Italian Greyhound Dog Breed Information

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
The Italian Greyhound dog breed was a companion to many noble people. Today, they are everyone's pets. Read on to discover more about this elegant breed.
Dog Breed Group:
Companion Dogs
13 to 15 inches tall at the shoulder
6 to 15 pounds
Life Span:
14 to 15 years

Breed Characteristics:

Apartment Friendly


How well will this breed adapt to apartment living? Is the apartment size the most important factor when it comes to proper living conditions? Is the breed suitable for apartment living?

Good For First-Time Owners


Some dogs aren't suitable for first-time dog owners. Is this breed a good match for someone with no dog experience? Can training help them be on their best behavior with owners with no dog experience? Are they suitable to be handled by someone who is just entering the canine world?

Overall Sensitivity


Some dogs are sensitive. Certain breeds are rough on the outside, while having the softest heart on the inside. In other words, some dogs are 'thick-skinned' while some are 'easygoing.' Is this breed prone to sensitivity?

Tolerates Being Alone


Separation anxiety in dogs is a serious condition that can affect a dog's life quality. Is this breed prone to this condition? Can you leave him alone for hours? How destructive this breed can become when bored, neglected, or not loved enough?

Affectionate With Family


How affectionate this breed will be around his humans? Will he welcome new family friends easily or he will choose to be shy? Some breeds can be clingy with owners, while others don't attach a lot. Will this breed act as the family's best friend?



Some dogs will tolerate children, while others will adore well-behaved ones. Dogs and children should always be supervised, no matter how well trained the dog might be. Will this breed act as a nanny dog or he will stay away from children?

Friendly Toward Other Dogs


Some dog breeds cannot wait to run to the dog park and run with others. Others prefer to be with their humans, and not to be a part of a multi-pet household. Is this breed dog lover or not? How friendly this breed will be toward other dogs?

Friendly Toward Strangers


Some dog breeds tend to be reserved toward strangers and highly suspicious. Others are fast to walk away with them easily. How welcoming this breed is toward strangers?

Drooling Level


If you love to clean all the time drooling level in dogs is a trait that you should mind. Is this breed less likely to drool, or you will always need a towel on hand?

Easy To Groom


Heavier shedding during the shedding season is something that every dog needs to go through. However, some dogs shed just a bit all year round. Is this breed one of them? How often should you groom this dog?

Overall Health


What can you expect from this breed in terms of health? Are there any genetic conditions to vary about? Is obesity a major issue in this breed? By knowing more about the dog's health, you are learning how to help him live a longer and healthier life.

Prone To Obesity


Treats are a great addition to training sessions. Dogs love sweet bites of dog treats but they should be served in moderation. Treats can lead to obesity, next to poor nutrition. Can this breed gain extra weight from treats? How prone to obesity this breed actually is?

Trainability Level


Training some dogs is easier than others. How easy this dog will be to train? What can you expect? Some dogs are huge people pleasers and they will master commands easily, while others will try to outsmart you.

Intelligence Level


Dogs are smart beings. We do our best to train them, but they do still end up training us to adapt to their needs. How intelligent is this breed? Will he try to outsmart you? Or he will need multiple training sessions to master basic commands?

Prey Drive


Dogs were bred for a specific purpose. Those who were bred to hunt have natural instincts to hunt, even today. This is why many dogs, like Terriers, will chase other animals. They will also have a hard time concentrating on your commands when there is something small moving. Is this breed prone to following his prey instincts?

Barking Level


How vocal this breed is? Can you expect neighbors to ring you often to calm your dog? Or you can sleep without worries of hearing your Fido bark? Some breeds are highly vocal, others have unusual sounds, and some are silent. Is this breed prone to barking?

Energy Level


Low-energy dogs are happy with regular walks and indoor chill times. High-energy dogs are always ready for action. Is this breed a couch potato, energetic dog, or somewhere in between?

