Spinone Italiano

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spinone italiano portrait
Meet the Spinone Italiano, a lovable and versatile dog breed with a unique wiry coat and irresistibly expressive eyes! These charming, low-maintenance pups are adored for their friendly nature and incredible hunting skills.

Join us in this comprehensive guide as we explore everything you need to know about this breed, including their appearance, temperament, ideal environment, grooming, exercise requirements, training tips, dietary needs, health concerns, history, and more.

Best For

The Spinone Italiano is perfect for active families and outdoorsy individuals who crave a loyal, affectionate companion. Adaptable and patient, this breed thrives with gentle guidance, making them ideal for first-time dog owners.

Overview

OFFICIAL NAMESpinone Italiano
OTHER NAMESSpinone, Italian Spinone, Italian Griffon
ORIGINItaly
BREED GROUPSporting Group
BREED SIZELarge
HEIGHT22-28 inches
WEIGHT65-86 lbs
LIFESPAN10-12 years
LIVING SPACELarge
SENSITIVITY TO COLD WEATHERModerate
SENSITIVITY TO WARM WEATHERModerate
GROOMING NEEDSModerate
EXERCISE NEEDSHigh
TRAINABILITYModerate
BARKING TENDENCYModerate
BITING TENDENCYLow
DROOLING TENDENCYLow
SHEDDING LEVELModerate
POPULARITY RANK112th
spinone italiano standing on a rock
Photo: nemoris/Getty Images

Appearance

The Spinone Italiano (plural: Spinoni Italiani) is an enchanting blend of strength, grace, and rustic charm. With a sturdy build and a captivating presence, this breed is a true head-turner. Males typically stand between 23 to 28 inches tall, while females measure 22 to 26 inches. Weighing in at 65 to 86 pounds, these dogs are a medium-large breed, perfect for those who love a substantial canine companion.

When you first meet a Spinone, you’ll be struck by their endearing facial features. Their large, round eyes convey a gentle, wise expression that will melt your heart. The eyes are usually a warm ochre or deep brown color, harmonizing beautifully with their coat. Adding to their distinctive appearance, the Spinone has long, pendulous ears that frame their face, often covered in soft curls.

The head of a Spinone is quite unique, with a broad, almost square-shaped skull and a pronounced occiput. Their powerful muzzle houses strong jaws, perfect for their original purpose as a hunting companion. The breed’s nose is large and spongy, and it comes in a variety of colors, including flesh-colored, brown, and black, depending on their coat color.

Speaking of coats, the Spinone boasts a one-of-a-kind wiry texture that sets them apart from other breeds. This dense, weather-resistant double coat is made up of a harsh outer layer and a soft, insulating undercoat. The coat is typically 1.5 to 2 inches long, with longer hair around the eyebrows, beard, and legs. This gives them an adorable, shaggy appearance that adds to their appeal.

The Spinone comes in several colors, including solid white, white with orange markings, white with brown markings, orange roan, and brown roan. Their unique coat not only looks charming but also provides protection from harsh weather and rough terrains, making them perfect for outdoor adventures.

The breed’s muscular body is built for endurance and agility, with a deep chest and well-sprung ribs. Their strong, straight legs end in round, compact feet with arched toes. The Spinone’s tail is typically docked to a length of 5 to 8 inches in countries where tail docking is allowed. In motion, the Spinone Italiano exhibits a distinctive trot, showcasing their power and grace.

Overall, the Spinone Italiano is a fascinating breed with a captivating appearance. Their sturdy build, expressive eyes, and signature wiry coat make them truly special.

spinone italiano on green grass lawn
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Temperament

The Spinone Italiano is an absolute delight when it comes to temperament and personality. They’re known for their gentle, affectionate nature, and their love for human companionship. If you’re seeking a warm-hearted, friendly dog that thrives on interaction, the Spinone Italiano might just be your perfect match.

One of the most endearing traits of this breed is their patience, especially with children. Spinoni are incredibly tolerant and protective of their little human friends. They make wonderful family pets, forming strong bonds with each member of the household. Their calm demeanor and loving disposition make them a joy to have around, even in bustling homes.

Although the Spinone is a hunting breed, they’re not overly aggressive or dominant. They possess a natural eagerness to please, making them quite amiable and easygoing. These dogs are known for their docile nature, often described as “soft” or “sensitive.” This means they respond best to positive reinforcement and gentle guidance rather than harsh training methods.

