This section is from the book "British Dogs: Their Varieties, History, Characteristics, Breeding, Management, And Exhibition", by Hugh Dalziel. Also available from Amazon: British Dogs.
No more elegant dog exists than a good specimen of the Italian greyhound.
There is in such a refinement of form and a grace in every movement that inevitably attracts the dog lover and compels his eulogies.
The beauty of form is matched with a delicacy of frame exquisitely attractive, and mark this pretty pet as fit only for the companionship of women, whose tender handling alone is light enough to save from efface-ment the peach bloom that seems to adorn them, and preserve from destruction a frame too fragile for the rough touch of masculine hands.
MR. JAMES FLETCHER'S ITALIAN GREYHOUND "WEE FLOWER" (K.C.S.B. 7763).
Sire Prince - Dam Beauty.
This view may arise from some unusual and unaccountable idiosyn-cracy on my part, for certain it is that these most frail specimens of canine flesh are almost entirely exhibited by men, rarely by women; but I must confess I always experience a feeling of relief when I see such brittle looking goods as Italian greyhounds freed from the coarse and heavy hands of men exhibitors.
As the name imports, Italy is the native home of these exquisitely lovely dogs; yet it is not under the azure skies of Italy that they are brought to the greatest perfection, but rather under clouds of dense London smoke, and in defiance of the raw, chilling mists that surround them in their Scottish home. Those sent us from Italy are comparatively coarse, but, under the magic skill of English breeders, the lines of beauty natural to the breed are retained and developed, all coarseness is smoothed away, and the delicacy and refinement which is their inheritance improved upon.
As a breeder of Italian greyhounds at the present time I should say Mr. Bruce, of Falkirk, is facile princeps, although Mr. Steel makes a good second, and between them they make the Italian class at the Edinburgh shows one of the features of that gathering, for nowhere else is seen classes of this kind so strong in numbers and quality, and the best of winners at English shows of recent years, Wee Flower, Crucifix, Rosy Cross, Bankside Lily, and others have been bred by these two gentlemen.
Mrs. Temple, of Morley Wilmslow, Cheshire, also possesses a good strain, which she brought from Italy more than forty years ago, and has improved upon by careful selection in breeding. This lady does not exhibit and, therefore, her dogs are not so well known as they deserve to be; but several from her stock have, I understand, successfully competed in the show ring.
For a number of years there was nothing that had a chance in a show against Mr. Macdonald's famous little Molly, a dove-coloured specimen, diminutive in size, and of exquisite proportions. Molly lived to the very considerable age of twelve years, and literally went to her grave burdened with honours. Unexceptionally good as she was, I am of opinion that a small lovely dove-coloured specimen of Mr. Bruce's, the name of which I am uncertain, is all over quite as good as Molly was, and it is quite certain that competitors now are much superior as a whole to those Molly had to meet in her time.
The Italian greyhound is a diminutive of the gallant coursing breed; but whereas, in the latter we look not only for beauty of outline, but also insist on strength, as shown in great muscular development, in the former we are satisfied with elegance, if there is but sufficient vitality to give activity and playfulness. In play, the graceful movements of the Italian greyhound are seen to perfection, their attitudes being strikingly beautiful; in their ordinary walk they have a mincing gait, varied by more spirited motions, prancing like a high stepping and restive horse.
The weight of the Italian greyhound for show purposes should not exceed 71b., and those between 41b. and 51b. are preferred.
One of the greatest defects met with in this breed is the high forehead and prominent skull, introduced, probably, by resorting to a cross with the apple-headed toy terrier in the desire to reduce the size. The head should be flat in the skull, long, and gradually tapering to the point of the muzzle.
The eyes should be rather large, and with a languishing expression. This dog is of a very loving disposition, showing strong affection to its owner. Eyes too full and watery are not uncommon, and are a great blemish.
The ears should be small and thin in texture, carried a la greyhound.
The neck must be long, thin, and supple.
The coat should be remarkably fine, soft, short, and silky. The colours are various, and all very beautiful, red fawn, golden fawn, blue fawn, dove colour, lavender, cream colour, white with dark points, blue, and parti-coloured. The latter is not generally admired, yet there is a fawn and white, shown by Mr. Bruce, which I consider very handsome; brindle I do not remember to have seen.
The question of colour must always be one of individual taste, but self colours are preferred, and the chief consideration is to have them decided and rich.