12 July, 2018

Sweet and Sensitive Souls: The Italian Greyhound Dog Breed

Italian Greyhound Dog Breed gazing into a fieldThere are many words to describe the Italian Greyhound, also known as an IG or Iggy. Yes, they are very sweet and sensitive. They are also elegant, charismatic and aristocratic. The soulfulness in their eyes gives just a little hint as to how long their lineage is. They’ll cuddle up on the couch, and they’ll clown around!

The Ultimate Miniature Hound!

The Italian Greyhound dog breed is everything you would expect to find in a full-size greyhound – they just come in a smaller package! IGs are not only companion dogs, they are also sighthounds or gazehounds.

This means their hunting drive comes from sight and speed more than a smell. They are swift, lean, agile, smart, and they’re sweet, sensitive and adoring souls!

IGs became popular companion dogs with the aristocracy and noble folk in Europe during the Renaissance period. They were first recognized in 1886 as a breed in the United States. In the Mediterranean, the Italian greyhound or Piccolo Levriero Italiano, goes back a couple of thousand years.

Whippet vs. Italian Greyhound: What’s the Difference?

Whippets, Italian Greyhounds, and Greyhounds are different dog breeds. They are all sighthounds and similar in nature and appearance.

Their main difference lies in their size. Iggy’s are small dogs within the toy group, whereas Whippets are medium sized dogs in the hound group. Whippets are up to seven inches taller and can be double the weight of an IG.

If you can picture a lineup of these dogs in a row, you would see a range of small, medium and large sizes. The Italian Greyhound is the smallest and most slender, increasing to the Whippet, and then to the Greyhound.

The Appearance of Miniature Italian Greyhounds

Italian Greyhounds are a small slender graceful dog breed. They have short fur, dark round eyes, and black or brown noses. Their ears are folded, except when alert. Their body is lean with long legs.

Average Size and Weight of this Miniature Greyhound Dog Breed! 

Italian Greyhounds are petite pups. With regular daily exercise, the average adult IG dog’s height and weight are as follows:

  • Height: 13-15 inches at the shoulder (33-38 centimeters)
  • Weight: 7-14 pounds (3-6 kilograms)

Are All Greyhounds Grey Hounds? Coat and Colors Explained!

There is way more than one shade of grey in the Iggy breed! They can be just about any color – black, blue, blue fawn, cream, fawn, red, red fawn, sable, seal, tan, brindle, chocolate, and white. IGs may also have white markings and blue or black masks.

Temperament and Personality of These Sensitive Pups!

The Italian Greyhound is a doting companion. If you adore them, they will adore you. They will want to be with you and by you and snuggle and be affectionate as much as they possibly can.

Italian Greyhound rescue with green scarf

That said – the hound in them will go for it if they sight some action to chase – and that can happen even quicker than the drop of a hat! If something quick moving gets their attention, they may bolt off to chase it even quicker than you can think!

Some say the Iggy has a personality like a cat. They can seem somewhat aloof and regal, and they know their own minds, but they are devoted, gentle and kind with their human companions.

Training: Positive Reinforcement is the Only Way to Go!

IGs are a very intelligent pup and easy to train. They respond well to positive reinforcement during training. Iggy’s are motivated by what they can get. They very much have an awareness of “what’s in it for me” and learn quickly what gets rewarded with praise, affection, food, and playtime. They are good at agility sports and on courses.

Iggy’s will respond to feedback on what they do right. Their sensitive souls will not respond well to punishment for what they may do wrong.

Their housetraining and toilet training needs patience and understanding. They may not always make it in time. They also have relatively short attention spans, so short and sweet bursts of training are best.

How Long do These Mini Greyhounds Live?

You can expect a good 14-15 years of shared life with an Iggy in good health. IGs are usually fairly healthy, but you do need to monitor and be aware of conditions associated with their breed. Some of these include:

  • Luxating patellas, which can be a problem with kneecaps in all small dog breeds.
  • Eye conditions such as progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and cataracts.
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Von Willebrand’s disease, a blood disorder that affects blood clotting.
  • Broken bones and accidental injuries due to their fine and slender long legs.

