Italian Greyhound

Table of Contents

The Italian Greyhound, often abbreviated as “IG,” is a delicate and graceful breed that exudes elegance and sophistication. Originating from the Mediterranean countries several centuries ago, this breed was revered by nobility and often seen in the laps of monarchs and aristocrats. Distinguished by its slender build and fine, short coat, the Italian Greyhound is the smallest of the sighthounds, standing at about 13 to 15 inches tall. Their sleek bodies, characterized by a gentle curve from the top of their skull to the tip of their tail, are built for speed, showcasing their historical role as a hunter.

However, today’s Italian Greyhounds are primarily companion animals, cherished for their affectionate nature and devotion to their owners. These dogs are inherently gentle, often shy, and can form strong bonds with their families. While they may exhibit a burst of energy in playful sprints, they equally enjoy lounging on soft cushions or under warm blankets. Their thin coats and lean bodies make them sensitive to cold weather, so they appreciate the warmth and comfort of indoor living. Despite their regal appearance, Italian Greyhounds are known for their playful and, at times, mischievous demeanor, making them endearing companions in the right homes.

Breed Snapshot

Life Expectancy:

14 to 15 years


Extra Small

Maintenance Level:


Shed Level


Best For

The Italian Greyhound is best suited for individuals and families looking for a loyal and affectionate companion that thrives on close bonds and human interaction. The brief analysis are given below:

  • Companion Seekers: At its core, the Italian Greyhound is a companion dog. They have been bred for centuries to be by their owner’s side, offering warmth, comfort, and unwavering loyalty. Their devotion is profound, and they often form an inseparable bond with their human counterparts.
  • Apartment Dwellers: Due to their petite size and moderate exercise requirements, Italian Greyhounds are particularly well-suited for apartment living. They don’t need a vast space to run around, but they do enjoy a daily walk and occasional sprint in a secure area.
  • Calm Households: Italian Greyhounds thrive in peaceful environments. Their sensitive and somewhat timid nature means they are more comfortable in homes without a lot of chaos. Households with older children or adults who can handle them gently and with respect will be ideal.
  • Urban Enthusiasts: The breed’s adaptability makes them an excellent fit for city living. Their quiet demeanor, small stature, and moderate exercise requirements make them easy to manage in urban settings, provided they get their daily walks.
  • Comfort Providers: This breed loves luxury. Given their thin coat and lean physique, they’re always seeking warmth. They’d cherish a soft bed or a warm spot on the couch. Owners who don’t mind sharing their living spaces and occasionally their lap will find a joyful companion in the Italian Greyhound.
  • History and Art Lovers: The Italian Greyhound’s rich history and their representation in Renaissance art might appeal to those who have an appreciation for historical breeds. Owning one feels like possessing a piece of living history.
  • Patient Trainers: While they are intelligent and eager to please, Italian Greyhounds can sometimes be stubborn. They respond best to positive reinforcement training methods. Ideal owners are those willing to invest the time and patience needed for training and early socialization.
  • Those Seeking a Low-Maintenance Coat: Their short, sleek coat is relatively low-maintenance. While they do shed, it’s minimal compared to many other breeds. Regular brushing and occasional baths will keep them looking their best.
  • Sighthound Enthusiasts: For those who admire the sighthound group’s elegance, agility, and history but want a smaller-sized dog, the Italian Greyhound offers the perfect blend.

In essence, the Italian Greyhound, with its combination of grace, history, and affection, is best for individuals who can provide a loving, stable, and indoor-oriented environment. It is a breed that asks for gentleness, and understanding, and in return, offers unparalleled companionship.

Italian Greyhound​ Traits

Breed Characteristics

The Italian Greyhound is a breed known for its elegance, sleek physique, and gentle demeanor. Here are the distinct characteristics of this remarkable breed:


Exercise Needs
Health Issues
Barking Tendencies
Grooming Needs
Shedding Level
Training Needs
Good With Kids
Good With Cats
Good As A Service Dog
Good For Apartments & Small Homes
Biting Tendencies
Energy Level
Good With Other Dogs
Sensitive to Cold Weather
Sensitive to Warm Weather
Good For First Time Pet Parents

Breed Appearance

The Italian Greyhound, often considered the “miniature Greyhound,” retains the larger breed’s essential characteristics. These dainty dogs, with their sleek frames and heartwarming personalities, have endeared themselves to countless individuals and families worldwide. While they do require care in terms of protection from extreme temperatures and gentle handling due to their delicate build, their affectionate nature and relatively low maintenance needs make them an excellent pet choice for many.

