Judging the Italian Greyhound

Italian Greyhound dog lying on the field of flowers

 

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.

Left: The Ideal Italian Greyhound, Right: The Ideal Greyhound
Left: The Ideal Italian Greyhound, Right: The Ideal Greyhound

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.

 

While both heads above are a different type, they are both correct.
While both heads above are a different type, they are both correct.

Italian Greyhound correct and incorrect head illustration

Skull

Rather long, almost flat.

 

Muzzle

Long and fine.

 

Nose

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.

 

Teeth

Scissors bite. A badly undershot or overshot mouth is a fault.

 

Eyes

Dark, bright, intelligent, medium in size. Very light eyes are a fault.

Greyhound: Eyes: Dark, bright, intelligent, indicating spirit.

 

Ears

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.

 

Italian Greyhound ear illustration

 

Although preference is for the smaller ear, these larger ears are also acceptable.

Italian Greyhound incorrect ear illustration

 

Neck

Long, slender and gracefully arched.

Greyhound: Long, muscular, without throatiness, slightly arched, and widening gradually into the shoulder.

 

Italian Greyhound neck illustration

 

Body

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.

 

Left: The Ideal Body and Topline. Right: Although this topline is correct according to the Standard, the dip behind the shoulders is undesirable, as it lacks the elegant smoothness of the ideal topline.
Left: The Ideal Body and Topline. Right: Although this topline is correct according to the Standard, the dip behind the shoulders is undesirable, as it lacks the elegant smoothness of the ideal topline.

 

The below examples are not what is meant by “S” curves.

 

Left: When the loin area is longer, as in this illustration, the topline tends to flatten out. right: The ribcage is short and the loin is long, causing the high point of the curve (although it is at the start of the loin) to appear to be in the middle of the dog’s back and higher than the withers.
Left: When the loin area is longer, as in this illustration, the topline tends to flatten out. right: The ribcage is short and the loin is long, causing the high point of the curve (although it is at the start of the loin) to appear to be in the middle of the dog’s back and higher than the withers.
Left: This dog’s topline is completely wrong. The shoulder is low and the highest point of the arch is in the middle of the back rather than at the start of the loin. A dog built like this is likely to also be a poor mover. right: This dog is low in the shoulder and high in the rear, both of which are incorrect. Note also the ewe neck and dish face.
Left: This dog’s topline is completely wrong. The shoulder is low and the highest point of the arch is in the middle of the back rather than at the start of the loin. A dog built like this is likely to also be a poor mover. right: This dog is low in the shoulder and high in the rear, both of which are incorrect. Note also the ewe neck and dish face.

 

Shoulders

Long and sloping.

Greyhound: Placed as obliquely as possible, muscular without being loaded.

 

Chest

Deep and narrow.

Greyhound: Deep, and as wide as consistent with speed, fairly well-sprung ribs.

 

Forelegs

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.

 

Left and middle: The ideal front assembly, shoulder long and sloping, legs set well under, chest deep and narrow. right: This front is incorrect. The shoulders are straight (upright), the legs are set on too far forward, and the chest is shallow and hollow.
Left and middle: The ideal front assembly, shoulder long and sloping, legs set well under, chest deep and narrow. right: This front is incorrect. The shoulders are straight (upright), the legs are set on too far forward, and the chest is shallow and hollow.

 

Left: Chest is wide rather than narrow, with too much rib spring. right: Chest is hollow. Even with the legs stacked straight there is incorrect attachment of the upper arm to the ribs.
Left: Chest is wide rather than narrow, with too much rib spring. right: Chest is hollow. Even with the legs stacked straight there is incorrect attachment of the upper arm to the ribs.

 

Hindquarters

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.

 

The Ideal Rear Assembly of an Italian Greyhound Illustration
The Ideal Rear Assembly

 

Feet

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.

 

Italian Greyhound
Left: Hare foot is elongated, with the two center toes slightly longer than the other two. right: Cat foot is round.

 

Tail

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.

 

Left: Gay Tail, Right: Ring Tail
Left: Gay Tail, Right: Ring Tail

 

Coat

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.

 

Left: The action is high stepping and free, with a bend at the pastern, not a stiff-legged goose step or an exaggerated hackney gait, neither of which is “free.” right: This is where the IG Standard and the Greyhound Standard differ the most. The Greyhound Standard makes no reference to movement and does not ask for lift in the forward movement.
Left: The action is high stepping and free, with a bend at the pastern, not a stiff-legged goose step or an exaggerated hackney gait, neither of which is “free.” right: This is where the IG Standard and the Greyhound Standard differ the most. The Greyhound Standard makes no reference to movement and does not ask for lift in the forward movement.

 

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.

Left: A true brindle has darker stripes. middle: Tan markings will be clearly defined and occur in the same places as they would on a Doberman Pinscher or Miniature Pinscher. right: Tan or gold markings on a seal IG are shadings of color and are most typically located at the base of the ears, the side of the neck, the “armpits,” and on the back of the thighs.
Left: A true brindle has darker stripes. middle: Tan markings will be clearly defined and occur in the same places as they would on a Doberman Pinscher or Miniature Pinscher. right: Tan or gold markings on a seal IG are shadings of color and are most typically located at the base of the ears, the side of the neck, the “armpits,” and on the back of the thighs.

 


 

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

Showsight Magazine is the only publication to offer dedicated Digital Breed Magazines for ALL recognized AKC Breeds.

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

 

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  • Lilian Barber was born in Germany and left that country under duress in 1939 with her parents, and with only what they could wear and carry, just ahead of the Holocaust. The family spent a year in the London slums before being able to enter the United States in 1940. At some point during her early years, Lilian became consumed by an almost insane desire for the companionship of a dog, but due to the family’s strained living conditions, she was not able to have one until she grew up and had a life of her own. She acquired her first Italian Greyhound in 1966. Lilian has lived with from one to 18 IGs at any given time ever since, and she has bred nearly 100 AKC champions under the La Scala kennel name, most of these Lilian showed and finished herself after being part of the dog fancy had helped her to shake off her shyness and tendency to be clumsy at any kind of sport. Lilian was approved in 1989 to judge Italian Greyhounds and has judged Specialties in Italy and Australia as well as in the United States, including the National Specialty in 2003 & 2010. She was invited to judge in Japan in 2013. Lilian has written four books about the IG and one about her life with and without dogs titled, My Mother Never Taught Me Songs. Lilian has been the IG Breed Columnist for the AKC Gazette since 1977 as well as a writer of a regular column in The Italian Greyhound Magazine. She has served on the Judges’ Education Committee for the Italian Greyhound Club of America, was one of the creators of the Illustrated Standard for the IG, and is a past President of the IGCA. Most of all, Lilian says that she is completely smitten with this breed and could not imagine ever again living without at least one or two of them.

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