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Healthy Dogs

Italian Greyhound 101- Dog Breed Info

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By Rose Martelli
WebMD Feature from

Dog Breed:

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Italian Greyhound, aka IG


"IGs are homebodies and bed warmers first," says Lynette Coyner, corresponding secretary of the Italian Greyhound Club of America, "but do enjoy car rides, outings and even hiking. They are very affectionate and need their owners to return their affection. They can be wary of strangers and large dogs but are devoted to their owners and families." Not only are they highly attuned to their owners, IGs are also notably"playful and intelligent," according to the American Kennel Club.


Because of their super-short hair, coat grooming is rarely an issue for IGs. Dental hygiene for this breed, however, does take up more time. "IGs are notorious for losing teeth at a young age due to gum recession and bad tartar build up," Coyner explains. "Brushing their teeth every day and yearly dental visits at your veterinarian's will help your Italian greyhound keep his or her teeth longer."

Common Health Issues:

Besides the aforementioned dental problems, IGs carry increased risks of a number of unusual health concerns. For example, broken leg and tail bones are a heightened risk, Coyner says: "Since the tail is long, thin and fine-boned, an excited IG wagging its tail against a wall or other hard surfaces can result in a broken tail." Because of the breed's slight build and fine coat, frostbite may also be a problem depending on where you live. IGs are also prone to suffering from progressive retinal atrophy. However, unique to this breed, it can sometimes lead to blindness at an age as young as 2 years. Cataracts, epilepsy, hypothyroidism and other autoimmune diseases may also occur. For these types of conditions, the best prevention that Coyner recommends is "purchasing an Italian greyhound from a careful, responsible and knowledgeable breeder who does health testing on the sire and dam before breeding."

Training Tips:

The American Kennel Club claims that IGs are "generally easy to train." Coyner says, "Constant encouragement and positive reinforcement is the only way to quickly train an intelligent Italian greyhound." What can also help in the training process is "letting your IG know that you are in charge," she says, and that "you are protecting them and not abruptly putting them in what they perceive as a dangerous or uncomfortable situation." This is because "Italian greyhounds can be concerned about being prey to other dogs and strangers," Coyner explains. "They will always have a watchful eye on their surroundings."

When house training an IG, "you must be willing to be consistent and patient," Coyner says. The breed is notorious for being difficult to house train, as its sensitivity to cold, rain, snow and wind can make it quite difficult to encourage going to the bathroom outdoors. Coyner therefore recommends "indoor, newspaper-lined litter boxes for cold climates."

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