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Italian greyhound outside in a collar.

Breed overview

  • Breed group — Toy group (American Kennel Club)
  • Height — 13-15 inches
  • Weight — 7-14 pounds
  • Coat length & texture — Smooth and short
  • Coat color — With 15 common colors including blue, cream, fawn, red, and sable, and with four patterns or markings including solid, Irish, wild Irish, and pied, the Italian greyhound has a wide range of colors to choose from.
  • Exercise needs — Frequent
  • Intelligence — Average
  • Barking — When necessary
  • Life span — 14-15 years
  • Temperament — Affectionate, sensitive, alert, and playful
  • Hypoallergenic — Yes
  • Origin — Mediterranean basin countries or Egypt

Italian greyhound fun facts

👉 Coming up with a pet name can be fun but tricky. Search no further! According to PetScreening’s 2024 database, the majority of our users name their male Italian Greyhounds Louie; Milo is the 2nd most popular male name. Meanwhile, most of our users with female Italian Greyhounds love Luna, then Bella.

  • Italian greyhounds are more than 2,000 years old as a breed. It is unclear if the breed’s origin was in Italy, Turkey, Greece, or Egypt.
  • Out of the sighthound group, Italian greyhounds are the smallest. In comparison, the Irish wolfhound is the largest of the sighthounds, standing 35 inches tall.
  • Mummified Italian greyhounds have been found buried with pharaohs. Lobengula, king of the Ndebele people of North Africa, once paid for an Italian greyhound with 200 head of cattle.
Italian greyhound puppy outside

Italian greyhound temperament and characteristics 

Italian greyhounds are affectionate, playful, and gentle dogs who love being around their humans. However, because of their small, delicate size, they might not be the best choice for families with small or hyperactive children. Depending on how they are socialized as puppies, Italian greyhounds can either be very open and friendly to strangers, or they can become more aloof and shy around them. Italian greyhounds have a tendency to bond strongly with one person, so the best home would include someone willing to spend a lot of quality time with their dog. If they are not given the appropriate amount of attention or affection, Italian greyhounds are known to become shy, hyper, or demonstrate both qualities in equal measure.


The Italian greyhound is a small, slender breed with a short and elegant coat. As defined by the American Kennel Club (AKC) breed standard, their silky coat comes in any color, and all markings are acceptable except that a dog with brindle markings and a dog with the tan markings normally found on black-and-tan dogs of other breeds must be disqualified. We teamed up with FidoTabby Alert, and according to their database, a common coat color for the Italian greyhound is (62%) white.

Common Italian greyhound health problems 

Italian greyhounds are generally a healthy breed and can live 13 to 15 years if properly cared for. That doesn’t mean they aren’t at risk for some more common health conditions, but the biggest risk to an Italian greyhound is their small size and fine bones. Many Italian greyhounds think they’re the biggest of the sighthounds rather than the smallest, so they tend to go after anything and everything. This can lead to behaviors like jumping out of people’s arms, which can often lead to one of the biggest health problems Italian greyhounds face: broken bones. Luckily, this is a fairly preventable health risk. Other common health problems the Italian greyhound may encounter include:

  • Progressive retinal atrophy. A degenerative eye disease, progressive retinal atrophy results in gradual blindness. There is no known prevention or cure for this inherited condition.
  • Various autoimmune disorders. Different disorders where the body attacks itself in the belief that certain cells are foreign material. For Italian greyhounds, these disorders primarily affect the blood, neuromuscular systems, eyes, and skin. The most common autoimmune disease is immune-mediated polyarthritis and immune-mediated hemolytic anemia.
  • Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease. A degenerative disease of the head of the femur that happens spontaneously. Eventually, this disease will cause arthritis and issues with the hip joint.
  • Hypothyroidism. Like with humans, this is a condition in which the thyroid gland is underactive. This inactivity can lead to weight gain, changes in skin and coat, and lethargy. Hypothyroidism can be linked to autoimmune destruction of the thyroid.
  • Patellar luxation. A highly common joint issue for Italian greyhounds where the kneecap dislocates or slips from the normal position. This condition is more commonly known as slipped kneecaps.
  • Elbow and hip dysplasia. This inherited disease occurs while the dog is still growing and causes the joints of the elbow and hip to not form properly. Elbow and hip dysplasia come from the bones in the joint not fitting together snuggly. This can cause the development of osteoarthritis, limited mobility, and muscle atrophy.

