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All About Greyhounds (Part 1)

Introduction

In the Middle Ages, the Italian Greyhound dog breed was a favored companion of noblewomen, particularly in Italy. This diminutive hound, however, was more than a lapdog, possessing the speed, endurance, and resolve required to hunt small game. They are now a family dog whose beauty and athleticism are praised in the show ring as well as in obedience, agility, and rally competitions.

Despite the fact that these are purebred canines, you can still find them at shelters and rescues. Keep in mind to adopt! If you want to bring a dog home, don’t go shopping.

Italian Greyhounds do well in apartments and make wonderful companions for everyone in the house, including children and other canines. Even inexperienced pet parents will fall in love with these easy-to-care-for puppies. They do not, however, tolerate being left alone at home for extended periods of time during the day. They are quite sensitive and require companionship. Shower your pooch with love, and mix in some rigorous play and exercise, and you’ll have a loyal best furry friend!

If you like art, you’ve probably seen the Italian Greyhound in centuries-old pictures, immortalized alongside their noble owners by prominent artists. This slender, graceful dog is the smallest of the sighthounds — a breed of dog designed to hunt and chase by sight — and closely resembles his much larger Greyhound cousin.

He is agile and athletic, with a tiny, strong frame and a graceful high-stepping pace. The IG, as he’s affectionately known, retains his instinct for hunting small animals and will pursue anything that moves. He can achieve top speeds of 25 miles per hour, so if he escapes, he will be difficult to apprehend. Despite his diminutive stature, he is full of activity and enjoys having plenty of opportunity to exercise. A fit IG can even be a terrific jogging companion.

The Italian Greyhound has a delicate nature that is kind and attentive with family members yet reserved or bashful among strangers. Despite his gentle demeanor, he has a surprisingly deep, big-dog bark, which makes him a good watchdog — albeit he’s too little to back up his barks with genuine defense.

This is a smart breed that can be easy to train, but you must make it enjoyable for him to overcome his “what’s in it for me?” attitude. When properly trained, he can excel in canine sports such as obedience, agility, and rally. The athletic, elegant IG appears to be built for agility, and many enjoy and excel at the activity.

They are not very good at housetraining. The IG, like many small breeds, can be difficult to housetrain, and some dogs are never totally reliable in the house.

With the exception of the odd cleaning, life with an IG is both soothing and exciting. He enjoys cuddling with his owners before soaring around the home and climbing on furniture and tabletops. IGs have a cat-like fondness of high places, and you’ll frequently find them perched on the backs of chairs, windowsills, or any other high position they can reach. Older IGs are more relaxed and will cuddle with you on your recliner while you relax for the day.

Expect to see your IG sunning in the yard on sunny days, as this is one of his favorite pastimes. You can expect your IG’s to make quick friends with any gardeners or landscaping crews. Doug from Denton Landscaping Company often finds his clients IG’s relaxing when he enters the yard for maintenance, “I love seeing my clients greyhounds sunning themselves on work days. They’re always friendly and happy to help pick up sticks and twigs.” The Greyhounds always enjoy warmth and dislikes becoming chilly or damp. It’s pretty uncommon for IG owners to have a protected spot in their yard so their dogs can go pee without getting their feet wet on rainy days. He’ll burrow beneath your bed’s covers at night.

If your IG believes he is being ignored, he will demand attention. When you own an Italian Greyhound, privacy becomes a distant memory because he will accompany you wherever at all times. He’s very inquisitive and will look into anything that piques his curiosity.

The Italian Greyhound is another example of a small dog with a strong personality. He’s affectionate, possessive, and loving, and he’ll charm his way into your heart. If you can provide him with the care, exercise, and training he requires, as well as lots of love, the Italian Greyhound can be an attractive and lovable addition to your household.

History

The Italian Greyhound is an ancient breed, and canines like it may have existed for almost two millennia. Miniature Greyhound skeletons have been discovered among 2,000-year-old artifacts from what is now modern-day Turkey and Greece, and archaeological digs have unearthed small Greyhound skeletons. Although the breed’s original role has been lost to history, the Italian Greyhound may have acted as a small game hunter in addition to his companion duties.

By the Middle Ages, the breed had spread to southern Europe and was particularly popular among the aristocracy, particularly in Italy — hence the name. Many Italian Greyhounds, along with their owners, were immortalized in pictures by notable artists such as Pisanello and Giotto di Bondone.

The Italian Greyhound arrived in England in the 1600s, when it attracted many fans among the aristocratic, as it had in Italy. Throughout the years, royal owners have included Mary, Queen of Scots, Princess Anne of Denmark, Charles I, Frederick the Great of Prussia, and Queen Victoria, whose reign saw the breed’s popularity peak.

In 1886, the American Kennel Club certified the first Italian Greyhound, and American breeders began to create the breed in America. Although the Italian Greyhound population in America was modest, it may have helped save the breed from extinction. During World Wars I and II, when dog breeding became an unattainable luxury for the majority of people, the number of Italian Greyhounds in England plummeted to dangerously low levels. When the conflicts ended, British breeders used the American-bred Italian Greyhounds to reintroduce the breed to Europe.

The Italian Greyhound is currently experiencing a second renaissance, as modern dog owners rediscover the graceful little hound who has pleased human partners for at least 2,000 years.

Size

The shoulder height of an Italian Greyhound is 13 to 15 inches. The weight ranges from 60 to 188 pounds, with some weighing as much as 14 or 15 pounds.

Personality

The Italian Greyhound is perceptive, attentive, intelligent, and lively. He adores his family and enjoys snuggling with you and staying by your side all day. Strangers may notice a shyer, more reserved side of his personality.

A variety of factors influence temperament, including heredity, training, and socialization. Puppies with good temperaments are interested and playful, eager to approach and be held by people. Choose the puppy in the middle, not the one who is beating up his littermates or hiding in the corner. Always meet at least one of the parents — generally the mother is present — to confirm that they have pleasant personalities with whom you are comfortable. Meeting the parents’ siblings or other relatives is also beneficial in determining what a puppy will be like when he grows up.

The IG, like all dogs, requires early socialization — being exposed to a variety of people, sights, sounds, and experiences — when they are young. Socialization ensures that your IG puppy develops into a well-rounded dog. Enrolling him in puppy kindergarten is a terrific place to start. Inviting guests over on a regular basis, as well as taking him to busy parks, stores that accept dogs, and on leisurely strolls to meet neighbors, will help him improve his social skills.

When abused, the Italian Greyhound might become scared or snappish. He, like other hounds, can have a “what’s in it for me?” attitude toward training, therefore motivating approaches that employ play, treats, and praise to encourage the dog to get it right, rather than penalizing him for getting it wrong, will work best.