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Italian Greyhound


Original Works of art

Group: Hounds
Breed Family: Hound

This graceful and smallest member of the Greyhound family is of very ancient lineage, for its history dates back at least two thousand years. Although its name suggest that the breed originated in Italy, cynologists believe that this charming little dog originated in Egypt as the result of breeding between small Greyhounds. Eventually, the breed was taken by Roman soldiers from Egypt to Mediterranean areas, where it soon became the favorite companion of Greek and Roman ladies. In the first century A.D. Plutarch wrote in The Life of Pericles, that when Caesar saw so many women in Rome lavishing attention on their tiny lapdogs, he inquired “Have these women no children that they nurse such things?”

By the Middle Ages, the breed had spread throughout southern Europe. It was still a favorite of the Italians of the sixteenth century; it was then that they became known as Italian Greyhounds. Although the Italian Greyhound is generally considered to be a toy breed in most countries and has never been used for work of any kind, it is a natural sight hound. As such, in medieval times in France, the larger Italian Greyhounds were occasionally used for rabbit hunting, often in combination with falcons.

Throughout the centuries Italian Greyhounds have been favored as pets by royalty: Catherine the Great of Russia, Mary Queen of Scots, James I and Charles I of England, Frederick the Great of Prussia, Queen Anne of Denmark, Princess Louise of Belgium and Queen Victoria were a few of the royal owners of the breed. By the late nineteenth century, the Italian Greyhound had become a favorite with society in general throughout Europe. In England the breed club was founded in 1900. The dog's popularity eventually rivaled that of the Toy Spaniel and the Maltese.


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