The Italian Greyhound is a very old breed, descended from the dwarfed Greyhounds that were kept as domestic pets. For delicacy, refinement, grace, and gentleness they have no equals. There is little of the aggressive spirit about them, their most striking trait being their universal docility. They are too light for work of any kind and have no inclination in that direction, and many will play with a rat or rabbit without a thought of animosity.
The delicate lines of the Italian Greyhound, their soft, pleading eyes, gentle natures, and cleanly habits commend them to the public. It may be mentioned, however, that they are not as fragile as they appear. They have much stronger constitutions than is generally supposed. Naturally they are not able to endure much cold or dampness, but other than that they require no pampering, and many are extremely long lived.
One of the peculiarities of the breed lies in their action, as they have a high-stepping walk much like the high-school horses of a circus ring.
The chief points to select for in puppies at from two to four months are diminutiveness, slightness, and apparent fragility, with a distinct arch of loin.
The following are the points and standard description of the Italian Greyhound Club:
GENERAL APPEARANCE.-A miniature English Greyhound, more slender in all proportions, and of ideal elegance and grace in shape, symmetry, and action.
SKULL.-Long, flat, and narrow.
MUZZLE.-Very fine. Nose dark in color. Teeth level.
EARS.-Ears rose-shaped, placed well back, soft and delicate.
EYES.-Rather large, bright, and full of expression.
NECK.-Long and gracefully arched. SHOULDERS.-Long and sloping. CHEST.-Deep and narrow.
BACK.-Curved, and drooping at the hindquarters. FORELEGS.-Straight, well set under the shoulder; fine pasterns, small delicate bones. HiNDLECS.-Hocks well let down. Thighs muscular.
FEET.-The long “hare’s foot.” TAIL.-Rather long, fine, with low carriage. COAT.-Skin fine and supple. Hair thin and glossy like satin.
COLOR.-Preferably self-colored. The color most prized is golden fawn, but all shades of fawn-red, mouse, blue, cream, and white-are recognized; and blacks, brindles, and pied are considered less desirable. Black and tan terrier markings not allowed.
ACTION.–High stepping and free.
WEIGHT.-Two classes. One of 8 pounds and under, and one over 8 pounds. A good small dog is preferable to an equally good large one, and a good large dog is preferable to a poor small one.
VALUE OF POINTS.-Skull, 6; muzzle, 8; ears, 8; eyes, 5; neck, 8; shoulders, 5; chest, 5; back, 8; forelegs, 8; hindlegs, 8; feet, 8; tail, 8; coat, 4; color, 3; action, 8; Total, 100.