Blog #4 Is an Italian Greyhound the right breed for you?

Our previous blogs have hopefully provided some advice on how to find a reputable breeder and also on how important it is to wait for the right dog, but here we will focus even more specifically on the Italian Greyhound- their character, their personality, their needs – in an attempt to help prospective owners decide whether an IG is the right breed for them.

The IGRC receives enquiries on a daily basis from people who are interested in welcoming an IG into their home. Many people have already carried out thorough research into the breed while others are in the early stages of investigating more about IGs. This blog will hopefully answer some of your questions about this beautiful breed which has captured the hearts of so many.

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1. The Italian Greyhound is in the Toy Group so are they similar to other breeds in this group?
The IG may be a member of The Kennel Club’s Toy Group but IGs are a Sighthound at heart. Overseas (under FCI governing rules) they belong to the Sighthound Group and it is worth all prospective owners bearing this in mind when considering an IG. They may be small, but the IG is an incredibly energetic dog – they are a Sighthound in miniature and they must be treated as such. Some of you may have seen IGs being carried around in “designer dog-carriers” but they are not a breed which can be simply carried and caged away. They love their exercise and it is vital part of their daily well-being.

2. Do Italian Greyhounds require much exercise?
Yes. The energy levels of an IG can often surpass the energy levels of bigger breeds, such as the Whippet and Greyhound. A Greyhound, for example, will be very happy with two short walks in the morning and afternoon either side of spending the rest of the day on the sofa. The IG, however, needs much more stimulus. If you speak to any IG owners, they will probably say that they take their dogs for walks which exceed an hour at a time. IGs love to explore, run with one another, investigate every corner of the fields they exercise in, and much more! At the end of the walk, some of the energy reserves will have been used up but please do not be deceived. An IG can return from a walk and then play for a good while longer in the house. In short, an IG will sleep when necessary (and they do make the perfect sofa partners and hot water bottles) but they have an abundance of energy which most humans are envious of.

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When it comes to exercising, IGs should be walked by their owner or by someone who they are very familiar with. IGs can be easily spooked so if they are on a walk, they need to be with the person with whom they have the strongest bond and who understands their character and behaviour. This is why the IGRC does not recommend that IGs, especially those who are rescues, are exercised by external dog walkers or placed into day care centres where they may not know the people who are looking after them. IGs are not like any other breed so they must be looked after by those who have a thorough understanding of the breed.

3. Are Italian Greyhounds prone to health problems?
The most common health problem that people will associate with the IG will be leg breaks. Their slender legs can be more prone to accidents and, dogs will be dogs so accidents can and do happen. But reputable breeders have thoughtfully bred and produced IGs with improved bone density. This is just one of the reasons why people interested in an IG must do their research properly and find an established, reputable breeder.

To echo previous blogs, the internet must be used with caution when trying to find a dog breeder. The internet can be a good place to research information about the breed and to talk with IGs owners, but prospective puppy owners must be alert. Listed below are some key things which buyers should avoid:
-Puppies advertised online by breeders asking for non-refundable deposits
-Breeders who advertise their puppies as being ready to collect before the age of 10-12weeks old
-Breeders who breed numerous litters regularly (you can research a breeder’s activities with The Kennel Club)
-Puppies advertised as being “teacup” or “miniature” or having a “rare colour”
-Puppies who are not registered with The Kennel Club
-If there is anything about the advert or the website where the puppies are being advertised that sows a seed of doubt in your mind – if there is something that concerns you or you want to check whether a breeder is well-known, prospective owners can always check with the IGRC for further advice.

Once the owner of an IG, you must be sensible and employ common sense. IGs should not be allowed to race up and down stairs, they should be exercised with suitable canine companions (to run an IG with a larger, heavier build of dog is not advisable), and jumping from heights at high speed should be prevented too. Furthermore, a high quality diet should be fed so that an IG’s internal well-being is kept strong and healthy.

