fault. Eyes – Dark, bright, intelligent, medium in size. Very light eyes are a fault. Ears – Small, fine in texture; thrown back and folded except when alerted, then carried folded at right angles to the head. Erect or button ears are severely penalized.
NeckLong, slender, and gracefully arched.
BodyOf medium length, short coupled; high at withers, back curved and drooping at hindquarters, the highest point of curve at start of loin, creating a definite tuck-up at flanks. Shoulders – Long and sloping. Chest – Deep and narrow.
ForelegsLong, straight, set well under shoulder; strong pasterns, fine bone.
HindquartersLong, well-muscled thigh; hind legs parallel when viewed from behind, hocks well let down, well-bent stifle.
FeetHarefoot with well-arched toes. Removal of dewclaws is optional.
TailSlender and tapering to a curved end, long enough to reach the hock; set low, carried low. Ring tail a serious fault, gay tail a fault.
CoatSkin fine and supple, hair short, glossy like satin, and soft to the touch.
Italian Greyhound ColorAny color and markings are acceptable, except that a dog with brindle markings and a dog with tan markings normally found on black-and-tan dogs of other breeds must be disqualified.
ActionHigh stepping and free front and hind legs to move forward in a straight line.
SizeHeight at withers, ideally 13 to 15 inches.
DisqualificationsA dog with brindle markings. A dog with the tan markings normally found on black-and-tan dogs of other breeds.
ApprovedDecember 14, 1976

Official Italian Greyhound Colors & Markings

DescriptionStandard Italian Greyhound ColorsRegistration Code
Black & Tan018
Blue Fawn036
Blue & Tan044
Red Fawn150
White & Black202
White & Fawn207
White & Red214
White & Sable215
White & Blue288
White & Red Fawn293
White & Seal294
White & Blue Fawn334
DescriptionStandard MarkingRegistration Code
White Markings014
Black Mask004
Blue Mask006
White Markings, Black Mask114
White Markings, Blue Mask113

UK Breed Standard

The Kennel Club sets the UK’s breed standard for the Italian Greyhound. The British standard is a detailed description of the ideal Italian Greyhound, covering various aspects such as height, weight, and general appearance. The standard is intended to serve as a guide for breeders, judges, and those interested in the breed.

According to the UK breed standard by the Kennel Club, Italian Greyhounds should stand between 32 and 38 cm at the withers and weigh between 3.6 and 6.8 kg. They should be elegant and graceful, with a sleek, fine coat in various colors and patterns. The breed standard also describes the ideal shape and structure of the head, body, and limbs and the color and texture of the eyes, ears, and nose.

The British breed standard also covers the Italian Greyhound’s temperament, describing the breed as intelligent, affectionate, and sensitive. The standard notes that the breed may be reserved with strangers but should not be timid or aggressive. The standard also emphasizes the importance of proper training and socialization to ensure that Italian Greyhounds develop into well-adjusted, well-behaved dogs.

Health and Italian Greyhound Lifespan

Italian Greyhounds are generally a healthy breed with an average lifespan of 13 to 15 years.

Responsible breeders take measures to screen for potential health conditions such as PRA, autoimmune problems, Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, and hypothyroidism. While these conditions are not necessarily common in the breed, screening for them is an important part of maintaining the health and well-being of the breed.

While Italian Greyhounds are not as delicate as they appear, care must be taken to avoid situations that could result in broken bones. As with any breed, it is important to provide proper nutrition, exercise, and regular veterinary care to help ensure the dog’s health and well-being.

The Italian Greyhound Club of America provides extensive information about breed health, including recommended tests for patella, hip, thyroid, and ophthalmologist evaluation.

If you are considering getting an Italian Greyhound, it is important to research the breed and choose a reputable breeder who prioritizes the health of their dogs.


The Italian Greyhound is a relatively low-maintenance breed when it comes to grooming. The most important thing to remember is to brush their teeth regularly, ideally daily, to prevent dental issues. It’s also recommended to have a veterinarian clean their teeth yearly or as needed.

Baths are usually unnecessary unless the dog gets into something that cannot be removed from its short, smooth coat through gentle brushing.

When it comes to nails, they require regular attention with a grinding tool to keep them at an appropriate length. It’s important not to cut the nails too short, as this can be painful for the dog. This breed has a hare foot, which means they are long and narrow, and the toes are highly curved.

Overall, with regular dental care, occasional nail trimming, and the occasional bath, the Italian Greyhound is a relatively low-maintenance breed regarding grooming.


Italian Greyhounds are an active breed and require regular exercise. Playtime and walking is usually enough to meet their exercise needs, especially if there is more than one dog to play with.

While dog parks can be a fun way to exercise your dog, they can also be hazardous for Italian Greyhounds.

Supervising your dog closely and ensuring separate areas for small dogs is important. Even obedience-trained IGs should not be allowed off-leash in unfenced areas, as their instinct to chase small, moving animals could put them in danger.

Overall, Italian Greyhounds are a relatively active breed that requires regular exercise. Playtime walks and other supervised activities can help keep them healthy and happy.

Italian Greyhounds love to play and walk
Italian Greyhounds love to play and walk


Italian Greyhounds are an intelligent breed that responds best to reward-based training rather than punishment.

When training an Italian Greyhound, the trainer must be firm with commands and lavish with praise. Small treats given as a reward should be immediate when the command is learned and followed.

Choosing a professional dog trainer carefully is important to ensure that they use the appropriate methods when working with this breed. Harsh training methods are ineffective with these sensitive dogs, even though they can sometimes be stubborn.

Overall, training an Italian Greyhound can be a rewarding experience with the use of reward-based training methods, a firm but gentle approach, and patience. These intelligent and sensitive dogs can learn and thrive with the right approach.


The Italian Greyhound should do well on high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared, with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Choosing a diet appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior) is important.

Italian Greyhounds tend to gain weight, so watching your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level is important. Treats can be helpful in training, but giving too many can cause obesity.

A healthy Italian Greyhound should have visible hip bones and ribs that can be felt under a thin covering of flesh.

It’s also important to know which human foods are safe for dogs and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should always be available to your Italian Greyhound.

Overall, with a balanced and appropriate diet, careful attention to treats and calorie intake, and regular monitoring of weight and overall health, you can help ensure that your Italian Greyhound stays healthy and happy for years to come.

5 fun facts about Italian Greyhounds

  1. Italian Greyhounds are known for their incredible speed and agility; they can run up to 25 miles per hour (40KM/H)
  2. Despite their small size, the Italian greyhound lifespan is typically between 13 and 15 years old.
  3. Italian Greyhounds are sometimes called “Iggies” for short and are known for their charming and affectionate personalities.
  4. These dogs were once popular with European aristocracy and were often kept as lapdogs by kings and nobility.
  5. Italian Greyhounds are natural athletes and are great at dog sports like agility, obedience, and flyball.
  6. Italian Greyhounds are very sensitive to cold weather and should always wear a coat or sweater outdoors in chilly temperatures.
  7. These dogs have a very high prey drive and are known for their tendency to chase small animals, including squirrels and rabbits.


Italian Greyhounds are a small but active breed of dog known for their speed, agility, and affectionate personalities. They have an average lifespan of 13 – 15 years old and were once popular with European aristocracy due to their charming nature. While Italian Greyhounds can be trained effectively with reward-based methods, they need frequent exercise and should always wear a coat in cold weather. They have a high prey drive and should be monitored around small animals. With the right diet, dedicated training, and lots of love and attention, an Italian Greyhound can make a wonderful pet that will bring years of joy to its owners.

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