Care of Italian Greyhounds

Italian Greyhound Care Summary:

IG Fanciers should familiarize themselves with CKC and CVMA guidelines for breeding and kennel practices. As mentioned by the CVMA document, breeds do have individual needs. Below is what IGs usually enjoy and thrive on. It makes no difference what they are used for in terms of sport or breeding, they should be a loved companion first and foremost:

The Italian greyhound is a very ancient breed always kept as a cherished companion in the household. They have a very short fine fur and it is not sufficient protection for cold weather or extreme sun. An IG prefers to be close to its beloved master, on comfortable padded beds, with blankets to snuggle under during cold weather. Even indoors, depending on the temperature maintained, some dogs benefit from a very good quality sweater that will not cause skin irritation. Snuggled into the master’s warm lap is ideal for many IGs – they like to be close to their loved ones. Generally they get along well with other IGs and can enjoy snuggling with their IG friends too. If master is sitting on the couch, all the IGs in the house will likely want to fit onto or beside their owner – even to the point of snuggling under the sweater the human is wearing at the time. Many owners have their IG sleep in the bed with them – although a comfortable plush dog bed or crate with blankets is fine.

Despite all this emphasis on snuggling and comfort, the IG is also a very active breed when they have emerged from under the covers. They need daily play space adequate for a small nimble sighthound to safely run and play and access to safe toys that they enjoy mock hunting and pouncing on. Games that involve treats and mental challenges are also good. Safe fencing can be an important consideration as IGs are tremendous jumpers and climbers. A 5-6ft solid wood privacy fence is recommended. Other forms of fencing can be used but they will need to be supervised so a foot does not get stuck in a wire opening – which might cause injury. IGs can also dig and slip through very small gaps, so the entire fence needs to be well maintained. Weather permitting, all IGs benefit from a daily on leash walk. For a healthy adult IG, a daily 45 minute brisk walk on the leash through a variety of terrain is ideal in addition to some free running in a safely fenced area.

Exercise equipment: a 6 foot leather or nylon lead, a well fitting harness and/or a wide buckle collar or wide martingale that will not damage the delicate IG neck area, yet will not slip off over the narrow skull.

Training & socializing: IGs respond best to positive training & treats. They are sometimes challenging to toilet train and socialize. IGs kept in clean surroundings and socialized correctly as youngsters are easier to work with but with time, patience and positive training any IG can learn – even senior rescues! In general, the breed enjoys Agility and Rally O and a variety of dog sports. But most of all, they enjoy being a beloved companion.

Crates/exercise pens(with lids) : They can be useful for toilet training, or as a safe area for an IG to nap at night or other times when they can’t be directly supervised. It is not recommended to leave young IGs (or older IGs in an unfamiliar house) loose due to the danger of a broken limb occurring during the owners absence. IGs can easily jump onto kitchen and bathroom counters and over baby gates so those rooms are not always ideal safe room areas.

Food: Most IGs need feeding 2-3 times a day depending on age and condition. As a rule they need high quality easily digestible food to maintain a good body weight and to have optimal condition and coat.

Teeth: IGs need safe veterinary suggested items to chew and can be prone to tartar and gum disease. Ideally, they need daily brushing with a soft pet toothbrush and a dog toothpaste recommended by the vet. Additionally, some individuals need regular professional veterinary dental cleanings.

Breeding considerations: IGs are a healthy long lived breed, but a few late onset genetic health disorders can occur. Currently, IGs are ideally bred over the age of 3 (certainly NOT younger than 2) if temperament & conformation are good and they have passed the following health checks: annual CERF (eyes), and OFA patella (a hind knee exam) – that is the minimum. Some breeders wait longer in age and do much additional testing. The participation of the breed in heath and genetic research by submission of DNA and open database health statistics is encouraged. IGs should not be over bred and kept in large numbers. The emphasis of a responsible IG breeder is ideally on the individual needs, health and happiness of each IG under their care. Keeping large numbers of IGs results in less individual attention per dog. The typical IG fancier usually has less than 10 dogs of staggered ages. As an example, a couple of “picks” to train and develop for the future generation, a few IGs currently competing and maybe a few well loved senior oldies who are retired – but all of them ideally spending the majority of their time as cherished pet companions.