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Spinone Italiano

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Spinone Italiano
An orange roan Spinone Italiano.
An orange roan Spinone Italiano.
Alternative names
Italian Spinone
Italian Wire-haired Pointer
Italian Coarsehaired Pointer
Italian Griffon
Country of origin
Common nicknames
Classification and breed standards
FCI: Group 7 Section 1 #165
AKC: Sporting
ANKC: Group 3 (Gundogs)
CKC: Miscellaneous Class
KC (UK): Gundog
NZKC: Gundog
UKC: Gun Dog Breeds
Not recognized by any major kennel club
This breed of dog is extinct

The Spinone Italiano is an Italian dog breed. Its original purpose was as a hunting dog, which the breed is still a master of today. The Spinone is a loyal, friendly and alert dog with a close lying, tough, wiry coat that is hard to the touch. It is an ancient breed that can be traced back to approximately 500 BC.

It is often used for hunting, pointing, and retrieving game (HPR), but the intelligent and strong Spinone can be used for practically anything ranging from companion pet to seeing eye dog for the blind. The name of the breed is pronounced spin-own-ay (singular) and spin-own-ee for plural.


The Spinone has a square build (the length of the body is approximately equal to the height at the withers). It is a solidly built dog with a strong, well-muscled body and limbs that are suited to almost any kind of terrain. The Spinone can sometimes be confused with a German Wirehaired Pointer by someone not familiar with the breeds. He has an expression that shows intelligence and understanding and is often described as having human-like eyes. The tail of the Spinone is customarily docked at half its length (approx 5.5 to 8 inches or 140 to 200 mm from the base of the tail), and it sports dewclaws on all four feet, giving its hind legs an overly large appearance.


The coat is tough, slightly wiry, and close fitting. The preferred length is 12 inches (46 cm) on the body; however, the ears, head, muzzle, and parts of the legs and feet are covered with shorter hair. Eyebrows have longer and stiffer hair; longer but softer hair covers cheeks and muzzle, creating a moustache and beard.

The Spinone should not have an undercoat. A long, soft or silky coat is undesired and is a sign of excessive grooming.


Acceptable variants (UK and US) are solid white, white with orange markings, orange roan with or without orange markings, white with brown markings, and brown roan with or without brown markings. Pigment of skin, nose, lips, and the pads on their feet should be a fleshy red-orange in white dogs, slightly darker in orange and brown roan dogs.

Height and weight

Height at withers:

  • Dogs: 6070 cm (23.527.5 in)
  • Bitches: 5965 cm (22.525.5 in)

Weight should be in the correct proportion to size and structure:

  • Dogs: 3439 kg (7586 lb);
  • Bitches: 2934 kg (6475 lb).


The Spinone is easy going, docile, and affectionate towards both people and dogs. It is well known for being loving and gentle with children. Its extremely patient nature also helps with this, but children should be taught not to take advantage of this trait. It is loyal to those it knows and still friendly to those it doesn't. The breed is not known for any aggression and is therefore not a wise choice for somebody looking for an aggressive guard dog, although it will protect its family when under direct threat.

Centuries of working with man as a hunting companion has created a loyal, intelligent dog that is easily trained, although some can be stubborn about performing a learned task if they see no point in it. Because they are sensitive, motivational training works best for this breed, as this gentle creature's feelings can easily be hurt when handled incorrectly.

The Spinone can be a very active breed, but it is not a racy dog like most other hunting breeds. The Spinone has a slow, relaxed trot that is characteristic of the breed. It has often been called the perfect dog to jog with, because it will not run off in front and leave its human companion struggling to keep up as it prefers the slower pace itself. It can be more than happy in a small yard and does not necessarily need acres of land. The small garden combined with regular walks would suit a Spinone well.


Like all purebred dogs, it has its share of health problems, but careful breeding is helping the situation cease.

Life expectancy

Spinone can live up to and sometimes beyond 12 years and generally keep their health through the senior years.

Known medical issues

  • Cerebellar ataxia: Cerebellar ataxia (CA) is a deadly hereditary condition that is known to affect Spinone puppies. It is a recessive gene; therefore, both sire and dam must have been carriers for any pup in a litter to have this condition. Unfortunately, no puppy with CA has lived past the age of 12 months to date. Most puppies that have been diagnosed with the condition are euthanised at 1011 months.
  • Hip dysplasia: Like most large breeds, the Spinone can suffer hip dysplasia. This is when the hip bones become abnormal and make it difficult and painful to do any exercise. Dogs diagnosed with severe hip dysplasia can have their ball and socket joint replaced surgically with an artificial joint.


As the Spinone is a very ancient breed (it is believed to be one of the oldest gundogs in existence), it is not known exactly what the origins of the breed are; there are many different theories. Some of these claim that the Spinone could have originated in Italy, France, Spain, Russia, Greece, or Celtic Ireland.

Some people familiar with the history of the breed claim that the Spinone descended from the now-extinct Spanish Pointer, whilst others claim that it was the ancient Russian Setter that is responsible for the breed we know today. An even more popular theory is that Greek traders brought coarse-haired setters to Italy during the height of the Roman empire, where the dogs were then crossed with various others and the modern Spinone eventually emerged.

The French claim that the Spinone has descended from crosses of several French pointing breeds, whilst the Italians believe the Spinone is the ancestor of the Wireheaired Pointing Griffon, the German Wirehaired Pointer, and the Pudelpointer. Any one of these claims could be true; perhaps several of them are correct.

During the Second World War, the Spinone became close to extinct. Both the war and the fact that Italian hunters had begun using other breeds (such as setters, pointers, and spaniels) in the hunt, whereas before it was almost primarily the Spinone. Many breeders had to resort to crossing the Spinone with other wire-haired breeds, such as the Boulet, Wirehaired Pointing Griffon and German Wirehair.

The breed was not officially known as "Spinone" until the early nineteenth century. Before then, some areas knew the breed as the "Spinoso". The breed was named after an Italian thorn bush, the pino, which was a favorite hiding place for small game because for larger animals it was practically impenetrable. Only thick-skinned, coarse-haired animals could fight through the branches unharmed to locate the game. The Spinone was the breed most capable of doing so, and therefore the name was formed.




  • [[|Larkin, Dr. Peter and Stockman, Mike, ]],  () ( 2003). ""  [ The ultimate encyclopedia of dogs, dog breeds & dog care], , , Hermes House. ISBN 1-84309-128-3..
  • [[|Hall, Derek, ]],  () ( 2005). ""  [ The ultimate guide to dog breeds], , , Regency House. ISBN 1-85361-516-1..
  • [[|Fry, Carolyn, ]],  () ( 1999). ""  [ The Italian Spinone], , , Kingdom Books. ISBN 1-85279-084-9..

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