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About Us & Our Point of View on Italian Greyhounds

Elias P. Duarte Jr. & Roberto Machniewicz

Since there is plenty of information about IG's available in English in the Web, including the IG FAQ by the great author/breeder/judge Lilian Barber, we will mostly include in this page information about us and Italian Greyhounds in Brazil. We also included general information about IG's that express our point of view on this wonderful breed. In order to make the text easier to read, it is organized as an interview, which includes some of the questions we are most frequently asked about the breed, and IG's in Brazil.

Since when have you been involved with IG's?

I have been very much interested in animals in general, and dogs and horses in particular, since I was a very young child. In 1980 as a young teenager (13 y.o.) I could finally get my first dog, which was a pet quality black & tan male English Cocker Spaniel. In 1981 I discovered dog shows, and what a discovery that was: my life was never the same again. In the following year, 1982, I bought and showed my second dog, a red English Cocker bitch, who became my first champion: Ch. El Retiro's Lucilla (by Ch. Lochranza Say No More out of a bitch mostly of the Kavora bloodline).

It was in 1981 at a dog show in Belo Horizonte that I saw Italian Greyhounds for the first time. The late Dr. Marcelo Andrade Neves, a Medical Doctor from the same city, imported with the assistance of Flavio Werneck, at once nine Italian Greyhounds from the U.S. to Brazil. The dogs were from very good bloodlines, and several were American Champions. Those dogs made a big impression on me -- I couldn't believe there existed such wonderful creatures. From that time breeding IGs became a dream.

The dream only came true nearly 20 years later. From 1983 I stopped showing dogs to dedicate myself to pursuing a professional career, to which I am deeply committed. During the nearly 18 years I didn't show, I did subscribe to several dog magazines, read several books about IGs and dogs in general, and was able to attend dogs shows in North/South America, Asia and Europe. When I started again I can say I was more than ready for it!

I only got my first Italian Greyhound, Baldo, in the year 2000. Baldo was bred by Lilian Barber who is our mentor and a very good friend. Lilian has been more than a little influence in so many aspects, from the way the interpret the IG standards (yes, plural) to our breeding philosophy and even some procedures of our daily care of the dogs were taught by her. Two other breeders & friends who have influenced the way we see, breed and show Italian Greyhounds: William Monohon (Willomere IG's, Oregon U.S.) and Gilberto Grandi (Della Caveja IG's), Imola, Italy). I would also like to mention two breeders that I consider extremely knowledgeable on the breed, every opportunity I talked to them were learning experiences: Gabriel Valdez from Colombia (DaVinci IG's), and Bitte Ahrens from Sweden/Italy (Sobers IG's).

Baldo arrived in Brazil in August 2000, and we immediately requested our kennel name to be registered. The FCI confirmed our kennel name, Canil do Reino in early 2001. Our dogs are registered "BR Reino", "BR" standing for "Brazil". Roberto joined the team in 2002. Since 2009 Elias is a CBKC/FCI judge, approved to Sighthounds and later (2011) Scenthounds.

When did they first come to Brazil?

The earliest record we have of Italian Greyhounds in Brazil is from the 1950's. Roberto Marinho, the late founder and owner to the world-famous Brazilian TV network, Globo, bred IG's at that time at his "Canil da Toscana". Dr. Roberto Marinho imported his breeding stock from the best kennels of that time. He had a male bred by the Marchesa Maria Luisa Incontri, Ch. Cadi Del Calcione (Chery v. Gastuna X Alkmene Del Calcione) and a Springinsfeld bitch, Fein Springinsfeld (Knirpes v. Heinbrand X Pedra Springinsfeld). Another breeder of that period is Raymundo de Castro Maia, who owned/showed another dog of one of the best world bloodlines: Karin Di San Siro (Karl v. Baryerischen Meer X Daisy Schonen Aussicht). (We thank noted judge Paulo Roberto Godinho for sending us the historical documents with this information.)

The very first IGs that I saw in the beginning of the 1980s in Belo Horizonte, imported from the US in 1981 by Dr. Marcelo Andrade Neves (Canil Van Mark), are the first IGs imported to Brazil that are we could trace to in current Brazilian bloodlines.

Another noted Brazilian breeder who also started in the beginning of the 80's and is still active is Paulo R. Gasparotto, from Canil Coronilha, a famous newspaper columnist/art dealer/journalist from south Brazil who has a local TV program in his city, Porto Alegre the capital of the southernmost state of Brazil. Paulo got his first dogs from Dr. Marcelo, and he also imported other dogs directly from the U.S. Besides the dogs, he has what is probably the largest collection of art objects related to IG's in South America. In the early 2000's, Paulo also imported two Tekoneva bitches of Necku bloodline from the U.S., in different occasions. He bred one of them to a Petit Bandit dog with a pure Coronilha pedigree. The other was quite successful in the rings. We must also mention Canil Petit Bandit, of breeder Eliet Petit, also from Porto Alegre. Eliet got her original stock from Paulo #1 IG's in Brazil in 2000 and 2004 (CBKC Ranking -- 2004 by group points) are hers.

