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Italian Greyhound… Everything You Need to Know at a Glance!

Now, if you love the “look” of a traditional Greyhound but are afraid that they may be too big or won’t get along with other pets you already have in the household, choose to adopt an Italian Greyhound puppy or rescue dog could be the perfect solution! After all, these little guys have been around for thousands of years, given that they were designed to be companion animals, that’s saying a lot! But these guys are more than just lap dogs!

In fact…

Some have even been known to call these guys the Don Quixote of all dog breeds because, although they may be small, they have a larger-than-life attitude. A larger-than-life attitude packed into a cute and playful package that is sure to have you and your family splitting up with their antics. But just because we are BIG fans of these little guys does not mean an Italian Greyhound will be the right “kind” dog for you. This is why we wanted to take a moment and discuss what it might be like to own one of these little guys so that if you ever do get a chance to adopt one, you’ll know if doing so will be a good idea for you.

So, without further ado, let’s dive right in!

Italian Greyhound Dog Fast Facts

Country of Origin: Italy

Original Purpose:  Lap dog or companion animal

Height: 13 to 15 inches at the shoulder

Weight: 7 to 15 pounds

Dog Breed Classification:  Toy Group

Life Span: 12 to 15 years

Origin of the Italian Greyhound

Since the Italian Greyhound or “Iggy” is essentially a miniaturized version of the ancient Greyhound dog breed, it should come as no surprise to learn that these little guys have also been around for a long time. Tartifacts from over 2,000 years ago from Greece and Turkey depict the Miniature Greyhound or a tiny hound. And while he was always a companion dog, it should always be remembered that these little guys come from a long line of “sight hounds,” which is why, back in the day, they were occasionally used to hunt small game as well.

That said, however…

Their primary role was to be perfect companion dogs for women and a playmate for children, which is one reason why they were so popular among the wealthy elite. They made their way throughout Europe during the Middle Ages. Ultimately, these guys made their way to Italy, where they became a massive hit by the wealthy elite and artists like Pisanello and Giotto di Bondone, who often used Italian Greyhounds in their paintings.

The Italian Greyhound also…

Made his way to England in the 1600s, where he was adopted by Mary, Queen of Scots and Queen Victoria, as well as Princess Anne of Denmark, Frederick the Great of Prussia, and Charles I. So, as you can see, the Italian Greyhound has always been a famous dog regardless of what country they’re in. Eventually, the Iggy made his way to the United States in the 19th century. He was formally registered by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1886, and the Italian Greyhound flourished in the United States.

Now we say…

“Flourished” because it was the American breeders that essentially saved the Italian Greyhound dog breed from extinction during both World War I and War II, when Iggy’s were considered a luxury by European breeders, leading to their numbers dropping to dangerously low numbers throughout Europe. That changed after World War II, and European breeders became interested in the Iggy again. Fortunately, there were enough Italian Greyhounds worldwide that their numbers could be replenished, which is essentially why these little guys are so popular today.

Physical Characteristics

The IG is a very agile and athletic dog. He may be small, but he has a very muscular body and a stylish gait. He is a swift mover and is very good at hunting small game. And like his bigger cousin, these guys are so that he can run at 25 MPH. This is why it’s essential to understand that while the Italian Greyhound is a “toy dog,” he is very athletic and requires plenty of exercise. So, make sure to have him on a leash when you take him out for a walk because when he gets away from you, there is no way to catch up with him – he is so fast.

Size wise…

The Italian Greyhound is a tiny dog that reaches only 13 to 15 inches and weighs between 5 and 14 pounds. He has a short, glossy coat with brindle or tan markings. His skin is relatively thin and better suited to warm climates. He does not shed much, and grooming him is pretty straightforward.


The Italian Greyhound or the Piccolo Levriero Italiano may be compared to other dogs such as Flat-Coated Retriever, Cocker Spaniel, Fox Terrier, Lagotto Romagnolo, Curly-Coated Retriever, Basset Griffon Vendeen, Griffon Vendeen, Whippet and the Bull Terrier.

Personality and Temperament

The Italian Greyhound is a gentle, sweet-natured dog, always playful, fun, and never aggressive or dangerous. He is a lover, not a fighter, and craves the attention of the people around him. This little guy likes nothing more than snuggling next to you on a couch, watching reruns of Breaking Bad and House of Cards warmly covered in a blanket. Sometimes, folks refer to these guys as “Velcro dogs” because they love being attached to their owners.

