Italy’s National Dog: The Spinone Italiano

Many people consider the Spinone Italiano to be the perfect family dog, capable of accompanying hunters into the field and hikers on the route. They are rarely tired, but most know when to take advantage of some quiet and curl up on the couch for a nap. Despite being amiable, clever, and calm, this breed is not suitable for first-time dog owners. They need a consistent owner who will not relinquish the status of pack leader. Spinoni is one of the most popular dog breeds in Italy with exceedingly patient, always nice, and clownish character, which can be exploited to get them out of trouble, generally with great success.

The true plural form of the breed’s name, according to Italian grammar norms, is Spinoni Italiano. This breed is also known as the Italian Spinone, the Italian Wirehaired Pointer, the Italian Griffon, and the Spinone.

A Brief History

The Spinone Italiano is one of the earliest gundog breeds, probably predating the use of firearms in hunting by over 1000 years. This breed was developed long before written records of dog breeding were recorded, therefore almost little is known for certain about its beginnings. Furthermore, the majority of what is being touted as fact is largely speculative or mythical. One of the few certainties is that this breed is native to Italy and that it most likely evolved into its current form millennia ago in the Piedmont region. The limited evidence implies that this breed may have evolved nearly to its contemporary form by the early Renaissance, however, some experts believe it may have evolved as early as 500 B.C.

Italian Spinoni is thought to have been named for their ability to break through thorny bushes, and they may have been called after the Italian spino, a thorny bush. The first Spinoni arrived in America in early 1931. Population declines were exacerbated by World War II and a shift in preferred hunting breeds. Spinoni enthusiasts worked hard to increase the population, which included some crossbreeding with wirehaired sporting varieties. Though Spinoni had been displayed in the Miscellaneous Class at dog shows since 1932, the American Kennel Club did not recognize the Spinone Italiano as a breed until 2000. 

The Vibrant Appearance

At least an hour of swimming or hiking daily can keep this breed healthy.

Most people perceive a Spinone Italiano’s face to be quite lovely and friendly. This breed is frequently described as looking like a granddad, which is perhaps as apt a description as any. The head of this breed is large, oval-shaped, and finishes in a long muzzle. This muzzle is incredibly deep and wide, almost square in shape. Because of the breed’s wiry fur, the muzzle appears even larger than it is. This breed does have jowly lips, although they are difficult to discern beneath the fur. The breed’s face appears to droop somewhat but is not wrinkled. The eyes of the Spinone Italiano are positioned widely apart and practically spherical. The hue should be ochre, although the exact shade depends on the dog’s coat. This breed’s ears are long and pendulous, almost triangular in appearance.

The coat of the Spinone Italiano is undoubtedly the breed’s most distinguishing feature. Surprisingly, this breed has a single coat, and it lacks an undercoat. This dog has stiff, dense, and flat hair that is coarse to the touch but not as coarse as a conventional terrier. This hair should be 112 to 212 inches in length around the body. The hair on the nose, head, ears, fronts of the legs, and feet is shorter. Face hair includes a mustache, brows, and a tufted beard. The Spinone Italiano is available in a variety of hues, including pure white, white with orange markings, white speckled with orange, white with brown or chestnut patterns, and roan/roan brown or chestnut. Dogs with any amount of black in their coats are not acceptable, nor are tri-colored dogs.

The Mild Temperament


Spinoni is an even-tempered breed with a gentle demeanor. They are patient, kind, and often playful with family. Though they may be wary of new individuals at first, well-socialized Spinoni will warm up fast. If their high amount of energy is not channeled properly, they may engage in disruptive or boisterous conduct. They can be couch potatoes and like stretching out on the couch for a good nap.

This breed is well-known for being extremely gentle and affectionate with children, with whom it frequently builds very tight ties. This breed can withstand a lot of abuse from children, who should be taught how to behave around this dog. This breed is known for being easygoing and flexible, and it fits in much better in an urban setting than many sporting breeds. Some Spinoni Italiano may become shy and timid if they are not properly socialized, therefore owners must work with their dogs from an early age. However, if you are searching for a dog to take to places with unusual people like a soccer game, this breed is considered the sociable and patient sports dog while most breed members will give you minimal problems aside from possibly excessively slobbery kisses.

The Fatal Health Issue

The Spinone Italiano is generally considered a healthy breed. The Kennel Club in the United Kingdom conducted a study that claimed this breed had a life expectancy of 8.7 years, although most other studies have concluded that this breed lives significantly longer, on average 12 years or more. However, because this breed is still relatively rare in the United States, not many breed-wide medical investigations have been undertaken.

Cerebellar ataxia is a significant condition that has been linked to Spinoni Italiano. This is a deadly disease that affects puppies of this breed. Because this trait is recessive, only dogs with two carrier parents can develop it. This illness is usually fatal, and no dog diagnosed with it has survived more than a year. Most are terminated mercifully between the ages of 10 and 11 months. A 95 percent accurate test for detecting carriers has been developed, and breeders are beginning to utilize it to assure that no more puppies suffer this disease.

Proper Care for Spinone


You should keep up with your Spinone Italiano’s routine veterinary examinations, just like you would with any other dog, to spot any health issues early. Your veterinarian can assist you in developing a care routine that will keep your dog happy and healthy. Spinone Italiano has a high energy level and is prone to weight gain. Make sure your dog receives at least one hour of daily hiking, walking, running, or swimming.

Maintaining the oral health of a Spinone Italiano will be one of the most difficult tasks. Because many dogs suffer from dental problems, you should brush their teeth daily. Your veterinarian can show you how to properly brush your dog’s teeth.