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Many breeders and the IGRC recommend that IG owners take out suitable pet insurance for their dog. None of us know precisely what the future holds and the time may come when your dog requires treatment which can be costly. As a dog owner, you take on the huge responsibility of caring for him or her from the moment you collect them through to the time they pass over the rainbow bridge. By having adequate insurance in place, you have the peace of mind that some of the costs of veterinary fees are covered.

4. How well do Italian Greyhounds get on with other dogs?
As with any breed, dogs must be introduced carefully and sensibly to other animals in the household. For those of you who have friends with IGs, you will notice that most IGs make friends very easily. IGs enjoy both human and canine company, playing, exercising, and snoozing together. Each dog is different, with some preferring to be the sole focus of their owner’s attention whereas others thrive on being with other dogs.

5. What is the Italian Greyhound’s temperament like?
IGs are a sensitive breed. They can be aloof at times and some IGs will be more reserved than others. What is crucial is that IGs are sympathetically handled, well socialised from a young age and throughout their life, and given routine and structure so that boundaries are established as part of their training. The IG is an incredibly loyal and loving breed, close to their owner’s side at any given time. As described above, IGs are energetic and with this comes a very fun-loving breed who will never make for a dull moment in the home.

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If the answers to any of the above questions have cast a query or slight doubt in your mind as to the IG’s suitability with you, please do not bury these thoughts. Unfortunately, too many people have a fleeting meeting with an IG, fall in love with their “cuteness” and take on an IG without truly understanding the breed. Yes, they are small and beautiful, but IGs are lively dogs who need and deserve due care and attention. Do not cause unnecessary heartbreak for either an IG or your family by making the wrong decision.

If you decide that the IG is the right breed for you, a dog who you can give much time and love to, then the next thing you need to do is to find the right breeder – please refer back to Blog #3 for more information.

IGRC Online Auction 2018

In September and October this year, the Italian Greyhound Rescue Charity ran an online auction through its Facebook page. Consisting of four lots, the auction attracted much attention and raised over £700 with these proceeds going to the IGRC.

A full release on this auction is printed in the IGRC’s latest Newsletter. The Charity is incredibly grateful to those who donated items, all of which were wonderful lots. And a big thank you must go to everyone who bidded and to the successful bidders who won the four lots.

To keep up to date with the IGRC’s latest activities and news, please search for ‘The Italian Greyhound Rescue Charity – No 1104157’ on Facebook.

Important information about Commercial Breeders

Please find below important information for any prospective IG owner regarding Commercial Dog Breeders breeding Italian Greyhounds and IG Crossed Breeds in the UK. If you are looking to buy an IG puppy, please read on…

The Italian Greyhound Rescue Charity receives many enquiries from potential Italian Greyhound puppy buyers, most of whom do not wish to buy from commercial breeders. As detailed below, commercial breeders (people who breed and sell puppies for financial gain) should have a breeding license issued by their local council. However, we know of only one online puppy sales site that requires the advertisers’ commercial licence number to be given. Therefore, prospective owners need to be alert and not simply rely on a licence number to identify commercial breeders.

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[Copyright: Italian Greyhound Rescue Charity]

The Charity hopes the following information collated from the relevant council websites will be useful in identifying if the breeder you have contacted is a commercial breeder of Italian Greyhounds or Italian Greyhound Crossbreeds and has, or requires, a breeder’s licence.

UK Law states in the Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999 that a local council-issued dog breeding license is required for anyone who keeps a breeding establishment (including private dwellings) which meets any of the following conditions:

  • Anyone “in the business” of breeding and selling dogs (trading) needs to be licensed regardless of the number of litters they have in a 12 month period. For example if the person is breeding and selling dogs for commercial gain and/or regularly adverting puppies/dogs for sale.
  • England and Scotland – if in a 12 month period their dogs give birth to 5 litters or more, regardless of whether they are in the business of breeding and selling dogs.
  • Wales – if in a 12 month period their dogs give birth to 3 litters or more, regardless of whether they are in the business of breeding and selling dogs.

