Scratch Dog or Not – Are Italian Greyhounds Hypoallergenic

Allergies are a massive problem in the US with approximately 10% of Americans likely to have a reaction, when in close proximity to our furry friends, these people might think having a dog in their life is out of the question, the good news is; there are breeds which can live quite happily with allergy sufferers without triggering the classic symptoms of wheezing, watery eyes or itchy rashes.


Step forward the Italian or miniature Greyhound, also known as "Iggies" and IGs, this dainty dog is not everyone's cup of tea, but could be an ideal canine companion for people suffering from allergies.

Is It True, Are Italian Greyhounds Hypoallergenic?

The breed is classed as hypoallergenic due to its extremely short, odorless coat that sheds minimally if at all. making them a fantastic choice for allergy sufferers and the more house-proud among us.

What does hypoallergenic actually mean?

Before you rush onto the internet looking for Italian Greyhound puppies for sale, it's worth noting that hypoallergenic does not necessarily mean allergy-free. Reactions vary and can occur even with so-called hypoallergenic dogs, this is because the true definition of the word means, there is a reduced chance of triggering symptoms, not, zero chance.

3 Reasons Why the Italian Greyhound is a Choice Breed Among Allergy Sufferers

Size matters

The Italian Greyhound is small and less dog means less hair

Do Italian Greyhounds shed?

Yes, but only minimally and their extremely short coat means less hair, even when shedding, the likelihood of a serious reaction is slim.

Low Maintenance

A lot of hypoallergenic breeds have high maintenance coats, not the Italian Greyhound, a daily wipe down, outside, will ensure your Italian Greyhound's coat stays in top condition and your home hair-free.

Italian Greyhounds and allergies - What should I do?

Allergic reactions to dogs are not exclusively caused by hair, in fact some are triggered by a protein found in saliva, dander or even urine, so it is still possible to break out in hives or experience a sneezing fit even with hypoallergenic breeds, that's why it's important to do your research, spend some time with your chosen hound before bringing them into your home.

One of the most common reasons a dog ends up in a rescue or shelter is allergies so establishing that you can share your home with a particular breed is vital to prevent more unwanted dogs. If you suffer mild to moderate symptoms an Italian Greyhound should present no problems,

  • Discuss your allergies with your chosen Italian Greyhound breeder and try to arrange scheduled visits with the pup before bringing him home, to see if you suffer any symptoms. A good breeder usually provides you with a formal sales contract which could include the option of returning the puppy if things don't work out.
  • You should also discuss your decision to bring a dog into your life with your allergist, many sufferers can take over the counter medications or even shots to prevent symptoms and enabling them to live happily with a canine companion.

5 Ways to Reduce the Risk of an Allergic Reaction from Your Pooch

  • Give your Italian Greyhound a rub down every day, outside. Have another member of the family do this if possible but if not wear a mask. There is a wide range of dog grooming masks on the market which will stop you inhaling any allergens.
  • Because an adult Italian Greyhound sheds very little, symptoms should be mild enough to control with antihistamines or as mentioned above, regular allergy shots could be an option.
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    Soft furnishings are a big no no for allergy sufferers, carpets, curtains, throws, and rugs are prime spots for pesky particles to accumulate. Change to hard floors, blinds and wash any covers or throws weekly at 60°.
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    Give surfaces a wipe down every day with a damp cloth soaked in fabric softener, this will make your home smell fresher and the anti-static repels dust and dander.
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    Wash dog toys regularly, saliva can be one of the main causes of adverse reactions in allergy sufferers, so if you are tidying away toys after playtime make sure to use gloves or wash your hands immediately.

All about the Italian Greyhound - Origin of the Breed

The miniature greyhound did not originate in Italy, in fact, no-one knows exactly where the Italian Greyhound came from. Mummified dogs resembling the breed have been found in Egyptian tombs dating back thousands of years ago.

It's not clear either whether the dog which is classed as a 'toy' breed was always that small, or whether it was bred down from the larger sighthounds to make a small lapdog.