1. Ears
An Affenpinscher’s small, pointed ears can be perky, relaxed or dropped slightly to each side.
2. Eyes
Small and fine in texture. When alert, the ears are raised and folded at the level of the head.
3. Build
Slender and refined with a deep chest, a characteristic of sighthounds. They have a graceful and athletic appearance, built for speed.
4. Height
Italian Greyhounds typically stand between 13 to 15 inches tall at the shoulder.
5. Coat Length
Their coat is short, sleek, and fine. It lies close to the body and is soft to the touch.
6. Coat Color
Italian Greyhounds come in a variety of colors and patterns, including fawn, blue, black, and cream. They can be solid or have markings.
7. Tail
Tapering and slender, the tail is carried low when relaxed.
8. Weight
Generally, they weigh between 7 to 14 pounds, with some slight variation depending on the individual.

Italian Greyhound​ Temperament

The Italian Greyhound boasts a temperament that is affectionate, gentle, and often slightly reserved. These dogs are known for their deep loyalty to their families, thriving on close companionship and often forming strong bonds with their human counterparts. While they display a dignified and calm demeanor indoors, they still retain playful bursts of energy, showcasing their sighthound lineage. Their sensitivity means they flourish in serene environments and might be timid around loud noises or unfamiliar situations. Italian Greyhounds can be somewhat aloof with strangers but warm up once they sense no threat. Their intelligence, combined with an occasional independent streak, means that early socialization and consistent training are beneficial.

How to Care for a Italian Greyhound​

Caring for an Italian Greyhound requires understanding their unique needs. With their slender build, they need daily walks and play sessions for exercise but should be protected from extreme temperatures; a sweater in cold conditions and shade during hot days are advisable. Their fine coat demands minimal grooming, yet regular brushing helps reduce shedding.

Italian Greyhounds form strong emotional bonds with their families and thrive on companionship, so ample time for bonding and early socialization are crucial. Health-wise, regular dental care and vet check-ups are essential, especially since the breed can be prone to dental issues and joint problems. Providing a well-balanced diet tailored for small breeds further ensures their well-being.

Grooming an Italian Greyhound is a relatively straightforward affair due to their short and fine coat. Regular brushing, about once a week, helps remove loose hairs and keeps their coat looking sleek. It also provides an opportunity to check their skin for any issues, as their thin coat can sometimes make them susceptible to skin irritations or blemishes.

Bathing doesn’t need to be frequent; once a month or when they get particularly dirty is usually enough. When bathing, it’s essential to use a gentle dog shampoo to ensure their skin doesn’t become dry or irritated.

Their nails should be trimmed regularly, as long nails can cause discomfort or lead to issues with their gait. Given their susceptibility to dental problems, brushing their teeth several times a week with dog-specific toothpaste is advised. Lastly, a routine check of their ears for signs of infection, wax buildup, or parasites should be a regular part of the grooming regimen.

Training an Italian Greyhound requires a blend of consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement. Known for their intelligence and eagerness to please, these dogs can grasp commands relatively quickly. However, they sometimes display an independent streak, typical of sighthounds, which may pose occasional challenges in training.

Early socialization is vital for Italian Greyhounds. Introducing them to various environments, people, and other animals at a young age helps shape them into well-adjusted adults. Puppy training classes can be beneficial in providing structured learning environments and socialization opportunities.

Positive reinforcement methods, such as treats, praise, and play, are the most effective when training this breed. Harsh corrections or punitive measures can be counterproductive, as Italian Greyhounds are sensitive and may become wary or anxious.

Key areas of focus during training should include basic commands like “sit,” “stay,” “come,” and “heel.” Given their sighthound nature, a reliable recall is essential, especially if they are to be allowed off-leash in open areas. Toilet training can sometimes be a challenge, so consistent routines and praising them when they do their business in the correct spot will aid the process.

It’s worth noting that while Italian Greyhounds can be trained for various dog sports, including agility and obedience, their primary motivation is often their bond with their owner rather than an inherent drive to work or perform tasks. Thus, making training sessions fun and engaging will yield the best results.

