The Italian Greyhound, often called just 'Italians' or 'IGs' for short, belongs to the toy group of breeds, and is also one of the Sighthound families of dogs. Sighthounds, also known as Gazehounds, are a type of hound that hunts primarily by using sight and speed, rather than using scent like the scent hounds.
While there is absolute certainty about the origins of the Greyhound, however, this breed can be seen in the artwork of master painters like Blake, Ward, Teniers, Van Dyck, and Carpaccio. Some say the Italian Greyhound goes way back to the time of the ancient Egyptians. It is thought that they are descendents of a dog that was like the Greyhound of today, but smaller in size. According to other speculation, it is said that they are about 2,000 years old, since their remains have been found in graves and tombs all over the Mediterranean and Middle East regions. Many experts think that the Greyhound was dwarfed from a Gazehound, to turn them into pets.
With its endearing high stepping, dancing movements, it has been a source of delight for royalty as well as the common people, being a part of the royal palaces of Frederick the Great, Queen Victoria, Queen Anne, and Mary Queen of Scots. The breed is said to have got its name because the Italian women during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance favored this dog.
The Greyhound was given recognition by the American Kennel Club, in the US, in 1886. However, it still remains a relatively unknown breed in the US, with many people mistaking it to be a Whippet.
The breed is a fine-boned, elegant looking, miniature Greyhound. Its head is long, which gradually tapers to a narrow muzzle. It has a scissors bite, thin lips, and a dark nose. Similar to the larger sized Greyhound, it has a deep brisket, a tucked-in abdomen, and an arched back. When it becomes alert, its narrow ears stand up. However, at other times, they are kept folded back along the head. The eyes are dark and large, and very expressive. This dog breed has a straight tail, which ends with a slight curve. The coat is short and sleek, and hence, is easy to care for. It comes in a variety of colors, ranging from blue, black, fawn, red, cream, slate gray, and solid gray, usually with white markings on the feet and chest, or with a white coat and color markings. There is also a flecked coat, which is not accepted in some countries. It has a high stepping gait. The height can range from 30 - 38 cm, or 12 - 15 inches at the shoulder, and its weight is around 3 - 5 kg, or 6 - 10 pounds.
The Italian Greyhound is an affectionate, submissive, and gentle dog. Due to their delicate structure, they do not make good pets for young or boisterous children, although, they are fine with quieter children and other animals in the household. However, they should not be kept with large dog breeds. This is not an outdoor dog, and has little capacity to cope with cold weather. They dislike getting wet, and many owners build shelters outside in order to provide protection during wet or cold days, when it goes out for its potty. They are full of mischief, and know they are. Hence, when things go wrong, you need to see the humorous side of things. They need gentle handling, and when they are young, they can be very active. They love jumping on top of furniture, which can be a cause for concern, because they are prone to fracturing their limbs. When situations get stressful, they need to be stroked for reassurance. They are not independent dogs, are highly strung, and need a lot of attention.
Grooming and Exercise Needs
This breed is one of the simplest to groom. All you need to do is give the coat a rubdown with a small towel or piece of chamois to keep it gleaming. They need to be bathed only when absolutely necessary. After giving them a bath, you need to make sure to dry them thoroughly and keep them warm. In order to prevent tartar from building up in the teeth, they need to be brushed regularly. Also, regular trimming of the toenails is required. This dog does not shed much hair. Being active dogs, they need to be taken for a walk everyday. Plus, they also love playing and running free. However, if there are other animals around, they need to be supervised while playing, since they run fast and bump into each other, and thereby risk getting injured. They should not play with larger-sized dogs.