Dog Health & More
The Italian Greyhound dog breed was a favorite companion of noblewomen in the Middle Ages, especially in Italy. But this small hound was more than a lap dog, having the speed, endurance, and determination to hunt small game. These days, he's a family dog whose beauty and athleticism is admired in the show ring and in obedience, agility, and rally competitions.
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If you're an art lover, you may have seen the Italian Greyhound in centuries-old portraits, immortalized with their noble owners by famous artists. This slender, elegant dog is the smallest of the sighthounds — the group of dogs bred to hunt by sight and give chase — and closely resembles his much larger Greyhound cousin.
Agile and athletic, he has a small, muscular body and an elegant high-stepping gait. The IG, as he's often called, retains his instinct for hunting small game and will chase anything that moves. He can reach top speeds of 25 miles per hour, so if he gets loose he won't be easy to catch. Although he's small, he has lots of energy and appreciates plenty of opportunities to exercise. A fit IG can even make a good jogging partner.
The Italian Greyhound has a gentle personality, loving and affectionate with family members, but often reserved or shy with strangers. Despite his mild nature, he has a surprisingly deep, big-dog bark, making him a good watchdog — although he's too small to back up his barks and provide any actual protection.
This is an intelligent breed who can be easy to train, but you'll need to make it fun for him to overcome his "what's in it for me?" attitude. When well trained, he can shine in dog sports such as obedience training, agility, and rally. The athletic, graceful IG seems built for agility, and many love the sport and do it well.
What they don't do well is housetraining. Like many small breeds, the IG can be difficult to housetrain, and some dogs are never completely trustworthy in the house.
Aside from the occasional cleanup, life with an IG is both restful and zestful. He loves snuggling with his people for a while, then flying around the house and jumping on furniture and tabletops. IGs are catlike in their love of high places, and you'll often find them perched on the backs of chairs, on windowsills, or any other high spot they can reach. Older IGs are more sedate and will cuddle with you on your recliner and just enjoy the day.
On sunny days, expect to find your IG sunbathing in the yard, one of his favorite pastimes. He loves warmth and is fussy about getting cold or wet. It's not unusual for IG owners to have a sheltered area in the yard so their dogs can go potty on rainy days without getting their feet wet. At night, he'll burrow beneath the covers on your bed.
Your IG will demand attention if he feels he's being ignored. Privacy becomes a distant memory once you own an Italian Greyhound, because he'll follow you everywhere at all times. He's also curious and will investigate anything that catches his interest.
The Italian Greyhound is one of those small dogs with a big personality. He's affectionate, possessive, and loving, charming his way into your life. If you can give him the attention, exercise, and training he needs — not to mention tons of love — then the Italian Greyhound can make an elegant and loveable addition to your household.