Whether you call them the Spinone Italiano, Italian Spinone, Italian griffon, Italian coarse-haired pointer, or Italian wire-haired pointer, these athletic and intelligent dogs are loved for being friendly, versatile, and sporty. And if you're lucky enough to know one of these dogs, you'll know they're incredibly affectionate as well.
Spinone Italianos are rare dogs in the U.S., but you can spot them by their sweet eyes (topped with adorable eyebrows) and dense, coarse coat. These pooches have larger-than-life builds to go with their personalities, which means there's more of them to cuddle on the couch. And trust us—everyone will want a turn snuggling with a Spinone because he gets along with virtually every member of the family. That's amore.
The Spinone Italiano has an adorable beard and matching eyebrows, which give life to his sweet, soulful eyes. While you'll often see him sporting a lighter white coat, don't be surprised if you see a Spinone bounding up to you at the park showing off his orange or brown roan colors.
There's a lot to love about Spinones. They are warm, playful dogs that have plenty of love to give, especially to their family. Spinone Italiano puppies need early socialization to grow comfortable in all sorts of situations. And, when introduced correctly, they can get along with other dogs, young kiddos, and strangers, too. Approach a Spinone with a treat or a ball, and it won't take long for him to become your new BFF.
Though they are fairly even-keeled, Spinone Italianos are still sporting dogs and have a bit of energy to burn. You can take them along with you on everything from a walk around the park to your morning jog. But Spinones can have a strong will and might suddenly become bored of that game of fetch you were content to keep playing. Make sure your pup has plenty of interactive toys at their disposal and that you rotate them out to prevent boredom.
Like all dogs, the Spinone Italiano needs plenty of care, attention, and exercise. And while these dogs are active, they don't have the go-go-go attitude some other breeds do. Again, your Spinone is happy to join you for an evening walk or playful romp around the (fenced!) backyard, but he doesn't need to run a daily marathon to get his energy out.
Save him a spot on the couch because once he's done with his exercise, he'll love quality time inside with his family. He has plenty of love to go around, too; your Spinone can get along with children, other dogs, and even cats as long as introductions are done properly and patiently (Spinone Italianos can have a high prey drive!).
"The Spinone Italiano is a sporting breed, bred for hunting and being outdoors," says Sheena Haney, DVM, administrative veterinarian at FirstVet. "However, they do make wonderful family dogs. Spinones love people and always want to be around their family. Most are great with other dogs. They can live happily with small dogs and cats, especially if introduced to these animals at a young age. Regardless, care must always be taken."
But if you're a neat freak, this may not be the best pup for you, according to the Spinone Club of America (SCA). These joyful pups love nothing more than to give you a big wet kiss after diving headfirst into their water bowl. They've also been known to drool and shed a bit, and they are known to get up on the counters in search of a snack. Early and consistent training can curb their counter-surfing tendencies.
To keep a well-kept coat, brush your Spinone weekly. It can also help to take your furry friend to a groomer who has experience beautifying his unique coat. In between groomings, pay close attention to his beard, which can sometimes house food and water, as well as their paws, which may get matted.
As mentioned, Spinones need plenty of exercise, though noticeably less than their fellow sporting dogs. How much they'll want to get outside and run around depends on their individual desires and age, but chances are they'll love getting out in the great outdoors with you.
Speaking of individual desires, the Spinone Italiano is quick to tell you what he wants. This breed has a bit of a reputation for being particularly strong-willed, which makes training them with positive reinforcement, love, and understanding that much more important.
"Spinone are very active, social, happy dogs," Haney says. "Training can be difficult for inexperienced owners but very rewarding when done correctly."
And while their big brain can make training go slowly it's also what makes them wonderful companions. So keep in mind that any bond and trust you build with them day-to-day will only benefit you during training sessions.
Spinone Italiano dogs have a lifespan between 10–12 years on average. But, like all breeds, they can be susceptible to a few different health conditions, according to the SCA.
Like other large, deep-chested dogs, Spinones can develop a life-threatening condition called bloat, when the stomach twists. Talk to your vet about how to prevent bloat, and educate yourself on the symptoms.
This breed may also develop cerebellar ataxia, a neurological disease that affects the motor center of the brain. This condition is inherited and affected dogs will show symptoms within the first few months of life. Be on the lookout for poor balance and coordination in your pup, though reputable Spinone Italiano breeders will screen their dogs for all health conditions recommended by the Canine Health Information Center.
Spinone Italiano dogs are believed to have descended from the Piedmont region of Northwest Italy, according to the SCA. In fact, dogs believed to have a similar hunting style to the Spinone were mentioned as early as 200 A.D. Since then, they have been known for their sturdy frames, thick coats, and determined hunting nature, gaining great acclaim for their skills.
However, in the 19th century, there were many different varieties of Spinone split across regions of Italy. Breeders attempted to unify the breed, but the Spinone nearly became extinct shortly before and during World War II as these efforts were interrupted. Following the war, numbers increased thanks to the quick work of Spinone Italiano breeders and enthusiasts.
The Spinone Club of America was founded in 1987. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 2000.
- The name Spinone comes from one of its historical names bracco Spinoso, or "prickly pointer." Many believe this to be a reference to the dog's coarse coat, but it may also refer to the bushes where these pups would work and play. Luckily, prickly definitely does not describe their personality.
- This breed is still well-known in Europe, but they're tougher to find in the U.S. The Spinone Italiano is considered one of the rarest hunting dog breeds in the country.