Spinoni are social butterflies who thrive in the company of other dogs and animals. Their amicable nature makes them excellent candidates for multi-pet households. They’re not typically prone to jealousy or territorial behavior, allowing them to coexist peacefully with other furry friends.

However, it’s essential to remember that the Spinone Italiano’s hunting instincts may still be present, so early socialization with smaller pets is crucial.

The Spinone is known for its intelligence and versatility. They have a keen sense of problem-solving and are always eager to learn new things. This adaptability makes them a pleasure to work with in various activities, from hunting and tracking to therapy and assistance roles.

Despite their smarts, they’re not overly demanding when it comes to mental stimulation. They appreciate a good challenge now and then but are generally content with a relaxed lifestyle.

One of the most charming aspects of the Spinone is their clownish behavior. They have a delightful sense of humor and often display playful, goofy antics that can brighten up even the gloomiest day. Their expressive faces add to their comedic appeal, making them a constant source of smiles and laughter for their lucky owners.

Spinoni are also known for their loyalty and devotion. They form strong bonds with their families and are happiest when they’re by your side. This breed is not prone to wanderlust or roaming, preferring to stick close to their loved ones.

However, their affectionate nature also means they don’t do well with extended periods of isolation. The Spinone Italiano craves companionship and can suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for too long.

spinone italiano's face up close
Photo: Petra Richli/Getty Images

Ideal Environment

The ideal environment for the Spinone Italiano is one that caters to their friendly, affectionate nature, and provides ample opportunity for bonding with their family. These dogs are highly adaptable and can thrive in various living situations, as long as they receive love, attention, and appropriate exercise.

Ideal Owner

The Spinone is a fantastic choice for active families, outdoor enthusiasts, and first-time dog owners. They’re patient and gentle with children, making them an excellent addition to households with little ones. Their calm demeanor and eagerness to please also make them suitable for singles and seniors seeking a loyal, loving companion.

Other Pets

Spinoni get along well with other pets, including dogs and even cats, when properly introduced and socialized. Their easygoing temperament allows them to coexist harmoniously in multi-pet homes. However, it’s essential to consider their hunting instincts – early socialization and training are crucial to ensure peaceful cohabitation with smaller animals.

Physical Environment

When it comes to their physical environment, the Spinone can adapt to both city and country living. They don’t require a vast amount of space, so even apartment dwellers can enjoy the company of this wonderful breed, provided they have access to regular exercise and outdoor adventures.

Ideally, a home with a securely fenced yard where they can safely explore and play would be a great fit for a Spinone Italiano.

Climate Adaptability

As for climate adaptability, the Spinone is quite versatile. Their dense, wiry coat provides protection from cold weather, allowing them to enjoy outdoor activities even in chilly temperatures. That said, it’s always important to monitor your dog for any signs of discomfort or hypothermia in extreme cold and take necessary precautions, such as providing a warm shelter and limiting exposure.

In warmer climates, the Spinone can still fare well, but some extra care is required. During hot summer months, it’s crucial to keep your dog cool and well-hydrated, avoiding intense outdoor activities during the hottest parts of the day. Providing ample shade and fresh water, as well as investing in cooling mats or vests, can help maintain your Spinone’s comfort and well-being.

spinone italiano walking in a park
Photo: whitneyartgirl/Getty Images

Grooming

The Spinone Italiano’s unique, wiry coat and charming appearance may lead you to believe that they require extensive grooming. However, this versatile breed is surprisingly low-maintenance, making them a fantastic option for those seeking a relatively fuss-free canine companion.

Coat Care

When it comes to their coat, the Spinone requires minimal effort to keep them looking and feeling their best. Their dense, weather-resistant double coat is designed to protect them from harsh elements, so it’s essential not to over-groom them.

A thorough brushing once or twice a week with a slicker brush or a comb designed for coarse coats should suffice to remove loose hair and prevent matting. Be sure to pay special attention to the longer hair around their face, legs, and underbelly.

One of the great things about the Spinone is that they’re not heavy shedders. Their shedding is typically seasonal, with most hair loss occurring during spring and fall. Regular brushing during these periods will help manage shedding and keep your home relatively hair-free.

Bathing your Spinone is only necessary when they’re particularly dirty or smelly. Over-bathing can strip the natural oils from their coat, which are essential for its protective qualities. When bath time does roll around, use a gentle dog shampoo formulated for coarse coats to maintain the texture and health of their fur.

