Report of a Survey on Health Problems in Italian Greyhounds
Margaret Slater DVM
Department of Veterinary Anatomy and Public Health
College of Veterinary Medicine
Texas A&M University
College Station, TX 77843


The Health and Welfare Committee of the Italian Greyhound Club of America (IGCA), assisted by the Health Committee of the Italian Greyhound Club of Greater Houston (IGCGH) requested assistance in conducting a general health survey of Italian Greyhounds (IGs). A questionnaire was designed to survey common health problems in IGs. Breeders from around the country were asked about common health problems or problems they had special interest in. The questionnaire was sent in the late summer 1993 issue of The Italian Greyhound magazine. All persons who received a survey were asked to respond, whether or not they owned IGs. The questionnaire was mailed a second time in the winter issue of 1993.

The questionnaire was specifically designed to avoid counting the same dog more than once, due to co-ownership, change of ownership, etc. We asked for the number of dogs on the premises as of 8/1/93, the number of dogs that died on the premises in the past five years, and the number of dogs sold or placed in the last five years. Only dogs in the three above categories were included in the number of dogs affected by each health problem. This was a total of 2274 dogs.

Questions about the number of litters whelped in the last five years and the total number of puppies produced during that time were also included and were used as the basis for the health problems in puppies. A total of 1806 puppies were included.

Among IGCA members, there was a 50% response rate for the questionnaire. Approximately 25% (282) of the total questionnaires were returned. Surveys were received from 41 states with California, Florida, Texas and New York the most common.

Causes of death included old age and accidents, followed by cancer and unknown causes. The most common health problems involved the teeth and gums (36% of dogs). Localized demodectic mange (10%), leg breaks (10%), reverse sneezing (9%) and seizures (8%), were the next most common health problems. Many health problems were uncommon, occurring in less than 2% (50 IGs) of the dogs. All of the puppy health problems occurred with very low frequency (2% or less). 12% (279) of the dogs had been examined for inclusion in the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF).

All information was tabulated and a  partial report of the most common problems follows:

Table 1 Information on dogs and puppies included in the survey  
Total number of dogs currently owned 1227
average number of dogs owned 4 (range 0-25)
Number of dogs that died in the last five years 157
average number of dogs that died 1 (range 0-15)
cause of death:  
accident 41
cancer 28
euthanasia 16
heart problems 15
infection 5
kidney problems 6
old age 41
other causes 16
unknown 22
average life span 9 years
Number of IGs placed as pets in the past five years 890
average number placed as pets 3
Total number of dogs in survey 2274 (1227 + 157 + 890)
   
Number of litters whelped in the last five years 518
average number of litters 2 (range 0-26)
Total number of puppies in the past five years 1806
average number of puppies per litter 3.5
average number of puppies whelped per owner 6 (range 1-110)

(Webmaster's note: The following is a list of the most common problems reported on the survey. As time permits, I will add the complete results of the survey.)

Table 2 Health problems of Italian Greyhounds  
Inflammation of the gums 310
Demodectic mange (localized puppy) 237
Leg breaks 223
forearm (207)
other bones (16)
Loss of teeth 220
Reverse sneezing 217
Retained deciduous teeth 194
Seizures 174
from idiopathic epilepsy (109)
from brain tumors (5)
from hydrocephalus (4)
low blood sugar (16)
cause not reported (40)
Cryptorchidism 128
Rough, Yellow, Small or Pointed Teeth 89
Congenital Alopecia (color mutant alopecia) 71
Hypothyroidism 63
main symptom obesity (14)
main symptom alopecia (23)
main symptom other (23)

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