Many Brazilian IG's have both Van Mark and Coronilha behind them. Nevertheless other dogs were imported to Brazil since that time. A bitch bred by New Castle IGs in Argentina was imported and shown here in the 80s. A dog was imported from Portugal by Ms. Helena Coragem, owner of Baktaran kennels in Brasilia. For many years she was the biggest IG breeder in Brazil. Her dogs are a mix of Brazilian bloodlines with that Portuguese import.

In the late 70s noted breeder Cláudio Gornati of Canil Salatino imported five IGs from France, mainly from Pitchun Diables. Claudio bred for a few years under the Whippojuca prefix (yes he also had Whippets), but unfortunately we couldn't find dogs that trace to those bloodlines. Twenty five years later Claudio and his partner Rochester Oliveira have started breeding again, and have imported IG's from Gabriel Valdez of DaVinci Kennels, the U.S. and Europe.

This is by no means an exhaustive listing of all breeders in Brazil. Don Cozzolino, Face Oculta and many others have also left their mark in the breed.

From the year 2000 there were new importations and developments that have started to deeply change the breed here. (Again please note this is not a complete description!)

The Van Mark bloodline was not lost to show breeders because the of the discovery of what I consider to be the last Van Mark IG by a breeder from Rio de Janeiro, Katia Costa, Canil Sumainana. She came across this old bitch Erika de Van Mark at the time already at 8 years old, and could get a puppy from her, which she registered in her own kennel: Sumainana Cleopatra. The bitch has in her pedigree just about every dog that Van Mark imported, plus Coronilha and more. Cleo was bred to our Baldo twice (2001 and 2002), and currently several breeders have dogs that come from those two litters.

A couple of Dutch dogs was imported in the early 2000s. These dogs produced a number of litters, and through their offspring are present in many current pedigrees.

Also in the beginning of the 2000's a breeder from São Paulo (Maria Eugênia Sahagoff) imported 3 Marchwind dogs from the U.S., including the Group placing Am. Ch. Johma Denver of Marchwind, and a bitch bred to Top Producer Am. Ch. Sonata's How The West Was Won. She bred a few litters and is not active anymore. Rumor has it that after the first few litters she neutered all her dogs, but unfortunately I could never talk directly to her, although I did try. Nevertheless her bloodline is present in many Brazilian breeding programs.

Another beautiful Italian Greyhound that came from Germany to Brazil is German & Brazilian Ch. Harlekin Al Akash owned by our friends Dirk Vogt-Lahr and Alessandro Lahr who live in São Paulo, Brazil. He has had outstanding results, and is the sire of our Dora and grandsire of our Am. Ch. PePa.

There are other breeders, in 2011, 146 IG's were registered in Brazil.

How are IG's called in Brazil?

The official name of the breed in Brazil is Pequeno Lebrel Italiano, the translation to Portuguese of the Italian name, Piccolo Levriero Italiano. Nevertheless many people refer to the breed as Italian Greyhounds, or "Galguinhos" meaning "little sighthounds".

How do you describe the Italian Greyhounds?

IG's are extremely affectionate little dogs with an elegant shape built for running. They were originally bred to be hunting dogs, but with the small manageable size we believe from the beginning they were also selected to be home companions.

What is the greatest challenge of the IG breeder?

This is a breed with a small gene pool worldwide and that does have genetic problems -- as all breeds do. It is not an easy one. Like Shelties for instance, there is quite a large number of types within the breed, and it is common to have different types in one litter -- even if it is linebred. Actually to our surprise we have found out that some outcrosses usually produce more homogeneous litters than linebreeding. Of course some breeders (including Angie Leonard, of Anji IGs) have pointed out that in our breed there is no "true" outcross: all dogs worldwide come from basically the same few ancestors.

In terms of conformation the biggest challenge is to produce a very sound yet refined and small dog. This is a sighthound: good movement is a must. A strong rear, front, with good angulations, producing a powerful yet also graceful movement is required. This is the big challenge. It is easier to get one that is sound but also too big, for instance. Others are extremelly refined, but have a poor rear and don't move with the reach and drive you want. The outline is again the most important feature of the breed, you can even see an "S" in the outline of some dogs. Other dogs are heart shaped: you see a "C" instead of an "S". Some dogs are too refined, a few others could be even described as coarse. The balance is what every serious breeder wants: a dog with excellent structure that is also refined. Of course above any conformation characteristic the most important thing is to keep an eye on health.

Size also varies considerably in this breed, right?

