Spinone Italiano

By PetMD Editorial on Oct. 6, 2009

Intelligent, sociable, and docile, the Spinone is an excellent retriever and an experienced hunter in any terrain. Their versatility lies in their keen sense of smell and their ability to run fast in a diagonal manner, keeping them in close proximity to the hunter.

Physical Characteristics

The Spinone Italiano has the "look" of a hunting dog. Its powerful, muscular body enables it to quickly retrieve on land and in water, and its head and muzzle are long. The dog also has a single coat that is dry and somewhat rough in texture, while its hair (which is about 1.5 to 2.5 inches long) is dense and stringy. Its large, droopy ears and scruffy appearance give the dog a gentle expression.

Personality and Temperament

The Spinone Italiano is gentle in comparison to most other pointers. Pleasant and easy-going, it gets along with children as well as other dogs and pets. The Spinone Italiano also tends to be very devoted to its master and well-mannered.


Brushing and combing the Italiano is important, and occasional hand-stripping helps to clear the feet and face of dirt. The breed is adaptable to both temperate and cold weather. Regular exercise in the form of running or long hours of walking is essential for the Italiano breed. It also loves to spend time with its human family.


The Spinone Italiano, which has an average lifespan of 12 to 14 years, is susceptible to major health concerns such as canine hip dysplasia (CHD), and minor issues like otitis externa, ectropion, cerebellar ataxia, and gastric torsion. Allergies and elbow dysplasia may also be seen on occasion in these dogs. Routine hip exams are recommended as the dogs grow older.

History and Background

The Spinone Italiano, or Italian Pointer, is one of the oldest pointing breeds. Although the exact origin of the breed is unknown, 15th- and 16th-century artwork has been discovered with images resembling the modern-day Spinone. There are those who believe the breed evolved from Celtic wirehaired dogs, while others think the Spinone dogs was probably brought to Italy by Greek traders during the Roman Empire.

What is known is that the development of the modern day Spinone Italiano primarily took place in the Piedmonte district of northwest Italy. In fact, its name is derived from an Italian thorn bush known as pine, indicative of the breed's ability to make its way through thorny bushes.

The Spinone dogs were of great help during World War II, chasing and capturing many German patrols. By the end of the war, however, they faced extinction. Fortunately, proper action was taken in the 1950s to save the breed.

Although not a popular breed in the United States, it has gained recognition in Italy and other European countries.

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