They became one of the most popular dogs in ancient Rome with much been written about the Vertragus, thought to be an ancestor of the modern breed and by the Renaissance, this adaptable little dog had taken off in Italy, becoming the subject of many paintings, and sculptures this led many people to believe the breed originated there. So, they became known across the world as the miniature Italian greyhound.​

By the 17th century, many Italian dog breeds were being exported across Europe and the Italian greyhound was commonly found in England and Scotland, used as hunters of small vermin and rabbits, but by Victorian times the daintiness and elegance of the breed made them the pet of choice for the upper classes. Mary, Queen of Scots, and Queen Victoria both doted on their miniature greyhounds and the breed remains popular with the rich and famous with Uma Thurman, Sigourney Weaver and Kylie Jenner all owning "Iggies".

The Italian Greyhound came to America and was recognized by the AKC in 1886. Today the breed which represents "la dolce vita" is ranked 72nd in the most popular dog breeds in America.

General Appearance

The Italian Greyhound is an elegant, small, fine-boned dog which has a high-stepping gait rather like a horse. An Italian Greyhound size is between 13-15 inches. They have an arched back, a tucked abdomen and long, straight forelegs, similar to all sighthounds, with a long slender neck and narrow, streamlined head.

The chest is deep, the shoulders sloping and the ears are narrow and sit close to the head, the long, slender tail is carried low, tapering out to the end. The Italian Greyhound should weigh around 8 pounds and have a slender frame, they come in a variety of colors either solid or with white markings although a black Italian Greyhound with tan markings and brindle Iggies are not acceptable in the show ring.


Many small dogs have large personalities, and this is definitely true of this mini Greyhound, playful, agile and energetic, he will run and run just for the pure enjoyment and fun of it and requires plenty of exercise, especially when young.

Like his larger cousin he will chase after a ball but is unlikely to return it and if there's a squirrel to chase instead, all the better. When inside, he loves nothing hurtle around a room using furniture as a substitute for an assault course. The Italian Greyhound is curious and can often be found on the back of furniture peering out of the window to see what is going on.

​On the other hand, this breed loves their comfort. They tend to not like the rain and will point blank refuse to go out in cold weather if they can get away with it, their short hair and low body fat make them extremely susceptible to the cold so you will need to invest in a couple of doggy sweaters if you reside in a chilly climate.

​If there's a spare sofa your Iggy will make it his own and he likes nothing more than to doze in the sun.

​This dog breed loves company and hates to be left alone, a sociable, people dog he will not sit at your feet if he can be on your lap or shoulder instead and he will suffer if left alone for long periods.

​Although a friendly dog, Italian Greyhounds are extremely delicate and are not suited to rough and tumble with young children, they are difficult to house-train which could be a problem for allergy sufferers as urine can trigger symptoms. Intelligent and manipulative an Italian Greyhound can be difficult to train and needs consistency to prevent him becoming timid and destructive.



The Italian Greyhound lifespan is officially 12-15 years but their delicate bone structure can make them susceptible to accidents, which account for the deaths of more than 25% of the breed, common health issues include;

  • Epilepsy
  • Patellar Luxation
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    Legg-Perthes disease (degeneration of the hip joint)
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    Von Willebrand disease (VWD) (Bleeding disorder)
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    Color dilution alopecia (genetic condition found in dogs bred for diluted coats, blues, fawns, etc.)
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    Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
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    Leg Fractures (common in dogs under the age of 2)
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    Autoimmune hemolytic anemia
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    Periodontal disease, (due to their scissor bite and thin jaw bone)
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    Vitreous degeneration
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    Liver shunts
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    Hypothyroidism, Autoimmune Thyroid Disease

Responsible breeders will have their breeding stock checked regularly for inherited disorders and should provide prospective owners with documentation from the OFA for at least some of the above-mentioned conditions. Discuss any concerns about the health of your Italian Greyhound puppy, the breeder should be happy to answer questions.


Italian Greyhounds, in general, are not fussy eaters and don’t have any special dietary needs. Many Iggy owners use raised feeding bowls as this long-legged breed can be uncomfortable, stooping down to a bowl which on the floor, resulting in them gulping down air with their food which can lead to stomach problems.

