Charley says ... #2: buying an Italian Greyhound puppy

Hello again. The humans asked me to write this. They get a lot of questions about how to find an Italian Greyhound puppy for sale. This is a very serious post so do not expect any jokes or giggles.

Personally, I think all puppies are runty little pests and I don’t know what you humans see in them. When Tino turned up I hated him. And when Theo turned up I hated him too. It’s alright now, I told them how it is and I’m still the boss so all is good.

I wasn't a pesty little puppy, I was a right little nightmare. Except for when I was asleep.

Anyhow, this is what I have to say to humans who think they want to find an Italian Greyhound puppy...

Do you really know what it’s like to live with an Italian Greyhound like me?

Seriously, we're crazy. Make sure you read lots about us and I don’t mean just the Kennel Club Breed standard that still describes the ideal weight of an adult Italian Greyhound at 3.6 - 4.5kg. If any grown up IG weighed only 3.6kg I would report them to the RSPCA for neglect. Little Stinkie stands 14” at shoulder and is a bit weedy (the human says he’s on the small side of average for today’s IGs) and he weighs 5.3kg. I am too big for an Italian Greyhound and weigh loads but I am still handsome and most important of all I am fit, healthy and sound.

The Italian Greyhound Rescue Charity has some really fab information about caring for an Italian Greyhound – definitely worth a good browse of their website even if you are not looking for a dog from rescue. See the section on “Caring for an IG” : www.italiangreyhoundrescuecharity.org.uk.

We had an Italian Greyhound from the Rescue stay at our house once as we had to help get her up to the Rescue folk. She was fun. She was called Ruby and she was wild and I loved her! She lives in a lovely new home now which is good but I wish the human had let her stay with us.

Another good read is what my humans wrote on what it’s like to live with us: An Introduction to Italian Greyhounds.

Facebook is really good for research. Search for Italian Greyhound groups and pages on Facebook and join them so you can see what people who live with IGs have to deal with – not just the cutesy pictures but the traumas and training challenges, and the pee and poop and all the nonsense we get up to!

Did you know that most of my fellow IGs swear by the mantra of “I’ll pee and poop where I want to thank you very much”? I am obviously just awesome because I always go outside but a lot of my IG friends point blank refuse to go into the garden and do their tinkle and poop poop business anywhere they like - usually inside the house; especially when it’s raining or cold or windy outside.

Remember, we are not small Whippets. We are not quiet little house dogs. We are mental crazy things - small Whippets on speed - and where we go, carnage follows.

Meet an Italian Greyhound in person before you rush out to buy one

This is sometimes a problem because you won’t find us in every park across the country. Most of us really are bonkers and you need to meet us in a home environment to really understand what it’s like living with us. My human says we’re not really dogs – more like little aliens that have taken over.

I’ll be frank with you, we can be right little b*ggers. We’re very, very demanding and that’s the way we like it.

To find someone near you who lives with an IG, pop onto Facebook and join the group “The United Kingdom Italian Greyhound Society”. There are lots of IG people on there and you don’t need to be a member of the society. The folk in the group should be able to help put you in touch with an IG near you. Join up, have a read and post or message the admins. 

A story about how my human nearly bought two puppies from a puppy farmer before she found me

Before my human found me, she went onto the Kennel Club website and saw a lovely advert from a woman who had a litter of Italian Greyhounds for sale. She called the woman who was very nice and told her all about the mummy and daddy who lived at home with her, and how she loved her IGs and that they were her adored pets. The lady had two puppies available and thought it would be neat for them to stay together if my human wanted to take them both.

Lots of lovely chat about the champion bloodlines in the pedigrees and the puppy pack that she always gave her new “pet owners” followed, and the woman grilled my human about her lifestyle and whether or not she could care for these IGs properly and all of that jazz. All in all, the woman was everything my human thought a responsible breeder should be.

Luckily the next morning the human made a phone call to an IG person she had found online and mentioned the woman with the puppies. In the space of 10 minutes my human found out a whole lot of stuff that made her want to punch someone very hard. My human doesn’t get cross very easily but when she does, boy does she get mad.

If you have met my human you will know she likes to be thorough. She’s a bit of a detail freak. So she got hold of the Kennel Club Breed Records Supplement (the list of all UK pedigree dog registrations updated quarterly) and did a bit of fact finding on the woman with the puppies.

One of the little Italian Greyhound girls that the woman was breeding from had been bred to whelp 6 litters in just three and a half years. It made my human cry and she never went to see the two puppies that she had set her heart on, even though it wasn't their fault the woman was not breeding responsibly.

The woman still breeds and advertises puppies on the internet all the time and we quite often meet other IG people who have bought an IG from her. Many of the IGs we’ve met that were bred by that woman have health issues. No surprise really – if the poor little mummy IG is just mated season after season her little body is never going to be strong enough to produce healthy puppies. It’s just too sad - sad for the poor mummy IG and sad for the little IGs she has had that are not very well or break their legs too easily. 

But there is a happy ending to this story because my human ended up finding me instead and as you know, I am just utterly fabulous!

It’s hard to find a responsible Italian Greyhound breeder

It’s very hard to find a responsible breeder because there are not many of them and they don’t breed very often.

