Italian Greyhound.jpg
Breed Group Group 8: Sighthound Breeds
Sub-group 8-A: Smooth Coated Sighthounds
Origin Country Italy
Weight Males: 8-11 pounds. Females: 8-11 pounds.
Height Males: 12-15 inches. Females: 12-15 inches.
Other Name(s) Iggy, Piccolo Levriero Italiano
Breed Type Pure
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Italian Greyhound

Breed Group Group 8: Sighthound Breeds
Sub-group 8-A: Smooth Coated Sighthounds
Origin Country Italy
Weight Males: 8-11 pounds. Females: 8-11 pounds.
Height Males: 12-15 inches. Females: 12-15 inches.
Other Name(s) Iggy, Piccolo Levriero Italiano
Breed Type Pure
click here for FULL BREED STANDARD

Origins

Depictions of pint-sized sighthounds have been found on Egyptian artifacts dating back as far back as 2,000 years ago, indicating that this may be the location where the Italian Greyhound’s ancestors originated. However, evidence of these little dogs’ travels from Egypt and eventually Rome have been recorded through the artifacts of various cultures throughout the Mediterranean.

It is believed that the small Greyhound-type dogs reached Rome somewhere around fifth century BCE. There, they were prized for their dainty structure and affectionate, playful nature. Their primary role was that of companion, and some believe that the Latin phrase, cave canem, or “beware of the dog,” was actually in reference to the small and fragile sighthounds, as opposed to the large guard dogs.

The breed was refined into the dog that we know today during the Renaissance period, with the name Piccolo Levriero Italiano, or “small Italian Greyhound,” being applied to the dogs during the 16th century. The dog’s sleek build, elegant curves, and spritely nature were considered worthy of nobility. They were depicted in many fine works of art. Due to their refined physique and temperament, their popularity spread throughout Europe and eventually throughout the world.

The Italian Greyhound reached the peak of his popularity during the Victorian period. However, due to poor breeding practices (including the practice of inbreeding for even more diminished size), as well as World War I and II, the breed suffered greatly and was almost lost in Europe. Fortunately, sound breeding stock was available throughout North America, and international enthusiasts came together to revive the breed, using ethical breeding programs. Today the Italian Greyhound is one of the most popular sighthounds.

Breed Characteristics

Head: Dolichocephalic skull-type, moderate in size, elongated, wedge-shaped, and in proportion to the rest of the body. Similar to other sight hounds, the head is long, narrow, and elegant. It tapers from the skull toward the nose. The topskull is long and may be flat or just slightly arched in profile and from the front, with slightly rounded sides. The head is fine, well-chiseled, and clean cut. There is no prominence of muscle or excess skin. A very slightly marked median furrow may be present at the stop and running toward the occiput. The head is clean-cut without excess skin or wrinkle.
Eyes: The eyes are of moderate size and in proportion to the head, never appearing overly large or small. They are somewhat round or oval to almond in shape. The color may range from hazel-green, to amber, to dark brown, with darker color preferred. The eye rims are tightly fitted and well-pigmented. There should be sufficient bone in the surrounding orbital sockets to protect the eyes.
Ears: The ears are small to medium in size and always in proportion to the head. They are set high on the skull and folded into a rose shape. When alert, the ear tips point outward to the side in a “fly-away” position. When in repose, they are folded backward. The ears are never fully erect or buttoned.
Muzzle: The muzzle is strongly developed, full, and long. The plane, or bridge of the muzzle, is straight, or may be slightly convex. The muzzle tapers from a broader, fuller base toward the nose. Upper and lower jaws are well-developed, approximately equal in length, and have good bone substance, never appearing snipy or weak.
Nose: The nose is well-pigmented and black, or self-colored according to the coat. The nostrils are well-opened. In profile, the nose may project slightly beyond the mouth.
Neck: Moderately long and elegant, allowing for proud head carriage. Strongly muscled with an arch. The neck tapers smoothly from the deeper and broader body toward the head. The neck is clean-cut and without excess skin, throatiness, or dewlap.
Chest: Deep and broad, but never wider than deep. The brisket extends to the point of the elbows.
Body: Athletic and lithe, yet deep and of good substance. Capable of speed, power, endurance, and stamina. Short-coupled, deepest from withers to brisket, and powerfully equipped with lean, smooth muscles throughout. Width at forequarters is approximately equal to the width at the hindquarters.
Feet: Oval to round and compact, with well-arched toes and tough pads.
Tail: Set rather low on the croup. It is thick at the base, slender and tapering throughout toward the tip. The tail is carried in accordance with the dog’s mood and energy level, often lowered. The tail is moderately long, with the tip of the last vertebrae extending to the hock joints or below when held down. The tail may be straight or gently curved.
Movement: The movement of the Italian Greyhound should match that of his temperament: lively, balanced, and energetic. The movement is springy and harmonious. The characteristics of healthy structure are evident: when moving away, the forelegs and rear pasterns should remain parallel to one another. When viewing movement from the front, the forelegs should remain parallel, with elbows and paws moving neither in nor out. From the rear, the back pads should be visible when the rear legs are extended. As speed increases, the forelimbs and hindlimbs will converge to the centerline of gravity. From the side, the topline should remain firm and level. Good reach of movement in the front allows the forepaw to extend out in a line with the nose. The width between the forefeet when extended should be approximately equal to the width between the hindfeet when extended, indicating balance, good reach, and good drive. Dogs that exhibit any sign of breathing or locomotive difficulty shall be disqualified from the show ring.
Temperament: The Italian Greyhound is affectionate, inquisitive, docile, lively, and sometimes capable of mischief. Due to their frail physique, these little dogs are often shielded from children and other animals, which results in them not tolerating other dogs, pets, or children well. However, with careful supervision, “Iggies” can be socialized toward other people and dogs in a positive and friendly manner. Due to their frailty, many enthusiasts will only allow the Italian Greyhound to interact with other Italian Greyhounds. They are warm, loving, and affectionate toward their people, and usually bond strongly to one member of the family. They can be reserved, indifferent, or uninterested around strangers. Any unprovoked aggressive or fearful behavior toward people is incorrect for this breed.
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Breed Standard