Dental Care

In addition to coat care, dental hygiene is a vital aspect of your Spinone’s grooming routine. Regular teeth brushing with a dog-specific toothpaste and toothbrush can help prevent tartar buildup, gum disease, and bad breath.

Aim to brush your dog’s teeth two to three times a week, but daily brushing is ideal for optimal dental health. Providing dental chews and toys can also contribute to maintaining a healthy mouth.

Ear Care

Your Spinone’s ears should be checked and cleaned weekly to prevent infections and wax buildup. Use a soft, damp cloth or a cotton ball to gently clean the outer area of their ears. Avoid using cotton swabs, as they can damage the delicate inner ear structures. If you notice redness, swelling, or an unpleasant odor, it’s time to consult your veterinarian.

Nail Care

Nail care is another essential aspect of your Spinone’s grooming routine. Regular nail trims are crucial to prevent overgrown nails that can cause pain and discomfort. Aim to trim your dog’s nails every three to four weeks, depending on their activity level and the surface they walk on. If you’re unsure about trimming your dog’s nails yourself, a professional groomer or your veterinarian can help.

spinone italiano jumping into water
Photo: Zuzule/Getty Images

Exercise

The Spinone Italiano is an active, energetic breed that thrives on regular exercise and outdoor adventures. While they’re not as demanding as some other sporting breeds, they still require a good amount of physical activity to keep them happy, healthy, and well-behaved.

Exercise Amount & Types

A daily walk of 45 minutes to an hour is a great starting point for your Spinone’s exercise routine. These walks provide a chance for your dog to explore the world, socialize with other dogs, and bond with you. To keep things interesting, vary your walking routes and incorporate different terrains, such as grassy fields, wooded areas, or even gentle hills.

In addition to walks, the Spinone enjoys off-leash playtime in securely fenced areas. They love to romp around, chase after toys, and engage in games like fetch or frisbee. Providing a variety of toys and interactive games will not only keep your dog entertained but also help to strengthen the bond between you both.

Remember that the Spinone is a social breed that thrives on companionship. Incorporate your dog into your daily activities whenever possible, whether it’s a leisurely stroll through the neighborhood, a hike in the great outdoors, or a trip to the local dog park. The more time you spend together, the happier and healthier your Spinone will be.

Dog Sports

As a versatile hunting dog, the Spinone excels in various dog sports and competitions. Activities such as field trials, tracking, agility, and obedience can provide mental and physical stimulation while showcasing their natural talents. Participating in dog sports is an excellent way to challenge your Spinone, deepen your connection, and even earn titles and accolades.

Exercise Precautions

It’s essential to consider your dog’s age, fitness level, and overall health when planning their exercise routine. Puppies and senior dogs may require less intense activities, while adult dogs in their prime can handle more vigorous workouts. Always watch for signs of fatigue or discomfort and adjust the exercise accordingly.

spinone italiano walking on snow
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Training

Training a Spinone Italiano can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience, as they’re known for their intelligence, eagerness to please, and gentle nature. This combination of traits makes them highly trainable and well-suited for first-time dog owners. However, it’s important to approach training with patience, consistency, and a good understanding of their unique temperament.

Positive Reinforcement

Spinoni are sensitive dogs that respond best to positive reinforcement methods, such as praise, treats, and affection. Harsh training techniques or punishment can cause them to become fearful or withdrawn, making the learning process more difficult. Instead, focus on building trust and communication with your Spinone, creating a strong foundation for successful training.

Basic Obedience

Begin training your Spinone as early as possible, starting with basic obedience commands like sit, stay, come, and heel. These fundamental skills not only promote good manners but also help establish your role as the leader. Consistency is key – practice these commands daily and ensure all family members use the same cues and rewards.

Socialization

Socialization is another crucial aspect of training for the Spinone. Expose your dog to a variety of people, animals, environments, and situations from a young age to help them develop confidence and adaptability. Well-socialized Spinoni are more likely to be friendly and well-behaved in various settings, making them a joy to have by your side.

Advanced Training

The Spinone can excel in more advanced training pursuits, such as field trials, tracking, agility, and obedience competitions. These activities not only provide mental stimulation but also allow your dog to showcase their natural talents. Engaging in dog sports can be a fun way to strengthen your bond and keep your Spinone’s mind and body engaged.

