Linda lives in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in central Virginia. She has been owned by two Italian Greyhounds.
Should You Get an Iggy Dog?
You've seen them in pet stores and prancing around the ring at dog shows. Their quick, bouncy gait and perky little ears have stolen your heart, and you just have to have one. Stop! Do your homework. This is not the breed for every home.
IGs (Iggys) are precious. As puppies, they fit in the palm of your hand, and as adults, they fit perfectly in your lap. And that's where they usually want to be, too. They are known as Velcro dogs; you will never be alone again if you bring an IG into your home.
This is a breed that wants and needs to be with you every minute. If you enjoy going to the bathroom alone or taking a long nap on a rainy day, it won't ever happen again if you have an Iggy. They just love you, and that's that. Your trip to the bathroom will be shared with your Iggy sitting between your feet. Naptime will be yours if and only if your Iggy wants to nap too. Otherwise, they will turn your naptime into a battle of wills. Trust me—the Iggy will win.
Italian Greyhounds are little clowns. When they want to play, there is little you can do to distract them. You can't force an Iggy to lay down with you if they don't want to. In fact, Iggys don't do much of anything they don't want to do. Prepare yourself. Once you bring an Iggy home, your life will never be your own again.
Seriously, do the research before you get an Italian Greyhound puppy. Know what you are getting into and make an informed decision. Although adorable, smart, compact, and practically non-allergic, they are not perfect. Before you even start looking for a puppy, give serious consideration to the following and talk to other Italian Greyhound owners.
Italian Greyhounds aren't cheap. Buying a puppy from a reputable breeder will cost you at least $500. Then there are vaccines, licenses, heartworm testing and preventative medicine, and—of course—neutering or spaying. You've just added about $400 to the purchase price.
Do you have funds available for medical emergencies? Iggys have very tiny leg bones that fracture easily. A fracture can easily cost you $1200 or more. Don't think it won't happen to yours. It can, and the odds are, it will. Are you prepared for it?
Italian Greyhounds need you. They need you to be with them. Will someone be with them? If you work outside the home and will be gone for large blocks of time, an Iggy might not be a good choice. Not only is it unkind to leave an Iggy alone too long, but it can also be dangerous. Iggys will find something to entertain them and it may not be good for them. They are amazing little thieves and if they desire, will get into things you thought they could never reach.
They also have very tiny bladders and most cannot control their bladder or bowels for long periods of time. They will potty, wherever it's convenient, even in their crate or on your floor.
We've already said that Italian Greyhounds can't be trusted to roam the house alone. They also can't be left off-leash outside. Iggys have no concept of danger and yet they tend to be a bit skittish.
They are fast too. Any unexpected noise or movement can send an Iggy running, and no amount of training will slow them down or bring them back to you if they have been spooked. Iggys require a secure yard or a leash to be safe. It's not an option.
Potty training is worthy of its own subtitle. It is the primary reason that so many Italian Greyhounds end up in shelters or in rescue. As beautiful and precious as these creatures are, they are a nightmare to house train. Most never get it 100% right.
An Iggy will fool you when they are small. They will let you think they've learned and they'll either let you know they need to go out or they will use potty pads. Don't let it fool you. An Iggy will potty in the right place if it suits them. If it doesn't, they'll potty near the pad but not on it. Or, they might pick a favorite spot in your kitchen or bedroom. No amount of positive reinforcement or discipline will cure them. It's just an Iggy thing. Can you handle it?
If you're not willing to shampoo your carpet weekly, wash a lot of rugs or spend a fortune on pads, consider another breed. I cannot reinforce this enough. An Iggy will pee on your floors, carpeted or not. It's a fact.
If you bring an Italian Greyhound home, you will likely encounter dental issues at some point. It is well documented that most Iggys will develop periodontal disease at an early age. Iggys have relatively large teeth for such a small mouth which can result in crowding of the teeth.
They also have a tendency to have dry mouths which can hamper clearing the mouth of food properly. Your Iggy will need vigilance on your part to keep those teeth and gums healthy with regular brushing and, regular dental exams by a trained veterinarian.
Some other health concerns that may show up in Italian Greyhounds with some frequency are:
- Thyroid conditions: This affects the coat, weight, and energy.
- Luxating patellas: This is a structural problem with the kneecaps.
- PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy): This is an eye problem that can lead to blindness.
- Legg-Perthes Disease: This is a disease of the hip joint.
- Auto-immune disease: This is a cellular problem that causes the body to attack itself.
