Essentially a slender miniature Greyhound, the Italian Greyhound is exceptionally elegant and graceful. The breed embodies the same qualities that enable the full-sized Greyhound to run at top speed using the double-suspension gallop: a curvaceous outline with a slight arch over the loin and good rear angulation. The gait is high stepping and free. The coat is short and glossy like satin.
The Italian Greyhound has been around for many centuries. Exactly how and when this miniaturized Greyhound was developed has been lost in time. Evidence of dogs resembling the Italian Greyhound can be found in art dating nearly 2,000 years ago from Turkey, Greece, and other areas around the Mediterranean. By the Middle Ages, miniaturized Greyhounds could be found throughout southern Europe, but they found special favor with Italian courtiers. The breed came to England in the seventeenth century, quickly becoming as popular with nobility there as they had been in their Italian homeland. In 1820, the Italian Greyhound was one of only two toy breeds mentioned in a book about dogs. The Italian Greyhound continued to find favor, reaching its peak during the reign of Queen Victoria. After that time, numbers declined and the breed had dwindled to such an extent that it had almost disappeared in England after World War II. One possible reason for the decline was a degradation in quality because dogs were bred for tiny size, often without regard to soundness and health. Fortunately, Italian Greyhounds had come to America in the late 1800s. Even though their numbers were small, they were of excellent soundness. These dogs, along with other imports, helped revive the breed in Europe. Since then, the breed has risen gradually in popularity and is now enjoying a second renaissance.
A sighthound in a small package, the Italian Greyhound shares its larger relatives’ characteristics. This dog loves to run and chase, but is extremely gentle and sensitive. Reserved, often timid, with strangers, the Italian Greyhound is devoted to its family: good with children, other dogs, and pets. Care should be taken, as this small breed can be easily injured by boisterous children and larger dogs.
The Italian Greyhound likes a daily romp outdoors, but dislikes the cold. Exercise needs are best met with a good walk on leash or even a rollicking game indoors. This dog likes to stretch out and sprint in a safe fenced area. Care of the fine short hair is minimal, consisting only of occasional brushing to remove dead hair. Regular brushing of the teeth is important in this breed to prevent future dental issues.