The diet and nutrition of an Italian Greyhound play a pivotal role in maintaining its health, energy levels, and overall well-being. When choosing food for your Italian Greyhound, consider the following:

  1. High-Quality Commercial Dog Food: Opt for premium commercial dog food brands that list real meat (like chicken, beef, or fish) as the primary ingredient. Avoid foods with fillers like corn and wheat, which might not provide the necessary nutrients and can sometimes cause allergies.

  2. Protein & Fat: Being lean and muscular, Italian Greyhounds require a diet rich in protein to support muscle health. Healthy fats, such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, are vital for maintaining their sleek coat and supporting cognitive functions.

  3. Carbohydrates: Whole grains and vegetables can be a good source of energy and fiber. However, some dogs may be grain-sensitive, so it’s essential to monitor your dog for any allergic reactions.

  4. Vitamins & Minerals: Ensure the food includes essential vitamins and minerals. Foods enriched with antioxidants, chondroitin, and glucosamine can be beneficial, especially for older dogs, to support joint health.

  5. Avoid Human Foods: Certain human foods can be toxic to dogs, including chocolate, grapes, onions, and xylitol (a common sweetener). Always be cautious about what your dog has access to and avoid feeding them table scraps.

  6. Water: Fresh water should be available at all times. Hydration is crucial for digestion and overall bodily functions.

  7. Special Needs: Puppies, adults, and senior dogs have different nutritional needs. Ensure you’re feeding life stage-appropriate food. Similarly, pregnant or nursing Italian Greyhounds might have specific dietary requirements.

  8. Monitor Weight: Due to their slim build, it’s essential to monitor your Italian Greyhound’s weight. Overfeeding can lead to obesity, which can strain their delicate frames and lead to other health issues. Conversely, underfeeding can result in malnutrition.

  9. Consultation: Regularly consult with a veterinarian to ensure your dog’s dietary needs are being met, especially if you notice changes in appetite, weight, or digestion.

  10. Homemade Diets: If considering a homemade diet or raw diet, it’s essential to consult with a veterinarian or canine nutritionist to ensure a balanced and complete diet.

In conclusion, feeding your Italian Greyhound a balanced, high-quality diet will not only support its physical health but also contribute to a happier, more active life. Regular vet check-ups and being attuned to any changes in your dog’s eating habits or weight are crucial components of responsible pet ownership.

Italian Greyhounds, despite their petite size, are energetic and agile dogs that require regular exercise to keep them mentally stimulated and physically fit. Here’s what you should know about their exercise needs:

  1. Daily Walks: A daily walk, lasting anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes, is essential for Italian Greyhounds. This not only helps them burn off energy but also provides mental stimulation as they explore their surroundings.

  2. Short Sprints: True to their sighthound lineage, Italian Greyhounds love to run. Providing them with opportunities for short, controlled sprints in a secure area, like a fenced yard, can be a great way for them to exercise their natural instincts.

  3. Indoor Play: Italian Greyhounds are known for their playful nature. Engaging them in indoor games like fetch or tug can be a good way to give them some physical activity, especially during adverse weather conditions.

  4. Mental Exercise: Mental stimulation is just as vital as physical activity. Puzzle toys, hide-and-seek games, or training sessions can be great ways to keep their minds sharp.

  5. Agility & Obedience: Given their agility and intelligence, Italian Greyhounds can excel in dog sports. Training them for agility courses or obedience trials can be both fun and rewarding.

  6. Socialization: Regular playdates with other well-behaved dogs can provide both exercise and essential social interaction. However, always supervise play sessions to ensure they don’t get too rough, given the Italian Greyhound’s delicate build.

  7. Protection from Elements: Due to their thin coat and lean body, Italian Greyhounds can be sensitive to cold or extremely hot weather. During colder months, consider getting them a dog sweater or jacket for outdoor activities. In hot weather, it’s best to exercise them during the cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or evening.

  8. Safety First: When off-leash, ensure they’re in a secure area. Their sighthound instincts might kick in if they spot something interesting, and they could take off unexpectedly.

  9. Joint Health: Remember, due to their slender build, they can be prone to joint issues. Regular, moderate exercise is beneficial, but avoid activities that put too much strain on their joints.

In summary, while Italian Greyhounds aren’t as demanding in their exercise needs as some larger breeds, they still require consistent physical activity and mental engagement. Balancing regular walks with play and training will ensure they remain happy, healthy, and well-adjusted companions.

