Is an Italian Greyhound the Right Dog for You?
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.
IG's (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. Nap time will be yours, if and only if, your Iggy wants to nap too. Otherwise, they will turn your naptime into a battle of will. 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.
Costs: Italian Greyhounds aren't cheap. Buying a puppy from a reputable breeder will cost you at least $500. Then there are vaccines, licenses, heart worm 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?
Time: 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.
Safety: 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. Iggy's 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 it's 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-Perthe's 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-Perthe's disease. For more information, I would encourage you to visit the Italian Greyhound Club of America site.
The many faces of the Italian GreyhoundClick thumbnail to view full-size
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 has been melted by the love of an Italian Greyhound. My Luna is now 10 years old and I can't express the pleasure she has brought to my life. We are the best of buddies. Even after all these years though, she still rules the roost and yes, I have allowed it.
I wanted to write this Hub 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've accepted that I will shampoo carpet every week for the remainder of the time I have left with Luna. She is pad trained. She knows where to go but as long as she has one foot on the pad, she thinks she is on the pad. Never mind that her butt isn't. It's a real nuisance and some days I do wonder if I chose 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. Now, after ten years, I am only beginning to accept this as a way of life. It drives me nuts but for every potty miss, I get dozens of kisses and enough laughs to make up for it. Trust me, I've tried every training technique known to man for potty training. I bought all the videos; read all the books. It is my only complaint about my Iggy. She is the joy of my days and my snuggle buddy at night. At the end of the day, when she has stretched out those skinny little legs and pushed me to the very edge of the bed, I 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 today, January 20, 2014. My heart is broken and there is an emptiness in my home that cannot be filled. A few weeks ago, 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. 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 the Breed:
- How To Be A Responsible Owner Of An Italian Greyhoun...
Italian Greyhounds need a responsible owner. If you're up for it, these little clowns will fill your days and nights with love and laughter. They trust you to keep them safe. Before bringing an IG home, make sure you are ready for the responsibility.
Questions & Answers
I have a cat, and I’ve been wanting to get an Italian Greyhound. How do they do with cats?
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.Helpful 23
I've never heard of a whole breed that cannot be house trained. Is this really true of all Iggy's?
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.Helpful 22
Can you have more than one greyhound dog in your house at once?
These dogs do very well in multiple Italian greyhound houses. They love each other and love to play.Helpful 6
© 2012 Linda Crist