Italian Greyhound (Piccolo Levriero Italiano)

Country of origin:
Height (cm):
Weight (kg):
Life span (years):
black, grey, and isabella (pale yellowish, beige)
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FCI code:
Good with kids:
Pros Cons
  • graceful
  • forms strong bonds with its owner
  • smart
  • docile
  • has no smell
  • can't be kept in a kennel
  • sensitive to loud voice
  • needs a lot of physical activity

The Italian Greyhound is a smaller version of the regular Greyhound, which has been greatly favoured by the Italian aristocracy during the Renaissance. The breed deserved such popularity for its noble appearance, sweet temperament and miniature size. Nowadays it’s still a highly desirable family pet whose sporting talents and astounding beauty make it perfectly suitable for dog shows as well as obedience competitions and agility.


The Italian Greyhound is an ancient dog, which direct ancestors have been already in existence two thousand years ago. This breed was most probably bred down in size from a bigger Sight Hound around this time on the territory of a modern-day Turkey and Greece. However some dog experts stick to the Egyptian or Persian origin of the Italian Greyhound. No matter where it appeared for the first time the depiction of a remarkably similar dog can often be met in Greek and Roman masterpieces from around three millennia ago.

It is debatable as to what the initial goal for inventing the Italian Greyhound was. It’s usually suggested that it was used for hunting on such small game as hares and rabbits. Other theory states that the dog’s main service was to eradicate various kinds of vermin especially rats. There is an opinion that the breed was originally kept exclusively as a companion dog.

In the XVI century the Italian Greyhound was imported to the Southern Europe by the Phoenician. It rapidly acquired many noble fanciers in this region, particularly in Italy. The breed can be seen on the paintings of many proclaimed Italian artists, for example Pisanello and Giotto di Bondone. The Italian Greyhound arrived in England in the XVII century where it also gained impressive following among the English aristocracy. Royal fans throughout the centuries comprise Mary, Queen of Scots, Princess Anne of Denmark, Charles I, Frederick the Great of Prussia, and Queen Victoria.

The Italian Greyhound was given a complete recognition of the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1886 and the American breeders soon set up consistent breeding practices in this country. The numbers of dogs in the United States was rather scarce but it played a crucial role in saving the Italian Greyhound. Over the periods of World Wars I and II, when the dogs breeding was totally abandoned, the breed became exceedingly rare in Europe and England. Each time wars were over British dog experts acquired those American-bred specimens to re-create the breed in European countries.

Presently the Italian Greyhound has much following all around the world and it’s almost exclusively kept as a good-natured, elegant and charismatic family pet.

The Italian Greyhound is renowned for its sweet and kind demeanour, which its breeders perfected for centuries. The dog manifests the outmost devotion to its masters and likes spending time lazing around on his couch. It does all right with children as long as they handle it with proper carefulness and respect. However this breed won’t become a perfect choice for families with children under the age of 12. The point is that the Italian Greyhound’s physique is too delicate so it can be unintentionally injured during the play. On the whole it won’t appreciate harshness in the game but it’s more likely to escape than to bite the offender. The even and gentle individuality of the dog makes it one of the most suitable companions for elderly people.

Appropriately socialised Italian Greyhound demonstrates friendliness and its natural kindness in the presence of strange people. At the same time some specimens are prone to become overly shy and nervous when they meet a new person. The dog is going to become a quite acceptable watchdog with its vigilance and distinct bark. However it will definitely fail to perform qualitatively the responsibilities of a guard dog due to its affable nature and miniature size.

The Italian Greyhound hasn’t been noticed in any kind of aggressive inclinations towards other canines. This breed will be glad to share its existence with other dog of the same size or smaller. Because of its overall fragility it certainly doesn’t enjoy rough play with other dogs and would prefer the company of a dogs, which has the same attitude. Despite its primarily role as a companion dog it still retains much of its hunting instinct. Your hamster will most probably eventually become the quarry of the Italian Greyhound if you keep them in the same household. However, it will get along with home cat if they were timely and correctly introduced to each other.

Health problems
The most common problems for the breed include:

• problems with teeth;
• anesthesia sensitivity;
• allergies;
• bone fractures (particularly of the legs);
• epilepsy;
• hypothyroidism;
• alopecia;
• retained testicles;
• eyes problems;
• patellar luxation;
• legg-perthes disease;
• autoimmune disorders;
• liver shunts;
• deafness;
• von Willebrand’s disease .

The Italian Greyhound’ maintenance will consume very little of your time and effort. Its owner shouldn’t apply to bathing too often but it’s more convenient to rub this dog with soft and wet cloth in order to remove superficial dirt. The breed sheds insubstantially and some members are virtually no shedders.

The rest includes some common maintaining procedures as nail clipping and tooth brushing. This dog is prone to periodontal diseases and therefore it’s advisable to brush its teeth on a daily basis.

The Italian Greyhound has a mixed reputation as far as its training concerns. Being a quick-witted and capable dog it usually thrives in obedience competitions and agility. Simultaneously it tends to have mind of its own and prefers to decide for itself as to what the most appropriate action in any given situation.

This dog is remarkably sensitive to the position of the handler and if it deems that the human stands below it in the pack hierarchy then no amount of coaxing will make it to obey. It’s crucial to always resort to reward-based methods in the training of the Italian Greyhound since harsh treatment doesn’t work with it. It’s also known that it’s extremely hard to housebreak. So be prepared that your dog will fully mature considerably later than it usually happens with other breeds.

If compared to other small breeds the Italian Greyhound needs considerable amount of exercise. It requires a daily vigorous walk of minimum an hour length. This dog is an infamous escape artist so make sure that you never allow it off-leash unless in the safely enclosed territory.

The under exercised specimens tend to display excessive nervousness and destructiveness. The Italian Greyhound isn’t endowed with competitive nature as strong as the Collie or German Shepherd, but it does exceptionally well in agility, flyball and other canine sports.