The Italian Greyhound is a small sight hound, which originated more than 4,000 years ago in Greece and Turkey. Due to its popularity in Renaissance Italy, the breed was named after the country. The breed is mainly a companion breed but has also been used for hunting purposes, especially for hunting falcons. The breed also enjoys dog agility and racing as well as lure coursing. It can reach speeds of up to 25 miles per hour.
The Italian Greyhound, weighing 7 to 11 pounds and standing 13 to 15 inches tall, is the smallest of the sight hounds. The breed looks like a miniature Greyhound with its deep chest, long legs, long neck and tucked abdomen. The coat is extremely short and generally brown with white spotting.
The breed is very affectionate and loves people; despite its fragility, it truly enjoys company. It is a very active breed which needs exercise or a task in order to keep it from attempting escalated feats of athleticism. The breed is very intelligent and expects rewards when being trained. Training the Italian Greyhound takes a great deal of patience. The breed also makes a decent watchdog, due to the fact that it tends to bark at unfamiliar sounds. It is not a good guard dog, however; it is very skittish when new people actually come around. The Italian Greyhound hunts by sight and has a high predator drive, so it should be kept on a leash at all times.
The breed needs very little grooming, but it is high maintenance in other areas. Due to its short coat, the breed may refuse to venture outside in inclement weather, so it may need a place inside to relieve itself. The bred also has a small bladder, making housebreaking a challenge. The eating habits of the Italian Greyhound are also very sporadic.
The Italian Greyhound may experience one or more of the following problems: epilepsy, Legg-Perthes disease, patellar luxation, von Willebrand’s disease, progressive retinal atrophy, color dilution alopecia, leg breaks, cataracts, vitreous degeneration, liver shunts, autoimmune hemolytic anemia, periodontal disease, hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s disease.