Search Menu

AKC is a participant in affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to If you purchase a product through this article, we may receive a portion of the sale.

The Italian Greyhound is similar to their larger Greyhound cousin, but on a much smaller scale. Standing between 13 to 15 inches, this smallest of sighthounds is the picture of intelligence and elegant grace. The breed has a long and noble history as a favorite of royalty, since at least the 16th century. They remain popular today because of their affectionate and playful nature, combined with athleticism. Check out these Italian Greyhound fun facts to learn more about the breed.

They’re Fast Dogs

Despite their diminutive size and slender build, the Italian Greyhound is a hunter. He has the speed and agility to hunt small game and can reach speeds up to 25 miles per hour, with a gait that is high stepping and free. He needs daily exercise and also does well in dog sports like agility and rally.

Italian Greyhound running in lure coursing.
©krushelss -

Their Origins Date Far Back

Archaeological evidence suggests that Italian Greyhounds existed some 2,000 years ago. Throughout history, they were bred as noble companions in the region that is now Greece and Turkey. They were present and treasured during the influential Roman Empire near the Mediterranean.

They’re Members of the Toy Group

The Toy Group is known for its size: small. Little as these dogs are, Italian Greyhounds are on the larger end of the group. Their long, slender features also make them look larger than they are, especially when compared to members of the toy group like the Yorkshire Terrier or Chihuahua.

They’re Sensitive to the Cold

In spite of their love of the outdoors, Italian Greyhounds are very sensitive to cold and wet weather, or even slightly damp or cool weather. If you live in a cold environment, they’ll need a dog jacket that completely covers their body and even water-repellent dog boots. Plan to spend some of your dog-care budget on coats, sweaters, and booties.

Italian Greyhound shaking hands with a new person.
©jtai -

Italian Greyhounds Thrive on Affection

Don’t plan on ignoring an Italian Greyhound. They thrive on human affection and want to be the center of your world. And they’ll let you know!

Italian Greyhounds are also very snuggly, so expect them to not only be around you, but close to you. Italian Greyhounds want to be near you, on top of you, next to you, wherever you go.

Italian Greyhounds Were AKC Recognized Early On

The American Kennel Club was founded in 1884, and Italian Greyhounds were recognized by the AKC in 1886. Including the original nine “founding” breeds, Italian Greyhounds were the 30th breed recognized. The Greyhound was recognized the year prior, and was the 17th breed recognized.

Italian Greyhound standing on a stump in the forest in the fall.
©kwadrat70 -

They’re Not Whippets

You may get tired of people asking you if they’re a Whippet. Though they are in the same family, they’re not the same breed. Whippets and Italian Greyhounds have many distinct differences, including the fact that Whippets are larger at 19-21 inches rather than 13 to 15.

Italian Greyhounds Do Well in Pairs

Two are better than one. Italian Greyhounds are very social and affectionate and love having another dog (or dogs) to play and snuggle with. They’re not happy being ignored or left alone. If you can’t be on call 24-7 for a cuddling emergency, consider adding another dog to the pack.

Three Italian Greyhound puppies sitting side by side for a portrait outdoors.
©CallallooAlexis -

Italian Greyhounds Are an Artist Favorite

With their elegance and grace, it’s no wonder Italian Greyhounds are a favorite subject of artists. A portrait of Katherine the Great by Vladimir Borovikovsky includes her Italian Greyhound, who’s posing to perfection.

They’re a Versatile Breed

If you’re looking to get involved with dog sports, the Italian Greyhound is a sleek and elegant conformation dog. They’re an agile agility competitor, a quick Fast CAT runner, and make a smart AKC Rally and Obedience teammate. At the same time, they also love to lay on the couch, and look fabulous doing it!
Get Your Free AKC eBook

Selecting a Puppy

How do you know what breed is right for your family? How do you find a reputable breeder? What questions should you ask a breeder? Download this e-book for guidance on these questions and other important factors to consider when looking for a puppy.
*Turn off pop-up blocker to download
*Turn off pop-up blocker to download