What the Iggie Isn’t

The Italian Greyhound is the smallest of the sighthound family, but it isn’t in the AKC or UKC’s hound group, nor is it a Greyhound. Its may not even be really Italian.

Cynologists think the breed descended from small sighthounds of ancient Egypt that were present at the court of the Pharaohs.  Archaeological discoveries of mummified remains and skeletons very much like small Greyhounds, coupled with ancient pottery upon which were etched or painted representations of the small Greyhounds, confirm that the dogs passed through land today known as Turkey and Greece,  and likely arrived on the Italian peninsula around the 5th century. Its greatest development occurred during the era of the Renaissance at the courts of Italian nobles and upper classes, and because the breed entered England from Italy, it became known as the Italian Greyhound.

The Fédération Cynologique Internationale, or FCI kept this athletic breed in its sighthound group where its name is the Piccolo Levriero Italiano, or Italian Sighthound, and despite its inclusion in the Toy or Companion Group in other registries, the breed very much retains a hunting spirit, exceptional eyesight,  remarkable speed, and, a bit surprisingly, a nose for scents which some regard as unique among sighthounds.

Image: “Melancholy” by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1532) currently as the Musée Unterlinden, Colmar, France

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