Before you decide to buy or adopt an Italian Greyhound, please consider the following:
The number one reason IG’s are relinquished to rescue is housetraining. IG’s are notoriously hard to housetrain, and even the best-trained IG may ‘forget’ his housetraining if he believes it is too cold or wet outside. It takes diligence, a schedule, confinement, appropriate clean up of accidents, and a forgiving nature to housetrain an IG.
Crate training is an essential tool for housetraining, but most IG’s will never be able to hold their urine for an 8 hour work day. You will need to have someone come in to walk the dog during the day, take him to doggy daycare, or consider litter box or paper training inside of an exercise pen in your home.
While IG’s look like miniature greyhounds, their personality and energy level is NOT that of a retired racing greyhound. Most young IG’s are VERY active and require daily walking and off-leash playtime in a fenced yard or other safely fenced area. They will NOT get enough exercise left alone in a fenced yard, and should never be, for safety’s sake.
IG’s, especially young dogs, can be very active in the house. They like to run, jump off furniture and rough house with other animals in the home, especially other IG’s. They’re not a breed to have if you don’t want pets on your furniture or bed.
Due to their size, they can be easily injured by young children or large dogs. Most responsible breeders will not sell puppies to families with young children, and rescue representatives may not OK an adoption to families with large dogs or youngsters without an extensive interview and home visit.
Italian Greyhounds need a lot of stimulation. They will not be happy if left alone to their own devices. Dogs that are crated during the day not only need a break part way through, but will need a lot of attention and interaction in the evening, by attending obedience or agility classes, exercising with the owner (walking, jogging, playing ball), or some other activity that stimulates the mind and body. They can make great exercise partners, giving the right weather and activity.
Senior IG’s (8+ years) will more readily adapt to a life of leisure, and may be better suited companions for someone who does not want the additional responsibility of an active, younger dog. But, even older dogs will gain weight and lose muscle tone if they are not given enough exercise. Short walks, several times a day, may be the answer.
IG’s have a low body fat ratio, and little hair. They cannot tolerate the cold. During winter months they need heavy coats on to go outside, boots for walks in the snow and even a sweater, indoors, if the heat is kept low. Their ears are susceptible to frostbite, and must be protected for extended periods outdoors with a snood.
Since IG’s have such short, fine hair, you will not notice shedding hair.
A healthy IG will not have a ‘doggy’ smell, either. Most will seldom need bathing, although, many enjoy a warm bath and rub down.
The vocalization of IG’s range from nothing to the extreme. Some IG’s never bark, others have a repertoire of whines, barks and howls. It seems to depend on the individual dog. This is something to keep in mind if you live in an apartment, condo or townhouse.
As sighthounds, most IG’s will chase cats, even if they won’t harm them. Most are not safe around rabbits and ferrets unless they are raised with them. Care should be taken to keep IGs away from small mammals any time they aren’t monitored.
IG’s like to be with their people. They LOVE to keep up with whatever’s going on, and may follow you from room to room, even the bathroom. Your IG is your constant companion and LOVES to be LOVED.
Most IG’s like to be warm and covered up, and will nap under blankets on a couch or bed, or lie in front of heat vents. Towels or blankets, warmed in a clothes dryer, make going into a crate more appealing, too.
All IG’s need dental care. Most should have their teeth brushed regularly, and should have their teeth annually evaluated for professional cleaning by a veterinarian. They have large teeth in a small, tight mouth, and are prone to tooth and gum diseases. Many begin to lose teeth while very young. Others, have a hereditary enamel problem, and have small, pointy, yellow teeth that are hard to maintain.
Their toenails grow quickly, and need weekly trimming. Unlike some larger breeds, they will NOT wear down their nails just by walking on sidewalks. Some people use a Dremel tool and grind the nails down. Your rescue rep can demonstrate this if you’d like to use that method.
In short, an IG is a fabulous pet for the right type of family, and a disaster in the wrong type of family.
Whatever you decide, please do not purchase an IG from a petstore, a puppy mill or a backyard breeder. None of these people do the research to produce dogs that improve the breed, which is the goal of a responsible breeder, and they seldom do the necessary legwork and testing to prevent passing on physical and temperment problems that may not be noticed for several years.
There are many internet sites which will educate you on backyard breeders, petstores, and puppy mills. Clues the breeder is a puppy mill or backyard breeder are:
- They accept credit cards.
- They ship a dog to you without meeting you.
- They do not ask for and check references.
- They breed more than one or two litters a year.
- They are not members in good standing of the IGCA.
- They will not take the dog back – at any time during his lifetime – if you cannot keep him.
- They do not guarantee the health of the dog for his lifetime.
A responsible breeder will ask you for references, interview you, assess your appropriateness for this breed, give you a guarantee and take the dog back at any time during his life. They will probably be an IGCA member.
A responsible breeder will NOT have a USDA license, since they don’t sell to petstores, and will NOT have a website with page after page of ‘happy puppies’ in their new homes, due to limited, educated breeding. They won’t take charge cards, and will certainly not ship a dog to you sight unseen.
Remember, if rescue has had to rehome his or her dogs, that person is NOT a responsible breeder. There are ‘show mills’ out there – people who actively compete with their dogs and pay big money for advertising, but they are still over-breeding and selling puppies as a business, rather than doing limited, educated, hobby breeding. They make up a large percentage of the dogs we see in rescue, and these dogs often have genetic health or temperment problems. Buyer Beware!