|Before you decide to
buy or adopt an Italian Greyhound, please consider the following:
The #1 reason IGs are
surrendered to rescues or shelters: housetraining accidents. IGs are
notoriously hard to housetrain, and even the best-trained IG may
occasionally have an accident, especially in cold or wet weather. It
takes diligence, a schedule, confinement, appropriate clean-up of
accidents, and a forgiving nature to housetrain an IG.
|Confining an IG is essential for
successful housetraining, but should not be abused. An IG should not
be expected to stay in a crate or kennel for eight to 10 hours a
day. If you use a kennel/crate while you're gone, it's best to hire
a dog walker to come in midway through the day to take the dog
outside if you'll be gone more than six hours, or use an alternative
such as litterbox training or dog daycare. Many dogs
are successful with paper training/potty pads or a litter
box inside of an exercise pen, a giant-sized crate (dog bed in the
front, potty pad in the back), or a designated dog room. Others
enjoy going to a dog daycare where they are surrounded by other
dogs in a stimulating environment.
||If you plan to keep your IG in a
crate both during the day and overnight, consider how few hours your
dog will be out of a crate. Six? Five? Four? What if you go out in
the evening, or have kids in sports or other activities? If you
crate your dog overnight, please consider an alternative to crating
during the day, whether it's an exercise pen, a dog room, or doggie
daycare. Or, maybe this isn't a good time to get an IG. It might be
best to wait until your kids' activities or your work or social
commitments are not as demanding upon your time.
|Italian Greyhounds are not miniature
greyhounds and do not have activity levels similar to retired racing
greyhounds. Most young IGs (under 5 years) are very active and
require daily walking along with off-leash playtime in a safely fenced area.
The #2 reason IGs are surrendered to
rescues or shelters: high energy level. This is, for the
most part, not a laid-back toy breed. IGs, especially young ones,
can be very active in the house. They like to run, jump off
furniture and roughhouse with other animals. They're not a breed to
have if you don't want pets on your furniture or bed, or if you like
to display expensive collections on low tables or open shelves.
|Due to their size, IGs can be easily
injured by young children or large dogs who play roughly. Leg breaks
- the #3 reason for surrendering to rescue - are not uncommon in this breed, and very expensive to treat. Many
IGs cannot be placed in homes with very young children who might drop or
step on them, or with large dogs, without an extensive home visit. That said, many IGs have been happily placed in homes with
well-behaved and supervised young children, other breed dogs, and
retired racing Greyhounds IF the Greyhound has been certified as
safe around small animals/dogs.
|Italian Greyhounds need a lot of
stimulation. They need to be physically and mentally fit, which
includes scheduled exercise, free playtime in a safe, fenced
environment and training classes. All dogs can benefit from at least
one six to nine week class session of basic obedience, and many will go on
to complete more obedience classes. Almost any IG can learn the
basic skills to test for the
Canine Good Citizen Award. Or, try agility, flyball or
another dog sport. IGs with a high prey drive may enjoy lure
coursing or straight racing. Many IGs make excellent walking or
jogging partners, but may want to stay home in cold or wet weather.
never be off lead in any area that's not safely fenced. They are
sighthounds, and even the best trained IG may take off after a
rabbit, squirrel, or piece of paper blowing in the wind and meet a
tragic end, either by becoming lost, or killed by traffic or a
predator. Safe fencing includes stockade, privacy or chain link,
not invisible or electric fencing. Invisible fencing is not
recommended because: it does not keep other dogs out of your yard,
the batteries in the collar may malfunction, and an excited IG may
run through the fence, then become frightened of the shock and keep
on running. If there's not a safely fenced area, an IG should be
kept on a lead. Using a retractable lead or 20 foot training lead,
in an open/unfenced area, will give an IG quite a bit of freedom to
roam, which still giving the owner control.
|Senior IGs (10+ years) will more
readily adapt to a life of leisure, and may be better suited
companions for someone who does not want the additional
responsibility of an active, younger dog. But, even older dogs will
gain weight and lose muscle tone if they are not given enough
exercise. Short walks, several times a day, may be the answer. IGs
often live to be 14 - 17+ years, so your companion will probably be
around a long time.
|IGs have a low body fat ratio, and
sparse, fine hair. They cannot tolerate the cold. During winter
months they need heavy coats on to go outside, boots for walks in
the snow and even a sweater, indoors, if the heat is kept low. Their
ears are susceptible to frostbite, and must be protected for
extended periods outdoors with a snood.
