@bailey_the_iggy

The Italian Greyhound

A Complete Breed Guide

LAST UPDATED 2 DECEMBER 2020

This article is written by Pet Circle's qualified veterinarian, Dr Kes Holliday, DVM, BSc.

The Italian Greyhound is a toy-sized dog with a big personality! With their sweet, affectionate nature, preference for indoor living and graceful appearance, the Italian Greyhound makes an excellent companion dog.

Contents:
At a glance
History
Personality
Nutrition
Common health problems
Behaviour
Further reading

Top toy and lifestyle recommendations for Italian Greyhounds

Tuffy piglet

Plush toys are a guaranteed favourite of the Italian Greyhound - even better if they squeak!

Kong Classic

Food-dispensing toys provide mental stimulation for your intelligent Iggy and keep them out of mischief.

Fuzzyard Pyjamas

With a thin coat and minimal body fat, Italian Greyhounds really feel the cold. Keep your Iggy snuggly and stylish at the same time with these cute PJs!.

TS Pet Products Plush Canopy Bed

A warm cosy bed is an essential for any Iggy. That’s when they’re not in your bed of course!

At a glance

     

Breed size:

Place of origin:

Other names:

Toy

Mediterranean

Iggy

Breed group:

Energy level:

Weight range:

Sighthound

High

3 - 6 kg

Life expectancy:

Tendency to bark:

Height range:

14 - 15 years

Low

33 - 38 cm at withers

Drool factor:

Social needs:

Coat length:

Low

High - Italian Greyhounds love to spend time with their close family

Short

Shedding factor:

Overall grooming needs:

Colours:

Low

Minimal coat care, require regular toothbrushing

Black, fawn, red, cream or blue. Can have white markings

History

The Italian Greyhound has an ancient lineage, believed to have been introduced to the Mediterranean region around 600 BC by the Romans. Mummified remains of hounds similar to the IG have been excavated from the tombs of the pharaohs in Egypt. Italian Greyhounds rose in popularity in southern Europe throughout the Middle Ages. Hounds like the Italian Greyhound were originally bred as hunting dogs, although became well-known as companion dogs with notable owners including Mary Queen of Scots and Queen Victoria!

Today, Italian Greyhounds are popular apartment pets due to their affectionate nature, preference for indoor living and minimal grooming requirements.

Personality

@iggy_yes

Italian Greyhounds are an intelligent, gentle and affectionate breed. They have a tendency to closely bond with their family members and can be somewhat shy or aloof with strangers. Like other sighthounds, they have a very strong prey drive which can make recall training difficult.

Italian Greyhounds love basking in sunny spots or - even better - being snuggled under the blankets with you, making them the perfect companion dog. They don’t tolerate cold or wet conditions and should not be left outdoors while you are not at home.

The Italian Greyhound gets on well with small dogs and can even make a good cat companion. Take care when introducing Italian Greyhounds to larger dogs, as rough play could result in injury.

Nutrition

As a toy breed dog with a small stomach and fast gut transit time, Italian Greyhounds need to be fed a diet that is both highly nutritious and digestible. Italian Greyhound puppies in particular need small, frequent meals - they may suffer from hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) if there is too long a gap between meals. Adult Italian Greyhounds are prone to dental disease, therefore an oral care or veterinary dental diet may be best to help maintain clean teeth and healthy gums.

Top food recommendations for adult Italian Greyhounds

Hills Science Diet Adult Small Paws

Very high quality diet formulated to meet the high energy needs of toy and small breed dogs.

Royal Canin Mini Adult

A premium, highly digestible diet with the additional nutrients that bind salivary calcium which helps to reduce dental tartar formation.

Pro Plan Adult Essential Health Small & Mini

Australian-made, premium diet for toy and small breeds with the inclusion of prebiotic fibres to help improve digestion.

Hills Prescription Diet Td Small Bites Dental Care

Veterinary dental diet that uses unique kibble fibre technology to mechanically clean teeth during meals..

Top food recommendations for puppy Italian Greyhounds

Hills Science Diet Puppy Small Paws

Premium puppy diet containing DHA for brain and eye development, plus antioxidants and vitamins to help support your growing Iggy puppy’s immune system.

Advance Small Puppy

Australian-made, premium puppy food with a small sized rehydratable kibble great for tiny mouths.

