Italian Greyhound Overview

Dog Breed:
Italian Greyhound
Breed Group:
Affectionate, Vocal, Delicate, Agile, and Fast
13-15 in
8-15 lb
Life Span:
9-13 years
Coat Colors:
Many, including fawn, grey, white, black, and brindle
Area of Origin:
Southern Europe
Best For:
Adult Food:
Best Dog Food for Italian Greyhounds
Puppy Food:
Best Puppy Food for Italian Greyhounds

Italian Greyhound Characteristics

Good for First-Time Owners
Good with Children
Easy to Train
Exercise Requirements
Ease of Grooming
Amount of Shedding
Amount of Drooling
Tendency to Bark

About The Italian Greyhound

  • They are an excellent companion animal

  • Handle with care! Iggies have delicate bones

  • This is the smallest sighthound breed


The Italian Greyhound, also called the “Iggy” or “IG”, is a toy-sized sighthound that looks like a miniature version of the standard Greyhound. In fact, although some fans of the breed dislike having them called “miniature greyhounds”, that nickname is actually accurate.

Though drastically different sizes, standard and Italian Greyhounds share the same genetic profile. They also have similar temperaments. For example, Greyhounds are often called the biggest couch potatoes. That makes, Iggies are the smallest!

These elegant little dogs can run up to 25 miles per hour, but also cherish lazy days at home with their families. They make a great pet for families with older children, the elderly, or really anyone who appreciates the smaller things in life.

Italian Greyhound Breed History

  • Iggies originated in Southern Europe and were popular in Italy

  • They were bred from larger sighthounds

  • The breed was recovered from near extinction

The Italian Greyhound emerged in Southern Europe. Calling them “Italian” specifically is a reference to their extreme popularity in Italy, not their origin. Near the end of the Italian Renaissance, the breed almost vanished due to attempts by breeders to make the dogs even smaller. This resulted in skeletal deformities. With only precious few dogs remaining, the breed was saved by returning to a more sustainable breed standard.

This breed has historically been popular with royals and painters.

Italian Greyhound Size & Weight

  • Iggies are like greyhounds that got hit with a shrink ray

  • Little dog = little bones

  • They are very lightweight and delicate


The Italian Greyhound is a very small breed. They can weigh as little as eight pounds, and rarely grow taller than a foot! Considering how much of their height is made up of their proportionally long legs, that’s a little dog indeed.

They share many of the traits of other larger sighthounds, for better or for worse. They are affectionate, intelligent, and have a high prey drive that can result in inattentiveness and barking. Remember that even though your Iggy is cute as a button, it is still a dog. Don’t treat it like a toy, treat it like an animal. If your little dog is too yappy, consult a trainer, don’t punish it for just being a dog.

They can be trained to be watch dogs, entertainers, and more, along with being pint-sized companion animals.

Italian Greyhound Personality & Temperament

  • The Iggy is friendly, but fragile

  • They’re notorious cuddle-bugs.

  • They are highly intelligent, but easily distracted.


Iggies are a fun little breed that function wonderfully as a companion animal. They are prone to barking which makes them a good alarm system. But when it comes to being a guard dog, their bark is far worse than their bite. Iggies are easily spooked, and are more apt to bark and run away than defend. They have tiny little mouths and delicate bodies, so rough play isn’t advised. Because of this, young children should not be left unsupervised with this breed.

They are famously cuddly. Because they are small with very little fur, they are drawn to blankets and body heat. They are more than happy to snuggle up on the couch! And because of their small size, they can burn a lot of calories doing laps around the living room. This makes them an excellent dog for a small apartment, although they can still go on significant runs and walks.

They are also sensitive to temperature changes and great care should be taken by those who keep this breed in cold climates. If you live in a cool area, be prepared to bundle up your Iggy in full regalia for winter walks. This isn’t a snow dog!

Italian Greyhound Health & Grooming

  • Short fur = minimal brushing

  • They can get oily!

  • Don’t forget to take care of their teeth and nails!


Italian Greyhounds are a small dog with very short fur. This means that not only do they have short fur, they don’t have a lot of it. Because of this, you only need to groom this breed as needed. Because they are so small, be careful about bathing them because if the water is too cold they can get uncomfortably frigid.

