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  • Temperament: Playful, Alert, Sensitive
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 72 of 194
  • Height: 13-15 inches
  • Weight: 7-14 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 14-15 years
  • Group: Toy Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Italian Greyhound lying in a blanket
Italian Greyhound head and shoulders facing left
Italian Greyhound sitting in three-quarter view
Italian Greyhound coat detail
Italian Greyhound puppy

Find a Puppy: Italian Greyhound

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GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Italian Greyhound is very similar to the Greyhound, but much smaller and more slender in all proportions and of ideal elegance and grace.

HEAD

Head: Narrow and long, tapering to nose, with a slight suggestion of stop. Skull – Rather long, almost flat. 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 severely penalized.

NECK AND BODY

Neck is long, slender and gracefully arched. Body is of 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.

FORELEGS

Long, straight, set well under shoulder; strong pasterns, fine bone.

HINDQUARTERS

Long, well-muscled thigh; hind legs parallel when viewed from behind, hocks well let down, well-bent stifle

COAT

Skin fine and supple, hair short, glossy like satin and soft to the touch.

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About the Italian Greyhound

IGs are Greyhounds in miniature—more slender, but a Greyhound’s equal in grace and elegance. Standing ideally 13 to 15 inches at the shoulder, they present the sleek, curving lines common to all coursing hounds. Distinguishing features are the long, fine-boned legs.

IGs combine the attentiveness of lapdogs with the complexity of ancient, aristocratic hounds. Bred for centuries to be doting companions and jesters, these high-stepping charmers refuse to be ignored. “On the whole,” writes an IG expert, “the breed would much rather be in your lap or bed than on the floor.” They are, though, true sighthounds and will bolt after quick-moving prey at the drop of a cat. A short-coat, low-fat breed, IGs require extra care in cold weather

National Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Italian Greyhound puppy

Find a Puppy: Italian Greyhound

AKC Marketplace | PuppyFinder

AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.
Find Italian Greyhound Puppies

Care

NUTRITION

The Italian Greyhound should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior).It’s easy to allow these dogs to become overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. On an IG in proper weight, the hip bones should just be seen. Ribs should not be visible but should be able to be felt under a thin covering of flesh. Learn about 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 be available at all times.

GROOMING

The most important grooming tip for the Italian Greyhound is that the teeth must be brushed on a regular basis, preferably daily. Dental cleaning by a veterinarian should be done yearly or as needed. Baths are rarely necessary unless the dog has gotten into something that can’t be removed from the very short, smooth coat by gentle brushing. The nails need regular attention, preferably with a grinding tool. They should not be shortened all the way to the quick. This breed has a hare foot, and the two middle nails can be left slightly longer than the other two.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
Occasional Bath/Brush

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Seasonal

EXERCISE

IGs are an active breed and need regular exercise. For the most part, playtime will be sufficient for this, especially if there is more than one dog. Walks on lead are appreciated. Dog parks can be a hazard unless well supervised and having separate areas for small dogs. Even obedience-trained IGs should not be allowed off lead outdoors in unfenced areas, since small, moving animals are a huge incentive to run, possibly into danger.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Regular Exercise

TRAINING

This breed responds best to reward-based training methods rather than punishment. The trainer should be firm with commands and lavish with praise. Treats used as a reward should be small but immediate when the command is learned and followed. Professional dog trainers should be chosen carefully. Harsh methods just don’t work with these intelligent, sensitive little dogs, even though they can be stubborn.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Independent

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Aloof/Wary

HEALTH

Italian Greyhounds are generally long lived, with a normal lifespan of 13 to 15 years. Responsible breeders screen for health conditions such as PRA, autoimmune problems, Legg-Calve-Perthes disease and hypothyroidism. Although the IG is not as delicate as he looks, care must be take to avoid hazardous situations that might result in a broken leg. Extensive information about breed health can be found on the website of the Italian Greyhound Club of America.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  • Thyroid Evaluation
  • Patella Evaluation

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

Italian Greyhound
Italian Greyhound
Italian Greyhound
Italian Greyhound
Italian Greyhound
Italian Greyhound

History

Despite a delicate appearance, Italian Greyhounds are swift, hardy hounds who have survived the upheavals of two millennia. Archaeological evidence suggests that IGs were bred as noble companions some 2,000 years ago in the region that is now Greece and Turkey, when the mighty Roman Empire held sway in the Mediterranean.

