There seems to be a flurry of IG adoptions going on, so I think it's high time we included them in our list!
Italian Greyhounds originated, according to some sources, in Greece. Others say Turkey. There is evidence of small sighthounds in artifacts from that area of the world dating back some 2000 years. According to a website dedicated to these dogs, there is strong evidence that they were kept as pets in Pompeii and may have been the only dog that had "pet" status, all others needing a more utilitarian function in human society.
There is also a question as to whether their original purpose was as a hunter or strictly as a companion. They are a miniature of the large sighthounds (whereas a Whippet has been bred with terriers among others to create the breed). Regardless, they have been popular pets in Italy (obviously) for centuries and England and Scotland really brought them to to the forefront in the 1800's during Victoria's reign.
They range from 13-19 inches tall and 7-15 pounds. They are in the AKC toy group, though they tend to tower over the others in that group. They share an independent streak with other sighthounds (I like the word 'gazehound', too, sounds so exotic) and need to be convinced that you've got a good idea, before they'd consider capitulating to your demands. (As Deerie me has said, cheese or hotdogs can be very convincing) They also have a reputation for being fussy about weather conditions. Their short fur and lack of body fat make them susceptible to cold so they are definite candidates for sweaters and coats during inclement weather.
Whereas a Greyhound tends to be a real couch potato when not outside, Italian Greyhounds are a much more energetic bunch attempting ill-advised feats of athleticism like jumping off dining room tables and over fences. A very common result of this tendency is broken legs. Care must be taken with young IG's especially, because their ability at forethought is sorely lacking
Also, with all sighthounds, when outside in open areas, they should not be off-leash. Once they take off after something that has attracted their attention they are FAST and are not heeding your calls nor traffic conditions. You might be able to catch your Basset Hound or Lhasa Apso if they decide to take off running but forget it with any of the sighthounds. Greyhounds have been clocked at 40 mph and IG's at 20! That's fast!
They are affectionate, curious little sidekicks that are happiest spending time with you. They also enjoy other IG's. They may be too delicate for rough and tumble play with bigger dogs and may not be good candidates for large dog parks with large dogs, but they benefit from canine playtime.