All About the Breed Italian Greyhound

Have you recently fallen for the Italian Greyhound or do you simply love rare breeds? Learn all about the breed here, including: Breed History, Personality Traits, Train-ability, Benefits and Disadvantages of the Breed, and Common Health Concerns.

Also known as the Piccolo Levriero Italiano, the Italian Greyhound is an affectionate and social breed. But how do you know whether you are ready to purchase a pet and if this breed is right for you? This information is absolutely necessary in making the decision to purchase a pet.


The origin of the Italian Greyhound can be traced back over 2,000 years to ancient Mediterranean countries. Enthusiasts believe the breed to be among the oldest of all breeds in the area, though this has never been proven scientifically or otherwise.

Throughout its history, the Italian Greyhound has been most commonly kept as a companion, but also used for hunting, scenting, and retrieving small game, proving its superior abilities to work quickly while providing a gentle friendship.

While the exact history of the Italian Greyhound's introduction to the United States has not been well documented, the Italian Greyhound Club of America was established in 1954, and shortly after the breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club.

Today, while the Italian Greyhound has attained an underground popularity as a companion dog, the breed remains rather rare outside of Europe.

Personality Traits

Best known for its friendly and sweet nature, the Italian Greyhound thrives on strong and dependable relationships with humans. These dogs are highly intelligent and typically easily trainable. With this breeds smarts comes mischievous activities, such as walking on its hind legs to reach objects on tables and shelves. As a pet, the Italian Greyhound is obedient, loyal, loving, and affectionate. This breed is very active and enjoys spending times outdoors, running, and playing.


Due to its need for human relationships and attention, the Italian Greyhound generally responds well to basic training and commands. These dogs are quite bright and have the ability to learn to perform most any task their trainer is willing to take the time to teach.

Establishing immediate dominance, trust, and respect is key to successfully training the Italian Greyhound. This breed responds best to a stern yet gentle approach by a patient, confident, and strong handler.

Benefits and Disadvantages of the Breed

There are many benefits to owning an Italian Greyhound, such as its no hassle, low maintenance coat. These dogs are very active and often quite amusing and entertaining to watch while at play. The Italian Greyhound is very intelligent, easily trainable, and capable of learning to perform many impressive tricks and tasks. When properly socialized from a young age, the Italian Greyhound gets along well with small children and other pets. This breed is obedient, loyal, loving, and affectionate, making a excellent family pet and companion alike.

Unfortunately, there are also disadvantages to owning an Italian Greyhound. This energetic and athletic breed requires large amounts of daily exercise and room to run and play. Anyone wishing to purchase the Italian Greyhound lacking the adequate amount of time and space to dedicate to the dog is strongly advised against doing so. An Italian Greyhound not receiving the proper amount of exercise and space will often act out by destroying property, chewing, barking, whining, and ignoring basic training such as housebreaking.

The Italian Greyhound has a strong instinct to hunt and will occasionally indulge in a good chase. When on the run, these dogs are extremely fast, and may pose a threat to other animals, neighborhood pets, and small woodland creatures. The Italian Greyhound must be leashed or properly secured at all times when outdoors.

With this breed's intelligence comes imaginative and mischievous behaviors, such as walking on its hind legs to obtain objects on tables and shelves, digging holes under fences, and even climbing trees and fences on a rare occasion. Proper training and supervision is absolutely required with the Italian Greyhound.

As previously mentioned, the Italian Greyhound remains rather rare outside of Europe and can prove difficult to obtain. Individuals seeking to purchase this breed often encounter such challenges as inability to locate a breeder, high prices, and being placed on long waiting lists.

Common Health Concerns

Sadly, the Italian Greyhound is affected by a wide array of health problems, including: Legg-Perthes Disease - degeneration of the hip joint, patellar luxation - dislocation of the knee, leg breaks, progressive retinal atrophy, cataracts, hypothyroidism, epilepsy, von Willebrand's Disease - a blood clotting disorder, various dental problems, and bloat.

Now that you know all about the breed, do you think you are ready to own an Italian Greyhound? Remember, purchasing a pet is a big decision and should be discussed thoroughly and seriously with your entire family.