Dog Breed Guide: The Spinone Italiano

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A white and tan Spinone Italian stands on green grasso

Claudia Bensimoun author of The Spinone Italiano

The affectionate and fun-loving Spinone Italiano is one of the earliest dog breeds that was bred as a pointing dog. Paintings suggest that this wirehaired pointing dog breed was developed as far back as 500 B.C. Today, you can see 15th and 16th-century artwork of dogs that resembled the Spinone.

The Spinone Italiano is part of theUKC, Gun Dog Group, and theAKC, Sporting Dog Group. It is a field dog breed from Continental Europe. The Spinone Italiano dog breed was bred for companionship to hunters in the field, and also proved good at getting through thorny bushes, and finding feathered or furred game.

Brief History

This large and rugged dog breed is a field dog that can retrieve on land or in water. The Spinone is known as Italy’s all-purpose hunting dog breed. This breed has endurance and can cover plenty of distance without tiring easily. “Spinone” refers to “pino” referring to the rough and thorny brush found in the Piedmont area of Italy.

The gentle and devoted Spinone is an all-weather dog breed that was bred to work in any terrain. The Spinone Italiano is one of the griffon types of dog breeds. It is also an older type of pointer breed that has only recently become popular in the U.S. This breed is a combination of retriever and a pointer, and nearly became extinct during WW2, like many other dog breeds.

Breed Description

The rough-haired Spinone Italiano is a large dog breed with a muzzle that is square and long. The bridge is straight or slightly Roman. With large, almost round eyes, that are ochre-colored, the Spinone Italiano has almost triangular dropped ears and almost drooping lips. This is a strong and muscular dog breed that was bred to effortlessly trot at a fast pace all day, and retrieve in water or land. Because it has a thick and wiry coat, the Spinone can hunt in all conditions, and in many different terrains.

The wiry coat is of medium length, and is thick and unclipped, and can run about 1.5 to 2.5” in length. It is longer on the face, forming a tufted beard, mustache, and eyebrows to protect the face while hunting. The coat can be solid white, white, and orange, orange roan with or without markings.  

The Spinone can also be white with brown markings, or brown roan with or without brown markings. This breed has a docked tail that is either horizontal or down. The movement is that of a working Gun dog. It is versatile, and the gait is geared toward the endurance of this breed. The Spinone trots and gallops to hunt, making it effortless in movement. The temperament is sweet and gentle, though focused and intelligent. The first thing you notice with this breed is the sweet, gentle expression.

The AKC describes the Spinone as follows: “The Spinone is naturally sociable, docile and patient. The breed is an experienced hunter in all terrains, is very resistant to tiredness, goes easily into brambles, and readily enters cold water.”

Height

Dogs      23-27 inches

Females  22-25 inches

Weight

60-90 pounds

Life Expectancy

12-14

Temperament

The Spinone Italiano is not only affectionate and gentle but best of all, gets on with other pets and people. This breed is very sociable and is also extremely courageous. The Spinone temperament is much calmer and easier going than most other pointing breeds. That said, this breed, like all sporting dog breeds, requires plenty of daily exercise by way of long walks around the neighborhood, off-leash dog park runs, and frequent visits to the dog beach. Early socialization and positive puppy training need to start early.

Activity Level

Moderate

Special Needs

This is a breed that’s active and was bred to point, set, and retrieve. The Spinone has great sniffing capabilities along with a good nose. Because this is a versatile hunting breed, pet parents should look at certain dog sports that would benefit this dog breed. This breed may be timid, so early socialization is very important. Pet parents to this dog breed need to have the motivation and energy to work with the Spinone and to channel his energy into dog sports. Look at flyball, agility, obedience, and rally.

Like all sporting breeds, the Spinone has to have daily exercise. The Spinone Italiano does best with an active family that understands this breed’s requirements. Additionally, the Spinone needs socialization throughout his lifetime. This athletic breed does well with plenty of off-leash exercises. Early socialization with other dogs, people, and animals is highly recommended. Puppy training classes for the active Spinone is a definite must since this breed can only benefit from dog training classes. That said, this dog is sensitive, yet very active and playful with family members and children.

Positive dog training for the Spinone needs to be consistent, yet one needs to take into consideration the sensitivity and intelligence of this breed, and not break his playful spirit with unnecessary reprimands. Dog training needs to mold the needs of this wonderful dog breed. Attentive and experienced pet parents recommended. A fenced yard or garden is also recommended. This is a medium to a high-energy sporting dog that needs lots of outdoor activities and organized canine sports like agility and dock diving. Even a swim in the pool does wonders for this breed!

