One of the most ancient breeds, the greyhound is an archetype of the dogs that were first trained to hunt by sight. Because of this, they were nicknamed “the gaze-hounds.” They are the world’s fastest dogs and can reach speeds of 43 miles per hour. Still, greyhounds are rather lazy and adapt well to family life.
As a perfect miniature, the Italian greyhound is dainty and graceful, yet still works well in the field as a flusher of game birds. During the 16th century in Italy, it enjoyed immense popularity and today it excels as an elegant, calm pet. Although it is truly a hound, it is classified as a miniature greyhound.
History of the Greyhound Breed
This breed has origins in the Middle East and is believed to come from Europe via Phoenician trading ships. The greyhound became very popular in Europe in the Middle Ages and was a favorite royalty. Indeed, they are the most common, heraldic dog to be found in the coats of arms of Charles V of France and Henry VIII of England.
Due to their excellent powers of acceleration, greyhounds were tremendously successful hunters of small game such as the hare. These old adversaries face each other in the sport of greyhound racing, but today the hare used as the racing target is a mechanical one, rather than one of flesh and bones.
The Segugio Italiano is a hunting dog that arose from crosses of Egyptian hounds and the mastiffs of classical Rome and Greece. While being popular during the Renaissance period, this breed was revived early in the 20th century.
As for temperament, greyhounds are sensitive, loving, and well-behaved dogs. They are particularly good with children as long as there is no rough housing involved. When indoors, they are rather calm and friendly and may even appear to be lazy. Though they are brave and smart dogs, they tend to act in constraint towards strangers or even their own masters. However, they are known to bond strongly with acquaintances and bark very infrequently.
Those who train greyhounds must remain calm but yet make their voice of authority clear to avoid intimidating these dogs. Such dogs have a tendency to chase after fast-moving prey. Once one catches sight of a small animal, the greyhound will chase it with much stamina and aggressiveness. Some are very fast and will chase down and kill domestic animals unless trained not to do so. Greyhounds are easily housebroken and learn quickly not to “do their duties” in the house.
The distinct appearance of a Greyhound makes it rather easy to identify. It has a broad, square-backed body with well-sprung ribs. The coat is close, fine, and silky and can be of any combination of colors. Its legs and thighs are long, strong, and muscular and its feet are long, compact, well-knuckled resembling rabbit feet, but with strong pads. Finally, the tail is long, fine, and tapered and hangs low with a slight curve.
A greyhound’s head has these characteristics: a skull that is long and narrow but quite broad between the ears; the jaw is well-sculpted and rather powerful; the eyes are typically dark but sometimes bright, oval-shaped, and set obliquely radiating an intelligent, inquiring expression; and the ears small, fine, folded, and thrown back.
Greyhounds live as long as 10 to 12 (human) years and grow to be 27 to 30 inches in height. They can live a healthy life even in an apartment, but need to be allowed outdoors to exercise briskly for at least one hour per day. When outdoors, do not allow the dog to roam unleashed. Once it spots and chases prey, it can run extremely fast-so fast that it cannot be caught.
Because of their tendency to bloat, it is good to feed them two or three small meals a day rather than a large meal. Likewise, they are highly sensitive to drugs such as insecticides and may easily develop hypothyroidism.
Greyhounds are average when it comes to shedding, but their coat of short hair is relatively simple to groom. An owner must use a firm bristle brush to comb them and apply dry shampoo only when needed.