The current theory is that the breed is about 2,000 years old, originating in Greece and Turkey. Art work depicting (Italian greyhound like) dogs are said to have been found in archaeological sites in both countries. It has also been reported that embalmed dog remains have been found in Egypt and frescos in Pompeii that are said to resemble the breed. There are some theories that Roman soldiers brought the dogs home to become family pets. However the true origins of the breed remain a mystery.
Little is known about the original purpose for the breed being established, it could have been to hunt small game or vermin. Italian greyhounds are very fast and many do have a high chase and prey drive. Others feel that it was simply bred to be a very much adored companion of the household, certainly that is more their role today, although some do take part in lure coursing etc. The breed became popular during the Middle Ages and many were depicted in European paintings and sculpture. This is thought by some to be the true reason for the breed now being regarded as the Italian Greyhound.The breed also enjoyed popularity with royalty and there are paintings that show Italian greyhounds with Princess Anne of Denmark, Queen Victoria and Catherine the Great.
In 1900 the Italian Greyhound Club of Great Britain was formed, the breed was suffering as breeders attempted to get the smallest examples of the breed, with not much regard for health issues. The Italian greyhound Club was founded so that breeders could work together for the improvement of the breed. The Italian Greyhound Club adopted the colours of the Italian flag red, white and green.
The Italian Greyhound Club of Great Britain celebrated its centenary in 2000 and produced a book compiled by Annette Oliver showing photographs of most of the champions of the last 100 years, and a written insight into the breed and it’s development in the UK.
It is fascinating to trace back to relatives of the Shadedmoon Italian Greyhounds