Breed Type:  Hunting or Gun Dog
Country of Origin: Italy
Size:  Large
Also known as:  Spinone, Spinoni (plural), Italian Griffon, Italian Wire Haired Pointer, Italian Course Haired Pointer
Males: Height: 60-70 cm Weight: 34-39 kg
Females: Height: 56-64 cm Weight: 35-42 kg
Exercise Requirements:  Medium
Care Requirements: Low
Lifespan: 10-12 Years
Best Suited as:  Family Pet / Running & Hiking Companion

The Italian Spinone is a wonderful companion dog. Spinone, which means “prickly” in Italian, is a rightful name for this dog. Due to wiry fur, it could easily scramble through prickly terrain without being hurt.  While a rare breed in Australia, these faithful dogs are quickly snatched up as puppies.

While the Spinone may be similar to other dog breeds and mistaken for them, its long head and pronounced occipital, make it unique. It has a strong, muscular build and has a rectangular shape. With expressive, human-like eyes, it is easy to get a glimpse of this dog’s intelligence. A Spinone may have either brown or yellowish brown eyes, depending on its coat color. Giving it an almost wise old grandfather look, Spinone have a beard and mustache.

Upon close inspection of its paws, it might appear that you have adopted a dog crossbred with a duck. Even adult Spinoni sport webbed paws, which make them athletic swimmers.  The Spinone coat color comes in three varieties – solid white, orange and white or brown and white. All Spinoni have a wiry coat and think skin. In order to be qualified in the show ring, they cannot have an undercoat and should not exhibit a long, silky coat, which comes about with too much grooming.  The tail of the Spinone is customarily docked to 200mm from the base of the tail. This is about half of what an undocked Spinone would have.

The Spinone is truly a loving pet. Compassionate, gentle, easy going, friendly, and loyal are just a few words to describe this active dog. If you are looking for a guard dog, you best keep looking. The Spinone is great with all people, including young children and because of his historical career for being a hunter, he is easily trained (unless he find a command to be useless) and very intelligent.  The Spinone is also a wonderful retriever and loves to retrieve balls and other toys for you.
The Spinone, despite all of his good traits, can also be independent and stubborn. When out for a hike, his hunting instinct will kick in and you may have to redirect him numerous times.  Other sights and scents will be more exciting to him, so be patient.  It takes patient training to teach your Spinone that you mean business including housetraining.

Despite its Italian name, there is no proof that the ancient Spinone originally came from Ital. Other possible countries of origin include: France, Spain, Russia, Greece, or Celtic Ireland.  There are multiple theories but the most popular one suggests that Greek traders brought wiry setters to Italy during the Roman Empire and then mated them with other dogs.

Around World War II, the Spinone became less popular in Italy because other hunting dogs were replacing them.  Being out of a job and with the toll on life from the war, the Spinone became nearly extinct.  To keep the breed alive, breeders mated them with other wirehaired dogs such as the German Wirehaired Pointer, and Wirehaired Pointing Griffons.

In the 1950’s Spinoni were imported to Great Britain and the breed steadily grew there.  Spinoni were then imported to the United States in the 1980’s. The breed remains popular in Europe and the United States.

Care and Grooming
The Spinone requires little grooming.  A weekly brushing is all that is needed to tame its wiry coat.  For the rarer soft and thicker coat Spinone, more grooming may be required to prevent knots and matting. The focal point of care should be the Spinones’ mouth. Their beard and lip folds are known for trapping food and excessive slobber. If you note a pungent aroma coming from your dog, check their beard first. Their ears also need special attention with regular cleaning and plucking.  Hair on their feet may need plucking as well.

Spinone breeders recommend two meals a day of raw meat and dry dog food for your Spinone.

Australian Spinoni are extremely healthy. Most of diseases you will find attributed to it refer to Spinoni that live overseas.  Two issues that might affect your Spinone are Entropion of the eye (where the eyelid turns in) and hip dysplasia (when the hip bones develop abnormally).  Entropian may be corrected surgically.

Suitability as a Pet
If you are looking for a loyal companion, and a dog that will happily hike or run with you, you have found the ideal pet in an Italian Spinone. Made to go on any terrain, and not a dog that will try to run ahead of you, they will happily keep pace with you. They are active and energetic, and love to play both on land and in the water.  Born hunters, they are excellent pointers and retrievers.

Your puppy Spinone should be socialized with all other family members immediately and it a daily walk is required.  Without enough exercise and attention, your pet will express his dissatisfaction with you through barking and destructive chewing.  It can be content in a small yard but loves being indoors with its family.  Despite their large size, Spinoni are high jumpers and any fence should keep your pet in.  Spinoni do very well with other animals, especially other dogs. Some Spinoni, if not quickly socialized with cats, may pester them because of their high prey drive.

Spinoni tend to be quiet dogs and are happy being the lowest ranking member in their family pack. They do well in just about any household, including one with young children.  Easy to train (expect for housebreaking) they do best with a gentle approach and positive reinforcement.

Veterinary Surgeon, London at Blue Cross UK | + posts

A London based Veterinary surgeon, Sanja is also an avid writer and pet advocate.