Temperament: Sociable, Patient, Docile
- Height: 23-27 inches (male), 22-25 inches (female)
- Life Expectancy: 10-12 years
- Group: Sporting Group
The Spinone Italiano, a densely-coated hunting dog, is sociable, docile, and patient, sometimes stubborn but always endearing. Of ancient Italian lineage, the Spinone is among the field dogs of Continental Europe famed for versatility.
The Spinone has a distinctive profile and soft, almost-human expression. The breed is constructed for endurance. Muscular, vigorous and with powerful bone, the Spinone has a robust build that makes him resistant to fatigue and able to work on almost any terrain; big feet and a two-piece top-line give the dog stability on rough ground. The Spinone covers ground efficiently, combining a purposeful, easy trot with an intermittent gallop. A harsh, single coat and thick skin enable the Spinone to negotiate underbrush and endure cold water that would punish any dog not so naturally armored. This versatile pointer is a proficient swimmer and an excellent retriever by nature. The Spinone is patient, methodical and cooperative in the field, and has a gentle demeanor.
About the Spinone Italiano
The Spinone Italiano (plural: Spinoni Italiani) is a squarely and solidly built all-around hunter. Spinoni are muscular and powerful, built more for endurance than speed. The dense coat has a natural, unclippered look and comes in various colors and patterns. The face conveys the breed’s abundant Old World charm. Those soft, sweetly expressive eyes set off by shaggy eyebrows and a tufted beard have won many a heart in Italy—and they’re making new conquests here in America every day.
NUTRITION The Spinone should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some Spinoni can be picky eaters. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times. Some Spinoni can experience bloat, which can be related to the very sensitive nature of the breed. Because Spinoni will worry more when their owners are worried, this can create a vicious cycle in terms of the dog not eating or possibly stressing himself into bloat. Making sure the Spinone has quiet time to digest after eating in order to help prevent bloat is important.
GROOMING Despite the standard saying that the breed should be “kept in a natural state,” Spinoni do need some grooming. They should be hand-stripped, rather than scissored, to get out the dead hair, as well as maintain a coat length of one and a half to two and a half inches. Spinone need their ears cleaned at least once a week. The legs should be kept in a brushy column, and no feathers left on the tail. Nails should be trimmed once a week.
EXERCISE Spinoni are “low octane” compared to other sporting breeds. While a hike or walk is always a good idea, it is not something that must be done every day. A large, securely fenced yard and plenty of playtime will keep a Spinone happy, along with being part of the family, which is just as important to his well-being as exercise. Spinoni are not “kennel dogs,” or dogs who can just be left alone outside—they must be part of the family at all times, which means being a house dog, living inside with the family.
TRAINING One experienced breeder shares insight on breed train-ability: “Spinoni are very soft, very stubborn, and very smart. Training is mostly about ‘barter.’ With many breeds, if you say, ‘Jump,’ they will ask, ‘How high?’ as they are jumping, whereas a Spinone will ask, ‘Why?’ You can teach a Spinone the basics and even train them for competitive obedience—just don’t expect them to be ‘high and tight’ about it every single time. They may tell you, ‘No, not today. Maybe later.’ They are smart, but a challenge, and they will shut down if training is too hard or harsh. When hunting, they hunt where they want and will put food on your table. Spinoni are not ‘robot hunters’ who will go where you tell them to. Spinoni teach hunters to trust their dogs in the field.”
HEALTH Responsible breeders will screen their stock for health conditions such as hip and elbow dysplasia and eye anomalies. As with all breeds, the Spinone’s ears should be checked regularly for signs of infection, and the teeth should be brushed often, ideally every day, using a toothpaste formulated for dogs.
Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:
- Ophthalmologist Evaluation
- Hip Evaluation
- Elbow Evaluation