Italian Greyhound Puppy Facts

Did you just bring home a new Italian Greyhound puppy and want to learn more about the breed?

Maybe you are thinking about buying a puppy and want to know if this is the right breed of dog for you and your family?

No matter what your situation may be, you will find the answers to your questions right here!



Breed History

It's not clear exactly how old this breed is but dogs similar to the Italian Greyhound existed more than 4,000 years ago. Some believe the breed, also known simply as IG or Iggy, originated in Greece or what is now known as Turkey, while others feel the breed originated around 2,000 years ago in Italy. But no matter who is right, this is a very old breed.

The belief that the breed originated in one of the Mediterranean countries is based on the archaeological discoveries of small greyhound skeletons as well as depiction of miniature greyhounds in various forms of decorative arts of these countries.

While its ancestors were certainly used to hunt small game, the Italian Greyhound was bred not for hunting but for companionship. As a matter of fact, it's believed to be one of the first breeds to be bred strictly for companionship. But despite its small size, this is a true greyhound, his small size the result of selective breeding.

Mummified dogs similar to IG have been found in Egypt. Numerous relics found throughout Italy also point to the breed's popularity there. There are also recordings of dogs similar to the Italian Greyhound as having been seen around Emperor Nero's court in Rome in the first century A.D.

The breed gained its popularity during the Renaissance when it was highly sought by European nobility. It was around that time that it acquired the name Italian Greyhound. It was frequently included in Renaissance paintings by such artists as Carpaccio, Bosch, Memling, Giotto, and Van der Weyden.

The breed made its way to England sometime in the 17th century and was perfected further. But after almost going extinct there following World War I, it was saved when fresh stock was imported from the United States.

Some of the famous people who owned the Italian Greyhound include King James I, Catherine the Great, Queen Victoria, Queen Anne, and Frederick the Great.

The breed was recognized by AKC in 1886.

Physical Characteristics of Italian Greyhound Puppies

The Italian Greyhound is the smallest of the sighthound breeds. It's similar to the Greyhound but much smaller and slimmer.

It has medium length body with long and sloping shoulders, deep and narrow chest, long and slender neck, and slender tail that tapers to a curve. The front legs are long and straight. The hind legs are long and well-muscled.

The head is long and narrow, with a long muzzle, dark, medium in size eyes, dark nose, and small ears.

The hair is short, soft to the touch, and glossy. Any color and markings combinations are allowed except brindle and tan markings.

    Height Weight
  Male 13 to 15 inches 6 - 12 pounds
  Female 13 to 15 inches 6 - 12 pounds


The Italian Greyhound is an affectionate, intelligent, and playful breed. It's
non-confrontational and gets great pleasure out of pleasing its owner. When by itself, a single IG is submissive by nature but in a pack with other Italian Greyhounds or smaller breeds, there may be fights for dominance.

The IG gets along well with children as long as there is no rough play involved. It also gets along well with household pets, including cats. Similar to other sighthounds, it may be reserved with strangers and will benefit greatly from puppy socialization training.

Despite their appearance, adult dogs are not fragile. They are fast, able to reach speeds of up to 25 miles per hour, and rarely get injured. Don't be too protective of your dog or he will become snappish when frightened. A pet who is pampered too much will think that he rules the house. You don't want that.

Iggys are excellent jumpers and climbers. For example, they can easily leap atop kitchen countertops from the floor. They are also excellent upright walkers. Often, these activities get them into trouble.

The Italian Greyhound is a very sensitive breed and doesn't respond well to harsh treatment. When asking your dog to follow your command, do it with a calm but authoritative voice. And then reward him after he followed your instructions. This type of training works best.

It's also not the easiest breed to housebreak, especially if you live in a cold climate. What does weather have to do with housebreaking? IGs prefer warmth and may be difficult to persuade to go outside when the weather is cold. You may want to teach your pet to eliminate in a litter box.

The breed is very territorial and may get into fights with much larger dogs on their territory. Because it will bark an alert warning when it sees a stranger approaching, it can make a decent watchdog but due to its size can't be a guard dog.

Italian Greyhounds require lots of love and attention. Unless they get both, they can become shy or overexcited.

Best Owner / Living Conditions

The breed will do equally well in suburban and city apartment settings. Similar to other delicate short haired breeds, it prefers warm climate but can also thrive in northern countries if provided with doggie clothing.

They require a lot of attention from their owners and will do best in a quiet household with older children.

Some Italian Greyhound breeders may interview prospective owners to make sure this is the right breed for them.

Activity and Exercise

This is a fairly active breed that needs daily exercise to stay mentally and physically sharp.

Like other sighthounds, it can get plenty of exercise by running off leash. But don't forget that despite its small size, this is still a hound and likes to chase fast moving things. Don't let it off leash unless it's in a protected area such as a fenced yard.

At a minimum, take your pet for several long walks every day.


This breed doesn't shed a lot and is very easy to groom. All that's really needed to keep its coat shiny and looking good is a quick wipe-down with a damp cloth or chamois. Brush once in a while to remove dead hair.

Its coat is almost odorless and doesn't require frequent washing. Bathe only when absolutely necessary.

Most IGs will develop periodontal disease at an early age and require daily dental care to prevent tooth loss. Learn how to brush your dog's teeth.

Health Concerns

Like all dog breeds, Italian Greyhounds are susceptible to complications caused by internal and external parasites such as ticks, fleas, and worms.

Other health concerns include autoimmune disease, cataracts, hypothyroidism, epilepsy, broken legs, dental problems and PRA. On the other hand, according to the research by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, out of 157 dog breeds, the Italian Greyhound was found to be the least affected by hip dysplasia.

For more information about dog diseases and health, visit dog health problems.

Buy only from reputable Italian Greyhound breeders to reduce the risk of the above and many other health problems (visit dog breeders to learn how to identify responsible dog breeders).

No matter how small the risk of health problems is, any puppy may get sick or injured. Many health problems will require an immediate attention from your Vet, but there are many others that will not, and you may handle them on your own.

To save time and money, learn how to diagnose and treat dog health problems that don't require your Vet's attention.

Life Expectancy

The average life expectancy for Italian Greyhound puppies is 13 to 16 years. Some live up to 18 years.

Did you ever consider adopting your next pet?

If this is the breed you are interested in, and adoption appeals to you, consider contacting your local Italian Greyhound rescue. There are thousands of pets waiting for a loving home and, yes, it's possible to adopt a purebred dog.

Puppy Training

Not happy with your pet's behavior? Need help with training your dog for obedience? Then check this dog behavior and obedience training guide.

Related Articles

You may also wish to explore the following articles:


Find this article interesting? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments, and as always, your +1's, Shares, Facebook likes and retweets are appreciated.



Search this site or click here to search the Web


Italian Greyhound Puppies » Dog Breeds

Association of Pet Dog Trainers - Dog Training Professionals Member#: 73641
Puppy Rescue Adoption in your Area
Puppy Rescue Adoption in your Area

Featured Article

Puppy Training

How to Identify Common Dog Ticks

"There are several types of ticks. The most common are American and brown dog ticks. Both are very dangerous and can do great damage to your pet's health..."
...continue reading