BREED GROUP 8: Sighthound Breeds

Proportions: Square to off-square with length of the body, measured from the point of the forechest to the point of the rump, being just slightly greater than the height at the withers. The ideal body height to length ratio is between 1:1 and 10:9. Females may be slightly longer. The body is well-put together, with sturdy substance and medium bone. The body is elegant, fine, and well-put together. Substance is sturdy but light, with moderately fine (yet solid) bone.

Head

General Appearance: Dolichocephalic skull-type, moderate in size, elongated, wedge-shaped, and in proportion to the rest of the body. Similar to other sight hounds, the head is long, narrow, and elegant. It tapers from the skull toward the nose. The topskull is long and may be flat or just slightly arched in profile and from the front, with slightly rounded sides. The head is fine, well-chiseled, and clean cut. There is no prominence of muscle or excess skin. A very slightly marked median furrow may be present at the stop and running toward the occiput. The head is clean-cut without excess skin or wrinkle.
Expression: Alert, lively, friendly, and keen.
Stop: The stop is only very slightly marked.
Skull: The ideal muzzle-to-skull ratio is 1:1, with the topskull being equal to the muzzle.
The ideal muzzle-to-skull axis is parallel.
Muzzle: The muzzle is strongly developed, full, and long. The plane, or bridge of the muzzle, is straight, or may be slightly convex. The muzzle tapers from a broader, fuller base toward the nose. Upper and lower jaws are well-developed, approximately equal in length, and have good bone substance, never appearing snipy or weak.
Lips or Flews: Lips are clean and fit tightly over the teeth and jaws.
Nose: The nose is well-pigmented and black, or self-colored according to the coat. The nostrils are well-opened. In profile, the nose may project slightly beyond the mouth.
Cheeks: The cheeks are smoothly muscled, never chiseled or coarse.
Dentition and Bite: Forty-two strong, clean, white teeth. Bite may be level or scissor. Contact must be made between the top and bottom incisors.
Eyes: The eyes are of moderate size and in proportion to the head, never appearing overly large or small. They are somewhat round or oval to almond in shape. The color may range from hazel-green, to amber, to dark brown, with darker color preferred. The eye rims are tightly fitted and well-pigmented. There should be sufficient bone in the surrounding orbital sockets to protect the eyes.
Ears: The ears are small to medium in size and always in proportion to the head. They are set high on the skull and folded into a rose shape. When alert, the ear tips point outward to the side in a “fly-away” position. When in repose, they are folded backward. The ears are never fully erect or buttoned.

