The Italian greyhound is the smallest of all of the sighthound dog breeds, and is the only one to be classed as a toy dog. They stand up to 15” tall at the withers, and can weigh up to 8.2kg. This makes them taller than most other dogs that fall into the toy dog grouping, and they are included due to their lightweight build rather than particularly short height.
The Italian greyhound looks very much like a standard greyhound but on a miniature scale, with a slight, slender build and long legs comparatively to their weight. They are also fast on their feet like the standard greyhound, achieving a top running speed of up to 25mph, which is very impressive for such a small dog!
The Italian greyhound has a very short, fine coat that can be seen in a wide range of colours. The short coat and lightweight build of the dog means that they are apt to feeling the cold, and may need coats and even booties to keep them warm when walking in cold weather!
If you love sighthounds but don’t have the room for a large one, or love small dog breeds and are looking for something a little different, then the Italian greyhound might be a good choice of pet for you. If you are considering buying or adopting a dog of the breed, it is important to do plenty of research first, including examining the average lifespan and hereditary health of the breed in depth too. We will cover these aspects in more detail in this article.
The average lifespan of the Italian greyhound is 9 years of age, which is rather lower than the average for dogs of a similar size and build across the board. However, this low average is not necessarily due to a propensity to poor health, but potentially because dogs of the breed are so fine and lightweight that they can easily become hurt and injured, which may affect their lifespan.
The coefficient of inbreeding statistic for the Italian greyhound is 10.9%, which is relatively high and above the accepted ideal of 6.25% or lower. This indicates that the Italian greyhound gene pool is subjected to a reasonable amount of inbreeding, and Italian greyhound breeders should seek to reduce this figure within their own breed lines where possible.
The slight, lightweight build of the Italian greyhound places them at potential risk of limb fractures and other leg injuries, as their legs are so fine and delicate. The Italian greyhound over all is a small and delicate dog, and special care should be taken to ensure that they do not become hurt by mistake.
The Italian greyhound is notable for being one of the few breeds for which the British Veterinary Association does not advice health screening and testing for any hereditary conditions. However, it is possible to get dogs of the breed screened for certain conditions if desired, and such conditions include:
As well as these conditions that can be tested for prior to breeding, the Italian greyhound breed has also been identified to have a slight genetic predisposition to various other health problems. Some of the most commonly diagnosed conditions across the breed as a whole include:
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