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Italian Greyhound Temperament – What’s Special About It?

The Italian Greyhound temperament is playful, affectionate, smart, and it also displays a  kind disposition. This dog breed tends to be more submissive and lives to please her owner.

Photo of Italian Greyhound Sitting In Forest | Dog Temperament

Understanding the Italian Greyhound Temperament and Personality

If you are looking for a lap dog, you will not find it in this one. Here is what has been observed of their temperaments.

Needs a Leader

An Italian Greyhound pays a good deal of attention to the tone of voice you use. If he senses that you’re too soft, he may not listen to you, which, contrarily, can also occur if you’re too harsh.

Be prepared to take leadership.

Italian Greyhounds are great at socializing with people, though they can become either skittish or shy if their owners overprotect or “baby” them.

Although mostly a quiet, gentle, keen breed that wants nothing more than to please you, it can be prone to sudden bursts of energy.

Good Watchdogs

Even though Italian Greyhounds are delicate and fragile creatures, they still make for suitable watchdogs.

They will often bark at foreign sounds, as well as other animals and people. However, you don’t want to depend on this breed as a guard dog.

They are easily scared and can be spooked by strangers causing them to potentially run away.

Italian Greyhound Temperament with Children

The Italian greyhound temperament will thrive in a quiet household. She can also live in harmony with children and other pets, so long as those around her handle her delicately.

Italian Greyhound

Importantly, this breed is one that, because of its slim build and shorter coat, is more susceptible to injury from rough play.  This is a fact that a child should often be reminded.

It is for this reason that the Italian Greyhound may fare better in either a childless household or one in which its owners are elderly.

Prey Drive

Should an Italian Greyhound catch sight of a small, animal nearby he will likely give chase. Like Huskies, Italian greyhounds are hunters by nature, and they will act on their desire to hunt.

As a result, you should keep your Italian Greyhound on a leash at all times when not in an enclosed space to prevent him from running off.

To keep your Italian Greyhound close at hand, breakaway collars are advised. That's because this breed will try to back out of a normal collar and escape if they feel threatened.

Such practice could lead to potential neck injuries and even strangling for this delicate dog.

Physical Characteristics – What Does an Italian Greyhound Look Like?

The Italian Greyhound is actually the smallest member of the sighthound family – a result of selective breeding.

Size – Weight and Height

On average, their weight is between 8 and 18 pounds and their height is between 13 and 15 inches tall.


Interestingly, the color of the Italian Greyhound’s coat is a debate in competitions. Organizations like the American Kennel Club accept partly colored Greyhounds, whereas the FCI (Federation Cynologique Internationale) standard only allows for white on the dog’s chest and feet.

That said, the Italian Greyhound comes in almost any color you can think of for a dog, including:

  • Black
  • A variety of “fawns,” including plain fawn, red fawn, and blue fawn
  • A variety of browns, including chocolate, sable, and tan
  • Blue
  • Slate grey
  • Grey
  • Red
  • Yellow

A Brief History of the Italian Greyhound

The Italian greyhound is considered a sighthound, or “gazehound”.

Other sighthounds include the Whippet, Scottish Deerhound, and Greyhound.

What this means is that the Italian greyhound hunts by using its sight and speed.

This differs from scent hounds whose strengths are scent and endurance. Some examples of scent hounds include Basset Hounds, Beagles, and Bloodhounds.

Like many breeds, the Italian Greyhound has had its ups and downs over time.


A graceful breed, it's no surprise the Italian Greyhound is a favorite among royalty.

Royals like Catherine the Great, Queen Victoria, and Queen Anne all had a deep appreciation for the breed, as did painters like Velazquez and Giotto.


By the Middle Ages, the Italian Greyhound had increased in popularity throughout Southern Europe, especially in Italy in the 16th century.

Miniature dogs were in short supply in that region, and so the Italian Greyhound quickly became the favorite.

Nearly Extinct

Unfortunately, the breed took a major hit when breeders tried to shrink the breed down even more, which only led to deformities.

In fact, the original Italian Greyhound had all but vanished when a group of breeders vowed to do what they could to return the breed back to normal.

How Do You Train an Italian Greyhound?

When training an Italian Greyhound temperament you need to be calm with her and express an air of natural authority.

As long as you are consistent, she should not be a problem to train.

It is important to remember in stressful situations to refrain from stroking or coddling her. Not only can the coddling intensify her stress level, but she can also perceive you as being weaker or lower in the pack than she is.

This can make her feel even more unstable. If she becomes frightened, she may also lash out by snapping at you.

Italian Greyhounds need to feel as if a pack leader is ruling them, and that pack leader is you.

They thrive on the energy of a stronger and more stable role model, and they look to you to be that role model.

You may also find that this breed is difficult to housebreak, though it can, of course, be accomplished. It will, however, require consistency and patience.