Additional Training Tips

Remember that patience is essential when training a Spinone. They may be slower to learn new commands compared to other breeds, but their steady, consistent progress will eventually lead to success. Celebrate small victories and maintain a positive, encouraging attitude throughout the training process.

spinone italiano in the forest
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Diet & Nutrition 

Feeding your Spinone Italiano a well-balanced, nutritious diet is essential for their overall health and well-being. With the right approach to diet and nutrition, you can ensure your furry friend thrives and enjoys a long, happy life by your side.

What to Feed & How Much

When selecting food for your Spinone, look for high-quality dry, wet, or raw food that follows the guidelines set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). These products are formulated to provide the necessary nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to support your dog’s growth and maintenance.

Always consult your veterinarian for personalized advice on the best food options for your dog’s unique needs, age, and activity level.

The amount of food you should feed your Spinone depends on several factors, including their age, weight, and activity level. Puppies typically require more frequent meals, with three to four small portions per day to support their rapid growth. As they transition into adulthood, you can gradually reduce the number of daily meals to two, while adjusting the portion size to maintain a healthy weight.

Active, adult Spinoni may require more calories to fuel their energy needs, while less active or senior dogs may need fewer calories to prevent weight gain. It’s essential to monitor your dog’s weight and body condition regularly, adjusting their food intake as needed. Your veterinarian can provide guidance on determining the appropriate portion sizes for your dog.

Treats

Treats are a valuable tool for training and bonding with your Spinone, but they should be given in moderation. Aim to keep treats to no more than 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake to avoid overfeeding and weight gain. Opt for healthy, low-calorie treats, such as small pieces of lean meat, vegetables, or specially-formulated dog treats.

Water

Water is a vital component of your Spinone’s diet. Always provide fresh, clean water for your dog to drink, ensuring they stay well-hydrated throughout the day. Monitor their water intake and be mindful of any sudden changes, as this could indicate a health issue that requires veterinary attention.

spinone italiano standing on a rock outdoor
Photo: nemoris/Getty Images

Health

The Spinone Italiano is a robust, resilient breed with a life expectancy of 10 to 12 years. However, like all dogs, they can be prone to certain health issues. Being aware of these potential concerns and taking preventative measures can help ensure your furry companion enjoys a long, healthy life by your side.

Common health issues associated with the Spinone Italiano include:

Hip Dysplasia: This genetic condition occurs when the hip joint doesn’t develop properly, leading to arthritis and mobility issues. Regular veterinary checks and maintaining a healthy weight can help manage this condition if it arises.

Elbow Dysplasia: Similar to hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia is a developmental issue that affects the joints and can cause pain, limping, or stiffness. Early detection and appropriate treatment can significantly improve your dog’s quality of life.

Cerebellar Ataxia: This rare, hereditary neurological disorder affects the cerebellum, causing uncoordinated movements and balance issues. There is no cure for cerebellar ataxia, but supportive care can help manage the symptoms.

Ear Infections: The Spinone Italiano’s long, floppy ears are more susceptible to infections. Regular ear cleaning and monitoring for signs of redness, swelling, or odor can help prevent and detect ear infections early.

Bloat (Gastric Torsion): This life-threatening condition occurs when the stomach fills with gas and twists on itself, cutting off blood flow. Feeding smaller meals throughout the day and avoiding vigorous activity after eating can help reduce the risk of bloat.

To keep your Spinone healthy, provide them with a well-balanced diet tailored to their age, weight, and activity level. A nutritious diet can support their immune system and help prevent various health issues. Consult your veterinarian for personalized advice on the best food options for your dog.

Regular veterinary check-ups are essential for monitoring your Spinone’s health and detecting any potential issues early. Establish a good relationship with your veterinarian and schedule annual wellness exams, or more frequently for puppies and senior dogs.

Vaccinations play a crucial role in preventing serious diseases that can affect your dog’s health. Ensure your Spinone Italiano receives all necessary vaccinations according to your veterinarian’s recommendations and local regulations.

spinone italiano on a beach
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History

The Spinone Italiano has a rich history that dates back centuries. This ancient breed is believed to have originated in Italy, where it was highly valued for its exceptional skills as a gun dog, retriever, and pointer.

The exact origins of the Spinone Italiano remain a mystery, but it’s widely thought that the breed descended from various European hunting dogs, such as the now-extinct Spanish Pointer, French Griffon, and the Russian Setter. Some historians even suggest that the Spinone’s ancestors date back to ancient Rome or Greece, where they were used as versatile hunting companions.

Throughout history, the Spinone Italiano has been known by various names, including the Italian Coarsehaired Pointer, Italian Wire-haired Pointer, and Italian Griffon.

