Though commonly confused with the Pomeranian, the Volpino Italiano or “little Italian fox” is a breed in its own right. This breed of dog is small in stature, and is known for its thick, glossy coat. The breed is part of the Spitz variety of dog, and has been found in Italy for many centuries. In its native country the Volpino Italiano was universally prized, and was taken in by nobles and farmers alike, particularly in Tuscany and the surrounding areas. Famous Volpino Italiano owners include Queen Victoria and Michelangelo. However, in part because of its rarity, the Volpiano Italiano is not widely known outside of its native country.

The Volpino Italiano versus the Pomeranian
Despite their resemblance to each other, these breeds are distinct. In fact, the Volpino Italiano has an ancestry that traces back to around 4,000BC, making it considerably older than the Pomeranian, and has a different ancestral lineage altogether. The Volpino Italiano is quite a bit larger and heavier than the Pomeranian, and has a coat that is usually of a different hue to the standard Pomeranian. In fact, the Volpino Italiano is closer in lineage to the German Spitz than the Pomeranian.

Close to extinction
The Volpino Italiano is a rare breed of dog, although its numbers are slowly increasing once more. The breed almost vanished entirely in the 1960s, but was revived at the behest of the Italian government as part of a program to re-establish declining breeds. Though numbers are improving today, some varieties of the Volpino Italiano, such as the red variety, remain very rare.

A vibrant and lively petThough small, the breed is known for being fun and lively. They are a playful and are known for being good-natured and happy. They’re also an intelligent breed, and are relatively easy to train. Volpinos are very protective of their families, and dote on their owners. They’re wary of strangers, and will bark or growl if faced with an unknown person. While they’re not highly effective as guard dogs, they are effective at warning their owners, or other animals, about the presence of an intruder.

Appearance and size
A small Spitz dog, the Volpino Italiano is noticeably compact in appearance. The breed is in fact typically squarish in appearance, and has a large head. The head is flat in appearance, and the eyes are almond-shaped. The Volpino has a coat that is very long and bushy, and that stands away from the skin. The texture of the dog’s fur should be fairly harsh in texture, and the fur should be especially thick around the neck area. The hair on the tail is typically very long and silky, while the hair in the muzzle and ear areas is short and smooth. The most common fur colour of the Volpino Italiano is white, with red coats being very rare. Champagne and orange shades are also possible, but these are considered to be outside the standards of the breed.

Looking after a Volpino Italiano
Although Volpinos are a small breed, they’re very active, and need regular attention and exercise. They may be adapted to apartment living, but need to be entertained in order to stave off boredom. If left alone for long periods or if not given enough attention they may participate in destructive behaviour. The breed’s long coat requires brushing on a regular basis, but frequent bathing is not advised.

Though an active breed, Volpino Italianos are prone to putting on weight, so a strict diet should be adhered to. Other health issues include skin problems and hip dysplasia. However, in general the breed is a healthy one, and most individuals should be expected to live for around 15 years.