Archive for January, 2016

Why You DON’T Want an Italian Greyhound

I copied this wonderfully informative post from Sandpipers blog named Impish Iggys.  I absolutely ADORE Italian Greyhounds, which is why I love pet sitting them.  But I understand that they are not for everyone.  I remember the day my daughter went to rescue one of the little guys from a man who’s daughter left the dog behind.  He didn’t want him but didn’t know what to do with him because he said “I can’t imagine anyone wanting this strange dog!”  Well Mister, no they’re not for everyone, but for the people who love and understand them, we can’t imagine life without them!  Thank you Sandpiper for sharing this wonderful information!

People sometimes tell me that Italian Greyhounds are their favorite dogs and they want to get one someday. However, some of these same people also reveal to me that my Iggy Dante is the first they’ve ever seen in real life, which makes me wonder if they really know what they’d be getting into. There are a lot of wonderful things about IGs, and they make great pets for certain people. But there are also a lot of difficulties to overcome with this breed, as with any dog, and if a person goes into buying or adopting one of these dogs without knowing the good, the bad, and the ugly, chances are it won’t end well for the dog.

Sites like Tumblr probably don’t help matters much, as you often just see enticing snapshots of people’s lives (including mine). What you don’t see are the number of times that cute puppy pooped on the floor, how he’s kept you up all night barking in his crate, or how his dental care will cost half your college tuition. So that’s the purpose of me making this post, as a grain of salt to all the cute pictures I post of my beloved Iggy.

Italian Greyhounds are great, but they are not for everyone.


Housetraining them is always difficult, sometimes impossible.

Do you have a problem with occasionally cleaning up small piles of poop off the floor of your house for the next fifteen years? If so, then the IG is not the dog for you. Housetraining IGs is not a matter of time like it is with many dogs. They never “grow out of” going in the house. To keep accidents at the minimum you have to be strict about your housetraining regimen from day one until that cold, distant day when Max finally passes over the Rainbow Bridge. Potty-training Italian Greyhounds is an ordeal that is never over. I cannot stress this enough. This is the number one reason IGs are surrendered to shelters and rescues, so apparently a lot of people underestimated just how difficult this can be to live with.


You should get at least two of them.

When I first asked my vet about getting an IG, his very first piece of advice was: “Get two.” Unfortunately, I didn’t have the money to afford two new puppies at the same time, so I threw caution to the wind and brought only one home. I can now say I totally understand why he gave me that initial advice. While it’s not impossible to have a single Iggy that lives a happy life, these dogs are extremely social and physically affectionate, and if you as their owner cannot give them the attention and cuddle time they need, they will not thrive. Though IGs particularly love forming piles of cuddles with others of their own breed (the more, the merrier), just having another dog period will help lighten the load on you to give them constant attention. They really cannot handle being ignored for very long, let alone being alone period, and if you can’t give them enough attention yourself, you need to get another IG. I myself have applied to adopt a second IG for both Dante and I to love.


They tend to be attention whores.

Look at the picture above. That little body wedged between me and my fiance is an example of what happens when somebody else becomes the center of affection when Dante is around. Basically, he always needs to be the center of attention. When you are home, you will be the center of your IG’s world, and they will be glued to your hip about 98% of the time (the other 2% they are sneaking off trying to take a crap under the dining room table). If you want a pet which is sometimes snuggly, sometimes aloof, get a cat. Iggies always want to be near you, and often on top of you, regardless of what you are doing. Dante also has a habit of standing on my lap, totally obstructing my view while I’m at my desk on the computer. To him, obstruction equals affection.


You will spend more on their clothes than yours.

This may or may not be true, depending on who you are and how much you like to shop. It’s true for me, at least, and the bottom line is Iggies cannot survive without warm clothes in cooler environments. For Dante, when the temperature drops below 70 degrees, he starts shivering and I have to throw a light jacket on him. Iggies in very cold, snowy environments like Alaska, Canada, or Scandinavian countries will require extra pricey and usually custom-made full-body suits, complete with water repellent booties. Does the idea of walking around a dressed up pooch embarrass you? Then IGs are definitely not the dog for you! (The flipside of this is that most IGs really seem to enjoy dressing up, unlike many dogs.)


Getting them to do their business outside in inclement weather is like pulling teeth.

Is it snowing, hailing, raining, sleeting, windy, or just plain cold? Good luck getting your Iggy to go to the bathroom outside! Iggies are famous for standing miserably shaking outside for as long as you let them, then eliminating immediately as soon as you bring them back inside. It’s basically a battle of wills, and unless you’re consistent about making your dog eliminate outside before going indoors, you will lose.


