BaxterBoo Blog
August 22, 2013

Meet the Breed: The Spinone Italiano

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  • Height: 22.5" - 27.5”
  • Weight: 61-85 pounds
  • Historical function: Gun dog
  • Modern function: Hunting and companion
  • AKC classification: Sporting group

Physical Characteristics:

The Spinone Italiano is a solidly-built dog with a distinguished appearance. They are built squarely with the length of the body being approximately the same height of the dog at the withers. This is a muscular breed that has thick skin and a wiry coat that lies close to the body. These features enable the dog to endure harsh conditions and cold-water retrieving. Their large webbed feet make them powerful swimmers. The head is long and rectangular. The muzzle is is square and the same length as the skull. It is mustached and bearded. The nose is large. The expressive human-like eyes have heavy brows, giving this breed a thoughtful appearance. The small, triangular ears are pendulous. The stop is slight but the occipital area (the back of the skull) is pronounced before tapering into the well-muscled neck, shoulders and deep chest. The thick, wiry coat can be solid white, white and orange, white with brown markings, and orange or brown roan (white hairs combined with pigmented hairs) with or without patches of the pigmented hairs. Sometimes the brown and white Spimone is confused with the German Wirehaired Pointer, but the longer head and pronounced occipital area are unique to the Spinone. This breed is to have an unfussy appearance with minimal stripping. 

Orange roan Spinone with orange markings

This is an orange roan Spinone with orange markings. Note the prominent curve at the back of the head, which is one of the defining features of the breed. 

History of the Breed:

The Spinone Italiano has been documented to 500 B.C., but the origins are murky. It is possibly a result of crosses with coarse-haired Italian Setters, and various dogs of Greek and Adriatic coastal traders. Some have suggested the White Mastiff and possibly French Griffons are in the mix as well. Regardless, this is dog has been an all-purpose hunting dog aiding Italians with skills of pointing, setting and retrieving. They have a great sense of smell.   


The Spinone Italiano is a faithful, easy-going companion both in the field and in the home. Their trainable, intelligent nature makes them good for families, as service dogs, and as jogging companions that won't leave your side. They have tremendous strength and stamina but aren't racy or hyper. He takes his job seriously, but has a cheerful and even clownish side that is charming. All of these traits make it surprising that this breed hasn't gained more of a following in the US, like it enjoys in other countries. The beard and mustache do tend to collect water when drinking, and prospective owners need to be prepared for wet kisses. The eyes are very expressive and endearing. This breed can sometimes be stubborn and responds best to positive motivational training methods. This dog is mild mannered indoors but is hard working outdoors. This easy-going dog doesn't generally make a good guard dog.   

  • Best suited for: Active families, hunters. 
  • Preferred living conditions: This faithful dog loves to have a job, whether it's hunting, working as a service companion, or being a jogging partner. Does well with even a small yard if sufficiently exercised. 

Care and Health:

  • Grooming requirements: Easy-care coat requires just weekly brushings and occasional light stripping of dead hair. Bathe only as needed. 
  • Exercise needs: Daily walk or jog.
  • Life expectancy: 12+ years.
  • Health concerns: May develop hip dysplasia. Bloat has occasionally been seen in this breed. Cerebellar ataxia is being bred out of this breed thanks to genetic tests now available. 

Breed Club Links: Spinone Club of America Perfect Pairings: Cardio Canine Hands Free Human Harness and Dog Leash

Have any stories about a Spinone Italiano? Please share!

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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This entry was posted by Mary.

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