Vol. 7 No. 1 (2021)

Behaviours expressed by whippets and Italian greyhounds when in two positive emotional states, as perceived by Italian caretakers

Simona Normando
University of Padua, Department of Comparative Biomedicine and Food Scienze
Lorena Filugelli
Animal Welfare Laboratory. Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie, Legnaro (PD), Italy

Published 2021-07-29


  • positive welfare,
  • sighthound,
  • tail-wagging,
  • arousal,
  • individual differences


Given the importance of scientifically investigating signs of good welfare and positive emotional states in dogs, the present pilot study aimed to investigate behaviours expressed by whippets and Italian greyhounds when in two positive emotional states, as perceived by their caretakers. A dedicated questionnaire was developed and uploaded on a digital platform after pre-testing. The questionnaire included a section asking whether the respondents thought that there any postures or expressions signaling when their dogs were "happy and excited" or "happy and relaxed". In case of a positive answer, respondents were asked how often their dog showed 13 behaviours (e.g., tail wagging, running up and forth, bowing, spinning, jumping on the caretaker) when in each of the two positive emotional states, and whether there were other possible behavioural signs of those two states. The survey yielded answers for 329 dogs (165 whippets, 162 Italian greyhounds, two whippet mixes) given by a convenience sample of 266 respondents. Among the tested 13 behaviours, the only one reported to happen at least often in more than 90% of the dogs was tail wagging when "happy and excited". Most of the investigated behaviours were expressed more often when the dog was "happy and excited" than when "happy and relaxed" (e.g., tail wagging, spinning), and some were expressed with a different frequency in the two breeds (e.g., Italian greyhounds bowed more often than whippets when "happy and excited"). It is concluded that further studies are needed to identify possible behavioural correlates of different positive emotional states in different types/breeds of dogs