Royal Canin Mini Puppy

Includes antioxidants for strong immunity plus nutrients that bind to salivary calcium for good oral health.

Eukanuba Puppy Small Breed

Another premium Australian-made puppy diet specifically formulated for small and toy breeds.

Common Health Problems

Despite their small size, Italian Greyhounds are generally quite healthy and long-lived dogs. However, they can be prone to injuries, such as fractures, or diseases including dental disease, epilepsy, eye conditions and hypothyroidism. This breed also has a sensitivity to the chemical group called organophosphates.

Bone fractures

Growing Italian Greyhounds are prone to accidental bone fractures, most commonly in the lower forelimb (above the wrist). While any dog breed can break a leg, Italian Greyhounds are more susceptible due to aspects of their anatomy such as narrower bones.

Many of the factors predisposing dogs to fractures are inherited. Ensure to select a reputable breeder of Italian Greyhounds. Feed your Iggy pup a premium quality diet which has the correct balance of calcium and phosphorus to ensure strong and healthy bone development.

While it’s impossible to stop your Italian Greyhound puppy jumping completely, try to minimise hazards around the home as much as possible. For instance, avoid letting other people or children pick up your puppy as your pup may choose to launch themselves from their arms, causing severe stress on the bones when landing. Keeping your Italian Greyhound in slim body condition throughout life will reduce the strain on their slender leg bones.

Dental Disease

Unfortunately Italian Greyhounds are very prone to developing dental disease. Dental disease starts with plaque build-up on the teeth, which eventually hardens to tartar (calculus) and causes gum inflammation (gingivitis). Not only is dental disease painful and unsightly, it’s a risk factor for other conditions such as kidney and heart disease as the infection spreads throughout the bodye

The number one way to prevent dental disease is by regular toothbrushing. Start a brushing regime when your Italian Greyhound is a puppy so they learn to tolerate it. Special dental diets and chews can be a helpful adjunct to brushing. Your vet can assess your Iggy’s oral health during check ups and schedule a dental cleaning in the clinic when required.

For more information on dental home care, check out Dental care for dogs.

Diseases affecting the eyes

Cataracts occur when eyes have a cloudy appearance due to changes to the lens. Cataracts can lead to vision loss however they can be removed surgically.

Glaucoma is a painful condition of the eye that causes rapid blindness when left untreated. Signs of glaucoma may include squinting, redness of the white part of the eye and increased tear production. Over time, the eye itself will look swollen. Glaucoma is a medical emergency, so don’t hesitate to call your vet if you notice any of these signs in your dog.

Top health recommendations for Italian Greyhounds

Ezdog Toothbrush

The longer handle on this small toothbrush enables you to reach the very back teeth in your Italian Greyhounds mouth!

Greenies Teenie

Greenies help to reduce plaque and tartar when fed daily.

Plaque Off

A supplement powder containing Ascophyllum nodosum, an algae which helps fight plaque bacteria.

Simparica Trio

A handy chew that combines flea, tick, heartworm and intestinal worm protection in one.

Behaviour

@elietheitaliangrey

Early socialisation is important to ensure your Italian Greyhound becomes a happy, confident and well-rounded companion dog. This means safely introducing your puppy to a variety of people, pets and experiences. Having visitors to your house is a simple way to introduce your pup to new people.

Italian Greyhounds are an intelligent breed and can be easily trained. However, like all sighthounds, they have a ‘What’s in it for me?’ approach - so lots of praise and rewards are a must! Many owners report that Italian Greyhounds can be more difficult to house train compared to other dogs.

Italian Greyhounds were bred to have a strong prey drive and will readily drop everything to chase a rabbit, cat - or anything else furry or feathered! A secure yard with a high fence is a necessity, as is a leash when walking in a non-secured area. Have a look into fun lure coursing events which are a fabulous opportunity for your Iggy to chase to their heart’s content!

Italian Greyhounds adore being with their family. This means they can sometimes develop behavioural problems such as separation anxiety if left to their own devices.

Further Reading

Complete Beginner's Guide To Puppy Care

How To Spot A Good Pet Food

How to Toilet Train Your Puppy

Managing Separation Anxiety in Pets

How to Make Pet Dental Care Easier