Italian Greyhound is considered a good companion dog, as they are very affectionate.
The Italian Greyhound’s apparent lack of wide appeal is possibly because of their fragile appearance, with their spindly legs. The reality of the breed is quite contrary to the appearance, though, as they are frequently described as a ‘big’ dog in a small package. Due to their large, strong lungs, they have a relatively loud bark that is much deeper than one would expect from a small dog. The breed will be equally at home in a city and in the country, and it does not require as much exercise as larger breeds. The Italian Greyhound is hardy, rarely ill, intelligent and easy to teach.
Sometimes, IGs will make a reasonably good guard-dog and bark at things that aren’t usually in the street. They may also bark at passers by.
IGs often get along with cats so if you already have a cat and you are looking for a suitable dog which won’t chase your beloved kitty all day long, IG’s can be recommended. (However, sometimes your IG may be skittish around the cat, especially if you have an older cat who does not like dogs.)
IGs despise the wind, wet and cold weather and will sometimes refuse to do their “business” outside if it is raining, so some recommend having some old newspaper on the floor near the exit or litter-training them. They tend to like warm places (especially body heat from other dogs or humans) or burrowing into blankets and under cushions. The breed simply loves the company of people, and will promptly occupy your lap if you let it. In fact, many owners of this breed have them sleeping with them in their beds.
This breed, like most, is not a fussy eater and will eat almost anything, including the month-old scraps from your garden. Most will eat enthusiastically, but some get more picky about their food as they age.
IGs are good with kids but their thin bones are fragile and can be hurt by rough play from young children.
Dogs of this breed have an almost odour-free, easily managed coat. Although the coat is incredibly short, it can shed.
The young dog will often be particularly active, and this high level of activity sometimes lead them to try to “fly” from furniture or stairs. It is important to keep a close eye on the dogs in this initial phase as their young bones are still fragile. The first year of life is the most accident-prone; although the graceful legs often seem to withstand incredible punishment they are not invulnerable.
IGs love to run as fast as they possibly can, and, like all dogs, it’s important that they have an opportunity to run full out at least once daily, either in the back yard or under supervision and control in a larger area. But always remember, NEVER walk an IG off lead. If he sees something interesting, takes a disliking to another dog or is in a playful mood, he will bolt and you will be very lucky if you get him back.
Like most dogs they enjoy digging and, if left to their own devices for entertainment and exercise, might resort to digging or other destructive behavior.
Like most smaller breeds, the Italian Greyhound can be difficult to housebreak. This will normally come along with patience and training, but at a slower pace than most other breeds. Patience is the only way to help the training along, and remember that the breed is small and as such the dog will have a small bladder.
Health problems that can be found in the breed:
* Legg-Perthes disease (degeneration of the hip)
* Patellar Luxation (slipped stifles)
* von Willebrand disease (vWD) (Bleeding disorder)
* Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
* Color Dilution Alopecia (hair loss in dilute pigmented dogs, ie: blues, blue fawns, etc)
* Leg Breaks
* Vitreous Degeneration
* Liver shunts
* Autoimmune hemolytic anemia
* Periodontal disease, gum recession, early tooth loss, bad tooth enamel
* Hypothyroidism, Autoimmune Thyroid Disease (Hashimoto’s disease)
* Deafness (in dogs lacking pigmentation)
Responsible breeders will routinely check their dogs for the onset of various inherited disorders, these commonly include (but are not limited to): CERF examinations on eyes, OFA patellar examinations, OFA thyroid function panels, von Willebrand’s factor, OFA hip and Legg-Perthes disease x-rays, and others.