The Italian Greyhound, with its delicate constitution and affectionate nature, thrives best in specific environments that cater to its needs:

  1. Indoor Living: Italian Greyhounds are primarily indoor dogs. Their thin coat and lean body make them sensitive to extreme weather conditions, especially cold. They cherish the comfort of a warm bed or a cozy spot on the couch.

  2. Calm Atmosphere: Due to their sensitive temperament, they flourish in peaceful, stable environments. Loud noises, chaotic households, or sudden changes can make them anxious.

  3. Secure Outdoor Spaces: If you have an outdoor space, it should be securely fenced. Italian Greyhounds are fast runners, and their sighthound instincts might compel them to chase after moving objects. A secure yard ensures they can play and sprint safely.

  4. Soft Landing: These dogs enjoy lounging on soft surfaces. Providing them with plush dog beds or cushions can be ideal, especially since they might seek elevated spots to rest, like sofas.

  5. Safety Measures: Their slender limbs make them somewhat prone to injuries. Homes should be free of sharp or slippery surfaces, and care should be taken that they don’t jump from heights, risking injury.

  6. Regular Companionship: Italian Greyhounds are companion animals and can become distressed if left alone for extended periods. An environment where they have regular company, whether it’s from family members or other pets, is ideal.

  7. Socialization Opportunities: While they might be reserved with strangers, regular interaction with familiar humans and other well-mannered dogs can be beneficial for their social skills.

  8. Training Spaces: Having a quiet spot for training sessions can help in maintaining their focus, as they can sometimes be easily distracted.

  9. Protection from Elements: If you reside in colder climates, ensure your home remains warm during winters. Conversely, in hot conditions, air-conditioning or fans can help keep them comfortable.

  10. Mental Stimulation: Apart from physical comforts, an environment that provides them with toys, puzzles, and interactive sessions can keep them mentally stimulated and content.

In essence, the ideal environment for an Italian Greyhound is one of comfort, stability, and regular companionship. Providing a balance of physical comfort, emotional bonding, and mental stimulation will ensure they live a contented and fulfilled life.

Italian Greyhound​ Health

Italian Greyhounds are generally healthy dogs, but like all breeds, they are prone to specific health issues. Awareness and proactive care can ensure your Italian Greyhound leads a long, healthy life.

  • Dental Issues: One of the most common health concerns for Italian Greyhounds is dental disease. Their small mouths can lead to overcrowded teeth, making them more susceptible to periodontal disease. Regular dental check-ups, teeth cleanings, and brushing at home are crucial.

  • Patellar Luxation: This condition occurs when the dog’s kneecap (patella) is dislocated from its natural position. While it’s often hereditary, early detection and appropriate treatment can manage the condition effectively.

  • Hip Dysplasia: Although less common than in larger breeds, Italian Greyhounds can suffer from hip dysplasia. It’s a condition where the hip joint doesn’t fit into the hip socket properly. Regular vet check-ups can detect early signs, and weight management can help alleviate the strain on the hips.

  • Hypothyroidism: This condition arises from an underactive thyroid gland, leading to issues like obesity, hair loss, or lethargy. It’s manageable with medication and regular monitoring.

  • Legg-Calvé-Perthes Disease: A decrease in blood supply to the femur bone results in its disintegration. It’s commonly observed in small breeds and can be treated with surgery.

  • Bone Fractures: Due to their slender build and delicate bones, they can be more susceptible to fractures, especially leg fractures. It’s essential to ensure they don’t engage in risky behaviors, like jumping from heights.

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): An eye disease that can lead to blindness, PRA is detectable years before the dog shows signs of blindness. Breeders should have breeding dogs tested by veterinary ophthalmologists.

  • Color Dilution Alopecia: Dogs with dilute coat colors (like blue or fawn) might suffer from this condition, leading to hair thinning or loss. While it doesn’t affect the dog’s health beyond the skin, it’s something potential owners should be aware of.

  • Sensitivity to Drugs: Italian Greyhounds, like other sighthounds, have low body fat, which can affect the metabolization of specific drugs. Always consult with your vet about medications and dosages.

  • Heart Conditions: While not overly common, some Italian Greyhounds can develop heart issues. Regular vet check-ups can help in early detection and management.

Prevention and Regular Care: Regular veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet, and a safe living environment can prevent many potential health issues. Additionally, buying from reputable breeders who test for common inherited health conditions can ensure you get a healthy puppy.

It’s essential to stay informed and proactive about the health of your Italian Greyhound. While they might face certain health challenges, with the right care, they can lead long, happy lives.