How local authorities decide if an individual is trading or is “in the business” of breeding and selling dogs, differs from council to council. For example, some councils will require anyone who breeds over 2 litters in a 12 month period to be licensed while others may require anyone keeping more than 2 breeding bitches to be licensed. Each council’s requirements should be visible on their council website and further information can be found here.

Licensed commercial breeders are not allowed to mate a bitch if she is less than one year old and breeding is restricted to a maximum limit of 6 litters per bitch, with at least 12 months between each litter of puppies. (Please note, the IGRC recommends that a bitch is bred from no more than three times and has a minimum of two years between each litter.)

In England and Wales, there are six Licensed Commercial Breeders of IGs and IG crosses who are registered with their local council (correct as of July 2017). But, as detailed below, not all Commercial Breeders are registered with their local council.

Prospective owners must be aware that not all breeders who advertise and breed frequently are licensed with their local council. If you come across a commercial breeder whose licence details cannot be found with the local council, please contact the IGRC and they can investigate the breeder further.

Unfortunately, the online world is increasingly becoming the home of unscrupulous breeders. The IGRC recommends that prospective IG owners avoid puppies and dogs that are advertised on the internet. Instead, the Charity advises new owners to attend Kennel Club dog shows where they can meet lots of Italian Greyhounds, talk about the breed with their owners, and register their interest in a puppy with a reputable breeder.

In conclusion, be alert when carrying out your research for an IG or IG-cross puppy. If anything about a breeder or their premises unsettles you, please do not ignore your instincts. And if you have any concerns regarding a particular advert or breeding establishment, please feel free to contact the IGRC to discuss your observations.

Blog #3 Don’t be tricked or fooled by unscrupulous breeders

In the last IGRC Blog, we looked into the important steps that new owners should take when deciding to welcome a puppy into their home. Choosing the right breed for your lifestyle is the first important decision. Then, you must find the right breeder who will produce a happy, healthy puppy and who will remain in touch offering you advice throughout your dog’s lifetime.

The unscrupulous breeding of Italian Greyhounds has been fed by the increasing popularity of this beautiful breed – when there is demand, supply is being generated by some with little or no thought for the welfare of the brood bitches, stud dogs and their puppies. The recent prosecution of Susan Thomas (Francole), who has also been banned for life by The Kennel Club, is one case which demonstrates how the authorities are monitoring and punishing those whose breeding practices fail to meet welfare standards. Unfortunately, (and this happens in many breeds, not just Italian Greyhounds), unsuspecting prospective owners can be unwittingly brought in by unscrupulous breeders so, if you are thinking of introducing an IG into your home, please approach breeders with your eyes wide open. Here are some points to bear in mind:

i) Meet breeders face-to-face before committing to a puppy. It is essential that you meet IGs, their owners and breeders before you can 100% decide that an IG is the right breed for you and your home. There are lots of dog shows held throughout the year up and down the country where you can meet IG experts who will be able to answer your questions about the breed. You will also be able to see IGs in person, rather than photos online or in a book, which is an invaluable experience – were you expecting them to be as they were? To find an event near to you, please visit The Kennel Club website for a full list of upcoming shows.

ii) Online advertisements. Reputable IG breeders do not breed often. Consequently, they usually have a waiting list of prospective owners and do not need to advertise their puppies on the internet.

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It’s a dog’s life!

iii) After choosing a breeder, visit their premises and they may ask to see your home too. How IGs behave out and about differs greatly to how they rule the roost at home – some IGs can appear rather aloof when at a show but, in the comfort of their home surrounds, their character changes and their confidence blooms. By visiting a breeder, you can see how they raise their dogs. Are the premises clean? Are the dogs happy in their home environment? Does anything raise alarm bells in your head? If so, listen to them. Not only must you, as a prospective owner, ascertain whether the mother of your future puppy is relaxed at home, the breeder should also want to know more about you: your lifestyle, is your property suitable to welcome an IG, are you 100% committed to their puppy not just while they are cute but also fifteen years down the line when your IG is entering his senior years. It is two-way process – you must be happy with the breeder, and the breeder must be happy with you. A strong relationship should form between you and your puppy’s breeder as you may need to turn to them for help and advice over the years. If the breeder you meet is more interested in getting your credit card details for a deposit rather than asking you questions about the life you can offer one of their puppies, alarm bells should be ringing loud and clear.