Exercise Needs


Some dogs are more than happy with a slow stroll down the street. Others need hours of active time to stay happy and fit. Is this breed demanding in terms of exercise? How much exercise this breed needs to stay happy and healthy?

Playfulness Level


Some dogs never lose that puppy spirit, not even in their senior years. Others are more serious and prefer having a job to do. Is this breed demanding in terms of playfulness? Can you expect playfulness in their senior years as well?

The Italian Greyhound is an elegant dog with a playful nature and a strong instinct for pursuit. These dogs are often described as couch dogs, but in their heart, they are coursing hounds.

Greyhounds may look bigger than they are due to their elegant posture, but they are miniature dogs in reality. They are usually 13 to 15 inches at the shoulder, and their outstanding features are long and fine-boned legs.

They are considered to be modern couch dogs, while they were initially bred as coursing hounds. All in, they are lap dogs with the complexity of ancient and aristocratic hounds.

Many Greyhound owners would describe this breed as a couch potato because they would rather be in your lap than on the floor.

Is there any dog that wouldn’t prefer the bed, actually? Since they have an extremely short coat, they need extra care in cold weather.

Quick Facts

Real name: Italian Greyhound
Other names: Italian Sighthound, Piccolo levriero Italiano
Origin: Italy
Breed type: Hound Dogs
Weight: 5-16 kg (13 to 30 pounds)
Height: 32–38 cm
Lifespan: 13.5 years
Littersize: 2 – 4 puppies
Color: Standard colors are black, seal, sable, cream, blue, red, fawn, red fawn, and blue fawn
Coat: Short coat

Italian Greyhound History

Italian Greyhounds may be elegant and delicate in appearance, but underneath that sleek exterior, they are hardy and swift hounds who have survived for around two millennia.

Archeological evidence suggests that Italian Greyhounds were bred as companions for nobles 2,000 years ago in the region of today’s Greece and Turkey.

At the time, Greyhounds were very popular and praised as a small-game hunter. The breed came into its own in Renaissance Italy, where owning this dog meant a status symbol.

Many artists painted them, and overall the breed spread across Europe. Even Catherine the Great and Queen Victoria were among rules which were fascinated by this elegant breed.

An African king named Lobengula once swapped 200 head of cattle for a single Italian Greyhound – that’s how much this breed was appreciated.

The American Kennel Club registered its first Italian Greyhound in 1886. However, the horrors of the two world wars nearly wiped out many of Europe’s breeds, such as the German Shepherd, and sophisticated Italian Greyhound.

Once the conflicts ended, American breeders kept the breed alive and helped repopulate breed in peacetime Europe. Nowadays, this breed may be seen int he show ring, and lure coursing.

The Italian Greyhound is the smallest of the family of Gazeounds (sighthounds).

Italian Greyhound Physical Appearance

In appearance, the Italian Greyhound is very similar to the Greyhound but much smaller in size and more slender in proportions. Many dog experts would say that the Italian Greyhound is of ideal elegance and grace.

The Head is narrow and long, while the skull is almost flat. Eyes are dark and with an intelligent expression.

If your Italian Greyhound has light eyes, he may not enter the dog show, because such eyes in this breed are considered to be a fault.

The neck is long, while the ears are small and silky is texture. The chest is deep and narrow, while the skin is delicate, and the hair is short. Hair is soft, almost like satin to the touch.

Italian Greyhound Personality

The Italian Greyhound is an alert, smart, and sensitive dog. He is very affectionate toward his family members and loves to snuggle. Temperament is affected by several various factors, including:

  • Heredity
  • Training, and
  • Socialization

Puppies are like puppies curious and playful, and willing to approach even to strangers. Make sure to think about adopting a dog first, before you start screening for responsible breeders.

There are many purebreds in shelters waiting to be adopted.

They are gentle and sweet dogs that need a tremendous amount of affection. If you don’t provide enough attention, they will become shy or hyper, or even both in some cases.

