Italian Greyhuahua

Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
Photo of adult Italian Greyhuahua
Teresa Trimm /

A hybrid dog for those that love all things miniature, the Italian Greyhuahua is a delightful mix of the confident Chihuahua and the sensitive Italian Greyhound. These dogs can be shy and wary around strangers so do need plenty of socialisation from a young age if we are to help them come out of their shell. Highly intelligent, owners must work hard to keep their minds stimulated and prevent vices from developing.

Italian Greyhuahuas are quite unusual looking as they tend to inherit the bulging eyes of the Chihuahua and have disproportionately large ears for their skull size. Their silhouette is not as elegant as that of the Italian Greyhound and they are not as tiny as the Chihuahua, meaning that they often lack that air of ‘finesse’ that their parent breeds seem to effortlessly possess.

About & History

The Italian Greyhuahua is a product of the designer dog movement, a trend which began in the 1970s and continues to this day. Breeders choose two pedigrees and mix them together in the hopes of producing superior offspring. It is likely that the very first Italian Greyhuahua was produced some time in the 1990s.

The Chihuahua

The Chihuahua has a history which dates much further back than that of the Italian Greyhuahua and many are surprised to learn that they are a truly ancient canine having been in existence for at least 2,000 years.

Today, their claim to fame is that they are the world’s smallest dog and the record holder is a 9.65cm tall fawn female named Milly who lives in the United States. While Chihuahuas are a Mexican breed, it was in the neighbouring state of Texas that the breed was refined and the Chihuahua that we know and love today was developed. Not used as a working dog, these confident canines make superb family pets as they are both clever and playful.

The Italian Greyhound

Italian Greyhounds are the smallest sighthound and are thought to originally come from Egypt and not Italy; a fact that is sure to be a winner in your local pub quiz! They were brought to Europe and were a popular choice of dog among both the Greek and Roman noblemen.

As well as being kept for companionship, some breed members would hunt rabbits and would excel thanks to their quick turn of foot. They closely resemble the Greyhound, but are a smaller and more delicate version. The Kennel Club recognises the Italian Greyhound within their Toy Group.


Italian Greyhuahua Large Photo
Teresea Trimm /

Italian Greyhuahuas are small with a fine bone structure and slender limbs. Their skull is round and they have a pointed muzzle with a pronounced stop. Their ears are usually impressively large and may either stand erect or semi-erect. They might inherit the bulging eyes of the Chihuahua, which are an attractive brown colour and are always lit up, making the Italian Greyhuahua seem to be on high alert.

They have a relatively long and stocky neck that leads to a barrel-shaped body that should have a pronounced waist. Their paws are petite and cat-like and they have a slim, tapering tail.

Growing to heights of around 25cm to 33cm and reaching weights of 4kg to 7kg, the small Italian Greyhuahua is not quite as diminutive as their Chihuahua parent but is not a long way off. The fur of the Italian Greyhuahua is short and straight and comes in a huge array of colours. Coat colours include white, fawn, brindle, red, black, brown and blue. Many have lighter or white patches on their chest and under-side.

Character & Temperament

The Italian Greyhuahua typically lacks the bravado of the Chihuahua, though will not be as meek or submissive as the Italian Greyhound. They are in their element when around their family and others they are familiar with but can be standoffish and anxious when approached by strangers. Thorough socialisation from a very young age can go a long way towards addressing this.

These little dogs thrive on human contact and forge close relationships with all members of their family. They can equally devote themselves to other pets within the home and should become great playmates if introduced from a young age. This tolerance and comradery does not extend to everyone and many breed members will warn outsiders away with yapping and defensive body language.

Lively and curious, the Italian Greyhuahua is always up for exploring the world on a new adventure. They keep themselves active when both inside and outside and are always on the lookout for a new puzzle to solve or challenge to overcome.


While the Italian Greyhuahua is not really a working breed and has limited adaptability, they are quick as a whip and delight in fun and enjoyable training sessions. Most are quick to master basic cues but owners should be made aware that they are notoriously difficult to fully toilet train and regularly take longer than their peers to master this ‘skill’.

As they can be sensitive, trainers need to take a subtle approach, avoiding any sort of punishment or reprimand, which would only cause the Italian Greyhuahua to disengage. Instead, they should build confidence by heavily rewarding good behaviour. Low calorie treats, such as raw carrot and lean turkey, are a must to avoid these little fellas from packing on the pounds!


The health of the Italian Greyhuahua is generally quite robust as long as they are well exercised and not overfed.

Heart Disease

Both mitral valve disease (MVD) and patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) can be inherited in the Italian Greyhuahua. MVD is a progressive disease that develops with age while PDA is present from birth.

Vets will pick up a heart murmur on their physical exam and will then order diagnostic tests, such as a cardiac biomarker blood test, chest x-ray and echocardiogram (heart scan) to determine what is going on and what treatment is needed.


An epileptic Italian Greyhuahua will have seizures of varying severity with irregular intervals in between. Some will have identifiable ‘triggers’, such as loud noises or bright lights, while others will fit for seemingly no reason. It is always important to rule out any underlying cause of a seizure, such as a lungworm infestation, liver disease or brain tumour.

Patellar Luxation

Knee caps that fail to sit in place at all times can affect a dog’s mobility and quality of life. The first sign of a luxating patella is a ‘hop’ or ‘skip’ on one of the back legs when out on a walk. Owners may mistake this for a muscle strain but as the condition progresses, it will be obvious that there is something else amiss.

Periodontal Disease

As both the Italian Greyhound and the Chihuahua are prone to dental disease, their offspring tends to be affected too. Deciduous teeth that fail to fall out when they should, are a common issue and can result in food impactions between teeth and local inflammation and infection.

While this can happen to any baby tooth, we usually find that it is the sharp canine teeth which are affected. Any teeth that do not fall out on their own accord should be surgically removed.

Exercise and Activity Levels

While pint-sized, the Italian Greyhuahua is a busy little bee that likes to be kept very active. They can get a good deal of their exercise playing games and following their owners around within the home but should also be taken out for some fresh air and distraction two or three times a day.


It’s not difficult to keep the Italian Greyhuahua’s coat looking good as it maintains a lovely sheen with a once weekly brush and infrequent bathing. This is not a dog that sheds excessively, even in warmer weather.

It is advised that owners brush their dog’s teeth a few times a week (or daily if possible) to help prevent periodontal disease and keep oral bacteria levels low. Mouth washes and dental diets can also prove very useful.

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