The Italian Greyhound is a true greyhound and not the result of a crossbreed. Selective breeding was used to develop this much smaller breed. They may have been bred for hunting or just as a pet but the result is a pet that adapts well to city or rural life. They enjoy being pampered but, being a hound, they love to exercise and they really enjoy outdoor activities in warm weather.
The best characteristic, in my opinion is their wonderful, loving disposition. They love to be held and cuddled and enjoy climbing under the covers to sleep with their owners at night. They tend to be timid around strangers but lots of socialization at a young age can counter this issue. They get along and play well with children and other pets. They are intelligent and love to please their owners so they are very easy to train. They perform well in agility, lure coursing and rally/obediance trials.
As with most breeds they do have a couple minor health issues that you must take into consideration when choosing an Italian Greyhound as a family member.
* They are a dry mouthed breed and therefore can quickly develop tarter build up and tooth decay if you do not keep their teeth clean. I suggest getting your puppy used to a tooth brush starting within a few days of getting him/her home. A soft finger tip brush is a good idea at this age as well as some treats and lots of encouragement when they let you brush their teeth for even a very short amount of time. The goal is to get them used to the brush so you can take care of their teeth as they get older. You will also need to provide LOTS of chewies (i.e. greenies, nutri-dent, raw hide) for your puppy. This helps to promote salivation which has enzymes that break down any food still in their teeth. They also scrape food and tarter off of their teeth when they chew. Lastly, I suggest that you only feed dry kibble to your puppy. Soft food sticks to their teeth and just causes more tarter build up and decay. Your puppy will be completely weaned onto dry puppy kibble and will not need any soft food to supplement their diet.
* They have a thin skeletal structure and due to this, broken legs do happen occasionally. There are definitely ways to minimize the chance of ever having to deal with this very frightening situation. I strongly suggest that you feed your puppy a VERY high quality, grain-free puppy kibble for the entire first year of their life. They need all the nutrients they can get to ensure the strongest muscular and skeletal system they can possibly have. We also give all of our dogs and puppies NuVet Supplements every day. Additionally, teach your puppy how to jump off of things starting with a shoe box sized platform. Allow them to build the muscle structure in their legs as much as possible from these lower levels. Our rule of thumb is that if your puppy can't jump onto something by itself, it should NEVER be up there unattended. This includes beds, couches, chairs, decks and any landscaping in your yard. Once they master jumping off of low platforms, you can move them up to a level about 6 inches higher than they are used to at a time. All the while, they will be building up the muscles they need to land without hurting themselves when they jump. Almost all broken legs occur when the dog is off balance as they hit the ground. Try not to grab for a dog/puppy that is jumping from something you think is too high. I actually had one of my IG's that was a 2 year old female, climb over and jump from a 6 foot high chainlink fence. I just knew that when I got to her she was going to be writhing around with 2 broken legs but she was completely fine and wasn't even limping. Needless to say, her play yard was covered that very same day but this just shows that IG's can handle quite a lot when it comes to landing a jump as long as we don't interfere with the landing.