Cost of caring for Italian greyhound

Both patellar luxation and Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease can require surgery to help the Italian greyhound regain the use of the affected leg. Patellar luxation surgery is determined by how severe the condition is and if the Italian greyhound can pop the kneecap back into place themselves or not. If surgery is required, it can range from $300 – $2,000. Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease surgery can cost between $1,000 – $3,000 depending on if it’s performed by a specialist or a general practice veterinarian.

While the cost of those surgeries alone seems like a daunting amount, there are options to help offset those potential costs. It is always better to be proactive, and one of the easiest ways to prepare is to get pet insurance for your little friend to help reduce out-of-pocket costs. The best time to sign up your new addition is early in your pup’s life.

Another option is to start saving before the Italian greyhound has been brought home by working the average cost of care into the budget and starting a pet savings account for the pet to set aside that money.

Italian greyhound resting indoors on a dog bed.

History of the Italian greyhound

Italian greyhounds date back almost 2,000 years to the time of the Roman Empire, and evidently kept pharaohs company in Egypt around that time. This makes it a little difficult to state exactly where the Italian greyhound originates from, but most experts agree they come from the Mediterranean. The Italian greyhound became extremely popular in Italy during the Renaissance, when many people began to keep miniature versions of popular larger breeds. Owning an Italian greyhound was a symbol of wealth and status.

Many paintings from various Renaissance artists depict Italian Greyhounds. This breed became the chosen pet for the most regal of laps, including but not limited to King James I, Catherine the Great, Queen Victoria, and Anne of Denmark.

The world wars almost caused the extinction of the Italian greyhound. It was thanks to breeders in the United States, largely removed from the ravages of war, that the Italian greyhounds were kept alive and able to repopulate.

The Gazehound (sighthound) family tree

The Italian greyhound is the smallest of the Gazehound, or sighthound, family. What makes this family of dogs so special is that they are hounds that hunt by sight, agility, and speed rather than scent and endurance.

  • Afghan hound. Bred in the cold mountains of Afghanistan, this dog’s unique features include its thick, silky fine coat and its tail, which ends with a ring curl.
  • Borzoi. Also known as the Russian hunting sighthound, this breed was formerly known for being wolf hunters in Russia.
  • English greyhound. More commonly known as a greyhound, this breed has been bred for course running, hunting, and racing.
  • Irish wolfhound. A large sighthound used for hunting larger game and as a guard dog. The Irish wolfhound is one of the largest breeds of dogs.
  • Rampur greyhound. This breed of sighthound is native to Northern India, between Delhi and Bareilly. Rampur greyhounds are believed to be descendants of early Afghan hounds, but their present-day appearance comes from cross-breeding with greyhounds to improve the breed’s speed.
  • Scottish deerhound. Also known as the deerhound, these are a breed of sighthound used to hunt red deer. Appearance-wise, the Scottish deerhound is similar to the greyhound, but it’s larger in size and has heavier bones and a rougher, longer coat.
  • Whippet. A medium-sized sighthound that originates in England and is descended from the greyhound. Their name comes from an old 17th-century word that meant “to move briskly”

Caring for your Italian greyhound

Bringing home a new puppy can be very overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Just make sure that you schedule your first vet visit and vaccinations early on. Before bringing home your new furry bundle of joy, take some time to puppy-proof your house and have lots of toys for all kinds of activities like teething. When picking out that first collar, make sure to sign up for FidoAlert, which provides a free Fido ID tag so that, should your dog escape or get lost, you’ll be prepared. Here are some other basics specific to Italian greyhounds.


