Italian Greyhound (Piccolo Levriero Italiano)

Italian greyhoundThis delicate, elegant and fragile looking creature looks just like a greyhound but its small size classifies it as a toy breed.

The name in translation is “small Italian harehound” and that is indeed what they were originally intended for – hunting hares and rabbits.

They can reach up to 60 km per hour (37 miles per hour) over short distances.


These beautiful and exotic looking dogs have their origins in Ancient Egypt where they were part of the Pharaohs’ court. By the end of the 5th century BC they were fairly widespread in the Mediterranean region.

They soon became prized dogs of the Romans and the Italian aristocracy and because of their regal bearing became to be associated with wealth and luxury. But the bottom line is that they are sporting dogs bred for the hunt.

Physical Characteristics

They have short hair and a refined and elegant head with large expressive eyes. Their ears are relatively small and when not focussing on something when they are erect, they are carried quite flat to the head, giving the dogs its characteristic submissive look. This submissive effect is reinforced by its tail which is usually carried between the legs, but does not mean the dog is afraid or timid.

The Italian Greyhound (soemtimes also known as an IG) has a characteristic and very pretty high stepping gait and is very graceful when it moves.

It should be of one overall colour, black, grey or “isabelline” which is defined as pale grey-yellow, pale fawn, pale cream brown or parchment – you know it when you see it!. There may be white on the feet or chest.


male/female: 32 – 38 cm at the shoulder. (12 – 15 inches)


male/female: max 5 kg (11 lbs)


The Italian greyhound is very intelligent, gentle and good natured and is a real sun-worshipper, loving to bask in the rays whether that is outside or on the top of a couch!

Some people have described the little dog as very “catlike” in its behaviour, because of the love of a warm spot to curl up in and of being high up on the furniture!
But never forget his origins. He is a hunting dog and given to what I call “a mad half hour” tearing around like a loon.

He is also a pretty good jumper and can scale up to six feet, so you’ll need to think about having your garden well fenced when you get one of these little chaps.
Italian greyhounds love racing about and leaping all over the place and this does mean that they can be prone to breaking their all too slender legs.

Because they are sensitive souls who are not keen on being unexpectedly grabbed or jumped on, they are probably not the best choice for a family with young kids.

Another quirk of the breed is that they can be hard to housetrain as they dislike any physical discomfort, such as going outside in the rain or snow.

They have an independent streak when it comes to training, as do all hunting dogs. They need a firm but gentle training regime and always be aware of the prey drive. If they have a running, flapping or squeaking creature in their sights they will set off in pursuit and completely ignore you.

Italian Greyhound Products

If you are the proud owner of one of these beautiful dogs then no wonder you want to shout it from the rooftops. Have a look at some of the products below as a gift for yourself or the Italian greyhound lover in your life.