Italian Greyhound Dog Breed Temperament & Personality [Full Guide]

Italian Greyhound Dog Breed Temperament & Personality [Full Guide]
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Zoom-Zoom! That's the sound of an Italian Greyhound running around your yard. These track stars love to run and play just about any sport you care to teach them. Loving and intelligent, this dog breed makes a wonderful pet for any canine lover.



Italian Greyhound Physical Characteristics 

The first eye-catching feature of an Italian Greyhound is its slender form. If someone drew a dog as a stick figure, the picture would resemble a Greyhound. Their thin legs lead up to a lean body, on which rests a pint-sized head. Italian Greyhounds are elegant, featherweight beauties!


The Italian Greyhound has a long, tapered head. Their eyes are always dark; light-colored eyes are considered a serious fault in the breed. The folded ears lay back unless the dog is alert.


 An Italian Greyhound's neck is long and slender, much like the rest of its proportions. A smooth arch in the neck and body gives the breed a subtle grace. The body's arc is very pronounced. The Greyhound's prominent tuck-up (waistline) marks the highest point of the arch. The tail is skinny and curved at the end.


Italian Greyhound Size

The Italian Greyhound is as light as it looks! This small dog breed stands 13 to 15 inches at the shoulder and weighs no more than 14 pounds!



small brown dog biting pink toy



Italian Greyhound Personality

The Italian Greyhound has a delicate personality to match its thin form. This breed is sensitive! An Italian Greyhound is quick to pick up on people's energies and tones.


Negative vibes may frighten this breed, and they can be shy with strangers. Though the Italian Greyhound gives off an air of vulnerability, they're incredibly loving towards the ones they trust.


When you get past the bashful exterior, you'll find that Italian Greyhounds have a well-rounded lifestyle. They play hard and love hard. These lively, athletic pups can run for days, and even seasoned runners may have a hard time keeping up! Greyhounds are overjoyed when they're active. They'll waste no opportunity to turn your home or yard into a racetrack. 


When the race is finally over, an Italian Greyhound will want nothing more than to cuddle up in your lap. These dogs are like love sponges; they'll gladly soak up all the affection you have to offer. The Italian Greyhound forms a deep connection with its owner. Their dedication to their family is unmatched by other dog breeds. Some owners report that a Greyhound's dedication is so intense that it follows them everywhere they go.


If you love clingy dogs, this is definitely the breed for you! 


Related: Why Does My Dog Follow Me Everywhere? [Reasons & Training Tips]



Italian Greyhound Exercise

An Italian Greyhound is a natural athlete, so they need daily exercise! At least 40 to 60 minutes of activity is required every day to keep your Greyhound healthy. This breed is prone to excessive barking if they aren't sufficiently exercised. 


A brisk walk or jog will keep an Italian Greyhound happy, but make sure you keep up the pace. A slow walk won't do much to satisfy this energetic breed. Keep in mind that Italian Greyhounds have delicate limbs, and grass terrains will be safer than rocky paths or asphalt. 


Exercising your dog off-leash is always a good idea. Because this breed likes to chase small prey, it's best if you let this dog loose in an enclosed area. You don't want an Italian Greyhound running off, trust me. This breed may not be as fast as its English cousin, the Greyhound, but it can still reach speeds of up to 25 miles an hour!


Italian Greyhounds are super trainable, so activities like agility, flyball, discus, or racing are excellent ways to burn up that boundless energy. Once your dog learns these sports, you won't need to worry about boredom-induced barking. Italian Greyhounds take to sports like fish to water, and they'll eagerly participate. 



Italian Greyhound Training

The Italian Greyhound is an intelligent dog breed. Training is quick and painless once it starts, but it may take some encouragement to get this breed to begin training. As such an energetic dog, the Italian Greyhound is easily bored. You might need to convince your Greyhound that training is worth its while. Keep sessions short to ensure your dog doesn't lose focus, act out, or wander away.


Establishing routines for eating, bathroom, exercise, and playtime will help increase obedience in your Greyhound. The trick is finding a schedule that your dog wants to stick to. The sooner you get in the groove, the better behaved your Greyhound will be. Training can start as soon as ten weeks old. The earlier, the better!