Rather than bathing them, many owners choose to wipe them down monthly in order to remove dust and excess oil from their skin. That is another consideration: short fur means oily skin. Don’t let your Iggy get icky! 

The Iggy’s delicate mouth is very small. This breed often requires tooth extractions throughout adulthood, and some are completely toothless by the time they become seniors. This can become expensive, so either budget accordingly or enroll your pup in pet insurance that includes dental before they need their first tooth pulled. Regular cleanings are important for preventing dental issues.

Make sure to keep their nails trimmed, as due to their delicate bones even getting their nail caught could result in a fracture if they trip.

This brings up the most common health issue in this breed. They have extremely delicate bones and are prone to fractures. It is important not to roughhouse with this breed and to make sure that they are not put in a situation where their playful nature could end in injury.

Their short fur and lack of fat makes them seek out the warmth of blankets to snuggle into. Owners should beware sitting down on a pile of blankets and pillows always making sure there’s not a dog hiding within! Who wants to explain the the vet that they fractured their dog’s leg…by sitting on it?

Italian Greyhound Training

  • Easy for them to get distracted during training

  • Moderately easy to train

  • Keeping them engaged is the key to training


Despite their small size, the Italian Greyhound is still a sighthound. They respond well to visual stimuli, and as such it is important to keep their attention while training them. Keeping them engaged is the key to training this breed.

They are moderately easy to train, and some choose to use this breed for agility work. The hardest behavior to train this breed out of is their tendency to bark, another sign of their nature as a sighthound. Their bark is not necessarily loud, but it is very high-pitched.

As a sighthound, the Iggy has a high prey drive. They want to chase, chase, chase! This means that it’s very easy for them to get distracted during training. Because of this, it is easier to train them indoors away from things that are more exciting than you, like squirrels. And wind. And grass. And bugs. And oh what’s that?

Italian Greyhound Exercise Requirements

  • Easy for them to get distracted during training

  • Moderately easy to train

  • Keeping them engaged is the key to training


Like the standard, much larger, greyhound, Iggies can go from a nap to the zoomies without notice. This dog is happy to spend most of their time at their human’s side, but also capable of having a great deal of energy. They can be happy with a moderate amount of exercise, or a high amount, depending on the individual.

Because they’re so small, if they get their zoomies indoors, they can actually burn a lot of energy without leaving the house! But having a little dog with delicate bones running around at your feet isn’t a good idea if you don’t watch where you’re going. To avoid accidents, it’s best to be engaged with your Italian Greyhound while they’re playing.

Besides, they want to play with you more than anything! Not run circles around you…even though they certainly can!

Italian Greyhound Diet & Feeding

  • Don’t let your little dog get round!

  • Because Iggies have dental problems, take care of their teeth!

  • Remember: treats can be fatty! Take care.


Every dog has its own dietary requirements based on breed and other factors. Because of this, you should always consult with a veterinarian or animal nutritionist about your dog’s specific needs. This is the best way to make sure that your dog has a long and healthy life.

And remember:  a dog’s nutritional needs change as they grow up. At every stage of life stage, you should reassess what you’re feeding your pet. A puppy, an adult dog, and a senior dog of the same breed will have very different needs.

Because of their small size and delicate bones, a big concern with the Italian Greyhound is obesity. It is important to watch your dog’s weight and make sure that they are at a healthy size throughout their lives. Free-feeding is not advised with this breed for that reason.

Also, make sure to take care of their teeth. Brushing your Italian Greyhound’s teeth along with healthy meals is a great way to make sure that their dental health is as good as possible. Another way to help with this is to provide healthy, low-calorie treats that clean their teeth like raw carrots and apples.

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Italian Greyhound Rescue Groups


One of the most rewarding things you can do is rescue a dog. If you have your heart set on an Italian Greyhound, consider looking at breed-specific rescues. If you decide to get your puppy from a breeder, make sure that the breeder is reputable and can give you a full history of the parents’ health and lineage. If you decide to look at rescues, here are a few to get you started:


Midwest Italian Greyhound Rescue

Italian Greyhound Club of America Rescue

Italian Greyhound Rescue Northwest


You can also search rescue sites like by breed, or reach out to local animal rescues and tell them to let you know if your breed of choice is ever available to foster or adopt.