The Italian Greyhound (in Italian: Piccolo Levriero Italiano) is a small breed of dog of the sight hound type, sometimes called an “I.G.” or an “Iggy”.
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.
The Italian Greyhound is an old breed, and dogs like it may have been around for more than two millennia. Miniature greyhounds are seen in 2,000-year-old artifacts from what’s now modern-day Turkey and Greece, and archaeological digs have turned up small Greyhound skeletons. Although the breed’s original purpose has been lost to history, the Italian Greyhound may have served as a hunter of small game in addition to his duties as a companion.
The American Kennel Club registered its first Italian Greyhound in 1886, and American breeders began to establish the breed in the United States. Although the American population of Italian Greyhounds was small, they may have helped save the breed from extinction.
The Italian Greyhound makes a good companion dog and enjoys the company of people. However, the breed’s slim build and short coat make them somewhat fragile, and injury can result from rough or careless play with children. The breed is good with the elderly or a couple without any children for it prefers a quiet household but they are also generally fine with older children. They also are equally at home in the city or the country, although they tend to do best in spacious areas. They are fast, agile and athletic.
Like any dog, daily exercise is a must for a happier, well-adjusted pet. Italian greyhounds love to run. The young dog is often particularly active, and this high level of activity may lead them to attempt ill-advised feats of athleticism that can result in injury. Due to their size, and in some lineages poor bone density, they are prone to broken legs. Italian Greyhounds make reasonably good watchdogs, as they bark at unfamiliar sounds. They may also bark at passers-by and other animals. However, they should not be considered “true” guard dogs as they are often aloof with strangers and easily spooked to run.
Italian Greyhounds can do well with children, but because they’re small and delicate, it’s especially important to teach kids that the dog is living animal, not a toy, who must be treated with love and respect. Many breeders will not sell a puppy to a household with children younger than ten years old.