Hounds similar to Italian Greyhounds are believed
to have originated in Egypt around 3,000BC. Mummified remains
have been excavated from the tombs of the Pharaoh's in the Valley
of Kings at Luxor. It is believed that the Romans brought the
hounds to the Mediterranean around 600 BC. Archaeologists have
discovered art works and carvings from this period and bones of
the small hounds. In 79 AD, Mount Vesuvius erupted and obliterated
the ancient Roman resort town of Pompeii. In the lava flow the
remains of a petite hound were discovered. It is thought that
the Latin inscription "Cave Canem" or Beware of the
Dog, which was found on houses of that period, was not a warning
but a reminder not to step on the miniature hound. In 48 BC Queen
Cleopatra presented Julius Caesar with Italian Greyhound puppies
after he had conquered Egypt.
The Middle Ages saw the Italian Greyhound in
Southern Europe. Because of its popularity in Italy it became
known as the Italian Greyhound and reached its height of popularity
in the 17th Century. The hounds appeared in European royal houses
and became a decoration of aristocratic salons. Often seen with
their titled owners including; Mary Queen of Scots 1542-87, Princess
Anne of Denmark 1574-1619, Charles 1 1600-49, Queen Victoria 1819-1901
and Frederick the Great of Prussia 1712-86 whose Italian Greyhound
accompanied him in his military campaigns. Catherine the Great
of Russia 1729-96 had her favourite Italian Greyhound "Zemira"
buried in Peterhof Park and a porcelain figurine of the hound
kept in the Grand Hall of the Peterhof Palace.
Italian Greyhounds can be seen in the paintings
of Ambrogio Giotto 1267-1337, Rogier Van der Weyden 1399-1464,
Hans Memling 1440-94, Hieronymus Bosch 1450-1516, Gerard David
1460-1523, Vittore Carpaccio 1472-1526, Sir AnthonyVan Dyck 1599-1641,
Sir Joshua Reynolds 1723-92, William Blake 1757-1827. Pierre Jukes
Menè 1810-77 made several bronze sculptures of Italian
Greyhounds. The artist Theodor Kärner 1884-1966 who worked
for Rosenthal of Germany created some beautifully detailed figures
of Italian Greyhounds in porcelain.
Hounds are dogs that were originally bred to
hunt and the Italian Greyhound has a strong instinct to chase
and hunt. The breed is the smallest of the family of sighthounds
or gazehounds (dogs that hunt by sight). It is thought that they
were originally bred to hunt small game as well as being a companion
hound. Its larger cousin the Whippet is a relatively new breed
that originated in England in the 19th Century.
Italian Greyhounds were first shown in England
at the Birmingham Dog Show in 1860. In Australia at the Sydney
Royal Show in 1868. The American Kennel Club registered the first
Italian Greyhound in 1886.
In St Petersburg, Russia there is now an annual
holiday held on the 27 July in honour of the Russian Empress Catherine's
Italian Greyhound "Zemira". It's held in the grounds
of the Grand Cascade, one of the main fountains of the Russian
Versailles. A contest is held to find the most beautiful hound,
which is presented with an award in the Throne Room of the Grand
The Italian Greyhound is known in Germany as
the Italianisches "Windspiel" or Toy of the Wind. In
Italy it's a Piccolo Levriero Italiano and in Sweden an Italiensk
The personality of an Italian Greyhound is unlike any other breed.
They are cat-like in the respect that they enjoy
sunbathing. Care should be taken that your IG does not become
sunburned or overheated. A picnic-style blanket and chew toy laid
out in the warmth of the sunshine in your back yard is an IG's
idea of heaven.
More >>> click here to download
a PDF with history and lots more informaton on the Personality
of the IG.