This is an elegant and slender dog, looking like a standard Greyhound but in miniature. The coat is smooth and glossy and can come in a variety of shades (see the breed standard for details). The head is narrow with a very fine muzzle and ears are softly folded and set high on the head. The spine slopes gently and there is a defined tuck-up in the loins. The gait is high stepping and free. Adult Italian Greyhounds stand at 32-38cm and weigh 3.6-4.5kg.
It is believed that the Italian Greyhound dog breed originated in Egypt; in fact, mummified dogs very similar to today's breed have been found in the tombs of the Pharoahs. The dog was brought by the Romans to the Mediterranean area in the 6th century BC where it became a favourite of Greek and Roman nobility. The dog reached the height of its popularity in the 16th and 17th century where it adorned many courts. Famous owners include Mary Queen of Scots, Charles I, Frederick the Great and Queen Victoria. The Italian Greyhound may have been used to hunt rabbits but was also bred primarily for companionship.
This is a loveable dog that loves to snuggle, partly out of affection and partly due to its need to keep warm! The Italian Greyhound does better with early socialisation so it will accept new people and situations more readily. This dog can take time to bond but will be an excellent companion once the friendship is well established.
The Italian Greyhound dog is generally a healthy breed but can suffer from broken legs. As with many breeds, they can suffer from hereditary eye disorders and therefore eye testing prior to breeding is important.
Although a very small dog, this is still a sighthound and he does love to run. It is best to let the Italian Greyhound run in a confined space, though, as he can run off in pursuit of prey. Exercise should be carefully monitored until the dog is fully grown and even then care should be taken with his often delicate limbs. A healthy adult should have at least an hour's daily exercise.
Toy dogs have a fast metabolism, meaning they burn energy at a high rate, although their small stomachs mean that they must eat little and often. Small-breed foods are specifically designed with appropriate levels of key nutrients and smaller kibble sizes to suit smaller mouths. This also encourages chewing and improves digestion.
The Italian Greyhound needs very little coat care, as he has such a short coat. A rub down with a cloth will enhance the sheen of the coat. These dogs do need thorough dental care, though, as they are very much prone to dental problems.