Which is fine…

But because these guys are so small, it is easy not to notice him until he goes off on one of his adventures; in this case, you may find yourself missing him on your lap. These guys are also very loyal dogs, good with kids, and love their human family more than anything. He is a perfect playmate for children. Kids adore him, and he loves them back.

Potential Health Concerns

The Italian Greyhound may be a small dog, but remarkably healthy. He has a healthy life expectancy of 12 to 15 years. However, the breed seems to have several “non-life threatening” medical conditions that can arise occasionally. This is why you should always work with a reputable breeder who will know what to look out for when breeding the Italian Greyhound. You could always choose to adopt an Italian Greyhound rescue dog, in which case you can see whether they are healthy.

Conditions you should be on the lookout for include:

And while many of these conditions may not be life-threatening, they can become quite expensive, particularly if they become recurring issues. This is also why we here at IndulgeYourPet also recommend that any new pet owner take a moment and see what it might cost for you to purchase a pet insurance policy for your new animal.

Now, will a pet insurance policy be suitable for everyone?

No, probably not. But until you fully understand what these policies “will” and “won’t” cover and how much these pet insurance policies cost, how will you know if one might be right for you?

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies out there, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Policies article.

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Rosetta B. February 1, 2020, 11:06 am

    I am having the hardest time finding an Italian greyhound to adopt puppy or young adult. I’m willing to travel in order to adopt an Italian greyhound puppy and or purchase for an affordable and reasonable price.

    • indulgeyourpet February 1, 2020, 12:03 pm


      Sometimes it can be really tough to find some of these “less common” breeds, our advice would be to see if their isn’t an Italian Greyhound Facebook page or club which might be able to point you in the right direction.

      Good luck!


  • Vicki K. May 19, 2020, 9:58 am

    My late husband I have an Iggy 9years in May. This is the 2nd one. 11st one we bought from a backyard breeder,passed at 10 years. Bad idea!! She died with cushings disease plus had other health problems, would nip you sometimes. I have now TiaLynn who loves everyone. She is very alert, fast, loving and intelligent. Since my husband passed, she is a great girl. Was able to stay with me at Hospice House while “daddy” was ther over a week. She was well behaved and all loved her; greeter and cheered people up. Sorry this so long, but can’t say enough about my TiaLynn….

    • indulgeyourpet May 19, 2020, 12:35 pm


      Thanks for sharing your experience with this breed, it’s stories like these that can really help someone decide if one breed is better for them than another.



  • Deborah C. July 1, 2020, 9:35 pm

    This article is leaving a lot out. Gotta of all, these dogs are NOT from Italy. They are ancient breed from Turkey. Secondly, they are NOT got children, because children tend to drop, hit, pull, rough-house with animals and these dogs are FRAGILE. Breaking their legs are common. So please dont rush out to get one for your kids. Youd be better off with a lab. Thirdly, these dogs need A LOT OFNUPKEEP TO KEEP THEM HEALTHY. They need their teeth to be brushed EVERYDAY AND NIGHT!!! I CANT STRESS THIS ENOUGH. Thwy tend to have very bad teeth, sonic you’re not into brushing their teeth everyday and night before bed, dont get one. Fourthly, (is that a word lol) these dogs need another italian greyhound with them, so you should be prepared to have 2 or more since they need a companion of their own kind. Believe me…I’ve had multiples for 20 years and this is how they roll to be happy. Fifth and BIG FiFTH…they are difficult to housetrai and you need to have a lot of PATIENCE!!!
    SIXTH…THEY DO NOT LIKE TO BE LEFT ALONE WHILE YOU GO WORK, PARTY, SHOP, WHATEVER…THEY NEED TO BE WITH YOU 24/7. IF YOU CANT BE WITH HIM OR HER OR THEM, THEN YOU WILL PAY FOR IT WITH LOTS OF PEE AND POOP AND HOWLING AND SADNESS. This article makes these dogs sou d like a breeze. Do t get an iggie if you cant supply them with everything I mentioned. PERIOD.

    • indulgeyourpet July 1, 2020, 11:31 pm


      Thanks for your input, we love hearing from folks like yourself that have a lot of experience with a given breed. Hopefully your experience and advice will help others who are seriously considering adopting an Italian Greyhound.


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