Most are happy with a good quality kibble which is high in calories and designed for small dogs, ask your breeder what they feed their Italian Greyhounds? If you decide to change the diet, introduce the new food gradually to prevent digestive problems. The majority of Italian Greyhound owners feed their dogs a small amount twice a day –

​Never walk your dog straight after feeding; wait at least an hour after your pooch has eaten before setting off on a walk.

​Many Italian Greyhounds are greedy and will steal food if, given the opportunity, they should be lean, yet well-muscled, too many treats will result in a fat and unhealthy dog.


Finding A Good Italian Greyhound Breeder

If you decide to start looking for Italian Greyhound puppies for sale, don't be in a rush. Your goal is to find a happy, healthy hypoallergenic puppy with a cheerful, outgoing temperament.

Make a short list of breeders and contact them to see if they have any litters available. A good breeder will be knowledgeable about their breed, happy to answer any questions you may have and will be keen to know about you and the lifestyle you live in order to ensure a good home for their puppies.

The Italian Greyhound Club of America is a great place to start your search for they can provide lots of information on local events, clubs, rescues and the ongoing care and training of your new canine companion, they also have a list of breeders.

3 Red Flags to Look Out for When Searching an Italian Greyhound Breeder

  • Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder wanting you to pay a deposit online before actually visiting the puppy. The hypoallergenic Italian Greyhound as with any hypoallergenic dog breed may cause a reaction and if you have paid a deposit upfront you will be unlikely to get it back.
  • Do your research and check out the prices charged by different breeders, if one is charging less than the average, it may mean they have a lot of puppies and are keen to sell quickly, never a good sign. Alternatively, a higher than average Italian Greyhound price may be justified for quality show lines, but if you are just wanting a pet, paying over the odds, is not necessary.
  • Always ask how long the breeder has been involved with the breed. Someone who is breeding from their pet, may not have the knowledge of health issues and temperament and may not be able to provide you with ongoing support.

Adopting an Italian Greyhound from a Rescue or Shelter

Adoption is an option for potential owners of one of these discerning little sighthounds. A puppy needs a lot of time, patience and as we have mentioned can be extremely difficult to housetrain, whereas an adult Italian Greyhound may already be housetrained and may not be as hyper as an active youngster.

Many people presume that dogs end up in rescues or shelters because of behavioral issues, but this is not always the case. They may be there because of a change in circumstances, homelessness, death, divorce and yes allergies can all be reasons why these little dogs are looking for a new home. There are numerous breed specific Italian Greyhound rescues across the USA, to find one click here

How Much Will an Italian Greyhound Set You Back?

How much does an Italian Greyhound cost? You can expect to pay from $600-$1500 for a purebred puppy. For this price, you will receive a healthy, cheerful puppy with all the relevant health screening. The puppy should have been vet-checked and have had its first shots, it should also have been treated for fleas and worms. Most breeders should provide a sales contract with written information on the puppy's diet, socialization, along with registration papers.

An Italian Greyhound is not usually an expensive dog to care for as they are low maintenance, but you will need top quality insurance, as they can be prone to accidents and broken bones are common in this breed.​


It's a Wrap

The Italian Greyhound is not a dog for everyone, they can be a challenge to housetrain, stubborn and do not do well in rowdy homes with young children as they can easily be hurt. They love companionship and are happiest when they are close to their owner.

They are loving, energetic, cheerful, loyal and like all sighthounds have a strong prey drive, although they do tend to get on well with cats. They can be suitable for those who suffer from mild to moderate allergies as they have a very short coat which sheds little if at all.

They can be greedy and treats need to be limited to avoid them becoming overweight, they also need regular exercise and mental stimulation to prevent them from becoming bored and destructive. Most do not like the cold and wet and are happiest lying in the sun.

However, for the right family who suffers from asthma or allergies, they can be the "Perfecto" addition to the home.​

John Devlin

Husband, father and avid dog lover. Currently the proud owner of George a pedigree Golden Retriever that barely leaves my side. However, cute this sounds a little break from the dog hairs every now and then would be nice!

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