Character Traits of an Italian Greyhound

Despite his diminutive stature, the Italian greyhound's graceful, lithe profile demands attention.
Chris Amaral/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Lithe, graceful and delicate, the Italian greyhound exhibits many appealing character traits. His popularity spans centuries, likely because his gentle nature, devotion to his family and sweet disposition wins him many admirers. With proper training and appropriate exercise, this loving little dog quickly becomes a treasured family member.

From Snuggle Bunny

The Italian greyhound earns a devoted fan base in part because of his sweet temperament. When he's not in "go" mode, he's a calm fellow, content to be with his family. If you're relaxed in your easy chair, your Italian greyhound likely wants to be by your side, snuggling and enjoying some gentle pets. Though he's devoted to those he loves and trusts, he can be shy and reserved around people he doesn't know well.

To Chasing Bunnies

Don't be fooled by this dog's easygoing disposition when he's at rest, because when he's ready to go, he goes in a hurry. Like his larger relative, the Italian greyhound is built for speed and loves to run fast. The dog runs and chases nearly anything that moves. If he doesn't have an appropriate place to burn off his energy, such as a fenced yard, he'll find a way to get a good run in, even if it means racing up your stairs or across your furniture. Though he enjoys time outdoors, he's not made for outdoor living, so a vigorous walk or run with his people or some good indoor play meets his play and exercise needs.

Training and Intelligence

This is an intelligent dog, but that doesn't mean he's easy to train. He's headstrong with a short attention span, so training should be fun, brief and frequent. According to WebMD, positive reinforcement and ongoing encouragement is the most effective way to teach him you're the boss. Since he is so smart, he'll start responding to training as early as 3 months old, and notes greyhound puppies can benefit from group puppy training classes. Getting the basics down and socializing him with other dogs at an early age helps overcome some of his inherent timidness and minimizes the chance of engaging in destructive behavior. Untrained, unsupervised Italian greyhounds sometimes dig, bark excessively and steal food, and every Italian greyhound can be challenging to house train. If you live in a cold climate, where he may get easily chilled and be hesitant to go outdoors, he can be trained to use a newspaper-lined litterbox indoors. Don't leave him outdoors unattended while you're at work; instead, leave him inside, with a toy or two and a doggy puzzle to occupy himself, after he's had an opportunity to burn off some energy.

Body and Mind

This guy likes to play, even when he's fully grown, but proceed with caution. Overeager children and larger dogs can innocently injure an Italian greyhound due to his delicate bone structure. The Italian Greyhound Club of America notes he's not a good choice for a family with young children or large, active dogs. A healthy Italian greyhound has a 12 to 15 year lifespan, though he's prone to epilepsy, tail and leg fractures, progressive retinal atrophy and periodontal disease. He may also be sensitive to some types of anesthesia.