Italian Greyhound​ Breed Comparison and Consideration

The Italian Greyhound, with its sleek build and reserved demeanor, offers a distinctive choice among dog breeds. Let’s see how it stacks up against a few other breeds:

  1. Vs. Whippet: Whippets are often considered a mid-sized version of sighthounds compared to the smaller Italian Greyhound. While both breeds share a similar body shape and temperament, Whippets are more robust and can have a slightly higher energy level.

  2. Vs. Standard Greyhound: The standard Greyhound is much larger and was historically bred for game hunting and later for racing. Italian Greyhounds, while sharing lineage, were more often bred for companionship in historical European courts.

  3. Vs. Chihuahua: Both breeds are small, but Chihuahuas are more compact with a more dome-shaped head. Chihuahuas may be more assertive and can display a bigger dog personality in a tiny body, while Italian Greyhounds have a more reserved and gentle demeanor.

  4. Vs. Pug: Pugs are stocky and sturdy with a distinctive wrinkled face and curly tail. They’re playful and often clownish, contrasting with the Italian Greyhound’s more refined and calm nature.

  5. Vs. Dachshund: Dachshunds have a unique elongated body and were bred for hunting small game. They can be more independent and stubborn in nature, while Italian Greyhounds lean towards being more sensitive and eager to please.

  6. Vs. Shih Tzu: Shih Tzus are toy breeds with a long, flowing coat and a friendly disposition. They’re adaptable and outgoing, whereas Italian Greyhounds might be a bit more reserved, especially around strangers.

Considerations for Italian Greyhound Adoption:

  • Space: Italian Greyhounds don’t require a vast space but should have a safe area to run and play.

  • Climate: Their thin coat and lack of body fat make them sensitive to cold. Consider this if you live in colder regions.

  • Training: They’re intelligent but can be a bit independent. Consistent, gentle training methods work best.

  • Socialization: Early socialization helps them become well-rounded dogs, as they can be reserved or timid.

  • Healthcare: Regular vet check-ups, especially dental care, are essential.

  • Companionship: They thrive on human interaction and might not do well left alone for extended periods.

When choosing a breed, it’s essential to consider your lifestyle, living situation, and personal preferences. While the Italian Greyhound is a wonderful companion, understanding its characteristics compared to other breeds ensures a harmonious match.


Italian Greyhounds are typically between 13-15 inches tall at the shoulder and usually weigh around 7-14 pounds.

No breed is truly hypoallergenic, but Italian Greyhounds, with their short coat and minimal shedding, often fare well with allergy sufferers.

While they can be gentle and affectionate with children, their delicate build means interactions should be supervised. They usually get along with other dogs but might chase smaller pets due to their sighthound instincts.

Their short, fine coat requires minimal grooming. Regular brushing and occasional baths will suffice. Dental care, however, is crucial due to their predisposition to dental issues.

They’re intelligent and generally eager to please, but they can have a streak of independence. Consistent, positive reinforcement methods are most effective.

Yes, their size and temperament make them suitable for apartment living, as long as they get their daily walks and playtime.

Yes, their thin coat and low body fat make them sensitive to colder temperatures. In cold weather, they often benefit from wearing sweaters or jackets.

They can be, but potential owners should be aware of their sensitivity and the need for gentle training methods.

No special diet is needed, but a high-quality commercial or home-cooked dog food, approved by a vet, is recommended.

Yes! Despite their size, Italian Greyhounds are agile and can reach speeds up to 25 miles per hour in short bursts.

Generally, they are quiet dogs, but they can become vocal if they’re bored, anxious, or want attention.

Top Takeaways

The Italian Greyhound is a paragon of canine elegance, characterized by its sleek and graceful stature. Beyond their aesthetic appeal, they are deeply sensitive souls, forming profound bonds with their human families and often reflecting the emotions of their environment. One of the delights of having an Italian Greyhound is the ease of grooming, thanks to their short and fine coat which sheds minimally. However, while they are not as demanding as some athletic breeds, they do cherish their playtime, enjoying short sprints and moderate exercise to keep them both mentally and physically stimulated. Whether you’re drawn to their poised appearance or their tender disposition, the Italian Greyhound makes for a charming and loyal companion.

Top Italian Greyhound​ Names

These are the top Affenpinscher  names as chosen by Pawstray pet parents!

Female Names


Ginger Adam









Male Names











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