To give you an idea, the very clever human who bred me has had a total of 8 puppies in the last 6 years – well, she didn’t have them personally but you know what I mean. Of those 8 puppies, she has kept 5 and let only 3 go to new homes. 3 puppies in 6 years. This is why it’s hard to find an Italian Greyhound from a responsible breeder.

My breeder breeds because she loves showing Italian Greyhounds – we are super-fabulous after all! Anyway, she breeds because she shows and wants to bring another puppy into the show ring – not because she wants to make money from selling puppies.

And be warned, just because someone is involved in showing their dogs it doesn’t make them a responsible breeder. One Italian Greyhound “show breeder”, Susan Elizabeth Thomas (also known as Susan Elizabeth Cole) was prosecuted and found guilty under the Animal Welfare Act for not having the appropriate licence to breed dogs and failing to provide an environment in which the dogs were able to behave normally. 24 litters and 89 puppies in just three years kept in unacceptable conditions in the kitchen.  It makes me really mad when I think about what some humans do to dogs. Read the Dog World piece on the prosecution. *** update at 14 November 2016: sadly, despite the successful prosecution of Susan Elizabeth Thomas in 2012, and the Kennel Club ban preventing Thomas from registering dogs on the KC Breed Register (Thomas' KC affix was 'Francole'), Thomas continued to breed dogs illegally and was prosecuted for a second time in 2016 and was charged with offences under the 1973 Breeding of Dogs Act, the 2006 Animal Welfare Act and the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations Act and the Fraud Act. Following this second successful prosecution Thomas has been banned from breeding dogs for five years. More info: official press release from Rhondda Cynon Taf Council. ***

And a word about the Kennel Club Assured Breeders Scheme … sadly the scheme is open to "abuse" and ABS accreditation isn't always the shiny accolade you might expect it to be.

So how do you find a responsible breeder?

Not on the internet.

It is extremely rare, in fact almost unheard of, for a responsible breeder of Italian Greyhounds in the UK to advertise puppies for sale online. Do not buy an Italian Greyhound advertised on the Internet. 

My advice is to talk to lots of people who know about Italian Greyhounds and are involved with IGs. Speak to lots of them. ‘Knowledge is power’ as my human says.

A good way to start is on Facebook through a group like The United Kingdom Italian Greyhound Society and that is a really easy one to do.

Another good way is to go to a Championship Dog Show and watch the Italian Greyhounds in the ring even if you have absolutely no interest in dog shows or whether or not your future IG has any show bloodlines behind them.  

Why go along to a dog show? Because funnily enough there are different types of Italian Greyhounds and you can see the differences very clearly when there are lots of them together in the show ring.

Some are small and spindly and look like they might snap and others look less spindly and less likely to snap. Some look a bit ‘fraidy scared and some look happy go lucky. I am a chunky monkey and do not look like I am going to snap, and most of the time I look quite serious.  I would not be a good show dog but I am the most handsomest dog in the world regardless.

Also, most people showing Italian Greyhounds in the UK have bred their IGs so when you are watching the Italian Greyhounds you can make a note of which dogs you think look like fit, healthy dogs and go and speak to the human on the end of the lead. The show catalogues also have the contact details for most of the exhibitors.

And here’s the funny thing about the dog show world … I’ve noticed that humans can be a bit packish like us canines and sometimes one pack doesn’t like another pack too much. It’s really stupid. So, make sure you chat to people from all the different packs and make your own mind up.

The Kennel Club publishes a Schedule of UK Championship Shows and they are held all over the country. 

When it's so hard to find a responsible breeder why bother?

I have a friend called Gracie. I love Gracie. It turns out she was bred by the woman my human nearly bought two puppies from. Gracie was rescued by her human from a home that didn't want Gracie any more and had advertised her for sale on the internet. They didn't want Gracie because she was too scared all the time. The woman who bred her wouldn't give them their money back so they decided to sell Gracie. Gracie now lives in the best home ever and it's a good job because she broke her leg twice in the first year.

I would like to run around with Gracie and play chase with her but she's not allowed to run with me in case she breaks again. 

Another IG we know bred by the same woman has broken his legs three times in the 2 years. And then there are other Italian Greyhounds who have really poorly tummies and can't tolerate all kinds of foods so they are sick all the time and it's really sad when it turns out the little IG has inherited epilepsy and has seizures which take a lot of managing. 

So I think it's really important to find a responsible breeder and not hand over money to "breeders" who don't breed responsibly and don't care that the puppies they are producing are not fit, healthy and sound enough to run around and play and be happy dogs.

The sooner you humans get wise to those kinds of people and stop giving them money for puppies the more likely they are to stop. If no one buys their puppies then they might think twice about breeding more for sale.

I better stop writing now as it’s nearly my dinner time and my human is a bit worried I might start ranting again.

Good luck with your search if you are looking for an Italian Greyhound. It will take time but worth it if it means you don't end up putting money in the pocket of an irresponsible breeder or puppy farmer. You can always drop the humans a line if you want to ask an IG question. They are more than happy to put you in touch with people who know a lot more about IGs than they do! They won’t have puppies for sale but you can at least chat to some very knowledgeable people who know absolutely everyone in the IG world.