iv) Visit your puppy at home, with his mother and his littermates. If a breeder offers you a “drop off” service, maybe at a location half way between you and them, alarm bells once again should be sounding out. There are not a large number of reputable IG breeders in the UK so it is possible that your breeder will be located some distance from your home – it may initially appear “annoying” to have to travel five hours to the breeder and then back again, but this is a very small price to pay to get a happy, healthy puppy. Please do not let convenience cloud your judgement.

v) Price of your puppy. If you search “IG puppies” on the internet, the price of a puppy will probably make you wince. On average, the price for an IG puppy from a reputable breeder is £800-£900. This is just a guide, but please do not be lured in to paying more simply because a puppy has a “Crufts champion” supposedly in its pedigree (there is no such thing as Crufts Champion) or because the puppy is “rare in colour or size (to read the Kennel Club breed standard for the Italian Greyhound, please click here – any claims from breeders selling puppies with characteristics not recognised by the KC should be avoided).

vi) Age of your puppy when you collect him. Quite simply, if a breeder is trying to get you to collect an IG puppy before they are twelve weeks old, question them. The IGRC recommends that puppies remain with their mother until this age because this stage in development is crucial.

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The rare moment that an IG is still!

vii) Your breeder should not be a stranger. As mentioned above, the breeder of your puppy should become a point of contact in your phonebook. Many breeders have become very good friends with their puppies’ owners because reputable breeders want to know how their stock is getting on throughout a dog’s life, from their first week in their new home through to their first birthday through to their veteran years. Does the breeder of your prospective puppy give you confidence that they will be at the end of a telephone when you may need them?

These seven point are advisory guidelines that should be in your mind when getting an IG puppy. If you get an uneasy feeling from a potential breeder before getting your puppy, it is usually wise to listen to your gut feeling. Choosing the right puppy from the right breeder at the right time in your life can be one of the most rewarding decisions that you and your family can make. Hastily buying a puppy over the internet from the first breeder you find listed online may prove to be an incredibly costly and painful mistake for you, your family and, most importantly, your puppy.

Profits seized from illegal dog breeding operation

An  illegal  dog  breeder  has  been  forced  to  pay  back  the  profit  she  made  from  selling litters  of  puppies   from  her  home,  after  successful  Proceeds  of  Crime  Act proceedings by  Rhondda  Cynon  Taf  Council.

Cardiff  Crown  Court  has  determined  that  Susan  Thomas,  formerly  of  Heol  y  Bryn, Rhydyfelin,  must   forfeit  the  £4,000  profit  Licensing  Officers  have  proved  she  made from  selling  puppies  when  she  had   no  legal  license  to  do  so.

She  has  also  been  ordered  to  pay  a  further  £7,500  towards  the  prosecution  costs and has  just  three   months  to  pay  back  the  total  amount. Following  her  conviction  of illegal  breeding  and  animal   welfare  offences  last  year,  she  was  banned  from breeding  dogs  for  five  years.

The  successful  result  in  court  marks  the  end  of  a  year  of  legal  action  against  Susan Thomas,  58,  by   Rhondda  Cynon  Taf  Council’s  Licensing  Officers. It  sends  a  clear message  that  the  authority  does  have  access  to  far-­‐reaching  and  robust  legislation to   deal  with  those  who  make  a  profit  from  criminal  activity.

The  case  against  Thomas,  58,  began  in  2013  when  Council  Licensing  Officers  were contacted  by  the   Italian  Greyhound  Rescue  Charity,  passing  on  the  concerns  of  a man  who  had  contacted  them  after   visiting  Thomas’  home  with  a  view  to  buying  a puppy  she  had  offered  for  sale  online.

