Italian Greyhounds are fickle dogs in many ways such as diet, exercise, and other care, but they do have some easy aspects like grooming. Puppy care is particularly intensive, and this should be easy to understand if you are prepared to pay for one of these expensive dogs. On this page are facts, tips, and advice on what to expect and how to care for your Iggy.
The Italian Greyhound develops rapidly in size but may take her time mentally maturing. Regardless of how long either aspect occurs, you will always need to be both firm yet gentle even as you constantly monitor her. If you ask, "When do Italian Greyhounds stop growing?", you may want to rephrase that and inquire about when they reach their separate stages of maturity. The two stages of adulthood may be reached anywhere from 11 months to nearly 3 years.
Below is a basic growth chart for Italian Greyhounds:
|Dog Age||Development Milestone|
|2-3 weeks||Eyes open and awareness of movement, light, and the world in general|
|4-5 weeks||Rapid development of the senses as well as the immediate environment|
|6-8 weeks||Fraternization with litter mates and weaning begins; careful handling by humans should start|
|8-9 weeks||First fear response period starts|
|10 weeks||House-training should be started|
|12 weeks||If house-training has not been done or at least started, life-long behavior problems are sure to occur|
|3-4 months||First fear response period should be over, and independence will begin; expect challenges!|
|6 months||Puppy teeth will be replaced by adult teeth|
|6-10 months||Second fear response period should start and end during this time|
|8 months||Earliest age at which physical maturity may be reached|
|10 months||Topmost shoulder height (aka withers) should be attained|
|1 year||The average age of full physical growth|
|1.5 years||Latest stage at which Italian Greyhounds reach full size|
|2-3 years||May not reach mental maturity until this period |
Italian Greyhounds require more than a fair amount of exercise on a daily basis, and yet it must be done with great care. These small sight hounds should not be exercised prior to 10 weeks of age, and even after that, it must be done gently. Once they are physically mature, they will be happy to run like the wind for long distances.
Improper exercise too early in the dog's life can create conditions that too frequently lead to severe injuries. As puppies, these dogs have many fragile aspects. Their first year of development, even in the best of conditions, will nonetheless result in a dog that remains prone to certain injuries such as slipped kneecaps (i.e., luxating patella, trick knee, etc.). They should never be let off the leash in an unrestrained area as they are keen to take off after most anything that moves. They can run as fast as 25 mph, and you will not catch them. They are also infamous for having "selective hearing" once running, and even the best-trained Iggys are known to not respond. They are equally easy to startle and can be off like a shot from something unnoticeable to humans. Also of extreme importance is the type of collar used. Typical dog collars will allow Italian Greyhounds to easily slip out. You must get a specialized sighthound collar to prevent escape and injury. These are one of the few dogs for which harnesses are good, but you should avoid nylon ones that will chafe their delicate coats. Still, they must get their daily exercise to the fullest extent or they will rapidly develop anxieties that will quickly create all manner of concerns, skin conditions, potty problems, and more.
The best exercises for IGs are simple and few. They don't like water, stressful situations, or noisy environments. Along with the high costs to adopt and care for this breed, having the right place to exercise is no walk in the park, so to speak. Here is what you can do to exercise your Italian Greyhound:
- Walking: At least two long walks every day of an hour or more is practically mandatory.
- Running: If you love to run and there are long stretches of car-free countryside nearby, this is nearly perfect!
- Free Play: If you have a large, well-fenced, and manicured lawn around your home, this can be a great place for your Iggy to run freely.
Unlike most dog breeds that don't mind many modes of exercise and activity, IGs have no real ways to skip exercise or lower their needs for the limited types of exercise they require. They are high-strung dogs with vast reserves of energy and were bred to be constantly on the run at very high speeds. When they are not being walked or running around, however, they prefer to be resting. As such, they tend to not be intrigued by puzzles, games, fetch, and other indoor activities. You simply must be prepared to devote a few hours a day, every day, for the long life of this dog.
While Iggys are notoriously difficult in many ways, basic maintenance is very easy. These dogs rarely shed and nearly never drool.