Remember, the Italian Greyhound is a sensitive breed. This dog won't respond well to harsh discipline. To keep your dog's spirit intact, use lots of rewards during training. Don't be too hard on them when they get it wrong. Use a stern tone, but otherwise move on when the dog behaves incorrectly. 


Crate Training

This dog breed is prone to clinginess. To reduce your Greyhound's separation anxiety, train your dog to use a crate as soon as possible. Crate training helps dogs feel more secure when they're alone by getting them accustomed to isolation. The added benefit of having an enclosed space to call their own is soothing for dogs, who are traditionally den animals.


Begin by setting up a comfy crate in an area of your home that your dog approves of. It's essential that your dog likes the container because this training won't work if they feel uncomfortable in their designated room. 


Once you've established a crate, place your puppy inside and leave it alone. The first period of isolation should be about 10 minutes. When your dog is comfortable being by themselves for that amount of time, you can gradually lengthen the alone time. Eventually, your dog will become more tolerant of solitude. 


House Training

Any dog can be toilet trained with the proper methods. The key to house training your Greyhound is motivation. A dog door will also make the process much easier for you.


First, start by picking a place outside as your dog's designated bathroom area. Your Greyhound must like the spot because they are less likely to use it if they don't. Once the bathroom is established, take your dog to the area regularly, given them a command word like "go," and wait for them to defecate. If they don't defecate, take them inside, and return to the spot in 15 minutes. Reward them generously when they succeed!


This practice should establish a positive connection between your dog and the outdoor bathroom area. However, Italian Greyhounds might still be resistant to going outside because they get cold quickly. If you think this is the case with your dog, they can be trained to use a canine litter box with the same method described above. This way, they won't need to set a foot outside to use the bathroom.


As we mentioned, a dog door could be another solution to your dog's potty accidents. A dog door is an opening in a door covered by a flap that allows your pooch to leave the house whenever it pleases. A dog door can make it easier for your pet to get to its bathroom spot without relying on you to bring them there.



Italian Greyhound History

The Italian Greyhound hails from royalty, as it turns out. The breed is the smallest member of the sighthound family, and they are believed to have originated in Greece and Turkey some 2,000 years ago. 


The Italian Greyhound hails from royalty, as it turns out. This dog breed became most popular in Italy in the 1500s, hence their name. The Italian noble class especially favored this breed. Renaissance artwork from that time depicts several Italian Greyhounds living in luxury.


By the 1600s, the breed arrived in England, where it became popular amongst the nobles once again. Queen Victoria famously owned an Italian Greyhound. Over the centuries, other European royals owned Italian Greyhounds. These royals included Princess Anne of Denmark, Charles I, and Frederick the Great of Prussia.


The American Kennel Club registered the first Italian Greyhound in 1886. The breed didn't exactly explode in the United States, but the numbers were still significant. In England, the breed's population diminished during the World Wars because of its hefty price tag. Italian Greyhounds from the United States were shipped across the pond to help restore the UK breed.



cute puppy in owners arms



Italian Greyhound Health Problems

This dog breed doesn't come without some health issues. It's a good practice to take your Greyhound to the vet regularly for vaccinations, checkups, and preventative care. A skilled veterinarian will diagnose any issues in their early stages and could save your dog's life.


Patellar Luxation

Patellar luxation occurs when the patella (knee cap) slips out of its normal position. This condition is common to toy breeds, and Italian Greyhounds experience it frequently as well. Patellar luxation doesn't cause your dog much pain, but it can cause them to limp. A veterinarian can correct patellar luxation through surgery.


Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Progressive retinal atrophy is a degenerative genetic disease that affects your dog's retinas. The retina is the layer of the eye that contains light-detecting cells. Progressive retinal atrophy causes these photoreceptor cells to deteriorate slowly. The degeneration of the photoreceptor cells eventually leads to blindness. A common sign of PRA is impaired night vision. Unfortunately, there is no treatment for progressive retinal atrophy.



