One of the first things you may notice when looking at a class of Italian Greyhounds is that there may be little consistency in size or type. As far back as we have been able to research, consistency has been a problem in the breed. This has made judging the Italian Greyhounds a little more difficult.
The Italian Greyhound – Form Follows Function
The ideal Italian Greyhound should be able to effortlessly accompany his owner on a long country stroll and should physically be able to chase small game. The same Italian Greyhound should also be able to be carried by his owner through a crowd without showing an unreasonable amount of fear, barking at everything, or attempting to attack anything that comes near.
The Italian Greyhound is noted for his sweet, affectionate personality when he is with people he knows, but he is a true sighthound and can be aloof with strangers. Avoiding eye contact is a normal behavior for him and is not a sign of fear. Although he should respond to a sound or to bait by alerting his ears, he is not by nature a wildly outgoing dog and should not be expected to behave like a puppet on a string.
Like many other small dogs, an Italian Greyhound may pull back slightly at the touch of a stranger, especially one with cold hands; but he should allow a normal examination on the table without panic.
Description of the Italian Greyhound
The Italian Greyhound is very similar to the Greyhound, but much smaller and more slender in all proportions and of ideal elegance and grace.
Because the Italian Greyhound Breed Standard begins with this comparison, it is important to understand the Greyhound Standard in order to understand the Italian Greyhound Standard. The Greyhound Standard is included here as taken from The Greyhound, Form Follows Function, a publication of The Greyhound Club of America. (The words in italics underneath the Italian Greyhound Standard are the Greyhound Standard).
Italian Greyhound’s Head
Narrow and long, tapering to nose, with a slight suggestion of stop.
Although a proper, elegant head adds to a more Greyhound-like appearance, unlike many other Toy breeds, the Italian Greyhound is not to be considered a “head breed.” Emphasis should be placed on the complete outline and the overall dog.
The skull is narrow and long, tapering to the nose. There is a SLIGHT suggestion of a stop.
Greyhound: Long and narrow, fairly wide between the ears, scarcely perceptible stop, little or no development of nasal sinuses, good length of muzzle, which should be powerful without coarseness. Teeth very strong and even in front.
Rather long, almost flat.
Long and fine.
Dark. It may be black or brown or in keeping with the color of the dog. A light or partly pigmented nose is a fault.
Scissors bite. A badly undershot or overshot mouth is a fault.
Dark, bright, intelligent, medium in size. Very light eyes are a fault.
Greyhound: Eyes: Dark, bright, intelligent, indicating spirit.
Small, fine in texture; thrown back and folded except when alerted, then carried folded at right angles to the head. Erect or button ears severely penalized.
Greyhound: Small and fine in texture, thrown back and folded, except when excited, when they are semi-pricked.
A small ear as in these examples is preferred.
Although preference is for the smaller ear, these larger ears are also acceptable.
Long, slender and gracefully arched.
Greyhound: Long, muscular, without throatiness, slightly arched, and widening gradually into the shoulder.
Of medium length, short coupled; high at withers, back curved and drooping at hindquarters, the highest point of curve at start of loin, creating a definite tuck-up at flanks.
Greyhound: Back: Muscular and broad. Loins: Good depth of muscle, well arched, well cut up in the flanks.
The statement “medium length, short coupled” indicates that the length in the Italian Greyhound’s body is in his ribcage. The loin area (between the last rib and the start of the pelvic girdle) is short. X= wither. XX = highest point of curve.
The below examples are not what is meant by “S” curves.
Long and sloping.
Greyhound: Placed as obliquely as possible, muscular without being loaded.
Deep and narrow.
Greyhound: Deep, and as wide as consistent with speed, fairly well-sprung ribs.
Long, straight, set well under shoulder; strong pasterns, fine bone.
Greyhound: Perfectly straight, set well into the shoulders, neither turned in nor out, pasterns strong.
Long, well-muscled thigh; hind legs parallel when viewed from behind, hocks well let down, well-bent stifle.
Greyhound: Long, very muscular and powerful, wide and well let down, well-bent stifles. Hocks well bent and rather close to ground, wide but straight fore and aft.
Hare foot with well-arched toes. Removal of dewclaws optional.
Greyhound: Hard and close, rather more hare than cat feet, well knuckled up with good strong claws.
Slender and tapering to a curved end, long enough to reach the hock; set low, carried low. Ring tail a serious fault, gay tail a fault.
Greyhound: Long, fine and tapering with a slight upward curve.
Skin fine and supple, hair short, glossy like satin and soft to the touch.
Greyhound: Short, smooth and firm in texture.
Colors of the Italian Greyhound
Any color and 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.
Greyhound: Color Immaterial.
Action – Movement of the Italian Greyhound
High stepping and free, front and hind legs to move forward in a straight line.
Italian Greyhound’s Size
Height at withers, ideally 13 inches to 15 inches.
A good small dog is preferable to an equally good large one, but a good larger dog is preferable to a poor smaller one.
The Italian Greyhound Disqualifications in the Dog Show Ring
A dog with brindle markings. A dog with the tan markings normally found on black-and-tan dogs of other breeds.
Disqualifications for brindle and for tan markings of this type are included in the Standard because a purebred Italian Greyhound cannot genetically be any of these colorations. It is important to make sure that the dog is actually brindle or has tan markings in all the areas where they are found on Miniature Pinschers, Doberman Pinschers, etc., before disqualifying it. Sometimes seal-colored Italian Greyhounds have shading that tends to mimic these markings. True brindle or tan-marked dogs are rarely seen in the show ring.
Are you looking for an Italian Greyhound puppy?
The best way to ensure a long and happy relationship with a purebred dog is to purchase one from a responsible breeder. Not sure where to begin finding a breeder? Contact the National Parent Club’s Breeder Referral person, which you can find on the AKC Breeder Referral Contacts page.
Want to help rescue and re-home an Italian Greyhound?
Did you know nearly every recognized AKC purebred has a dedicated rescue group? Find your new best friend on the AKC Rescue Network Listing.
Italian Greyhound Dog Breed Magazine
Read and learn more about the playful Italian Greyhound dog breed with articles and information in our Italian Greyhound Dog Breed Magazine.
Italian Greyhound Breed Magazine - Showsight