Italian greyhounds may be small, but don’t let their size fool you. These little bundles of energy need regular exercise, between 45 minutes to an hour a day, and maybe more if you have multiple Italian greyhounds. Some of the best ways to exercise an Italian greyhound are going on walks or runs on a lead. An Italian greyhound, even a trained one, should never be off-lead outdoors in an unfenced area due to their sighthound instincts and prey drive. Having something set up inside is very important. Italian greyhounds are very sensitive to cold weather due to their low body fat, small size, and short hair. They don’t do well in extreme cold and may refuse to leave the house in the rain.

Italian greyhound in a red harness outside.


One of the most important parts of Italian greyhound grooming is taking care of their teeth. Regular brushing is required, as is yearly dental cleaning by a veterinarian. Baths are only really required if the dog has gotten into something you can’t simply brush out of the short coat. Otherwise, there’s no need to give them a bath except for every few months. Their nails, however, do need more attention. Since Italian greyhounds have what is called a hare foot, the middle two nails can be left slightly longer than the outer two.

Diet and nutrition

Italian greyhounds don’t have any special nutritional requirements, but you should always keep in mind that the less active the dog is, the more prone to obesity they are. With that in mind, it is recommended that Italian greyhounds should be fed two meals a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. For most Italian greyhounds, a healthy weight is between 7 and 14 pounds, so they should be fed anywhere from 1/2 cup to 1 cup of food a day. Please make sure to check with your vet about the appropriate food portioning for your individual dog.

If you are going to have a more active Italian greyhound, then it is a good idea to talk to your vet about adding in some supplements, including glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health, and omega-3s for joint, skin, and coat health.

Training your Italian greyhound

Italian greyhounds are fairly easy to train, with the hardest part being their stubbornness and sensitivity to loud sounds. They learn quickly, but they tend to become bored just as quickly. One of the biggest agreed-upon training tips for the Italian greyhound is that these dogs respond the best to reward-based, positive reinforcements.

Rewarding good behaviors with lots of praise and small treats immediately following a desired behavior seems to be the best training strategy. This will come in handy when crate training your Italian greyhound, since these dogs are often described as being clingy and needy, making them prone to separation anxiety.

All in all, lots of treats, love, toys, consistency, and patience will give you the absolute best training results for this breed.

Italian greyhound indoors looking at camera.

Breeds similar to the Italian greyhound

Not quite sure that an Italian greyhound is right for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Tibetan spaniel. Tibetan Spaniels can best be described as happy, intelligent, and playful. With an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years and an average weight of 9 to 15 pounds, they are perfect for apartment living.
  • Miniature pinscher. Known to be fearless, proud, and fun-loving, the miniature pinscher is a great family watchdog. Its nickname is the “King of Toys” due to its confidence and dominance in the show ring of toy breeds.
  • Chinese crested. Chinese crested are most often considered to be alert, lively, and affectionate dogs that bond strongly with their owners. This breed has a very interesting look, with the dog being both hairless in some areas and having a silky medium coat in other areas.

Frequently asked questions

How much does an Italian greyhound cost?

Most Italian greyhound puppies cost between $1,200 – $3,000, with the average cost being around $1,600 depending on the breeder. Going through a shelter or a rescue has an average cost of closer to $500 depending on location.

What’s the difference between Whippets and Italian greyhounds?

The main difference between the two breeds is their size, with Whippets being roughly 25 inches tall and weighing between 25-40 pounds, and the Italian greyhound being 13-15 inches tall and only 7-14 pounds in weight.

Are Italian greyhounds cuddly?

Italian greyhounds are sometimes called “Velcro dogs” because of how cuddly and clingy they can be. They are super cuddly and will always want to be with their people, no matter where you go.

Can Italian greyhounds be left alone?

Italian greyhounds don’t enjoy being alone, and there is no real amount of training that will change that. If they have to spend too much time alone, they can easily develop separation anxiety. A good rule of thumb is to not leave them alone for longer than an hour or two.

Are Italian greyhounds indoor dogs?

Italian greyhounds make great indoor dogs and apartment dogs. They love the warmth and comfort of the indoors, and aside from their daily walk, they may not want to leave the house when it is raining or cold outside.