Speedhound’s mascot is a 10-pound Italian Greyhound named Cooper.  Italian Greyhounds (IGs) are natural athletes, and are the third fastest dog on the planet, after Greyhounds and Whippets.  They have a strong prey drive and love to chase small animals.  As a member of the sighthound group, they have very keen eyesight, which makes them great at pursuing “prey” in sports like lure coursing.  IGs love to participate in other competitions, too.  They are great racers and are very adept at agility courses.  Here’s a glimpse into the sporting world of Italian Greyhounds.

Obedience

Obedience trials test an Italian Greyhound’s ability to perform a set of tasks.  Dogs are required to heel both on and off leash at different speeds, come when called, and stay still for a simple physical examination and with a group of other dogs.  They are also given jumping and retrieving exercises and scent discrimination tasks.

Lure Coursing

One of the most exciting sports that an Italian Greyhound can compete in is lure coursing, because it brings out the natural predator within.  A lure course simulates a hare’s flight to evade a pursing hound.  The “hare” (a white plastic bag or cloth) is attached to a continuous cord that is looped through a series of pulleys just above ground level, to create a course with straightaways and varying turns.  The cord is drawn around the course by an electric winch.  At a competition, IGs run in pairs or trios with traditional greyhound style racing blankets. Judging is not according to time, but the dogs’ ability to follow the lure with enthusiasm, agility, speed and endurance.

Here’s a great lure coursing video from this year’s European Championships.

 

 

Racing

The Large Gazehound Racing Association, (LGRA) governs IG racing. IGs are eligible to compete for the GRC (Gazehound Racing Champion) title and Supreme GRC title. LGRA racing is 200 yard straight track sprint racing.

In addition, the National Oval Track Racing Assoc (NOTRA) also recognizes IGs. NOTRA holds 300-400 yard races on an oval track.

In LGRA and NOTRA race meets the dogs chase an artificial lure pulled by a small battery operated motor.

Tracking

Even though Italian Greyhounds are sighthounds, they can use their noses to find game. Tracking trials allow IGs to demonstrate their natural ability to recognize and follow human scent.

Various titles are awarded for courses of different lengths and difficulty.  At the highest level, an IG has to follow a track that is 3 to 5 hours old that may take him or her through a wilderness setting or down a paved sidewalk, through buildings and other urban environments.

Agility

Agility is a relatively new sport that’s right up the IGs alley, because it combines playful fun, speed and physical prowess!   Agility events include a number of obstacles such as A-frame, pause table, dog walk, see-saw, high jump, broad jump, open and closed tunnels, tire jump and weave poles. There is an allocated time to run each course.

To learn more about Italian Greyhound sporting events, take a look at the Italian Greyhound Club of America’s website.