Not all Italian Greyhounds will develop these conditions but it is important to research the breeder's history of producing medically sound dogs. Many of these diseases are genetic and we need to stop the bloodlines with the DNA for each of them. All of these conditions can be costly and heart-breaking.
Please don't ever breed an Italian Greyhound without testing for PRA and Legg-Perthes disease. For more information, I would encourage you to visit the Italian Greyhound Club of America site.
The Brighter Side of Iggys
It's not all bad news. There are some super endearing qualities to Italian Greyhounds. They truly are little clowns and will bring a smile to your face on the darkest of days. When no one else in the world will love you, your Iggy will declare his/her undying love with just a look. They have a way of looking into your soul and seeing only the best in you. Iggys are not capable of holding a grudge and their sole purpose in life is to adore you and to have fun.
Italian Greyhounds can also be great sports enthusiasts. The Italian Greyhound Club of America provides great information on training Iggys to compete in fly-ball, lure-coursing, obedience, agility, and racing. Iggy's have an abundance of energy and thrive on the accolades that come with a good performance.
An Italian Greyhound will love you like no other, and they make the best bed buddies when they are ready to sleep. In fact, they generally prefer your bed to theirs. Prepare to share your blankets with your Iggy. The good news here is that they are practically non-allergenic and a breeze to keep clean. Iggys do shed a little, but their coat is so short and sleek that you may not even notice. A quick wipe-off with a damp cloth will suffice for a quick cleanup after a day in the sun.
My Personal Experience
I am not a breeder. I am a person whose heart was melted by the love of an Italian Greyhound. I can't express the pleasure my Luna brought to my life. We were the best of buddies. For all our years together, she ruled the roost, and yes, I allowed it.
I wanted to write this article because these dogs are so very precious and yet, they warrant a word of caution. It breaks my heart that so many end up in rescue or shelters or get abused for things that they simply aren't capable of changing.
I accepted that I would shampoo the carpet every week for the remainder of the time I had left with Luna. She was pad trained. She knew where to go, but as long as she had one foot on the pad, she thought she was on the pad. Never mind that her butt wasn't. It was a real nuisance, and some days I wondered if I'd chosen the wrong breed.
When I brought Luna home, I had a plan. I was faithful to my plan for potty training this one. Mistakes were not an option and would not be tolerated. But after ten years together, I accepted this as a way of life. It drove me nuts, but for every potty miss, I got dozens of kisses and enough laughs to make up for it. Trust me—I tried every training technique known to man for potty training. I bought all the videos; read all the books. It was my only complaint about my Iggy.
She was the joy of my days and my snuggle buddy at night. At the end of the day, when she stretched out those skinny little legs and pushed me to the very edge of the bed, I would just smile and think—how did I ever live without her? Go figure!
Rest in Peace, My Precious Luna
I said my final farewell to Luna on January 20, 2014. My heart was broken, and there was an emptiness in my home that could be filled. A few weeks before she passed, Luna began developing small lumps under her skin. Our veterinarian thought they were sebaceous cysts. They looked and acted like cysts, so that is how we treated them.
Two weeks later, these angry appearing cysts began bursting through the skin, and Luna was scheduled for surgery this morning to remove them. Her pre-anesthesia chest x-ray showed lungs that were completely filled with multiple tumors, and I knew what I had to do.
With the help of medication, Luna fell into a peaceful and final sleep at 9:30 A.M. on January 20, 2014, knowing that she was loved enough to be spared any additional pain and suffering. It was the most difficult thing to do but it was also the only compassionate act left to give her. I know she understood.
Run free and happy, little Luna. You earned it. You gave me more love, loyalty, and joy than words can express. Run until your heart is content. Chase butterflies and bark at the wind, my precious girl.
- The Love of an Italian Greyhound
Italian Greyhounds aren't for everyone but if one chooses you, be prepared to learn some important lessons about love.
Shortly after saying goodbye to Luna, I realized that I could not be happy without an Italian Greyhound in the house. I missed Luna's bigger-than-life personality and the love she gave to me so unconditionally. Thanks to an amazing group of people who are involved in Italian Greyhound rescue, I adopted my second Italian Greyhound.
Sadie is adorable, and I am totally in love with her. She's a different personality than my Luna but has all the characteristics that I love about Italian Greyhounds. Sweet Sadie, an Italian Greyhound, found her way to me in spite of my resistance. This is the story of our amazing experience with animal rescue.
More About Italian Greyhounds
- Italian Greyhounds: Health and Safety
Italian Greyhounds are just too busy to worry about their own safety, so their well-being is up to you. Do it well and these little clowns will fill your life with love and laughter.
