John George Wood, also known as Rev J. G. Wood, was a late 19th century English writer who popularized natural history with his writings. He wrote at a time when Italian Greyhounds were considered to be too delicate to rear in wet or less than temperate climates. He shared that owners (can you imagine!) wrapped them in warm clothing before taking them out!
Still, Wood has a favorable view of the breed and wrote in his book, Our Pets, the following:
The pretty Italian Greyhound is of much slenderer form and tenderer nature than its English prototype. A very graceful and slim creature, it requires considerable care and attention to keep it in good health and exercise. It is by no means endowed with the courage of the English greyhound, but in speed it is scarcely its inferior. Its timid fawning npon its master is almost exceptional in character, being altogether unlike the romping and boisterous attention of the terrier, the sluggish disposition of the mastiff, or the fussy consequential demeanor of the poodle or the spaniel. Our climate seems, in winter at least, to be much too cold for it, and hence it must be kept clothed in hard weather, and during severe frost should be kept altogether a prisoner within doors. There is no dog whatever, for symmetry of form and elegance of motion, at all comparable to the Italian greyhound, and one of a rich golden fawn-colour is an animal to be highly prized.
Interestingly, it came to our attention the other day that the Italian Greyhound is no longer listed by this name with the Fédération Cynologique Internationale, or FCI. The FCI has always listed breed names by how they are known in their native land, and this is why the breed appears as the Piccolo Levriero Italiano, but at some point, and quite recently, it seems, the breed’s English name became the Italian Sighthound. The breed is a sighthound, and there is no quarrel with the change, only in that it seemed to have occurred with very little mention – as in none that we can find on the Internet. If you can share anything about the change, we’d love to hear from you.
Image: The frontispiece from Wood’s book, “Our Pets.”