Hypothyroidism is a condition that occurs when your dog's thyroid, which regulates metabolism and growth, doesn't produce enough of the thyroid hormone. This hormone shortage slows down your dog's metabolism and causes symptoms like weight gain, lethargy, and skin changes. Hypothyroidism is managed through medication and lifestyle changes.


Broken Legs

It might come as no surprise that an Italian Greyhound's dainty legs are easily broken. Young, developing dogs are more prone to leg breaks, but even adult Greyhounds are at risk of injury. Poor landings, or even being stepped on, can snap a Greyhound's legs.



Cataracts are buildups of protein in the eye that obstruct the lens. These proteins block the eye and prevent light from entering, inhibiting your dog's vision. Cataracts are a primarily genetic condition, but puppies under a year old and dogs with higher blood sugar levels (diabetic dogs) are more at risk. Cataracts can be treated through surgical replacement of the eye lens.



How to Care for an Italian Greyhound

We know how much you love your pet! Your Greyhound deserves the best care they can get. If you want to keep your dog happy and healthy for years to come, a proper diet, exercise, and grooming routine are essential.


Nutrition and Feeding for Italian Greyhound

Your Italian Greyhound should eat 1/2 - 3/4 cup of high-calorie, dry food daily. It's best to split this amount into two meals to aid their metabolism. Try to avoid leaving out food all the time, as this can lead to excess snacking and weight gain.


The exact amount of food your dog eats depends on its activity level. A sedentary dog needs fewer calories than an active dog. 


When selecting a high-quality feed, look for a product with an animal protein in the first three ingredients. Try your best to avoid fillers, byproducts, and preservatives (BHA and BHT) at all costs. These substances don't contribute to your dog's health. Vegetable ingredients, on the other hand, add fiber and vitamins to your dog's diet.


Related: Organic Dog Food Vs. Non-Organic [In-Depth Comparison]


Coat Color And Grooming

The Italian Greyhound has one of the smoothest coats around! The glossy coat feels super soft to the touch. This dog breed comes in a variety of colors. Fawn, cream, black, blue, and red are all typical for Italian Greyhounds. Some white markings are acceptable.


How to Groom

This dog breed is incredibly easy to groom. The fine coats shed very little and don't pick up much dirt. You can get away with brushing this dog once a week. You only need to bathe it with a shampoo that's dog friendly when necessary. Other basic hygiene practices should be maintained. Trim the nails about every two weeks and brush the teeth daily.



Children And Other Pets

Another remarkable quality of Italian Greyhounds is their friendliness with children and other animals. This dog will rarely display aggression towards a little one. This breed likes to run around just as much as a kid, so it's not unusual for them to become fast friends with children. However, because of the breed's delicate form, they may need to be protected from a careless youth's rough handling.


This breed's social attitude with kids extends to other dogs. Although a Greyhound may be shy of strangers at first, they have a friendly manner when they do warm up to someone. You won't need to worry about this breed lashing out at another dog at the park — they'll be too shy to make that kind of move. 


Greyhounds might have the urge to chase other small pets, but they can be trained to behave with proper socialization.



grey dog in jean jacket



Rescue Groups

The Italian Greyhound Rescue Foundation is a volunteer organization that began in 1997. This organization dedicates itself to saving the breed and has rescued over 8,000 dogs since 2015. They hold an annual auction to raise money for their rescue program.


The Northern California Italian Greyhound Rescue Foundation re-homes dogs abandoned at shelters, taken from abusive homes, or rescued from the streets. They test every dog for health and behavioral problems and ensure they're in the best shape possible before adoption.



Breed Organizations

The Italian Greyhound Club of America is a national organization affiliated with the American Kennel Club. The organization aims to educate the public about the dog breed and uphold breed standards. They hold obedience, confirmation, and rescue events for their members. 



More About This Dog Breed

Italian Greyhounds get cold easily! If you think dogs in sweaters are cute, then you'll love owning a Greyhound. You'll have plenty of opportunities to dress this dog up in all kinds of adorable attire in the wintertime. This dog breed is sometimes referred to as an IG or Iggy (short for Italian Greyhound). The average life span of this dog breed is 12 to 15 years. Adopt an Italian Greyhound, and we're sure you won't regret it!

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