IGs: the Good, the Bad and the Downright Ugly
© Debbie Wolfenbarger
The Good -
Italian greyhounds are one of the most loyal dogs in the world. They
ADORE their owners.
They are VERY intelligent.
They are VERY athletic.
They stay VERY playful well past puppyhood.
They are a long-lived breed (12-14 years average, 14-18 not uncommon
and I've known of two that have lived to 21 years of age).
They LOVE to give and receive affection.
They have a short coat that requires minimal grooming. (Notice, I said
the "coat" requires minimal grooming - keep reading).
The Bad -
They ADORE their owners, meaning they will follow you everywhere. They
will want to be on you, next to you, lick your ears, your nostrils,
etc... You will never be alone again, not for a second. For the men:
My husband has nicknamed IGs "crotch crushers". For some
reason, no matter what angle they are jumping from - they will land
well - on your "twigs and berries".
They are VERY intelligent - and will be more intelligent than you,
if you aren't careful. They can be master manipulators and you'll be
second in command before you know it.
They are VERY athletic. They can scale a six foot fence if motivated
and can squeeze through the tiniest of openings and steal your Thanksgiving
turkey off of your kitchen counter or the cat food off of the top of
the washing machine and can catch, birds, opposums, lizards, snakes,
rabbits, squirrels and just about anything else that catches their
fancy, and is small and not faster than them.
They are playful well past puppyhood. You will still be waiting for
them to "calm down" when they are 2. Mine usually start to
mellow a bit between 5 and 8 (YEARS).
They are long-lived. Are you willing to make this long of a commitment?
Nothing makes me angrier than a dog being turned into rescue because
it is old. Except maybe someone turning a dog into rescue that is old
and has never had proper care and fully expect that I have a long line
of people just waiting to adopt old dogs with no teeth and health problems.
(Anyone who thinks that can contact me about some swamp land I have
for sale in Arizona).
They love to give and receive affection. When they want it, not when
you decide you have time. If they do not receive the attention they
need, they can become destructive and have behavior problems.
What they don't require in grooming, they require in dental attention.
I brush my dogs' teeth daily. Failure to provide adequate dental care
will result in breath capable of wilting flowers and bacteria flowing
through your dog's bloodstream that can result in other health problems.
Bone loss due to poor dental care can also predispose the dog to jaw
The Down Right Ugly -
Housetraining. Yes it can be done with an Italian greyhound and most
people start with a positive attitude towards it - yet, it is one of
the biggest reasons that Italian greyhounds are relinquished to rescue.
If you expect that your Italian greyhound will be completely housetrained
in a few short weeks or that your dog will bark and scratch at the
door to go out - or that the dog you got from the breeder or rescue
which was housetrained in its former home will be fine in your home
with little or no work on your part - THINK AGAIN. The biggest element
of failure in housetraining the owner waivering from the two components
of successful housetraining: consistency and confinement. When I say
confinement, I don't mean keeping your dog crated 24/7 - I don't personally
believe in that. However, while you are training - when you can't watch
your dog (and I mean your eyes watching your dog, not doing something
in the kitchen knowing that Fido is in close proximity) the dog must
be confined. One accident will quickly multiply into several and you
will find yourself peeing in the wind (nice visual, huh?)
Italian greyhounds have a small gene pool. While the breed is hardy
- there are significant health problems that affect this breed, many
of which do not show up until the dogs are between 3-5 years of age.
While responsible breeders do their best to screen their dogs of problems,
the risk is still there. It is unavoidable due to our limited gene
pool. Buying from a responsible breeder will minimize your risk. Beware
of health guarantees of only a year.
Do you have $1,500.00-$3,000.00 set aside in case of a leg break? While
leg breaks aren't as big of an issue in the breed as they once were
- they are still a possibility with a breed like the IG that has long
slender legs and thinks it can fly. You must be prepared for the possibility
and be able to deal with it financially.
Italian greyhounds can be escape artists and should not be allowed
to run off leash in an unsecured area. If they get spooked or decide
to give chase to something - you will not catch them unless you are
the Bionic Man, Flash, Superman or have other superhuman abilities.