What Are the Small Italian Dog Breeds?

Gray wolves and dogs diverged from a single wolf species that became extinct between 15,000 and 40,000 years ago. We began living together with some of these distant ancestors of our modern domesticated dogs around the same time, and this practice continues today.

For millennia, dogs have played an important role in human lives. They are companions, hunters, protectors, therapy dogs, rescuers, and more. And people all over the world value and love them as significant members of our lives.

However, different breeds have evolved around the world to meet specific needs. These breeds have characteristics tailored to the purposes they’re meant to serve, their geographical locations, and the preferences of the people who bred them. Their history is linked to various countries worldwide, including Spain, America, and even Italy.

It may be baffling to learn that the Italian Greyhound is not Italy’s only native dog breed. There are over 20 Italian dog breeds, some of which you may already be familiar with.

We’ve drafted a list of small Italian dog breeds in this article. You may be familiar with many of the breeds in your homeland, but there’s bound to be one or two on this list that you’ve never heard of!



The Bolognese is a small toy dog from Bologna, Italy. Despite their small stature, these dogs have big personalities and are the life of any party; they like to socialize with everybody, pup or human. These dogs are extremely clingy, wishing to spend every minute with their beloved person, with whom they have a strong bond.


The Bergamasco has a nearly 7,000-year history, giving them a truly “ancient” pedigree. They are frequently associated with Bergamo, an Alpine village near Milan, Italy; thus, the name. They have lived peacefully in Bergamo for many centuries while working as sheep guardians.

However, due to Bergamasco’s long history, there has been some debate about its true origins. Indeed, French authorities suspected that this breed descended from the French Briard. On the other hand, others claim to be from the Middle East.

This hardy dog breed was ideal for guarding sheep on the rocky slopes of the Italian Alps. Its special flock of hair evolved to protect it from the cold at high altitudes while also acting as an extra layer of defense against predator attacks.

Italian Greyhound

Most people are familiar with the Italian Greyhound, relatively smaller than the Greyhound. These dogs are under 11 pounds and no taller than 15 inches.

The Federation Cynologique International classifies the breed as a sighthound, but the American Kennel Club classifies it as a toy breed. These dogs, like Greyhounds, are very slender with a deep chest and can achieve remarkable speeds for their small size.



The Maltese is a well-known companion, iconic dog, and show dog worldwide. These dogs are tiny, standing about 7 inches tall and weighing roughly 7 pounds.

This breed is ancient, and they’ve lived pampered high-class lifestyles as long-time favorites of many societies’ aristocrats. Today, they’re frequently the adoring companions of wealthy urbanites or prestigious show dogs poised to win awards.

Volpino Italiano

The Volpini Italianos are descended from Spitz-type dogs, which have been around for 5,000 years. This breed was incredibly popular among Italian royalty and common peasant farmers back in the day. It’s easy to see why, given how adaptable dogs are.

They are known as the Italian Pomeranians because they appear very similar in temperament and appearance. And these dogs were frequently depicted in old Italian artwork as belonging to all social classes. This explains why they were once such popular dogs.

However, the Volpini was traditionally utilized as a watchdog. They’d bark to warn the relatively larger Mastiff-type guard dogs about potential intruders.

Nevertheless, as with many other breeds, their numbers declined in the 1960s. Breeders attempted to resurrect the breed, but its original popularity faded.

Lagotto Romagnolo

This type of water dog is used for retrieving during hunting. They have a woolly curled round coat that is curled round.

The American Kennel Club recognized the dog breed in 2015. They are described as happy puppies who get along well with strangers, their human owners, and other pets and dogs. As a result, they are less suitable as watchdogs.

Their coat may appear rough and prone to shedding, but they shed less and may not need frequent grooming sessions.

Cirneco dell’Etna


This Italian breed, pronounced “Cheer-NECK-o,” is thought to be one of the oldest dog breeds, dating back to the 2nd century BC. They are sighthounds that are commonly found among poor farmers or peasants.

They are affectionate family dogs with fine and short coats, making grooming a rare and simple task. The breed is extremely trainable and has an above-average ability to hunt and adapt to harsh environmental conditions.

Small Italian dog breeds range from Volpino Italianos to Bergamasco Shepherds and are diverse and interesting. Some breeds are extremely rare outside of their native country, while others have achieved international acclaim.

There is an Italian dog breed to suit every person and personality, from toy breeds weighing a few pounds, such as the Maltese, to giant Mastiffs and Saint Bernards weighing more than 150 pounds, there is an Italian dog breed to suit every person and personality.

Segugio dell’Appennino

The Segugio dell’Appennino is a small Italian dog breed used for hare hunting. Despite their diminutive size, their masculinity is palpable. Due to the breed’s speed and agility, it is an excellent dog for hunting.

These dogs stand about 20 inches tall and weigh between 20 and 40 pounds. Even though the breed has been in Italy for several years, the Italian Kennel Club only recognized it as an official canine breed in 2010.