Italian Greyhound

AKC Toy Group


Photo Copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

Photo Copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

Mummies of a similar dog to the Italian Greyhound have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs. The breed was later developed by the Romans, and evidence of a small greyhound was found in a lava flow from Pompeii. During the sixteenth century, this delicate dog became popular with European nobility and is depicted in many paintings of that time. The breed was favored by James I of England, Catherine the Great of Russia, Anne of Denmark, and Queen Victoria, among others. Frederick the Great of Prussia liked his little Italian Greyhounds so much, he even took one to war with him. When his Italian Greyhounds died, he buried them with his own hands on the grounds of his Sans Souci Palace. In 1991, Frederick’s heirs granted his dying wishes by transferring his remains to Sans Souci, and placing them beside his little Italian Greyhounds. A nineteenth century African chieftain was so taken with these graceful dogs that he offered 200 cattle in exchange for a single specimen. The Italian Greyhound is an excellent companion dog.


The Italian Greyhound is an elegant, miniature fine-boned greyhound with a long head and tapering muzzle. Like his larger cousins, the brisket is deep, the abdomen tucked in, and the back arched. The fine, narrow ears fold back along the head, but rise perpendicular to the head when the dog is alert. The Italian Greyhound has an easy-care short, sleek coat in fawn, cream, red, black, or blue, often broken up with white markings; or white with colored markings (never brindle, black, or tan). The Italian Greyhound has a high-stepping gait.

Key Facts

  • Height:  13 to 15 in.
  • Size:  Very small
  • Weight:  Averages 8 lbs.
  • Availability:  Might take some effort to find


Can be difficult to housebreak. Very sensitive to cold temperatures; should wear a sweater to go out in cold weather. Generally easy to get along with and care for. More hardy than he appears. Prone to slipped stifle, fractures, PRA, and epilepsy. This dog is extremely fast. Young Italian Greyhounds are very active. They can climb wire fencing and are very inquisitive, jumping from chairs to table tops to nearby furniture. Because Italian Greyhounds like to play by running at and bumping into each other, play with groups of other Italian Greyhounds should always be supervised to prevent accidental injury. Play with large dogs is not recommended. Bitches whelp easily and are well suited to motherhood. Teeth should be brushed regularly and toenails kept trimmed. The Italian Greyhound might be a good jogging companion for short distances, but does better as a walking companion.


Gentle, submissive, and affectionate. Playful and intelligent. Can be high strung and timid. Naturally well behaved. Must be handled and trained gently. Very dependent. Peaceful—doesn’t do well with rowdiness. Can snap if frightened.


  • Children:  Best with older, considerate children
  • Friendliness:  Reserved with strangers
  • Trainability:  Easy to train
  • Independence:  Needs people a lot
  • Dominance:  Low
  • Other Pets:  Generally good with other pets
  • Combativeness:  Friendly with other dogs
  • Noise:  Average barker
  • Indoors:  Fairly active indoors
  • Owner:  Not recommended for novice owners


  • Grooming:  Very little grooming needed
  • Trimming and Stripping:  No trimming or stripping needed
  • Coat:  Short coat
  • Shedding:  Very light
  • Exercise:  Very little exercise needed
  • Jogging:  A fair jogging companion
  • Apartments:  Good for apartment living
  • Outdoor Space:  Does all right without a yard
  • Climate:  Prefers warm climates
  • Longevity:  Moderately long lived (12 to 15 years)

Useful Links

AKC® Italian Greyhound Breed Standard

Italian Greyhound Breed Club

Search for a Breeder

Rescue Organizations

Books about the Italian Greyhound

Italian Greyhound Gifts