Breed Info

Italian Greyhounds

Other names

Piccolo Levriero Italiano; Italienische Windspiel; Pequeño Lebrel italiano

Appearance

The Italian Greyhound is the smallest of the sighthounds, typically weighing about 8 to 15 lbs (3.6 to 6.8 kg) and standing about 13 to 15 inches (33 – 38 cm) tall at the withers.  The Italian Greyhound should resemble a small Greyhound, though they are in appearance more elegant and graceful. 

Overall, they look like “miniature” Greyhounds, though many Italian Greyhound owners dispute the use of the term “miniature Greyhound”, in reference to the breed itself. They are true genetic greyhounds, with a bloodline extending back over 2000 years. Their current small stature is a function of selective breeding. Their gait is distinctive and should be high stepping and free, rather like that of a horse. They are able to run at top speed with a double suspension gallop, and can achieve a top speed of up to 25mph (40km/h).

Grooming

Dogs of this breed have an extremely short and almost odorless coat that requires little more than an occasional bath, but a wipe-down with a damp cloth is recommended after walks as seeds, burrs and floating dust in the air can get into the coat and irritate the skin. Shedding is typical as of other breeds, but the hair that is shed is extremely short and fine and is easily vacuumed.


Portrait of the aging Catherine The Great with an Italian Greyhound.

Temperament

The Italian Greyhound is affectionate and makes a good pet. The breed is excellent for families and enjoys the company of people. While they are excellent with children, the breed’s slim build and short coat make them somewhat fragile, and injury can result from rough play.

The breed is equally at home in the city or the country and does not require as much exercise as larger breeds, although they are fast, agile and athletic. 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. They enjoy running as fast as they possibly can, typically faster than other larger dogs.

In general the Italian Greyhound is intelligent, but they often have a “what’s in it for me” attitude and do not exactly throw themselves into training with great excitement, so patience, firmness, gentleness, and reward in training seem to work best. They are also known for their mischievous ingenuity; despite a high center of gravity, they can easily walk upright on their hind legs to reach items up on tables. They may also use their ‘hidden talent’ of jumping to unusual heights to reach high-up items of interest to them.

Italian Greyhounds make reasonably good watchdogs, as they bark at unfamiliar sounds. They may also bark at passers-by and other animals. However, they often get along well with other dogs and cats they are raised with. They are not good guard dogs as they are often aloof with strangers and easily spooked to run.

Due to their slim build and extremely short coat, Italian Greyhounds are at times reluctant to go outside in cold or wet weather, so some owners lay old newspaper on the floor near an exit so their pets can relieve themselves. Some respond well to dog-litter training as well. This breed tends to gravitate to warm places, curl up with other dogs or humans, or burrow into blankets and under cushions for warmth.

History

The name of the breed is a reference to the breed’s popularity in Renaissance Italy. Mummified dogs very similar to the Italian Greyhound (or small Greyhounds) have been found in Egypt, and pictorials of small Greyhounds have been found in Pompeii, and they were probably the only accepted companion-dog there. As an amusing aside the expression ‘Cave Canem’ (Beware of the dog) was a warning to visitors, not that the dogs would attack but to beware of damaging, tripping over or stepping on the small dogs.

Ancient Italian Mosaic from Pompeii from the 1st century AD says Cave Canem, and means Beware of Dog in Latin.

Ancient Italian Mosaic from Pompeii from the 1st century AD says "Cave Canem," and means "Beware of Dog" in Latin.

The grace of the breed has prompted several artists to include the dogs in paintings, among others Velázquez, Pisanello and Giotto.

Although the small dogs are mainly companionship dogs they have in fact been used for hunting purposes, often in combination with falcons, to hunt rat or mice.

The Italian Greyhound is the smallest of the family of sight hounds. The breed is an old one and is believed to have originated more than 4,000 years ago in the countries now known as Greece and Turkey. This belief is based on the depiction of miniature greyhounds in the early decorative arts of these countries and on the archaeological discovery of small greyhound skeletons. By the Middle Ages, the breed had become distributed throughout Southern Europe and was later a favorite of the Italians of the sixteenth century, among whom miniature dogs were in great demand. Sadly, though, ‘designer’ breeders tried, and failed, to make the breed even smaller by crossbreeding it with other breeds of dogs. This only lead to mutations with deformed skulls, bulging eyes and dental problems. The original Italian Greyhound had almost disappeared when groups of breeders got together and managed to return the breed to normal. From this period onward the history of the breed can be fairly well traced as it spread through Europe, arriving in England in the seventeenth century. 

The breed has been popular with royalty throughout, among the best known royal aficionados were Mary Stuart, Queen Anne, Queen Victoria, Catherine The Great, Frederick the Great and the Norwegian Queen Maud. Frederick the Great of Prussia liked his little Italian Greyhound so much, he even took one to war with him. When his Italian Greyhound died, he buried him with his own hands on the grounds of his Sands Souci Palace. In 1991, Frederick’s family granted his dying wishes and transferred his remains to Sans Souci, and placed them beside his little Italian Greyhound. A nineteenth century African chieftain was so taken with these graceful dogs that he offered 200 cattle in exchange for a single specimen. 

The information in this page has been copied from Wikipedia

Responses

  1. Really interesting blog thanks!

  2. tks for the effort you put in here I appreciate it!

  3. Enjoyed you site, thanks!!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: