The Italian Greyhound, also known as the Piccolo Levriero Italiano, originated from Italy. This dog breed is believed to have existed more than 2,000 years ago in southern Europe during the Middle Ages and became popular during the 16th century. Unsurprisingly considering their elegant stature, they were bred for companionship to nobility.

Brief History

The Italian Greyhound was popular as a companion dog and a favorite amongst royalty. Catherine the Great of Russia is known to have particularly enjoyed them. Originally this breed may have been bred to hunt small prey. Italian Greyhounds can be seen in many renaissance paintings and were registered with the AKC in 1886. Following both world wars, the Italian Greyhound nearly became extinct. This was avoided by American breeders taking a liking to the regal pup, thus introducing them to the U.S. population at large.

italian greyhound dog

Physical Features

The Italian Greyhound is a small, slender and refined dog breed. It is aesthetically similar to the larger greyhound, but on a smaller scale. With a narrow head, small, folded ears and deep chest, the Italian Greyhound has a long, tapered nose which may be brown or black. 

Their necks tend to be long, slender and arched. Their tails are long and tapering. Italian Greyhounds are known for their smooth, glossy and short coats. The most common coat colors are fawn, red, seal, blue, and white.

Average Height:

13-15 inches

Average Weight:

7-15 pounds

Life Expectancy:

12-15 years


The Italian Greyhound is a playful and affectionate breed. This dog gets attached to family, but is often disinterested with strangers. Italian Greyhounds can sometimes be sensitive and do not do well with loud noises or harsh reprimands. This dog tends to be easily trainable, and enjoys socializing with other dogs.

Special Needs

The Italian Greyhound needs plenty of attention and thrives on going everywhere with their dog parent. Fenced gardens or backyards are necessary, since this breed does tend to escape. It’s important to note that Italian Greyhounds get cold very easily, and needs to be protected from extreme temperatures, both hot and cold.

Possible Health Concerns

The Italian Greyhound is a generally healthy dog breed that may be susceptible to the following health problems: 

  • Autoimmune Skin Disorders: Pemphigus foliaceus is an uncommon autoimmune disease that affects the skin. The cause of the skin disorder results from the immune system producing antibodies against the “glue” that keeps skin together. Symptoms include topical ulcers and lesions. 
  • Hypothyroidism: This occurs when there are decreased levels of thyroid hormones. Symptoms include hair loss, a dull coat, flaky skin with weight gain and muscle loss. 
  • Legg-Calve- Perthes Disease: This is the deterioration of the top of the femur (femoral head), and is seen in the Italian Greyhound. It is characterized by a lack of blood supply, and the destruction of blood vessels of the bone. Some symptoms may include hindlimb lameness, loss of muscle in the thighs, and pain when moving the hip joint.  
  • Patellar Luxation: This may be acquired or congenital, and affects the Italian Greyhound. It may occur at the same time as other limb abnormalities. It is caused by the abnormal development of the kneecap(patella).X-rays will aid in seeing the severity of the displacement.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is another common hereditary eye disease in the Italian Greyhound. This is an expensive health issue, and early detection is critical to the well-being and vision of your dog. PRA can lead to blindness.


The Italian Greyhound needs regular exercise every day to stay fit. This dog breed does well living in an apartment with having short walks. It also does great with more active canine sports like agility, rally, obedience and tracking. The Italian Greyhound enjoys traveling by car, and hanging out in pet friendly restaurants and cafes. Canine surfing, Frisbee, biking and hiking are all fun activities that the entire family can partake in with your Italian Greyhound. 


A focus on dental care with this breed is of the uttermost importance. Dental cleanings at your veterinarian should be scheduled twice yearly. Daily toothbrushing with a canine paste and canine toothbrush is necessary to prevent gum disease. 

This dog breed requires minimal grooming. If your Italian Greyhound enjoys hanging out and rolling in the mud, bath times should be as needed. Nails need regular trimming and ears should be cleaned weekly.

The Italian Greyhound makes a great addition to any family and a particularly great apartment-dweller. Since they tend to be more on the sensitive side, this breed may be shy when first adopted. It’s best to allow for a relaxed transition into a new home where pet parents give their new pup all the love, attention and space they need to adjust. 

italian greyhound

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