Body and Tail

General Description: Athletic and lithe, yet deep and of good substance. Capable of speed, power, endurance, and stamina. Short-coupled, deepest from withers to brisket, and powerfully equipped with lean, smooth muscles throughout. Width at forequarters is approximately equal to the width at the hindquarters.
Neck: Moderately long and elegant, allowing for proud head carriage. Strongly muscled with an arch. The neck tapers smoothly from the deeper and broader body toward the head. The neck is clean-cut and without excess skin, throatiness, or dewlap.
Chest: Deep and broad, but never wider than deep. The brisket extends to the point of the elbows.
Topline: Straight and level from withers to loin. The back is broad, strongly muscled, and straight, yet supple. The loin is taut and slightly arched at the dorsal lumbar, yet supportive, and sloping gently toward the croup. The back is never long, short, swayed, or roached.
Croup: Long, broad, muscular, and gently sloped.
Underline: Definite tuck-up present at the flanks. The underline is taut and firm, without any indication of sagging or excess weight.
Ribs: Long, well-sprung, well-laid-back, and oval-shaped, never barrel-chested or slab-sided.
Tail: Set rather low on the croup. It is thick at the base, slender and tapering throughout toward the tip. The tail is carried in accordance with the dog’s mood and energy level, often lowered. The tail is moderately long, with the tip of the last vertebrae extending to the hock joints or below when held down. The tail may be straight or gently curved.

Forequarters and Hindquarters

Forequarters: Forequarters are always in balance with the hindquarters. Forequarters are well-angulated with well-laid-back shoulder blades. Shoulder blades are long and approximately equal in length to the long upper arm and forearm.
Elbows: Elbows are close to the body. The point of the elbows is approximately half the dog’s height at the withers.
Forelegs: Frontal View: Straight, of good muscle, of moderately fine (yet strong) bone, and parallel to one another.
Side View: The forelimbs appear straight with strong pasterns.
Pasterns: Never weak or broken.
Hindquarters: Upper thigh and lower thigh are long and equal in length. They are strong, sturdy, of moderately fine (yet solid) bone, and well-muscled.
Rear View: When viewed from the rear, the rear pasterns are parallel to one another.
Side View: Good angulation will allow the rear toes to align with the point of the rump or within one to two paw-lengths behind the point of the rump, with the rear pasterns remaining perpendicular to the ground and parallel to one another.
Stifle Joint: Well-angulated with a good bend to well-let-down rear pasterns.
Angulations: Angulation of hindquarters is always in balance with angulation of forequarters.
Feet: Oval to round and compact, with well-arched toes and tough pads.

Coat

Skin: Well-fitted, yet supple. The skin should never obstruct the outline of the dog.
Coat Type: Short, fine, soft, silky, satin-like. Never with fringe.
Coat Color or Pattern: CKC recognizes two color varieties of the Italian Greyhound breed: the standard color and nonstandard color variety.
Standard coat color variety: All colors and patterns permissible except brindle and tan points, all with or without white points preferably on the feet, chest, and tail (Irish Markings).
Nonstandard coat color variety: Brindle, black, liver, blue, all with tan or brindle points; all standard and nonstandard colors with varying degrees of white, including piebald (approximately 50% of body or more marked white), or color-headed white (color restricted to head only).

Movement

The movement of the Italian Greyhound should match that of his temperament: lively, balanced, and energetic. The movement is springy and harmonious. The characteristics of healthy structure are evident: when moving away, the forelegs and rear pasterns should remain parallel to one another. When viewing movement from the front, the forelegs should remain parallel, with elbows and paws moving neither in nor out. From the rear, the back pads should be visible when the rear legs are extended. As speed increases, the forelimbs and hindlimbs will converge to the centerline of gravity. From the side, the topline should remain firm and level. Good reach of movement in the front allows the forepaw to extend out in a line with the nose. The width between the forefeet when extended should be approximately equal to the width between the hindfeet when extended, indicating balance, good reach, and good drive. Dogs that exhibit any sign of breathing or locomotive difficulty shall be disqualified from the show ring.

Temperament

The Italian Greyhound is affectionate, inquisitive, docile, lively, and sometimes capable of mischief. Due to their frail physique, these little dogs are often shielded from children and other animals, which results in them not tolerating other dogs, pets, or children well. However, with careful supervision, “Iggies” can be socialized toward other people and dogs in a positive and friendly manner. Due to their frailty, many enthusiasts will only allow the Italian Greyhound to interact with other Italian Greyhounds. They are warm, loving, and affectionate toward their people, and usually bond strongly to one member of the family. They can be reserved, indifferent, or uninterested around strangers. Any unprovoked aggressive or fearful behavior toward people is incorrect for this breed.

Faults

All dogs should be in proper healthy condition, free from disease or defect. Any departure from this description is considered a fault. Unless altered, all male dogs should have two fully descended testicles.