What About Italian Greyhound Mixes?

If you are looking for an Italian Greyhound mix, they may be bred with other pedigrees as ‘designer dogs’. The aim of these crossbreeds is usually to bring out the best characteristics of each pedigree in the resulting hybrid pup.

As crossbreeds, their personality and appearance will depend on the gene pool they inherit from their parents. What are some of the hybrids?

IG plus poodle makes a Pootalian.

With a Boston Terrier, you get a Bostalian.

Iggy mixed with a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel gives you an Italian Cavalier Greyhound.

With the Chihuahua, you get an Italian Greyhuahua!

The Italian Greyhound Chihuahua Mix!

“I have a Greyhuahua” – try saying that without a smile on your face! Physically both parents are small and sleek. They will have expressive soulful eyes and various colored coats. This little cutie is likely to be a friendly and fun loving little bundle of love.

5 Facts You Didn’t Know About This Breed

  1. Their coats are practically odorless! That’s right, no doggy smell! Their fur is soft and feels like silk or satin, is easy to maintain, and does not shed much. Unless they’re rolling in dirt and dust, they only need occasional baths.
  2. Their teeth and nails do need regular care. You will need to help with oral hygiene and regular teeth brushing at least a few times a week, if not daily. Their nails also need regular trims every week or two.
  3. IGs are good with people and other pets but are best not to be with overzealous young children or large dogs due to their small size.
  4. These are indoor dogs and are good for apartment living, but they need time to expend energy in the outdoors too. They don’t have a lot of body fat so like a place to lie in the sun, or under the covers!
  5. They are playful, athletic and fast – very fast. If something gets their attention they can run up to 25 miles per hour (40 kilometers per hour)! They can also jump several feet! When you’re out and about, use a sighthound collar to prevent them from getting loose!

Italian Greyhound puppies sitting on nice chair

Italian Greyhound for Sale! 

If you’re thinking about buying an Iggy puppy, always look for a responsible breeder or seller. That way you know your puppy is coming from good hands.

Ethical breeders will usually work with you to make sure your puppy and the breed is right for you too. They will want to ensure that you both get off to a good start, and have support if needed.

Italian Greyhound Puppies for Sale Near Me!

Two good places to start the search for Italian Greyhound puppies near you are the Italian Greyhound Club of America and the American Kennel Club Marketplace. Both sites have listings from reputable breeders and more information on the breed.

Italian Greyhound Puppy Price!

Buying an Italian Greyhound will usually cost you in the range of $500 to $1500 USD.

Italian Greyhound Breeders: What to Look Out For!

Sadly, with many pedigrees these days, there are “puppy farmers” out there. They focus on the profit rather than the pups. Breeders have an overall responsibility for the breed and all their dogs’ health and well-being.

Not all breeders are responsible though, so it is important to consider a breeder as carefully as you may choose a pup.

Ask a few screening questions of Italian Greyhound Breeders. These include things like what health checks and certification they provide. Because IGs do have some known health conditions, health testing history from the breeder is important.

Ask whether you can visit their facilities and meet their other dogs. Also, inquire whether they provide ongoing support and/or advice if you need it.

Adopt, Don’t Shop! Ask an Animal Shelter About Italian Greyhound Rescues

Ask your local animal shelter whether they have any Italian Greyhounds needing a new home! Non-profit organizations and rescue groups can be the perfect place to start.

Italian Greyhound rescues can need rehoming for any number of reasons and can be ideal if you’re looking for an Iggy companion. The Italian Greyhound Club of America coordinates the IGCA Rescue Services where you can search by State and attend local events.

Common Questions about Italian Greyhounds

What is their coat like?

Are they easy to potty-train?

How often do you clip their nails?

Are they affectionate dogs?