Yes, the AKC standard describes the IG height range from 13 inches to 15 inches. The FCI standard calls for 32cm to 38cm. As this is a small dog, this range can be considered to be huge. In reality it is very easy to see dogs that are smaller and bigger than what is called for in the standards. This is true everywhere in the world. Don't think big dogs are only in the U.S. We have seen them in Asia, Europe and South America too. Actually it is very common to have both big and small even in one litter.

Can you mention some characteristics unique to this breed?

I feel the most particular characteristic of IGs is their love to sleep with their owners. They will sleep inside the covers, the first time you see that behavior you get the impression the dog will suffocate, but rest assured they have done that for centuries!

IG movement is also very particular. They are high gaited dogs, but do not have hackney movement. How is IG movement different from a hackney gait? It is high stepping, but with definite forward movement and drive from the rear. That's what distinguishes IG movement from a hackney gait.

Do you have any maintenance tips?

Their short coat and neat habits make IGs low maintenance pets in terms of coat care. Nevertheless teeth does require brushing at least once every two days, and once a year by the vet. Please be sure the vet employs anesthesia that is safe for sighthounds! IGs also have fast growing nails, that require a once a week maintenance

Are IG's healthy? Are they fragile?

Again there is not a direct and easy answer to this question. Yes they are healthy. Many IGs get to 15 years or even more in pretty good shape. However you only need to look and touch the legs of an IG to notice they are thin and long. This together with a flighty temperament, and powerful athletic ability, can result in nasty accidents. Some IGs may jump up to 1,5 meters, about 5 feet, without any impulse. They are standing, and then they are flying. They also have a reserved temperament, and if something frightens them they will suddenly jump and run.

Thus fractures of those thin and long legs do happen. We definitely do not recommend IGs to people with very active young kids or big dogs at home. One must be very careful with high verandas and open windows. A fracture results in expensive vet bills and a truly difficult period (until it heals) for both dog and human. If the owner is very careful most probably there won't be accidents. Nevertheless it is important to be prepared, even before you buy an IG.

How do you describe IG color?

IG color is a fascinating subject, and it is not easy to describe! Let's start with blue. Blue dogs come in many shades, from pale mouse grey, to dark steel blue. Blue comes with black nose, not like dilutes of some other breeds that come with blue nose. Then you have fawn. Fawn dogs also come in a wide variety of shades, from a very pale cream to dark nearly brownish dogs, in between you have those that have a golden, corkish or reddish hue. If a blue dog has a few fawn hairs, the color does not have any special name. Nevertheless if the dog is fawn with enough blue hairs that give a distinctive shade, then the color is called blue-fawn. The most popular color in the U.S. today is red, which also comes in many shades, from a clear Basenji-like clear red, to darker hues, including mahogany and even darker. Then there is black. Some dogs are jet-black, but others have a few fawn or red hairs. If there are just a few hairs of another color, the dog is overall still black. However, if the dog has a lot of red or fawn hairs all over its body, then the resulting color is called seal, it looks like chocolate, but it is not because the nose is black. Red and fawn may also have black hairs: if the amount of black hair is big enough then you have sable. Another characteristic is that dogs start getting whitish at a very young age, some may get white hairs on their face from the tender age of 12 months. Although the FCI standard only accepts dogs with white markings in the feet and chest, there are solid white IGs, and parti colored dogs, with the distinctive Irish markings (neck and legs), wild-Irish (Irish with white splashes in the body), and pied, which are mostly white dogs with a few colored spots, usually in the head.

What do you think about the FCI color restriction that only allows white on feet and chest?

This color restriction was established by the Marchesa Maria Luisa Incontri (Calcioni IG's) at the beginning of the second half of XX century. The FCI has as a rule to have the native country dictate the breed standard.

Were IG's always solid colored? Who is going to answer is Marcelli Bacciarelli, who painted the following picture in 1757:

One may say: "this is for sure a Whippet!" Right? Wrong: the Whippet started to be developed in England in the XIX century. There is no doubt that the dog above is a red and white Italian Greyhound, as pure as they could be in XVIII century. There are many, many other pictorial evidence that IG's with white markings have always existed.

The situation is quite complex, as breeders from Continental Europe have selected dogs according to the solid color criteria for about 80 years now. It is not possible to simply accept that IG's may be also particolor. Talking with several breeders from all over the world, what seems to be a possible solution is to accept a second color variety, that while preserving the work of solid colored breeders, would also allow the gorgeous particolored Italian Greyhounds to be shown all over the world (not competing with the solid colored ones for BOB, though).

You can use this information, but if you do please make sure you refer to www.canildoreino.com.br


  H O M E   I N F O   H O U N D S  

Elias P. Duarte Jr. & Roberto Machniewicz
Curitiba PR Brasil

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