The miniature Greyhound was a popular companion, and perhaps a small-game hunter, throughout southern Europe in the days of the Empire, but the breed came into its own in Renaissance Italy, where owning miniature versions of popular breeds was a status symbol among aristocrats and wealthy strivers. IGs can be seen in the paintings of various Renaissance masters, embodying the grace and balance so important to the era’s aesthetics. IGs found their way onto many of the noblest laps in Europe. James I, Frederick the Great, Catherine the Great, Anne of Denmark, and Queen Victoria were among the royals who augmented their majesty with an IG or two by their side. An African king named Lobengula once swapped 200 head of cattle for a single Italian Greyhound.

The AKC registered its first IG in 1886. The depredations of the two world wars nearly wiped out many of Europe’s breeds, including the IG. After both conflicts, American breeders, an ocean away from the ravages of war, kept the breed alive and helped repopulate its numbers in peacetime Europe. In modern times IGs do their share of winning in the show ring, and lure coursing gives them a chance to rev up their small but powerful engines.

Did You Know?

The Italian Greyhound is the smallest of the family of Gazehounds (sighthounds).
The Italian Greyhound was a favorite of the Italians of the 16th century with whom miniature dogs were much in demand.
Favorite of various royal families, including the consort of England's James I, Anne of Denmark; Mary Beatrice d'Este of Modena, the Italian consort of James II; Frederick the Great of Prussia; Catherine the Great of Russia, and Queen Victoria.
The Italian Greyhound is believed to have originated more than 2000 years ago in the Mediterranean basin, possibly in the countries now known as Greece & Turkey.
The Italian Greyhound was frequently included in Renaissance paintings by such famed artists as Giotto, Carpaccio, Memling, Van der Weyden, David, and Bosch.
The first volume of the English Kennel Club's Stud Book listed 40 of the breed; Volume III of the AKC Stud Book (1886) contains the first Italian Greyhound registration in this country, although it was not until 1950 that as many as 50 were registered in this country.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Italian Greyhound is very similar to the Greyhound, but much smaller and more slender in all proportions and of ideal elegance and grace.

HEAD

Head: Narrow and long, tapering to nose, with a slight suggestion of stop. Skull – Rather long, almost flat. 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 severely penalized.

NECK AND BODY

Neck is long, slender and gracefully arched. Body is of 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.

FORELEGS

Long, straight, set well under shoulder; strong pasterns, fine bone.

HINDQUARTERS

Long, well-muscled thigh; hind legs parallel when viewed from behind, hocks well let down, well-bent stifle

COAT

Skin fine and supple, hair short, glossy like satin and soft to the touch.

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Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
BLACK Check Mark For Standard Color 007
BLUE Check Mark For Standard Color 037
BLUE FAWN Check Mark For Standard Color 036
CREAM Check Mark For Standard Color 076
FAWN Check Mark For Standard Color 082
RED Check Mark For Standard Color 140
RED FAWN Check Mark For Standard Color 150
SABLE Check Mark For Standard Color 164
SEAL Check Mark For Standard Color 261
WHITE & BLACK Check Mark For Standard Color 202
WHITE & BLUE Check Mark For Standard Color 288
WHITE & BLUE FAWN Check Mark For Standard Color 334
WHITE & FAWN Check Mark For Standard Color 207
WHITE & RED Check Mark For Standard Color 214
WHITE & RED FAWN Check Mark For Standard Color 293
WHITE & SABLE Check Mark For Standard Color 215
WHITE & SEAL Check Mark For Standard Color 294
BLACK 007
BLACK & TAN 018
BLUE & TAN 044
BRINDLE 057
CHOCOLATE 071
WHITE 199

Markings

Description Standard Markings Registration Code
BLACK MASK Check Mark For Standard Mark 004
BLUE MASK Check Mark For Standard Mark 006
WHITE MARKINGS Check Mark For Standard Mark 014
WHITE MARKINGS, BLACK MASK Check Mark For Standard Mark 114
WHITE MARKINGS, BLUE MASK Check Mark For Standard Mark 113

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