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The Italian greyhound is a petite and finely boned dog breed that is often mistaken for a whippet to the uninitiated, often to the annoyance of their owners! However, the Italian greyhound is a unique and well-established dog breed in its own right, and one that people who love sighthounds but that don’t want or can’t accommodate a large one might well consider as a potentially viable choice of pet.
There is a lot to recommend the Italian greyhound to many different types of owners, and this is a versatile breed that could potentially be a good fit for a whole range of different types of homes. However, choosing a dog breed is never a decision to enter into lightly, and anyone considering choosing an Italian greyhound needs to factor in the breed’s unique traits and care requirements before going ahead with a purchase.
With this in mind, this article will tell you ten things you need to know about the Italian greyhound dog breed – before you go out and start looking to buy one of your own.
The Italian greyhound is a sighthound, which means that they are superior hunting dogs that identify prey by sight in the main part, as opposed to by smell as is the case for scenthounds.
They have superior visual acuity to pick up movement from some distance away, and can home in on prey like rabbits from right on the other side of a field, in many cases.
The Italian greyhound is actually the smallest sighthound breed of all, and quite a step down from most other sighthound breeds, with a maximum height of 38cm tall at the withers.
Like all sighthounds, the Italian greyhound has a very high prey drive and is very fast on their feet. They can spot potential prey and take off after it much faster than their owners can identify what is going on, and this is a very hard breed to train for reliable recall.
This means that their owners must take care to protect pets like cats and keep the dog on the lead and/or muzzled when outside of enclosed, dog-safe running spaces.
The Italian greyhound was bred and developed as a small toy dog, and unlike most other sighthounds, they are included within the Kennel Club’s toy dog group as a result. Their high prey drive is a fairly unusual trait within the toy dog grouping, although all dogs do of course exhibit a natural prey drive and most will chase smaller animals in some situations!
The Italian greyhound has a typical sighthound build, which is very lean, leggy and finely boned. However, as the Italian greyhound is quite small as well, they are very finely built and ergo quite delicate dogs, which are not hugely robust and can be quite fragile.
Italian greyhounds can be quite lively and fizzy little dogs, and they’re reasonably demanding of their owners. They don’t like to be left alone for very long at a time, tend to enjoy constant company, and like a lot of attention.
The Italian greyhound is quite a costly dog breed to buy, with average advertised prices for Italian Greyhounds for sale on Pets4Homes in the region of around £1,230 for pedigree dogs of the breed, and even non-pedigrees changing hands for around the £844 mark. However, they tend to be reasonably economical to keep, on the other hand!
Objectively, the Italian greyhound is not one of the smartest dog breeds, and they fall in 112th position out of 138 different dog breeds in the Coren ranking of canine intelligence. This means that they can take a while longer than most dogs to train and can only learn a limited number of commands, but they are still more than capable of learning the basics!
The average lifespan of Italian greyhounds in the UK is around the 13.5 years mark according to a Kennel Club survey from 2004, which is slightly higher than the broad average norms across the board of all breeds of a similar size.
However, there are quite a number of hereditary health issues found within the breed as a whole, and so prospective buyers should learn about these in more detail, and ask the sellers of any dog they might be considering about their health testing protocols.
Italian greyhounds are particularly prone to periodontal disease, and so good dental hygiene by means of regular cleaning and dental check ups is essential. All dogs should have their teeth brushed regularly (although few do) but this is particularly important for Italian greyhounds.
The Italian greyhound offers something a little different to the norm for those seeing either a toy dog breed or a sighthound, but they can be complex in terms of managing the normal sighthound traits, meeting their need for attention, and keeping them safe.
Whilst they can be a good pick for many different types of owners, plenty of research into the breed is required before committing to a purchase.
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