The animal on the cover of Universal Design for Web Applications is an Italian
greyhound, the smallest of the family of gazehounds (sighthounds). Believed
to originate more than 2,000 years ago in the Mediterranean basin, Italian
greyhounds are sleek, active toy dogs that stand approximately 12–15 inches
tall and weigh 7–11 pounds. Often referred to as a miniature greyhound, the
Italian greyhound shares many characteristics with its larger cousin, including
a tucked-in abdomen, an arched back, and a fine, silky coat in shades of gray,
cream, red, fawn, brown, black, or brindle.
The dog’s affectionate and gentle temperament makes it a popular pet today;
its extremely short, odorless coat makes it a good option for people with allergies
or other pet sensitivities. It is an intelligent and loyal companion.
Though it does not require as much exercise as larger breeds and can be quite
happy as an apartment dog, an Italian greyhound should have regular walks
and light play sessions. It may refuse to go outside if it is raining or too cold
for its short hair and small stature, so some owners have successfully littertrained
their Italian greyhounds.
A favorite with Italians of the 16th century (a fact which gives the breed its
name), Italian greyhounds were among the many miniature dogs in high demand
at the time. They are featured in Renaissance paintings by prominent
artists such as Carpaccio, Van der Weyden, and Bosch. The dogs have also
been popular with royal families throughout history, including England’s
James I, Catherine the Great, and Queen Victoria. In the mid-1800s, an Italian
greyhound became America’s “first pet” when President John Tyler bought
his wife a puppy they named “Le Beau.”