The “Iggie,” or “IG,” almost certainly dates back to the Roman Empire, so it’s not a surprise that by the Middle Ages, the breed could be found throughout southern Europe. During the Renaissance, the breed was a favorite among Italian nobles and courtiers, and it was during this period that the breed enjoyed its greatest development. Artists appreciated their elegant lines, and works by Giotto, Hieronymus Bosch, and Hans Memling served to heighten their popularity. Some sources say that it was during this time that the breed received its name from the aforementioned nobles – “Piccolo Levriero,” or Italian Greyhound, but other sources say that it was in England that the breed was so named. The only sighthound common in England at the time the IG arrived was the native Greyhound, and since the breed came through Italy, English fanciers named the breed the Italian Greyhound.
However it got its name, the littlest sighthound associated with Italy is believed to have descended from small sighthounds in ancient Egypt. It traveled through a historical region of Greece known as Laconie, then arrived in Italy on a balmy day in the 5th century BC. It didn’t take long for the breed to endear itself; the Italian Greyhound was one of the only two toy breeds named in a dog book in 1820.
Image: The Virgin and Child with Saints and Donor (probably 1510) by Gerard David