Also known as Piccolo Levriero Italiano, the Italian Greyhound is an active yet peaceful companion. It is exceptionally elegant and graceful, embodying many of the same qualities of full-sized greyhounds that permit them to run at high speeds. Besides a reputation as racing dogs, they also make excellent pets.
Italian Greyhounds stand about 13 to 15 inches at the shoulders and weigh roughly 7 to 14 pounds. They have a high-stepping gait and straight tail. The tucked-in abdomen and arched back typical of greyhounds demonstrate their athletic nature. Even the ears, which fold back along the head, suggest its aerodynamic build. Italian Greyhounds have short, smooth coats that require only occasional brushing and can be black, blue, fawn, red, gray, white, or a mix.
Italian Greyhounds are generally gentle and submissive, but also playful and prone to bursts of energy. They are very dependant on owners, and should not be left alone for long. Despite their athletic nature, they do not need a lot of exercise: a daily walk should suffice. Make sure your greyhound is on a leash when you do so, however! They are known to chase any small animal that moves. They are shy, and can be intimidated by strangers. However, they can make serviceable watchdogs: they have a habit of barking at unfamiliar sights and sounds.
Miniature greyhounds are an ancient breed and are seen depicted in the art and architecture of several Mediterranean countries, some dating back two millennia ago. Their popularity spread throughout southern Europe, finding special favor with Italian courtiers. Their numbers dwindled after World War II, but saw a resurgence in America in the late 1800s as high quality imports from Europe. Today, Italian Greyhounds enjoy something of a second renaissance and are gradually rising in popularity.
Italian Greyhounds enjoy playing outside but cannot stand the cold. Their exercise requirements can be met through regular walks or active outdoor games. They enjoy sprinting in enclosed areas. The short hair coat of the Italian Greyhounds requires minimal brushing to remove dead hairs. Their teeth should be regularly brushed.
Peridontal disease can be a major concern for this breed. Additionally, minor health issues in the breed includes epilepsy, patellar luxation, and progressive retinal atrophy. As such, it is suggested that their knees and eyes be tested. Their frail legs and tails are susceptible to fractures. They share the sighthound's sensitivity to anesthesia and barbiturates.
- Peridontal Disease: excessive tartar buildup in the gums that separates the gums from the teeth.
- Epilepsy: a condition of recurring seizures – the uncoordinated firing of neurons within the brain.
- Patellar Luxation: a condition where the knee cap moves out of position momentarily, can lead to lameness.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy:a degeneration of the canine retina which can lead to blindness.
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