Italian Greyhound information and care

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Italian Greyhound dog licking their lips in front of a grey backdrop.
Italian Greyhound Dog Licking Their Lips In Front Of A Grey Backdrop.

While Italian Greyhounds are known for their lightning-fast reflexes and playful personality, they prove to be some of the most adorable couch potatoes. If there’s a warm lap for them to lay in, that’s where you can find them a good majority of the time. Italian Greyhounds are miniature versions of Greyhounds. They have similar qualities in a smaller package, which makes them a little more manageable for new dog owners or those who gravitate towards smaller dog breeds.

Breed Overview




13 to 15 inches


7 to 14 pounds


Short and smooth

Coat Colors:

Grey, black, fawn, chocolate, tan, cream, red, sable, or a combination

Life Expectancy:

14 to 15 years

Characteristics of the Italian Greyhound

Affection LevelHigh
Friendliness High
Exercise NeedsMedium
Energy LevelMedium
Tendency to BarkMedium
Amount of SheddingMedium
Attention NeedsHigh
Tolerates Variable WeatherLow
Italian Greyhound Dog Licking Their Lips In Front Of A Grey Backdrop.

History of the Italian Greyhound

The Italian Greyhound breed is believed to have originated in Mediterranean lands, known today as Greece and Turkey, more than 2,000 years ago. Artifacts from the area show images of the breed and their miniature skeletons have been discovered in archaeological digs there.These dogs were likely kept around for multiple reasons—companionship and small game hunting. This makes sense due to the Italian Greyhound’s affectionate personality and high prey drive.

Italian Greyhounds made their way to southern Europe in the Middle Ages and became quite popular lap dogs, especially for aristocrats in Italy. In fact, that’s where the Italian Greyhound acquired its name. Portraits of Renaissance-era aristocrats often featured their furry companions. James I, Frederick the Great, Catherine the Great, Anne of Denmark, and Queen Victoria were just a few famous IG-enthusiasts.The American Kennel Club registered its first Italian Greyhound in 1886, marking the beginning of the breed’s establishment and popularity in the United States. World War I and II nearly wiped out the IG population, but American breeders were the ones who brought the Italian Greyhound breed back to life.

Italian Greyhound Care

Despite their seemingly chill disposition and genuine love for naps, Italian Greyhounds need regular exercise to thrive. Daily walks or obedience training are always appreciated, but spending time playing may just be their favorite activity aside from cuddling on your lap. These dogs are extremely playful, so a healthy game of fetch or a fun puzzle toy to play with will do well to get their energy out.

Italian Greyhound owners should remember the breed’s high prey drive when headed to off-leash dog parks. Small animals may give them an incentive to run off, even if they are professionally trained to stay by your side.

Positive, reward-based training is the best option for IGs, which rings true for most dog breeds. Trainers should be firm, as this breed can sometimes be stubborn or aloof. But small treats should always be given in return for tricks. Training through punishment simply will not work with this sensitive breed.

Grooming an Italian Greyhound will not require a huge commitment from owners. Because they have short hair, they only need occasional baths and brushing as needed. Their teeth should be brushed daily to prevent excess tartar buildup and their nails should be trimmed regularly. Those inexperienced with clipping dog’s nails should pay a visit to a professional groomer or veterinarian to get the job done accurately.As always, dog owners should scan their pet for rashes and other skin irritations while grooming. Rashes could be a sign of allergies.

White Italian Greyhound puppy sitting on the floor.
White Italian Greyhound Puppy Sitting On The Floor.
A small grey Italian Greyhound dog getting his nails clipped by a vet.
A Small Grey Italian Greyhound Dog Getting His Nails Clipped By A Vet.
An Italian Greyhound laying in bed with white sheets.
An Italian Greyhound Laying In Bed With White Sheets.
An Italian Greyhound looking to its right laying in green grass.
An Italian Greyhound Looking To Its Right Laying In Green Grass.

Common Health Problems

If you’re buying a puppy, always ensure you are buying from a reputable breeder. Breeders should screen for health conditions prior to posting individuals for sale and they should be able to provide buyers with a clean bill of health for each puppy.In general, Italian Greyhounds are healthy dogs with a long lifespan of 13 to 15 years. They do, however, sometimes suffer from ailments that experts believe are inherited.

Diet and Nutrition

It’s important to choose a healthy food for your pet, no matter the breed. Italian Greyhounds generally do not have particular diet needs, but they do require a good quality, balanced dog food. Some owners prefer feeding their IGs a diet made up of raw food, but others may prefer kibble. Either way, speak to your veterinarian to be sure your pup is getting all the minerals and vitamins they need to live a happy and healthy life.

Italian Greyhounds are eager eaters, so they will gladly gobble down treats. To maintain their weight, keep treats sparse and make sure they aren’t getting too much food. It’s important to prevent obesity in Italian Greyhounds, as their fine bones are not built to carry excess weight. Ensure that your IG is getting the proper amount of calories for their size, and consult your vet if you have any questions or concerns about weight management.

Best Dog Breeds for Kids
  • Affectionate and family-oriented

  • Easy-going when it comes to exercise

  • Simple grooming routine and baths only when needed

  • Shedding can be an issue

  • Can be difficult to train

  • High prey drive

Where to Adopt or Buy an Italian Greyhound

Be extra careful when buying a purebred Italian Greyhound puppy. For example, avoid puppies that are brindle, as brindle coloring is not possible in purebreds. If you get a so-called Italian Greyhound with this pattern, it is not purebred and you should not be paying top dollar. That’s just one tip that the breeder is not reputable. As when buying any puppy from a breeder, you should ask for a clean bill of health and ask to see the puppy’s mother to be sure it is healthy and being treated well.While it can be difficult to find an Italian Greyhound in a shelter, it’s definitely possible. Check at your local shelters regularly to find one in need of rescue, or look up Italian Greyhound-specific rescues in your area.Reputable Italian Greyhound rescues and breeders can be found across the nation.

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

Italian Greyhounds are lovable, friendly, and speedy. After reading this guide, you should be able to determine if this affectionate breed is the one for you. If you decide to get your own IG, be sure to check out the breeder and rescue information provided above to ensure you get a happy and healthy pet.

If you’re still unsure, or you simply want to learn more about specific dog breeds, continue your research by checking out these breed profiles for dogs similar to the Italian Greyhound.

There’s a whole world of potential dog breeds out there—with a little research, you can find the right one to bring home!