These lean running machines are svelt in every way, and the narrow, pointed mouths means little to no drool. If there is drool, and it's not from lapping up water, then there may be a problem. A slight bit now and again is not a problem, but if there is a lot, or it's foamy, thick or discolored, there may be a problem. She may have eaten a toxic bug or plant, could have something stuck in her teeth, or may have a digestive issue that requires veterinary attention. As this breed does have a poor dental profile, however, it might not be unusual for an issue to develop here that might cause unusual drooling.
As for Italian Greyhound shedding, these very short-coated dogs are said to be one of the easiest breeds to deal with. A weekly bath is said to be the best thing, and as these are very small dogs whose coats are very easy to wash and dry, it might be as easy as brushing a longer-haired dog. Even if they do shed, you most likely won't see it. IGs are not prone to allergy issues, and they have nearly no allergens or dander that should affect those with dog allergies too.
Italian Greyhounds are small, sleek dogs that can easily get overweight if improperly fed, neglected, or incorrectly exercised. This breed must be kept on mother's milk until they are weaned. Otherwise, they could develop diet-based problems that are sure to cause health and developmental problems later in life, if not skeletal and other internal injuries too. Just as one year for you or me equals 7 years for a dog, so too does a little food go a long way for a small breed like the Iggy. You might be tempted to feed her more, but you really must take care to learn about fat, protein, and carb values for these dogs. A cheap dog food or any diet high in fat is not good for IGs, as they are high-strung and extremely energetic and need a higher protein-based food. Fat content should be no more than 9% whereas the amount of crude protein should be around 22% of the food. Tiny amounts of food left out for brief periods several times a day is what many pro Iggy breeders and owners tend to claim is best for these puppies. If they need more, add a very small amount more in each feeding.
|Dog Age||Dog Weight||Food Type||Amount||Frequency|
|6 Weeks||3 lbs||Moistened dry||1/6th cup||4-5 times/day|
|8 weeks||4 lbs||Moistened dry||1/5th cup||4-5 times/day|
|12 weeks||5 lbs||Moistened dry||1/4th cup||4-5 times/day|
|6 months||6 lbs||Dry||1/4th cup||4-5 times/day|
|1 year||8 lbs||Dry||0.5 cups||2-3 times/day|
|18 months||10 lbs||Dry||0.75 cups||2-3 times/day|
|2 years||11-14 lbs||Dry||0.75 cups||2 times/day|
If she seems to be gaining weight, however, you will want to cut back as well as exercise more, or perhaps carefully change the food. A fat Italian Greyhound may not look fat at first but remember: these are small dogs who can quickly become obese. Both diet and exercise can quickly change this dog's physique one way or another. If she is getting plenty of proper exercise but is still too big, it may be time to swap dog foods. Iggys have fragile constitutions. It's recommended that a new Italian Greyhound food be transitioned in by tenths rather than quarters, and that the typical week to 10 day-period for that dog food transition is fine. You should monitor her reactions constantly and closely. If during the food change-out she gets loose stools, stop increasing the amount of new food until she is regular again in every way.
Italian Greyhounds require a lot of significant nutrients, but not a lot of a food in volume. Great care must be taken in choosing a diet and the type of food that will fulfill those needs. Cheap commercial dry food will simply not do. A dry kibble will be fine, however, so long as it's a good one that also addresses your particular Iggy's possible health concerns. (Many Italian Greyhounds have dental issues, and some have sight and weight concerns.) There are also many experts that insist a raw food diet is the best dog food for Italian Greyhounds — but only after about 8 to 10 months of age.
Italian Greyhounds are hardy in many ways, but enduring extreme weather is not one of them. Because of their very short, single-layered coat and very lean bodies, they are highly susceptible to cold environments that to humans may seem pleasant. Winter time is not good for this breed unless they are clothed. They do prefer warmth, but not hot places in a glaring sun. You will find them taking naps outside on a warm afternoon, but if it gets unbearable to you, it will be very bad for your Iggy.
As for home environments, these dogs need a lot of even outdoor space on a daily basis. Inside, they are easily made anxious by children, noise and constant activity. They are not good city dogs or with apartment living. Rural countryside manors with significant areas of strongly fenced yards are ideal for this breed.