Iggy FAQs

How big do Italian Greyhounds get?

The ideal size is 13″ to 15″ with an average weight of 8 to 12 pounds. Larger Italian Greyhounds (17″ or 18″) are fairly common and make great pets.

How long do IGs live?

The average lifespan of an IG ranges from 13 to 15, but 16 to 18 is not unusual.

Are there medical problems common in the breed?

Some IGs have a genetic predisposition for the following medical conditions:

–          Hypothyroidism and other autoimmune diseases

–          PRA

–          Seizures

–          Luxating patellas

–          Legg-Perthes

–          Leg fractures due to lack of bone density (even without a genetic predisposition, IGs are notoriously prone to leg fractures because of their small bones)

Please see the Italian Greyhound Club of America for more information about these genetic conditions and research being done in these areas.

Can they be trusted off of a leash?

Italian Greyhounds are fast little sighthounds. They have a very strong prey drive that cannot be trained away and will send them chasing after any small animal or bird that catches their sight. Some Italian Greyhounds are skittish as well and will try to run off if they hear a loud noise, are frightened of another dog or person, or are otherwise spooked. Therefore, no IG should be trusted off of a leash unless in a securely fenced-in area. IGs are also able to slip out of doors when people are coming and going, so it is important to be vigilant when opening doors to areas that are not fenced in.

Italian Greyhounds require a special collar because the sleek shape of their heads makes it easy for them to back out of a regular collar or harness. A martingale collar or limited choke collar will tighten as a dog pulls, making the collar too small for the dog to slip out of.

What is their energy level and attention span?

The energy level is quite high in healthy puppies and young dogs. Mature Italian Greyhounds are quite adaptive and responsive to the energy level of their owners. They are true sighthounds in miniature, and the attention span can be short if they’re bored.

At what age do Italian Greyhounds mature?

Although Italian Greyhounds reach physical maturity between eight months and a year and a half, depending on their bloodline and their size (larger ones tend to keep growing for a longer period) most of them retain their puppy energy and playfulness well beyond that age. Some do not attain mental maturity until they are three or four years old –another characteristic which many fanciers consider to be part of the charm of this breed.

Are they easily trained?

Again, these are sighthounds and individuals vary greatly in these characteristics. Some do superbly in obedience competition, and others don’t do well at all. Much depends on the trainer’s ability to keep the IG interested. Agility is a sport that IGs excel at, and some are even adept at lure coursing (though this should be undertaken with a degree of caution).

Are they difficult to housetrain?

Italian Greyhounds are notoriously difficult to housetrain. One issue many IG owners run into when housetraining is that this breed is especially sensitive to cold, wet and windy weather, so it is difficult to persuade an IG to go out when conditions are less than optimal. Another issue is that IGs often fail to let their owners know when they need to go out.  While individual IGs vary with regard to housetraining, many do well with a regular routine and a little crate training. Many IG owners have also had success with paper or litter box training.

Read more about housetraining here.

Are they protective?

IGs are not protective in the way some other breeds are, but many IGs will bark when they sense danger.

Can they live outdoors?

The Italian Greyhound is definitely a dog meant for the indoors. They are extremely sensitive to the elements, but they do enjoy outdoor play and walks on warm days.

What about grooming?

Italian Greyhounds do not require a lot of grooming, but they do need their teeth brushed and nails trimmed regularly. The coat is so short and fine that a bath is rarely necessary.

Do they shed?

Yes, but not a lot and the fur is so short and fine that it can hardly be seen.

 Are they low maintenance pets?

Italian Greyhounds are medium maintenance with regard to the amount of grooming required. They are prone to poor dental hygiene, and therefore will need their teeth brushed daily. They also need lots and lots of love and attention. They want nothing more than to be near their owners and are affectionately called “Velcro dogs” by many in the IG community.

Are they good with children and other pets?

Because Italian Greyhounds are such small, fragile dogs, they tend to do best in homes with no children, older children or other small pets. This is not to say they can’t do well in homes with small children or larger animals. It really depends on the circumstances involved. For instance, some children can be very gentle, and some larger breed animals are also very gentle. If you are adopting an IG in rescue, the rescue representative will be able to help you find the right IG for your home.

Do they need any special care?

Italian Greyhounds need something to keep them warm in cold weather – usually a sweater or small coat is fine. Owners also need to be vigilant around open windows and doors, and should always keep their IG on a leash in open areas. Puppies also need to be watched for jumping off of furniture since their bones are still developing and especially prone to fracture.

Who should not own an Italian Greyhound?

Italian Greyhounds are not for everyone. They require a lot of love and patience, and are not well-suited for people who:

–          Spend a good deal of time away from home

–          Have very active small children

–          Want an outside dog

–          Prefer an easily trained, obedient dog

Are there any bad things about Italian Greyhounds?

Italian Greyhounds are wonderful, loving animals, but they do require and demand lots of love and attention. They are typically difficult to housetrain and can easily break a bone, which can result in expensive veterinary care. IGs can also be shy and timid, but this can be avoided/overcome with proper socialization as a puppy. Despite these drawbacks, owning an IG is a very rewarding experience.

Should they be crate trained?

All dogs should learn to stay in a crate quietly for short periods of time, up to three or four hours.  However, a crate should never be used to confine an IG all day long everyday while its owner is at work or play.

 When and where did the breed originate?

The Italian Greyhound is believed to have originated some 2,000 years ago in the Mediterranean region near Greece and Turkey. They received their name because they were favored by the Italian aristocracy during the Renaissance and were often depicted in paintings and sculpture.

The first Italian Greyhound was registered by the American Kennel Club in 1886, but the breed remained quite rare in the United States until fairly recently.

Adapted from information provided by the Italian Greyhound Club of America