by Lilian S. Barber

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That sounds like a simple subject, doesn't it? NOT! First of all, look at nearly any class of Italian Greyhounds at any show, anywhere in the country, or, indeed, anywhere else in the world. It will become evident that the toplines of the dogs vary considerably. It is possible to see everything from absolutely level to a back that ends in a drop-off that resembles a miniature ski slope. There are arches to be seen as well as roaches and humps, and these can appear anywhere from directly over the shoulder to just above the tail. Quite popular has been the "broken in the middle" look, which is frequently emphasized by an overzealous handler giving the poor dog a poke from underneath the tuckup.

Does the IG standard call for --or even allow --such diversity? To refresh everyone's memory, here is what the official Italian Greyhound standard, as used in judging at AKC shows, says about the topline (and its essential companion --length): "Of medium length, short coupled, high at withers, back curved and drooping at hindquarters, the highest point of curve at start of loin, creating a definite tuck-up at flanks."

There have been some top winning dogs shown by handlers who should really know better who choose to set up an otherwise lovely animal to look like a soft pyramid. Others have a way of patting their charges on the rump to encourage more droop to the croup. The insidious danger i both of these attitudes is that newcomers to the breed, to whom handlers may be perceived as undeniable experts, will accept what they see to be gospel.

In dogs as in most other fields, the American tendency to err in the direction of excess has become almost legendary. In other words, if a little is good, more must be better --and LOTS is absolutely the greatest regardless of what the standard may say about moderation.

The key word used by many to describe the ideal IG is "curvy." There is nothing in that rather vague description to indicate how, where and how much that dog should be curvy as long as the topline is not level. Aye, there is the rub! Placement of the curve and the degree thereof should be of equal importance t the fact that there IS a curve. Once again, to assess that placement and that degree, let us take a good look at the blueprint for building a better Italian Greyhound --the breed standard.

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