The Italian Greyhound
'Piccolo Levriero Italiano'

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Italian Greyhound
'Piccolo Levriero Italiano'
Weight: 7 — 14 lbs
Height: 13” — 15”
AKC Rank 2008 #59
Lifespan: 12—15 yrs
Group Toy
Origin Italy

...............................A rather silly Italien Greyhound using the "sit" command.descriptive text

Dog Breed Info - The Italian Greyhound

Breed Overview

Origin: Ancient Times. Original function, sight hound, lap dog. Today, lure coursing, pet.

This is an exceptionally gentle, sweet, affectionate loyal high speed hunting dog that loves family, friends and older kids. Colors: Just about any color except black and white.

By the middle ages, miniature Greyhounds could be found throughout southern Europe, but they were preferred by Italian courtiers. The breed came to England in the seventeenth century, quickly becoming as popular with nobility there as they had been in their Italian homeland. In 1820, the Italian Greyhound was one of only two toy breeds mentioned in a book about dogs. The little Greyhounds came to America in the late 1800’s and even though their numbers were small, they were of high quality.


The Miniature Greyhound is basically intelligent and learns well, but can be a bit slow. Be patient. Remember, patience, persistence and repetition win in training! The use of clicker training is the best way to train this breed., They respond well and positive reinforcement works very well.

Crate Training

Want to crate train your Italian Greyhound? It's easy and if you're interested, take a look and you'll see what to do. Crate training your puppy will save many headaches and problems.

Potty Training

Some Italian Greyhound puppies can be difficult to house train, potty train, toilet train, housebreak or whatever you want to call it. If you have a puppy, decide if you want to crate or paper potty train it. For the best results, we have a page at Crate vs Paper Potty Training which will help you decide and from there you can get all the information you need to get the job done. Always praise the pup profusely when she goes potty in the RIGHT PLACE so she knows she has done a good thing. Either method will work for this breed.

If you have an older dog, take the dog outside every two hours until she gets the idea which door leads to her potty area. Older dogs catch on to the potty or housebreaking pretty fast once they are shown what to do.

Italian Greyhound ready to play!
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The Mini Greyhound is a sighthound in a very small package. The Italian Greyhound shares it’s larger relatives’ characteristics. It loves to run and chase. This dog is extremely gentle and sensitive. It is reserved, often timid with strangers and is devoted to it’s family and can be good with older children, other dogs and pets. This dog can be easily injured by boisterous children and larger dogs. The legs of the Italian Greyhound break easily.

Friendly Toward Other Dogs

Yes, generally friendly with dogs. He is used to being part of a pack or group of dogs that would go on the hunt for game. This is not an aggressive dog.

Friendly Toward Other Pets

Yes, does pretty well with all family members. The breed is well adjusted and doesn't usually consider other dogs and cats a threat.


Friendly Toward Strangers

Maybe. They remain wary and a bit suspicious of strangers. They can make new friends, but it may take some time.


Quite playful little dog. Plenty of energy.


Extremely affectionate. The Italian Grey is small but gives love in a big way. It loves to be with it’s family, and romp in the house or yard. It’s a loyal and gentle dog.

Good with children?

Maybe. Older, well mannered kids. The Italian Greyhound is small and DELICATE. They suffer broken legs easily. They have vision problems. They can’t take much abuse. They do have the energy needed to be around kids, but the kids have to be watched closely with this fragile little animal.

Good with Seniors over 65?

Excellent, as long as the senior is in good walking condition. The breed is affectionate, sweet, loyal and playful… just what a senior needs to keep him/.them company.

Living environment

Apartment, house with a small fenced yard and doggie door, as long as he gets his walks and play time. The Italian Greyhound can not tolerate cold weather and must wear a coat if weather is chilly.

This shows how small the Italian Grey really is!
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Energy level

High energy. Italian Greyhounds were small hunting dogs that were used to running distances so allow for that.

Exercise needs, daily

Fairly High. Two good walks a day and games in or out of the house will do it.


Yes, will probably bark if someone comes to the door. Not a #1 choice, but they will make some noise.

Guard dog

No. Too small, not aggressive.


None to very little shedding.


Brush once a week to remove dead hair. Wipe down with a damp towel. The dog will love the attention.



Suggested Reading For The Italian Greyhound
Click on the cover photo for more book information and reviews.

  • 3rd book from left - "101 Dog Tricks" will stimulate and exercise the brain of your Italian Greyhound with innovative tricks and things to do. There are things in the book I had never thought of!

  • The book on the right is by the American National Red Cross and deals with dog emergencies, illnesses and injuries. It's a valuable reference manual for all dog owners to keep on hand. Vol 2, 2008, included a DVD.

    (I just checked my copy and the Italian Grey's leg problem is not mentioned but there is a section on bone fractures, the symptoms and what to do... which would be useful should your little guy break his leg.)


Italian Greyhound Breeders

In the event you decide to go looking for Italian Greyhound puppies, be SURE to find reputable breeders that really know what they are doing. Be sure the puppy has been well socialized and started in obedience training.
Italian Greyhound Breeders with puppies for sale.