Helpful Dog Training Guide:

The Online Dog Trainer by Doggy Dan a world-class Dog Trainer from New Zealand is worth taking a look at. This online resource has hundreds of fun informative dog training videos that can help you learn the basics and more.

How Do You Groom an Italian Greyhound?

Dental Hygiene

The most important thing you can do when it comes to grooming an Italian Greyhound has nothing to do with his coat. You must pay close attention to his teeth.

You may not expect to read something like this in the grooming section, but it's true.

You must brush an Italian Greyhound's teeth regularly – every day, if possible.

This is because he, like many a toy breed, is prone to developing gum disease.

You should also take him for professional cleanings, just like at the dentist, at a frequency of annually or more often if needed.


From there, you don't really have to worry about baths unless he gets truly dirty or smelly.


You should regularly trim his nails, though, as this breed has a “hare foot,” which means he has two elongated middle toes. As such, his two middle nails may grow slightly longer than the other two, which can make for uncomfortable walking conditions.

Are Italian Greyhounds Hypoallergenic?

The answer is Yes.

If you have never been able to have a dog because you get runny and itchy eyes and consistently sneeze, you're in luck!

The Italian Greyhound is what some would call “hypoallergenic.” While no dogs are truly allergen-free, you are less likely to have a reaction around the Italian Greyhound.

This tends to be the case with most dogs who don't shed much at all, like the Italian Greyhound.

Staying Healthy

These dogs, because they are so active, are prone to fractures. The most common injuries are the ones they get from leaping from high objects. Be very firm about your dog not getting onto tall furniture. You should also supervise play time.
The Italian Greyhound has a life expectancy of approximately 13 – 15 yrs. Regardless they are also prone to their fair share of health conditions. These include

Be prepared to take a few trips to the vet especially when these dogs are less than 18 months old.

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Why Exercise is Important for the Italian Greyhound?

This breed can become withdrawn if they are not properly exercised. And I’m not talking Husky-type exercise either – just a simple daily walk will do.

The Italian greyhound is an athletic dog, though, so she loves to run.

It is, however, important to keep an eye on her running especially while she’s young, since, like a young human, she may attempt to clear an obstacle that’s too much for her, injuring herself in the process.

One such common injury for this breed is broken legs, due to some lineages often having a history of poor bone density.

Finding an Italian Greyhound for Sale

If you've decided, after all, you've read here, that the Italian Greyhound is the dog for you, then you're probably wondering how to go about getting one.

Generally, you can add a new furry friend to your life in two ways: you can buy one from a breeder, or adopt or rescue one from a shelter.

How much is an Italian Greyhound Puppy for Sale?

On average, the price of an Italian Greyhound puppy ranges from $500 to $1,000.

If money is a concern for you, you can go the adoption or rescue route, rather than buying a puppy from a breeder.

Italian Greyhound Breeders

When in the market for an Italian Greyhound breeder, make sure you find someone reputable/responsible.

The best way to know a breeder is reputable is to find one through the proper channels, like someone you know or even as a referral at a local dog event.

Be sure to ask the breeder as many questions as you need to feel comfortable before you bring your chosen dog home.

Likewise, the breeder should ask you just as many questions because she should want just as badly to give her pups a good home.

Checkout our Complete Guide to Breeders:

We wrote the definitive guide on finding, selecting, and dealing with dog breeders. This will give you the smarts and confidence to save you money, time and heartache. Read On…

Italian Greyhound Rescue and Adoption

You may be able to find an Italian Greyhound for adoption at your local animal shelter.

If you are considering adding an Italian Greyhound to your family, it would be wise to make adoption your go-to choice. Many loving dogs who just need a good home, unfortunately, live in shelters when family plans go awry.

The first thing you can do is call your local animal shelter or humane society. Let the staff know you are looking for an Italian Greyhound or an Italian Greyhound mix.

They may have a waiting list for the Italian Greyhound. If so, let them know if you would be open to other breeds, such as an Italian Greyhound mix.

Italian Greyhound vs. Whippet

If you’re curious about the differences between the Whippet and the Italian Greyhound, two dogs that appear similar in their looks, then read on.

Believe it or not, these two different breeds are actually related! Whippets are actually smaller versions of Greyhounds, as they are their direct descendants.

As far as their temperaments go, the Whippet is more graceful and quiet. The Italian Greyhound, on the other hand, is all about play!

And if you’re curious about how fast an Italian Greyhound can run, in comparison to their Whippet relatives, they can run 25 mph, which is only 10 mph less than a Whippet.

Conclusion: Why the Italian Greyhound?

The Italian greyhound temperament is a fickle thing.

To enjoy a fulfilling relationship together, you need to:

  • Show that you are consistently in control
  • Don’t baby her
  • Give her a daily opportunity to exercise while respecting her fragility.