Speaking of pulling teeth, be prepared to brush theirs daily and spend thousands on dental cleanings or their pearly whites will completely rot away.

The image above is of Lily, an Italian Greyhound rescued from a puppy mill and the inspiration for the founding of the National Mill Dog Rescue. The reason her face looks as it does is due to years of neglect of dental hygiene, leading to her teeth and ultimately jaws rotting off. While this is an extreme case, Lily serves as an example for responsible IG owners of the importance of good dental care for the breed. If you’re not committed to taking care of your dog’s teeth both with frequent brushing and veterinary care, you really shouldn’t be getting an IG of all dogs.


They love jumping off high places, which often leads to broken legs, costing you thousands to fix.

This Iggy is an example of bad ownership: Rosa was found abandoned with both her front legs broken, totally unable to walk. Her owner likely abandoned her because they didn’t have the resources to pay for her legs to be fixed, which can cost thousands of dollars for a single broken leg! To make matters worse, most IGs are not aware of the relative fragility of their tiny legs, and enjoy launching from the highest perches they can find if you let them. Before adopting an IG, you must consider whether you have a financial safety net in case of a broken leg, as well as commit to responsible supervision of your pup to prevent such a scenario from occurring. Buying a dog from a reputable breeder also lessens this risk, as some bloodlines and poorly bred dogs have a greater chance of leg breaks. Investing in pet insurance is also a good idea with this breed, though you must research carefully to avoid any breed-specific coverage loopholes.


Every operation requiring anesthesia will be much more expensive and risky than with other dogs.

This is true of most sighthound breeds, including IGs. This can result in unexpected expenses accumulating more quickly, as well as increasing the chance of the horrible possibility of losing your dog during even a minor surgery such as a spay/neuter. Though they may not be as costly as say a bulldog or a pug, Iggies are not cheap to maintain in terms of veterinary costs. If you’re looking to save on vet fees, a mixed breed will be your best bet.


Most will need daily exercise or they will drive you insane.

There is a myth floating around that Iggies are generally couch potatoes. This is absolutely not true. Iggies are built to run and need to be able to exercise daily or else they can become destructive. Ideally, this exercise will include at least 20 minutes to an hour of running free in a fenced-in area. However, Iggies also enjoy walks, hikes, and running alongside their owners. Indoor playtime only is just not going to cut it with this breed. IGs can  be snuggly couch potatoes after exerting all their stored energy, but their default mode is hyper go, go, go!


Dominance-, fear-, or punishment-based training will not work on them.

This isn’t really a con to some people; however, for others, it really shakes up their dog behavior paradigm. Iggies are very intelligent, however, it requires a lot of patience, respect, and rewards to train them. Every IG enthusiast I’ve ever talked to has emphasized this with me: be gentle with your IG. Treat him like a friend. When my fiance and I first started hanging out, he would try to intimidate Dante into doing what he wanted. He was baffled when Dante would listen to me, who used clicker training and positive reinforcement, but not to him, even though his method seemed to work with other dogs. These dogs will really test your patience, that’s for sure!


They cannot be trusted off-leash in unfenced areas.

This is a rule for all sighthound breeds. Unless you are a trained professional, letting your IG off lead in an unfenced area is unsafe. A lot of sighthounds will simply pursue anything that looks like promising game, leaving you in the dust. What seems to be more common with Iggies is fear-based bolting, where something spooks the dog into running away as fast as she can. Either way, the end result is a lost dog that is very difficult to catch, much to the dismay of well-intentioned people everywhere who will try to recover your dog for you.


They can be very fearful if not socialized well at a young age.

Another thing emphasized to me by my vet, breeder, and other IG enthusiasts I consulted was “Socialize early, socialize a lot.” Iggies are not like some dogs which are naturally inclined to trust and like all humans. Iggies can be anxious and high-strung, including being timid of people and fearful of new situations. I can recall a time when a client brought her IG into the vet where I work, and the adult dog did not stop shaking or whimpering the whole time, even though her owner never left and the owner’s other IG was there too! You will need to work hard to expose your IG to many situations and people to avoid them becoming trembling nervous wrecks who retreat when a new person comes into their home.


You will constantly hear the question: “Is that a Whippet?”

No, and it’s a not a “Georgia deer,” either!

Here is the link to Impish Iggys


January 28, 2016 at 6:20 pm 23 comments