The Italian Spinone is a pointer, retriever and hunter par excellence, even under trying conditions and harsh terrains. A calm and friendly companion dog, the Spinone is a curious onlooker and not really a protective breed. Some of them do, of course, defend the family when explicitly attacked.
The ancestry of this reportedly Italian “all-purpose” hunting dog is at best a calculated guess. Believed to be the cross of identifiable breeds such as the French Griffon, White Mastiff and Italian Setter, later bred with dogs from the Adriatic coast and those abandoned by Greek traders, the origins aren’t quite clear. The breed was later redeveloped by committed breeders after 1950 to result in descendants with enhanced sense of smell and hunting abilities. The present-day Spinone is a pet as well as a spirited hunting dog.
The Spinone is an enthusiastic, friendly, robust, intelligent, and extrovert breed that mingles well with humans and other pets. Tolerant and friendly towards children, Spinones can try to dominate if not trained to obey their masters. Though calm, they demand to be treated with respect, love to stick with the family both indoors and during travels, but aren’t too quick to defend when attacked. They are by nature meticulous, methodical, yet slow hunters, and are not geared for protective duties, but there can be exceptions.
A good swimmer, the Spinone can handle damp, cold and icy climes and water ways with great ease. They sure know their prey and can reportedly differentiate real ones from stuffed dummies, making it difficult to simulate the training.
They do not whine or bark, but do have a tendency to howl. Drooling, especially at the sight of food or water, is a tendency that owners need to cope with.
Geared for cautious hunting, Spinones can reach heights of 22-27” and tend to weigh anywhere between 61-85 pounds (convert). A long head, deep and broad chest, topline sloping from head to the back, dense rough coat that offers the best protection when out in the wild, pendulous triangular ears, beard and moustache, human-like eyes and a rugged look are characteristic of this breed which moves with an easy and smooth trot.
The coat is usually pure white (brown marks), orange and white, orange roan (orange marks) and brown roan (brown marks). Marking may also be absent, at times.
Health and Care
With life expectancy of over 12 years, the Spinone has been observed to develop orthopaedic problems such as hip dyslexia and hereditary brain conditions that affect gait among other common problems with hunting dogs. Comprehensive health statistics, however, are not available.
The coat is quick to assume a shaggy look and needs regular attention. Water dripping from the beard too is a common problem to contend with.
It is important to note that the Spinone has an uncanny knack to scale high fences or tunnel beneath them. Watching out for and addressing such streaks is essential. Housebreaking can take long and proves to be quite a persistent effort.
Socialisation is a must to tone down innate hunting instincts in pet dogs, enhance friendly interactions, and to ward off any shyness or timidity. Despite the best of training, the breed has been observed to remain calm and poised, yet cautious.
Though the breed exhibits a tendency to be stubborn and independent, physical force is not necessary for obedience training. Basically a hunter, the breed thrives on vigorous activities and exercises. The possibility of separation anxiety too cannot be overlooked if left unattended for long.