Possible Health Concerns

The Spinone Italiano is an active, healthy dog breed that may be susceptible to the following health conditions:

  • Hip Dysplasia is an abnormal development of the hip joint in large dog breeds like the Spinone. It is generally characterized by a loose joint, and then degenerative joint disease. The Spinone should be fed a high-quality diet that is geared towards their life stage. Puppies should only be fed high-quality puppy dog food. Excessive growth, types of exercise, nutritional factors, and hereditary factors all come in to play with hip dysplasia. Consult with your veterinarian for expert advice.
  • Cerebellar Ataxia:This is a serious neurological disease that affects the cerebellum in the Spinone puppy. It affects puppies and is often mistaken for puppyhood clumsiness. Symptoms may include lack of coordination-ordination and clumsiness. Consult with your veterinarian immediately.
  • Dental Malocclusion:This is when a dog’s teeth do not align. This is common in the Spinone where the lower canine teeth dig into the upper gum line. Oral surgery or canine braces may be recommended. Consult with your veterinarian for this painful condition.
  • Bloat:This breed is deep-chested, and thus more prone to bloat. Bloat is a life-threatening emergency. It is caused by the twisting of the stomach, together with the accumulation of gas, with or without fluid. It is best to never elevate your dog’s water and food bowls.

Stress is also a major factor in causing bloat. Never feed your Spinone a large meal, followed by vigorous exercise. At the first signs of dry vomiting, restlessness, and discomfort, contact your emergency veterinarian. This is a true emergency that is life-threatening!

As a pet parent, it’s necessary to keep your dog fit and healthy throughout his life. Your Spinone Italiano puppy will need vaccinations and boosters, so it’s best to learn the basics about pet health care, and why pet insurance is necessary for all dogs.

Before bringing your new Spinone pup home, you’ll need to find a local vet. By doing this, you’ll be able to make comparisons and see which vet works best for you and your Spinone pup. Your new Spinone pup will need to visit the vet right after you get him to make sure that he’s healthy and to also schedule all vaccinations. Your pup will also be able to get microchipped if the breeder has not already done this.

Exercise

The Spinone is a medium to high -energy sporting dog breed that thrives on environmental stimuli, and exercise like agility, and swimming. This is a sporting dog breed that needs to have a job. The Simone Italiano were bred to run and swim, so every opportunity to exercise is important.

If you’ve recently adopted a senior Spinone, your elderly dog will not require as much exercise, but will still need to go out for walks several times a day. This improves circulation and will give your dog plenty of much needed mental stimulation.

If your elderly Spinone is having difficulty walking or climbing upstairs, consult with your veterinarian to discuss osteoarthritis and joint disease, as well as the possible benefits of CBD and adequate for pain relief, and as an anti-inflammatory.

Nutrition

Good nutrition is key to good health in dogs, most especially a high- energy sporting dog breed. Always opt for the very best high-quality dog food that you can afford. Feed the appropriate food for the life stage of your Spinone Italiano. During the hot summer months, a lower protein (20%), based dog food is recommended, whilst in the winter a higher protein (32%) is recommended.

Every dog is different, and a diet that works for one may not work for another. Consult with your veterinarian about the best dog food options for your dog. Feeding the correct diet from puppyhood will save you a small fortune in veterinary bills later on. When it comes to dog foods, understanding your dog’s current health and nutritional needs is paramount. And always remember to ask your veterinarian for advice before changing your dog’s diet. There is no best diet since all dogs have different dietary needs, so it’s always smart to find the best dog food to match each individual dog.

The first ingredient is the one ingredient that is present in the highest amount. As a category natural, organic and holistic dry dog food brands offer many varieties - grain-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and traditional. Dry dog food is available through most pet food brands. Each brand of dog food should be chosen with your dog’s unique and specific health needs in mind. Consult with your veterinarian as to the best dietary option for your Spinone Italiano.


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Grooming

Daily grooming will keep your Spinone Italiano’s coat shiny and healthy condition. The Spinone has a coat that should be kept in its normal condition. If clipping, groomers should leave the coat at 1.5 to 2 inches long. Pin brushes or mitts should be used to maintain a shiny and healthy coat. The Spinone enjoys being bathed. Nails should be trimmed often, and teeth brushed every day with canine toothpaste and a canine toothbrush. Special attention needs to be given to this breed’s ears.


Adopting a Spinone Italiano

The friendly and devoted Spinone makes for one of the very best adoptions out. You’re not likely to find this affectionate dog breed anywhere, but if you do, make sure that you have the time for this breed. Not only does the Spinone thrive on vigorous exercise, but you’ll have to provide plenty of mental stimulation. The sensitive Spinone needs the comforts of home and family, and you’re going to need to take the time for long walks and off-leash trips to the park and dog beach. This is not a breed to leave at home alone.

Your Spinone will become your best friend! When adopting a smart and active Spinone, it’s important to spend time with this breed to find out more about your dog’s temperament. Some participants may be more energetic than others. This breed does best with expert pet parents that have an active lifestyle, or a large farm. As usual, before embarking on pet parenthood, make sure that you have the time and financial resources to properly take care of your Spinone Italiano for the rest of his life. This breed is just one of the most remarkable dog breeds out there!


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Meet The Author 

Claudia Bensimoun author of The Spinone Italiano

Claudia Bensimoun

Claudia Bensimoun is a freelance journalist and author, and specializes in veterinary content, and eBooks. She's a long-time feature writer for Animal Wellness magazine, Fido Friendly magazine, and the United States Dog Agility Association. In addition, Bensimoun has written for numerous pet websites, magazines, newspapers and online publications. Her interests include wildlife conservation, animal welfare, disaster/humanitarian relief, veterinary research, and veganism.