Italian Greyhound Rescue

In the event you are seriously considering the adoption of a B.T. and are looking for a rescue group or groups in your state, here are several links that might help:
Petfinder - Italian Greyhound Rescue At this time of writing, Petfinder is listing only 389 Mini's up for adoption in the entire country. You will need an Italian Greyhound Rescue group or kennel. If you adopt, try to find the dog health papers, as they could come in handy.
Adopt A Pet This is an interesting site but this appears to be a fairly scarce breed so check on line for Italian Greyhound rescue groups and also rescue kennels. Try your local newspaper classified ads too.

Dog Health Issues For Italian Greyhounds
Below: The dog illness / illnesses or medical problems listed for the Italian Greyhound by various vets.

This is basically a healthy breed. Don’t let the list below scare you! Your own dog will probably never have ANY of these problems. These are dog illness and medical problems this breed is prone to that have been listed by various veterinarians at different times over the past decade or so and some pertain to puppies and very young dogs that a breeder would deal with.

The information contained herein has been gathered from numerous books by veterinarians and is intended as general information only. Every dog and situation is different. You must see your vet. Our information is for general interest only and not intended to replace the advice provided by your own veterinarian.

  • Periodontal disease. Frequent brushing and dental checkups advised.

  • Epilepsy—A serious seizure disorder that first appears at around 2 to 4 or 5 years of age in dogs..

  • Leg fractures. Use caution. The Italian Greyhound is prone to broken legs.

  • Patellar luxation—Limping, Lameness, Hind Leg Held Up, Can’t straighten back leg. Caused by an unusually shallow spot on the femur, weak ligaments and misalignment of tendons and muscles that align the knee joint and allow the knee cap (patella) to float sideways in and out of position in the Italian Greyhound. This can be caused by injury or be present at birth and can affect both rear legs. It’s most common in small and toy dogs. If your dog has trouble straightening the leg, is limping, or is walking on three legs and holding one hind leg up, look for patellar luxation. Several of my dogs have had the problem and all I’ve done is reach down, massage the knee a little until they drop their leg, and we’re good to go for another 3 or 4 months. Severe cases require surgery for a fully lame leg.

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy—An inherited, untreatable disease of the retina affecting both eyes causing blindness. It’s in the genes of the dog and is not painful. Starts with night blindness and progresses as the retina gradually deteriorates.

  • Color dilution alopecia—Dogs with this inherited condition normally are born okay but begin to show hair loss all over the colored areas of their coat. The early sign is often a bacterial infection, usually on the back, in the way of small bumps. These are infected follicles. The areas can be treated with antibiotics but may be, and remain, hairless. The exposed skin is sometimes scaly and will sunburn easily. Don’t leave the dog in the heat or cold. This disease can be treated but takes a lot of time.

  • Glaucoma - Pressure builds in the eyes eventually causing total blindness.

  • Corneal Dystrophy—An inherited disease of the eye. A fluid buildup causing the outer part of the cornea to appear white and move inward toward the center. A very painful and difficult to treat ulcer will develop.

  • Cataracts—Hazy or cloudy vision similar to humans and if not treated will lead to blindness.

  • Legg-Perthes—A disease of the hip joint in young dogs. It is a deforming of the head of the femur head where it fits into the pelvic socket and is generally noticed at around 6 to 8 months age. The disease affects small and toy breeds like the Italian Greyhound and can range from mildly debilitating to totally debilitating. It’s very painful and the dog will have a lame leg at the affected hip. Pain can become severe in some dogs and the dog will go from occasional limping to continuous carrying of the leg. Severe muscle atrophy can set in with the appearance of shortening of the affected leg. Restricted joint movement is also a common sign Legg-Perthes. Surgery will usually restore a dog to a fairly normal life but prevention at the breeding stage is the right solution.

  • Hypothyroidism—An underactive thyroid gland produces too little thyroid hormone which reduces the dog's metabolism level. Hypothyroidism stems from the dog’s immune system attacking the tissues of the thyroid gland. Bottom line is the dog becomes symptomatic. The cause can be a predisposition for thyroid problems, air pollution and allergies. A FEW symptoms of the disorder include lethargy, weight gain, skin infections, dry skin, hair loss, slow heart rate, ear infections, depression. See your set right away.

  • Portacaval shunt—Hereditary in origin, neurological and other serious problems are caused by a tiny embryonic blood vessel that exists within the liver before birth to disintegrate after birth allowing fluids to flow where they shouldn’t in the Italian Greyhound. Unfiltered blood flows past the lover without filtering, causing toxins to build in the body. Symptoms include central nervous system disorders and undersized, underweight puppies are also suspect. Medical and surgical remedies are in place. If a puppy survives surgery, there is a chance for it to live a good life.

Other health issues could occur with your Italian Greyhound. If you notice any problems with your dog, take it to the vet immediately. This website is for general information only and is not intended to, in any way, be a medical guide.


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