In general, they are compatible with children, although you shouldn’t leave them with younger children alone, since they still have a strong drive to chase anything small that moves.

They won’t hurt children, but they may play rougher, which is why it’s essential to educate children on how to behave around dogs.

Italian Greyhounds get along with cats and other dogs of similar size. Although they are small in size, Italian Greyhounds can bark and will be fast to alert their owners when strange approaches.

Living With Italian Greyhound

The Italian Greyhound is an indoor dog, but they will appreciate having a yard. They crave warmth and love being couch potatoes. Don’t be surprised if this dog sometimes refuses to go outside in cold or wet weather.

If you are based in a colder area, getting your Italian Greyhound, a sweater is a must. You may not expect this, but this dog will shed. Luckily, the coat is short and smooth that it’s even hard to notice.

These dogs are prone to dental disease, so talk with your veterinarian about tooth brushing, and in the meantime, provide the best foods for healthy teeth.

Italian Greyhound Grooming

When it comes to grooming your Italian Greyhound, the most crucial part of it is teeth health. Again, talk with your veterinarian what is the best way to keep your dog’s teeth healthy and strong.

A dental cleaning can also be performed by your veterinarian or as needed. Baths are rarely needed – dogs have different skin than humans do, and they don’t need as much bath as we do.

Of course, if your Italian Greyhound is playful and loves to play in the mud, of course, a bath is mandatory. Everything else is regular care, which should include nail trimming, ears and gums check, and weekly brushing.

Regular vaccination and veterinarian check-ups should be part of the dog’s health routine.

Italian Greyhound Training

The Italian Greyhound reacts best to reward-based training rather than any type of punishment. You already know that no harsh treatment should ever be on dogs and that well-structured training and positive reinforcement can go a long way.

Treats are a great tool to use to train your dog, as long as you don’t overdo it because some dogs are prone to obesity.

If you need extra help with training, think about hiring a professional dog trainer. Just make sure that trainer isn’t prone to harsh methods because this elegant breed can be stubborn.

Make sure that you start early socialization because that’s the best way to have a well-behaved and disciplined dog. Expose from your dog early to new places, sounds, smells, and people. This way, you will prevent any form of anxiety, and you will eventually have a stable and healthy dog.

Italian Greyhound Health

Italian Greyhounds are generally healthy dogs who can live up to 15 years. Responsible breeders will always screen dogs for various health conditions, including:

  • PRA
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, and
  • Autoimmune problems

This breed may look delicate, but they are far from that, but still, dangerous situations should be avoided because they might result in a broken leg.

This breed is more and more popular in the States. There is also a club of the breed in the States.

Italian Greyhound Nutrition

Like any other breed, Italian Greyhound should do fine on high-quality food and food appropriate to the dog’s age. If you opt for raw food you should prepare it following your veterinarian guidelines.

Often people feel that Italian Greyhounds are too skinny, and feed them more than need, which can lead to overweight. This is a slim and well-built dog, and extra weight can harm a dog’s health and lifespan.

Make sure that you keep your dog on the right amount of food. Should ribs be visible on Italian Greyhound? Absolutely not. Ribs should not be visible but should be able to felt under a thin covering of flesh.

Know which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. If you have any concerns about the dog’s weight to health, make sure that you take your dog to the veterinarian’s office.

The Bottom Line

The Italian Greyhound is a sweet and gentle dog who wants only to be loved. This breed may sound like a perfect couch potato, but he may suddenly explode with a load of energy, so make sure that you provide enough and often exercise time.

They are sensitive, but they can also be very stubborn, which is why this breed is mostly recommended to experienced dog owners. So, the Italian Greyhound may be perfect for you if:

  • You want a dog similar to Greyhound, but smaller
  • Doesn’t shed much
  • Doesn’t bark often
  • Has an easy to maintain the coat
  • Is polite and peaceful
  • Is an agile athlete, but also loves being a couch potato

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