IGCA About the Breed
The Italian Greyhound is the smallest of the family of gazehounds (dogs that hunt by sight). The breed is an old one and is believed to have originated more than 2,000 years ago in the countries now known as Greece and Turkey. This belief is based on the depiction of miniature greyhounds in the early decorative arts of these countries and on the archaeological discovery of small greyhound skeletons. By the Middle Ages, the breed had become distributed throughout Southern Europe and was later a favorite of the Italians of the sixteenth century, among whom miniature dogs were in great demand. It is, in fact, due to its popularity in Italy at this time that the breed became known as the "Italian Greyhound." From this period onward the history of the breed can be fairly well traced as it spread through Europe, arriving in England in the seventeenth century.
An Italian Greyhound was registered for the first time with the American Kennel Club in 1886. Records show that during the same years a few were being entered in shows. After World War I when the breed was in danger of extinction in Great Britain, fresh stock was imported from the United States, giving evidence of the high quality to be found in America by then.
The Italian Greyhound Club of American was founded in 1954. In 1963, an Italian Greyhound was named Best in Show for the first time, and since then, many others have followed suit.
Characteristics of the breed
The Italian Greyhound is a true greyhound, his small size the result of selective breeding. There is some difference of opinion as to whether he was originally bred for hunting small game or was meant to be simply a pet and companion. It seems most likely that he filled both roles, and for this reason he is very adaptable to both city and country living. He is rather luxury loving and enjoys the comfort of an apartment; at the same time being a true hound, he likes exercise and outdoor activities, weather permitting.
The Italian Greyhound can weigh as little as 7 lbs. or as much as 14 or 15 lbs., but the average weight is about 10 lbs. His coat is short and smooth and requires little grooming. He is odorless, sheds little, and is not yappy. When he does bark, his voice is rather deep for his size. Although giving the impression of fragility, the breed is hardy, seldom ill, and thrives in such northern countries as Sweden and Finland, housed indoors.
Perhaps the most outstanding characteristic of the Italian Greyhound is his affectionate disposition. He thrives best when this affection is returned and is happiest with his owner and immediate family. For this reason, he may sometimes seem a trifle aloof with strangers. He is sensitive, alert, and intelligent and remains playful until long past puppyhood. He adapts to most households and gets along well with other pets and children. He is eager to please and learns quickly. Many have done well in obedience trials.
In appearance, the Italian Greyhound is very similar to the Greyhound, but is considerably smaller and more slender in all proportions. He differs also from his larger relative in his characteristic and elegant gait, high stepping and free. The coat may be all shades of fawn, cream, red, blue, or sometimes black, and it may be either solid or with various degrees of white markings. The coat is fine, smooth and glossy.
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