The name “Spinone” is believed to have derived from the Italian word “spino,” which refers to the thorny undergrowth commonly found in the Piedmont region of Italy. This dense vegetation was no match for the Spinone’s thick, wiry coat and determined spirit, making them the ideal hunting companion.

The Spinone Italiano’s popularity as a hunting dog began to wane in the early 20th century, as more specialized breeds gained favor among hunters. However, dedicated enthusiasts continued to breed and preserve the Spinone, ensuring its survival and resurgence.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) first recognized the Spinone Italiano in 2000, adding them to the Sporting Group. Since then, the breed has seen a steady increase in popularity within the United States, especially among hunters and families seeking an intelligent, affectionate, and adaptable companion.

Today, the Spinone Italiano continues to be a cherished breed for its excellent hunting abilities, as well as its suitability as a family pet. Their calm demeanor, patience with children, and compatibility with other pets make them a fantastic choice for many households.

Parent Club

The Spinone Club of America (SCOA) is the official parent club for the Spinone Italiano in the United States. Founded in 1987, SCOA is committed to promoting, preserving, and protecting this unique breed by providing education, resources, and support to Spinone Italiano enthusiasts. Visit their website or more information on the Spinone Club of America.

Breed Standard

A breed standard is a set of guidelines established by breed clubs or kennel organizations, defining the ideal appearance, temperament, and physical traits of a specific breed.

It serves as a reference for breeders, judges, and enthusiasts to evaluate and maintain a breed’s unique qualities. Covering aspects like size, appearance, and temperament, breed standards are used in dog shows and competitions to assess individual dogs against the ideal representation of their breed.

Check out the Spinone Italiano’s breed standard as set by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

spinone italiano puppy relaxing at home
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Acquiring

Acquiring a Spinone Italiano can be an exciting journey, but it’s important to be well-prepared and make informed decisions. Before bringing home your new furry friend, ensure you have the necessary supplies, such as a crate, bed, food, toys, and grooming tools.

If you choose to buy a Spinone Italiano, always opt for a reputable breeder who prioritizes the health and well-being of their dogs. Ask for health testing results and meet the puppy’s parents to get a better understanding of their temperament.

Alternatively, consider rescuing a Spinone in need of a loving home. The American Kennel Club (AKC) and the Spinone Club of America (SCOA) can provide resources and assistance in finding a rescue organization or an adoptable dog. Rescuing a Spinone not only gives them a second chance at happiness but also offers a rewarding experience for your family.

FAQs

Are Spinoni Italiani good family dogs?

Yes, Spinoni Italiani are known for their gentle, affectionate nature, making them excellent family dogs. They’re patient with children and typically get along well with other pets. However, it’s important to supervise interactions between dogs and young children to ensure everyone’s safety.

Do Spinoni Italiani bark a lot?

Spinoni Italiani are not excessive barkers, but they will bark to alert their owners of potential threats or when they sense something unusual. Proper training and socialization can help manage barking behavior.

What does “spinone” mean in Italian?

The word “spinone” is believed to be derived from the Italian word “spino,” which refers to the thorny undergrowth commonly found in the Piedmont region of Italy. The Spinone Italiano’s thick, wiry coat allows them to navigate through this dense vegetation with ease during hunts.

Can the Spinone Italiano be left alone?

While the Spinone Italiano can tolerate being left alone for short periods, they thrive on companionship and may become anxious or bored if left alone for extended periods. It’s essential to provide mental stimulation, like puzzle toys or interactive games, and gradually increase the time spent alone to prevent separation anxiety.

How much exercise does the Spinoni Italiani require?

Spinoni Italiani are moderately active dogs that require at least 45 minutes of daily exercise to maintain their health and happiness. A brisk walk, play session, or engaging in dog sports like field trials or agility can help keep your Spinone physically and mentally stimulated.

Are Spinoni Italiani easy to train?

Spinoni Italiani are intelligent and eager to please, making them relatively easy to train. They respond best to positive reinforcement methods, such as praise, treats, and affection. Patience and consistency are key, as they may be slower to learn new commands compared to other breeds.

How much grooming do Spinoni Italiani need?

Spinoni Italiani require regular grooming to maintain their wiry coat and prevent matting. Brushing at least once a week, occasional baths, and trimming the hair around their eyes and ears are essential for keeping them clean and comfortable. Regular nail trims, teeth cleaning, and ear checks are also important for their overall health.

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