Questions & Answers
Question: I've never heard of a whole breed that cannot be house trained. Is this really true of all Iggy's?
Answer: No! It is not true. However, it is prevalent and anyone considering an Italian greyhound needs to know that. They are wonderful little dogs and if you are fortunate enough to house train one, then life is near perfect with them. For those of us who have not found that perfection, we learn to shrug it off and keep a sufficient stock of cleaning supplies.
Question: I have a cat, and I’ve been wanting to get an Italian Greyhound. How do they do with cats?
Answer: Italian Greyhounds, like any sighthound, can have a high prey drive. That means they could have a tendency to chase anything smaller than themselves. That said, many Italian Greyhounds are very cat-like and get along great with other small furry animals. Before you purchase one, ask if it has been cat tested. Responsible breeders will have done this or at least be willing to do it before selling you a puppy. Of course, I always suggest looking for an Italian Greyhound through the various rescue groups. There are far too many of these precious little dogs looking for a forever home.
Question: Can you have more than one greyhound dog in your house at once?
Answer: These dogs do very well in multiple Italian greyhound houses. They love each other and love to play.
Question: Are Italian Greyhounds good with children?
Answer: Most Italian Greyhounds love everyone regardless of their age. However, they do have very tiny tiny, somewhat fragile leg bones. My personal opinion is that they are not the best choice for a home with very small children. When a child can be taught to play Gently, Iggy's are great fun. Iggy's are high energy and love to play.
© 2012 Linda Crist
Linda Crist (author) from Central Virginia on March 02, 2014:
herunningman 3, I'm glad you stopped by and enjoyed this article. They are precious little dogs if you are patient and accept that they are not perfect in the house-training area. They love like no other breed.
therunningman from Rhode Island on February 05, 2014:
Very nice article. Years ago I had a friend who had an Iggy. It was one of the nicest dogs I've ever been around, a real beauty.
Linda Crist (author) from Central Virginia on February 26, 2013:
Kathryn, this is a very unique breed. They are easy to love and care for but darn near impossible to train. Still, I adore her. Thanks for reading this one and for loving my dog too.
Kathryn from Windsor, Connecticut on February 26, 2013:
What a beautiful dog! Such shiny fur.
Linda Crist (author) from Central Virginia on September 03, 2012:
otee, my first dog as a child was a blond cocker. I adored him until he decided to chase and snap at me. I was 10 when we had to re-home him because of his agressiveness. I cried for weeks. Thanks for reading and commenting. It means he world to me. I am sorry for your loss of your Pappa. I can tell how much he was loved.
OTEE from India on September 03, 2012:
Oof! That's a lot of work, and I thought that Cocker Spaniels were tough. Apart from their hair shedding and regular grooming needs they seem pretty low maintenance. Like IG's, CSs are just as strong-willed and do their own thing. CSs are prone to ear infections, and probably early onset of cataract. Our Pappa had cataract which we had operated.
We lost our dear Pappa last year and the void will remain forever.
Loved this hub.
Linda Crist (author) from Central Virginia on July 28, 2012:
Dear Vegaswriter. I am so sorry for your loss. I know that my heart will break when I have to say goodbye to Luna. She will be my last IG but she has a piece of my heart that no other can have. I'm glad you liked the hub. Thank you for reading it and sharing your story with me.
vegaswriter from Las Vegas on July 27, 2012:
Thank you for writing this hub. I was happy to see it. It made me laugh and smile thinking of those wonderful and aggravating traits and quirks even as the tears streamed down my face missing my beloved IG's.
They are one of the greatest loves of my life but it is a void that I most likely will not make the choice of filling again having had my life ruled by special needs IG's for many, many years.
I had to say goodbye to my darling yet very neurotic boy Chance last year when I couldn't fight his degenerative disc disease any longer. I miss him every day and every night and every time I think of taking a nap. No dog 'fits' like an IG.
Linda Crist (author) from Central Virginia on July 24, 2012:
Thanks so much for reading my hub DrMark. Iggys have so much charm and I really do adore my Luna and the breed. That said, Luna will be my last Iggy, at least until I am retired and have a fenced in yard with a doggie door. lol I don't think there is another breed that has a personality equal to an Iggy but it really isn't the breed for everyone and I hope that I conveyed that appropriately. Thank you for the comment and the vote up!
Dr Mark from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 23, 2012:
Nice article. It does not sound like the right dog for me but I really like how you present the good and the bad points. Great photos too. Voted up!