Since IGs have such short, fine hair,
you will seldom notice much shedding hair. A healthy IG will not
have a 'doggy' smell, either. Most will seldom need bathing,
although, many enjoy a warm bath and rub down.
||The vocalization of IGs range from
nothing to the extreme. Some IGs never bark, others have a
repertoire of whines, barks and howls. It seems to depend on the
individual dog. This is something to keep in mind if you live in an
apartment, condo or townhouse, or live close to neighbors who might
object to the noise.
Though they are a toy breed, IGs
are still sighthounds,
and many have very high prey-drive. Most IGs will chase cats,
even if they won't harm them. Most are not safe around rabbits,
ferrets, birds and pocket pets unless they are raised with them.
Care should be taken to keep IGs away from small animals any
time they aren't monitored.
IGs like to be with people. They
to keep up with whatever is going on, and may follow you from room
to room, even the bathroom. Your IG is your constant companion and
loves to be loved.
|All IGs need dental care. Most should
have their teeth brushed at least twice a week, and should have
their teeth evaluated for professional cleaning, annually, by a
veterinarian. They have large teeth in a small, tight mouth, and are
prone to tooth and gum diseases. Many begin to lose teeth while very
young. Others, have a hereditary enamel problem, and have small,
pointy, yellow teeth that are hard to maintain.
Their toenails grow quickly, and need weekly trimming. Unlike
some larger breeds, they will not wear down their nails
walking on sidewalks. Some people use a Dremel tool and grind
the nails down. Your rescue contact can demonstrate this if
you'd like to use that method.
In short, an IG is a fabulous pet for
the right type of family, and a disaster in the wrong type of
family. Many of us find this athletic, elegant breed to be excellent
(To read the Italian Greyhound
breed standard, please go to
American Kennel Club - Italian Greyhound on the AKC official
do not purchase an IG from
a pet store, a puppy mill or a backyard breeder. None of these
people do the research to produce dogs that improve the breed, which
is the goal of a responsible breeder, and they seldom do the
necessary legwork and testing to prevent passing on physical and
temperament problems that may not be noticed for several years. Some
of these problems may include: seizure disorders, thyroid disorders,
luxated patellas, poor bone density (resulting in leg breaks), PRA, deafness, heart murmurs and
other health issues.
We are seeing more and more IGs in
our rescue who are surrendered due to inherited medical conditions.
Repairing one luxated patella (a crippling, genetic knee disorder)
costs around $1200 in our area, and the recovery is long and
extensive, requiring physical therapy, massage and scheduled
walking. These dogs are 100% purchased from pet stores, backyard
breeders and commercial breeders who sell puppies over the internet.
Please do not purchase a puppy from this type of seller!
|There are many Internet websites that
can help educate you on backyard breeders, pet stores, and puppy
mills. There are far more people participating in random breeding,
breeding for profit and irresponsible breeding than there are
responsible breeders. If you have any question about whether an
internet advertiser is a responsible breeder or a puppy mill or
backyard breeder, look for these things:
- Will they ship a dog to you
without meeting you?
- Do they ask you for references?
- Do they breed more than one or two
litters a year?
- Do they show their dogs and breed
only to try and improve the breed, not for monetary gain?
- Are they members in good standing
of the IGCA or a local purebred breeders/show association?
- Do they tell you that they will
take the dog back - at any time during his lifetime -if you
cannot keep him?
- Do they guarantee the health of
- Do they have available records
indicating health clearances - eyes, heart, knees - on both
parents of the puppy?
A responsible breeder will ask
you for references, interview you, assess your appropriateness for
this breed, have records showing health clearances on breeding dogs,
give you a guarantee and take the dog back at any time during his
life. S/he will probably be a member in good
standing with a local purebred breeders/show club.
S/he will be a small hobby breeder
who successfully competes in dog shows with healthy, well-adjusted
dogs, and does extensive research before breeding, to match bitches
and dogs with excellent health, conformation, temperament, movement
and performance ability.
S/he will NOT have a USDA license,
since s/he doesn't sell to pet stores, and will not have a website
with page after page of 'happy puppies' in their new homes, due to
limited, educated breeding. S/he probably won't take charge cards,
and will certainly not ship a dog to you sight unseen after only an
email and online payment.
Remember, if rescue has had to re-home
his or her dogs, that person is not a responsible breeder. There are
'show mills' out there - people who actively compete with their dogs
and pay big money for advertising - but they are still over-breeding
and selling puppies as a business, rather than doing limited,
educated, hobby breeding to improve the breed. They make up a large
percentage of the dogs we see in rescues, and these dogs often have
genetic health or temperament problems.
Lifeline Italian Greyhound Rescue