Compiled by Bitte Ahrens (kennel "Sobers")
Almost no breed has been found painted and sculptured in the history as much as the Italian Sighthound.
The Italian Sighthound was developed mainly through Italian, French and German influence. In France and Germany the breed was used for hunting small games together with falks. In Italy it was mostly used for hunting rabbits or as a companion dog. In the early 20’s, some Italian pioneers, i.e the Marquise Montecuccoli degli Erri (kennel Peltrengo) and the count Emilio Cavallini (kennel di Solcio), restarted the breeding in order to create more solid Italian lines and bring this breed back to its original type. The second World War was almost fatal to the breed and only since the 50’s did the true renaissance of the Italian Sighthound begin with the founding of the Italian breed Club (November 21st, 1956). Then it was time for marquise Maria Luisa Incontri della Stufa (kennel del Calcione) to resume and admirably develop an important work, beside a few other italian breed enthusiasts, and with the help from Austrian, German and French breeders.
Today the Italian Sighthound is a very sweet and easy companion dog, but still has the passion of running and the will of hunting small games, just like the larger Sighthounds. It mainly hunts with its sight but its scent is as good as other dogs.
Several Italian Sighthounds have done very well in obedience and some also in agility. In many countries all over the world, the breed also runs in lure coursing and racing. There are several dogs with Dual titles.
The breed is today spread all over the world. Mind though that the breed standards differ a bit from the original FCI standard, in the USA, UK, SA and Australia, by allowing multi coloured dogs. In these countries they are competing in the TOY group.
Always remember that this is a little SIGHTHOUND, Group 10 and does NOT belong to Group 9! The Italian Sighthound must be functional and sound, while keeping the typical elegance, the curvy outline and its unique kind of “dancing movement”.
* Important to remember! The Italian Sighthound must be considered as a “model of grace and distinction”
It must always be very elegant and look like a little Sighthound but never with the head carriage or body proportions of the Whippet or the Greyhound (and absolutely nothing similar to a Miniature Pinscher!)
The Italian Sighthound must be “high on its legs” and never short legged. The body proportions must be quadratic and it is considered as a rather short coupled dog.
Elegant and with refined grace both standing and moving.
The overall outline should be smooth without any sharp interruptions - so called “S-curves” are desirable.
The unique construction combined with its elegant dancing gait, always with high head carriage, gives the breed its beautiful and so typical silhouette both standing and moving.
The outline must be smooth, which means that the Italian Sighthound should NEVER be underweight. Spine, ribs and hip bones should be covered and just hardly visible! Young dogs can sometimes be a little lighter in weight, but never an adult dog!
Too long in loin and too low on legs
A too long dog which only gives the impression of being short by making its top line extremely curved. Always have the dog moving before judging it!
The actual body length in Italian Sighthounds can change their silhouette just depending on temperature or wind!
Silver Atom - UK Ch 1924 An example of a lovely specimen of the breed! Elegant, curvy with correct body proportions Type and qualities, perfectly fitting also the present FCI standard .
Female of excellent type and with ideal proportions. Correct outline, Nice neck and neck set. Well angulated and sound behind.
Too much white for FCI standard!
Very elegant bitch, where it is easy to imagine the so called “S” curves. She stands well balanced with her rear slightly under herself , which is typical for the breed.
Correct short coupled bitch of excellent type. Correct angulations in front and rear.
Elegant dog of excellent type. Very nice head carriage. Correct top line and front but, although sound, he could be more angulated behind.
A very elegant dog of excellent type. Nice curvy outline and correctly angulated in front and rear.
A young dog with very typical silhouette. Could be slightly deeper in chest but otherwise very nice top line and underline. Correct angulations in front and rear. Stands with one front leg up which is very typical for the breed!
The Italian Sighthound must be curious and awake towards things around and should absolutely not stand still like a zombie when being shown. The gentle lively character is very typical for the breed.
Many times their awake and sensitive character is confused with thoughts of nervous temperament.
The Italian Sighthound does not have the calm quiet character of, for example, the Whippet. They often react strongly to loud noises and also to cold weather and wind, which might make it difficult sometimes to fairly judge them outdoors.
This breed should be judged on a stable and safe table in the ring .
It must be touchable and not afraid but they often can show a bit of the typical noble sighthound pride towards strangers.
Terrified and untouchable dogs must never be accepted.
The head is more chiseled under the eyes and the skull is slightly wider if compared to the Greyhound. This, together with the quite large roundish eyes, gives the Italian Sighthound its typical gentle but at the same time alert expression.
Important to know! It is always easier to breed dogs with better heads on the slightly bigger dogs (37-38 cm.), than on the smaller dogs (around 34-36 cm.). Therefore, lovely heads on smaller specimens must be extra appreciated.
We quite often see Italian Sighthounds with too weak under jaws. Pay attention, you very easy can be fooled, since the breed often shows a quite protruding nostril which makes it seem like a shorter and sometimes weak under jaw.
Beautiful head with excellent proportions . Perfect shaped eyes and ears correctly carried when in attention. Lovely neck with slight arch.
A beautiful well chiseled male head. Skull and muzzle parallel and of equal length.
Elegant male head with slightly marked stop. Correct under jaw. Thin and tight lips.
Small female with a “Toy” like head. Rounded skull and with a short snipey muzzle.
Male head which is missing the typical elegance. Wide skull with too strong cheeks. Shorter muzzle than skull.
Female with sweet expression but with too marked stop and a short muzzle. Ears are too low set.
Excellent female head with correct expression. Correct under jaw
Super feminine female head with lovely expression but tends to be too refined in the muzzle.
A wonderful male head with the typical curious expression. Correct ear placement and carriage.
Dental defects to look out for in the breed:
Wrongly placed canines (like wild pigs) that are pointing forward
Missing premolars – quite common
Unlevel bite – seldom
Overshot – seldom but seen in combination with weak under jaws
Missing incisors – seldom
The bite is not only made by teeth but also by the jaws
Sometimes we see dogs with too short and weak underjaws. This must not be confused with a outstanding nose , which easily gives you an impression of a shorter jaw.
A male with excellent jaws without being too strong
A female that could be slightly longer in her foreface but with excellent jaws. Please observe how the nose stands out a bit!
A male with a very nice head BUT with too weak under jaw.
The eyes must round and large but not profounded. This makes the breeds typical awake but anyway gentle expression.
Eyes should be as dark as possible. A too light eye usually gives a harder expression which is not at all typical for the breed. On the other hand , eye colour is less important than the shape of the eye.
The dog to the left has really nice round eye shape and of correct size. The dog on the right has too small almond shaped eyes and they are also slightly protruding.
Two isabella coloured dogs with lovely expressions.
A dog with a rather hard expression. Small almond shaped eyes which are wrongly placed and with too light colour
A very pretty head with alert expression. Nice roundish eye shape although eyes could be darker.
This female has too small and untypical eyes …
Mind that the Italian Sighthounds often close their eyes a bit when being judged outdoors under the sun and it can seem that they have a more almond shaped eye. If having doubts, try to get the dog in the shadow to correctly judge the shape of the eye and the expression.