He  was  appalled  at  the  dirty  and  smelly  conditions  in  which  the  puppies  were  kept and  also   concerned  about  the  number  of  litters  of  puppies  and  dogs  in  the house. As  soon  as  Thomas’  name  was  mentioned  by  the  charity,  officers  were  aware of  her  as  it  had  been  just  over  18  months  since  they  had  first  prosecuted  her  in relation  to  illegal  breeding  and  animal   welfare  offences.

In  2012,  she  was  convicted  at  Pontypridd  Magistrates’  Court  of  failing  to  hold  the legal,  local   authority  license  that  is  needed  by  anyone  who  produces  more  than  four litters  of  puppies  a  year,  an   offence  under  the  1973  Breeding  of  Dogs  Act.

She  was  also  convicted  of  an  offence  under  the  2006  Animal  Welfare  Act  for  failing to  allow  the  dogs   in  her  care  to  exhibit  their  natural  canine  behaviour,  as  they were kept  for  hours  at  a  time  in  small   cages  stacked  in  her  kitchen,  instead  of  being walked  and  playing  in  the  garden.

The  following  year  online  adverts  indicated  she  was  continuing  to  breed  puppies illegally,  so  officers   organised  a  search  of  her  home,  in  the  presence  of  a  vet  and police  officers.

They  entered  the  property  to  discover  26  dogs  –  Chihuahuas,  Italian  Greyhounds  – and  paperwork,   photos  and  mating  diaries  that  indicated  at  least  eight  litters  of puppies  had  been  bred  illegally  since   the  court  case.

As  a  result  of  the  search,  Thomas  was  charged  with:

  • Keeping  a  breeding  establishment  without  a  license  from  the  council  –  a  breach  of  the  1973   Breeding  of  Dogs  Act.
  • Failing  to  ensure  the  needs  of  her  dogs  were  met  –  a  breach  of  the  2006  Animal  Welfare  Act
  • Presenting  herself  as  a  “member”  of  online  selling  sites  and  not  a  “breeder”
  • AND,   engaging  in  a   misleading  commercial  practice  contrary  to  the  Consumer  Protection  from  Unfair  Trading   Regulations  Act  and  the  Fraud  Act.

She  admitted  the  offences  and  was  placed  on  a  12  month  supervision  order  and banned  from   breeding  dogs  for  five  years.

Following  the  successful  court  case,  the  Proceeds  of  Crime  investigations  then began, which  involved   months  of  work  to  match  dated  picture  of  puppies  and  adverts placed  on  a  variety  of  online  selling   sites  to  prove  the  profit  that  had  been  made and  calculate  the  profit  made  from  the  prices  they  were   sold  at  –  some  as  high  as £750  per  puppy.

The  £4,000  confiscation  order  relates  to  the  calculated  profit  she  made  during  the period  of  the   offending  and  the  costs  relate  to  the  cost  of  bringing  Proceeds  of Crime  action  against  her.

Paul  Mee,  Rhondda  Cynon  Taf  Council’s  Director  of  Public  Health  and  Protection, said:  “This  is   something  of  a  landmark  case  for  us  and  shows  the  legislation  we have  access  to  –  and  can  use   effectively  –  to  deal  with  those  who  make  a  profit from  criminal  activity.

“This  was  a  complicated  case  involving  a  lot  of  puppies  and  a  lot  of  prices  and  officers  involved  should  be  commended  for  the  professionalism  and  tenacity  they  have  shown  to  recover  the  profit  of   criminal  activity.

“Importantly,  this  case  is  not  just  about  making  money  from  crime.  Breeders  like  Susan  Thomas  have   a  legal  responsibility  to  ensure  they  are  licensed  so  the  necessary  and  regular  checks  can  be  made  on   their  breeding  operation  and  ensure  the  welfare  of  the  animals.

“We  thank  the  Italian  Rescue  Greyhound  Charity  for  their  support  in  this  case.”

[This is the official press release from Rhondda Cynon Taf Council]

To read more about this case, please click here.